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“Beautiful location”
Review of Utopia Eco Hotel

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Utopia Eco Hotel
Certificate of Excellence
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Beautiful location”
Reviewed August 6, 2013

Utopia is in a beautiful location, but we felt as some others have that the experience could have been better. We were told there was wifi and for sure it would be up soon and for the two days we were there we didn't get connection once. Wifi wouldn't have been so important except we hadn't booked our onward trip and wanted to get some emails sent out. We did not mind that it was vegetarian food, but we did mind that we had almost no local meals. When I asked why we had biscuits and gravy for breakfast and the owner and other guy working there had what looked like huge burritos or wraps of some kind we were told that it takes forever to get the locals to make what they want. That was a really lame excuse since I'm pretty sure the locals wouldn't need to be taught how to make local fare. On the board it said that you could take a 6 am or 8 am shuttle to Lanquin, but when we went to book the 6am shuttle we were told unless we found more couples we had to take the 8am shuttle. Don't have it on the board then! We would have been satisfied with 8am if we weren't given the option of 6am. As you would expect in the middle of nowhere drinks were pricey.

They were closer to Semuc Champey than Lanquin hostels, but they were still not close. I do wish that we would have stayed at the one just outside of the entrance.

We stayed in one of the separate cabins down by the river and it was nice. The shower outside the room did not have a shower curtain on it and when I asked for one I was told that no-one could see in. I am not sure where they thought I was referring to, but there is a path 30 feet away from the opening of the shower - you can see right in! Everything you mentioned they always seemed to blow it off as if it wasn't important. It was important to me! Your customer!

I also noticed that the common hostel sleeping area was entirely open and did not have a mosquito net around it. You are in a jungle with mosquitos that are known to spread dengue fever and malaria and you are not protecting your clients? Very irresponsible.

We took a shuttle to Semuc Champey the one full day we were there and we took the shuttle with another couple. We could pay for a round trip, but he would not come back at two separate times (even though we paid separately). We had to choose a specific time that both of us wanted to return (we were not travelling with this couple). So we opted out and walked back. Customer service just isn't high on their list. Whatever is convenient for them.

Just so I can be clear - I am not one of those people who is really picky about my accommodations, I just expect to be treated with respect and not to be given excuses. If you say you have wifi, provide wifi. If it is not working just admit it. Apologize. If you say that there are two shuttles, stand by that. Don't make your customer go around and beg people to leave earlier. I know we were travelling in a poor country and things take longer. Just give it to me straight up and I will be fine.

They definitely could have had lights leading down to the cabins. It is EXTREMELY dark there at night and it is a winding path with stairs. It took us quite a few attempts to get to our cabin (even with head lamps!).

