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“A one-of-a-kind experience.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tzam Poc Resort

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Tzam Poc Resort
Via Rural Santa Catarina Km. 6.5, Santa Catarina Palopo 07010, Guatemala   |  
Hotel amenities
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“A one-of-a-kind experience.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2012

My girlfriend was born in Guatemala, and the occasion of a pair of family weddings called us there. In between the weddings, we traveled to three locations outside of the capital city, including the beautiful and mysterious Lake Atitlan. We chose Tzam Poc at Atitlan based on the photos of what looked like a dramatic view of the lake and the volcanoes beyond. The view was all that and more, but it is only part of what makes Tzam Poc special.

Tzam Poc is more accurately described as a bed and breakfast, not a resort. They'll cook dinner on request (for a small extra charge) too, but you have to let them know early in the day so they can get fresh ingredients from the market. It's perched on a hill just beyond and above the village of Santa Catarina. (Hint: when entering the grounds via a very steep access road, DON'T STOP. Better yet, rent a 4X4!). It consists of a series of small buildings, each containing no more than 2 units (on different levels), and the main house where the owner lives. Thus, it takes ramps and stairs to get from one place to another, but also provides a feeling of total privacy in each unit.

It is very much the product of the somewhat eccentric imagination of its owner, Lucio Mamberto, who is an architect. Imagine a Mediterranean villa (the owner was born in Italy) crossed with a bit of Antoni Gaudi and Dr. Seuss. If that's not your cup of tea, I understand. And the quirkiness can lead to a few things not being particularly efficient or logical. No matter. It's magic. Lucio is a charming host with a lifetime of interesting and somewhat mysterious stories, and you are treated like a personal guest in his home.

Home cooked breakfast is served on the terrace (dinner in the dining room of the main house). There is a patio with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and wood-fired sauna. This patio provides some of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen, multiplied tenfold by the optical illusion of the pool hanging directly over the lake. At night, the sounds of the village float up the mountain, sounds of musical instruments and parties.

Lucio is a local now, having lived there for many years. He employes a handful of residents as cooks and maintenance people, and it very much feels like a family operation. So, when we decided to take a boat ride across the lake to one or more of the surrounding villages (there are 12), arrangements were quickly made with a pilot who was a friend of someone on staff. This proved to be a huge bonus, as we were spared having to negotiate with the many boat captains that gather at the dock in the village. We got a ride down in the back of a pickup, introductions were made, and off we went. Enrique, our pilot, knew who was who in the villages as well, and would call ahead on his cell to make sure the right tuk-tuk (a kind of three wheeled mini-taxi) driver was waiting for us. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that we were guided to an inside view of local culture by locals, and I'm pretty sure we owe it to our decision to stay at Tzam Poc.

If you are looking for orderliness, anonymity, and typical luxury, Tzam Poc my not be for you. If you are seeking something truly unique, you'll find it there. Given how magical Lake Atitlan itself is, that seems entirely appropriate

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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21 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    11
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6
11
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
North Carolina
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2009

We did not have a pleasant experience at Tzampoc Resort. My expectations and my family's were of a more modern hotel. The pictures in the website were too good and we were disappointed with what we found. Just to get to the hotel we had trouble with the car since it is an incline of good 45 degrees. The place did not seem to have good maintenance, it was not very clean, lots of step to get to the villas. The views were amanzing, but we were so uncomfortable that we did not enjoy them as much. The weather did not help, there was a storm and it rained for more than 24 hours. The worst experience was that my sister and her family got intoxicated with charcoal fumes that was left in the room for heat. In the middle of the night we did not get any assistance and we did not even have a flashlight. We had reservations for three nights and we cut it short to one night. I will not recommend this hotel to any of my friends.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with family
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colchester
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2009

We arranged our wedding her in January 2009. The owner's wife is a local notary who married us. This is such a perfect spot, the pictures on their website do not do justice to the location nor does it show how great Lucio, the owner, his wife and their staff are.

I can't recommend this place highly enough!!! If you want to get married in Guatemala, this is your venue!!!!

  • Stayed January 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2007

I have never experienced such warm and friendly service and personal attention at any other resort. Lucio, the owner, welcomes you like family; he is one of the most fascinating people you'll ever met. He and his staff went out of their way to help us with our plans to ensure that we made the most of our stay in Lago Atitlan. Not only did we find a gem of a resort but we also made a friend. We will never forget this place. The views and architecture are stunning, the resort itself is very well maintained, and the staff will make you feel like royalty.

  • Liked — The service and beauty of the resort
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed June 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Anselmo, California
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 3, 2007

Tzam Poc is truly magical, perched above Lake Atitlan, the most beautiful lake in the world (so said Aldous Huxley). The main house and small outbuildings seem to grow organically up the steep hillside, each level with an amazing vista.

As another visitor noted, Tzam Poc was designed and built by owner/architect Lucio Mamberto, originally from Italy, who came to Guatemala many years ago and has adopted this country has his home. He has a welcoming European presence, and his lovely small staff is thoughtful and accommodating.

Rooms at Tzam Poc are comfortable and spacious; there's an infinity pool and jacuzzi where visitors can relax and take in the grandeur of the lake. A lovely breakfast is included.

When we visited my teenage son and I were the only guests. Don Lucio and his staff made us feel completely at home, as though it was our home. They happily arranged transit to the market in Chichicastenango, and a boat tour of the lake, and would have done more if we'd only had the time.

Santa Catarina is a small town not far from Panajachel, with little more for tourists than a dock and a few small hotels in and around the town.

Visit Tzam Poc soon, before too many other travelers make the same discovery.

  • Stayed July 2006, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, D.C.
Top Contributor
98 reviews 98 reviews
96 hotel reviews
Reviews in 68 cities Reviews in 68 cities
357 helpful votes 357 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2007

Tzam Poc Resort is built into the steep hillside above the little village of Santa Catarina Palopo, on the north side of Lake Atitlan. This affords a sensational view of the volcanoes on the other side of the lake, and indeed the entire lake. The small resort was built by the architect Lucio Mamberto, an Italian immigrant to Guatemala, who remains on the premises as owner and impresario, and welcomes guests with an expansive, "Welcome to my home..." The overall look is nautical -- sort of Captain Nemo meets the Isle of Capri -- with lush gardens and uniquely sculpted rooms and suites that feel as if they're organically grown from the hillside. The morning breakfast is taken on a veranda overlooking the lake, and guests are made to feel as if they've been admitted to something of a private retreat. This is not 5-star, cushioned comfort -- if you're staying on the ledge of a dramatic landscape, you shouldn't expect shoe-polishing machines and a phalanx of little Aveda bottles in your bathroom. But if you want to feel a sense of what it means to be in Central America, among those who've chosen to love this country, it would be hard to find a better spot.

Stayed January 2007
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tzam Poc Resort

Address: Via Rural Santa Catarina Km. 6.5, Santa Catarina Palopo 07010, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala > Western Highlands > Solola Department > Lake Atitlan > Santa Catarina Palopo
Amenities:
Free Parking Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Santa Catarina Palopo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 6
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Tzam Poc Hotel Santa Catarina Palopo
Tzam Poc Resort Guatemala/Santa Catarina Palopo, Lake Atitlan

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