Again, this is a beautiful location with a lot of potential. Hope they keep working at improving the customer experience.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank nbarclay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
John h, Owner at Utopia Eco Hotel, responded to this review, August 27, 2013
So sorry you were not happy with so many things here at Utopia. We actually DO care about our customers and we try VERY hard to offer the best service that we can. However being so remote has a lot of challenges that guests just are not aware. Many of these challenges we just cannot over come at this moment we are constantly working to find solutions but it is difficult. We work hard to give our guest the very best experience possible and offer as many amenities as we can. Transportation, Wi-fi, and food are some of those many challenges we face daily.
Your stay here was several months ago and a lot has changed and many kinks worked out since then. It also is a little difficult to recall all the details you have mentioned but I will do my best. At the time of your stay we had only been open a few months.
We do have Wi-fi here and we pay dearly for it. Some Days the service is good, some days Bad, some days no service and all. We are in the middle of no where we have only 1 option and there is nothing more we can do except pay the very high rate we are charged and hope that the server in Guat. City will keep things running. If I recall right there was about 1 week in Feb where all of Hughs Net serving this area was down. We were told many times a day it was being repaired and should be fixed any time, but they got to it in their own good time. It had nothing to do with us. Had you been staying in Lanquin you would have had the same problem and been told the very same thing. It was not Utopia lying to you; we only relay what we are told. There is NOTHING more we can do.
As for the food all I can say is we try VERY had to keep all our guests happy. However it is impossible to please every one 100% of the time. We try very hard to advise every one coming here that this is a vegetarian hostel and that we only offer family style meals do to our remote location. Every single day our food choice's change and since you were only here for most likely 1 breakfast your opinion is very limited. Each day we offer something different one day it may be pancakes & egg’s next day maybe the local breakfast soup with tostadas, next day maybe eggs beans and plantain, next French toast and fruit, so I am sorry you felt unlucky with the biscuits and gravy. I can assure you there are MANY guests that are thrilled to have something other then typical food and are sick of the local options that most places only serve. We do always offer a second option of Yogurt and granola or toast and eggs or fruit smoothies. As for the owner having a huge burrito I can tell you it was the exact same things as the biscuits and gravy but with eggs in it all rolled up. It just makes it easier to eat while walking around talking with guests and trying to keep things going. It was not filled with anything special so you were not cheated out of anything there.
As for the lack of screening for the dorm area, funny you mention it since you didn't even stay in the dorm, another guest brought that up before as well and they also did not stay in the dorm area. I do not feel we have been or are being irresponsible in this matter. We have given a lot thought about whether to screen or not to screen the area in, but after living here now for almost 2 years and after having over 3,500 guests pass through I have made the decision to Not close to dorm area in for several reasons.
#1 being I have spoken with many of the guests that Do stay in the dorm beds and I'd say 95% of them LOVE the openness of being able to wake up with such a clear view of the surroundings. The other 5% didn’t mind the fact that it was open they only wanted to block out the day light. That would just destroy the place though so that will never happen.
#2 being that we really just do not have a mosquito problem here. You’d think being surrounded by jungle and bush like we are that we’d have a problem but we just don’t.
#3We also have Mosquito nets for sale if a person feels that they really need to have more protection but so far we have never sold 1 net we also have bug spray for sale both natural and high deet content but again not a big seller since guests find there just is no need. We do have a few no-seeums around at different times of the year for about an hour before sundown but they do not affect the dorm area. Neither Dengue fever or Malaria seam to be a problem in the area for the locals and certainly not here on this property. We can only attribute this to the fact that there is an eco balance here and at the moment nature is governing its self.
As you stated your stay here was way back last February. At the time we had only had Electricity for a few weeks. Again A LOT of things have changed since then. We were and still are installing lighting in different areas of the property. Also all Cabins do have shower curtains now. I think I know which one you were referring to. You must have been one of the first guests in there. Sorry you were uncomfortable the path you’re referring to really gets very little to no use even now and even less use back then. Especially in the afternoon and evening.
As for all transportation issues, we are 100% at the mercy of the Local drivers. We do or best to contract reliable trucks and drivers but until the day comes that we can afford our own trucks and drivers we must rely on them. The road out here is very difficult and extremely hard on the vehicles and even though we are only 11 km from Lanquin its just not worth it for a driver to come all the way to Semuc to pick up 1 or 2 guests in the middle of the afternoon for the small fee we charge. However if a guest really wants special treatment and is willing to pay for it we can and have arranged for a truck to drive them where ever and at what ever time the guest wants and the truck will wait right at the entrance until they are finished and drive them back but of course for a fee. We only make the arrangements and attempt to keep every one as happy as possible. Same things goes for the 6 am shuttle. We really do not offer that any more since again we do not own the trucks and to get the drivers to come here means they must leave Lanquin at 4 am and the guests need to leave here by 5 am. Some of the shuttles don’t arrive into Lanquin until around midnight which means they don’t get here till 1 am then the driver still has to get home and then to expect them to turn around in just 3 hours for 1 or 2 persons was just not working out for them so we have stopped offering that option.
Again I am sorry your stay here was not what you expected but trust me we do try very hard to accommodate our guests when ever possible.
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Haifa, Israel
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed August 4, 2013 via mobile

We got this hostel after we had a bad experience at "Zephyr". The manager and rhe stuff were amazing and very helpfull . They gave us a discount on private room, fix us the late dinner and more than all, a feeling like home.
P.s, there is a light all day and night and free wifi. The meals are vegetariens ,but we like that.

  • Stayed August 2013
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Thank lihiushemo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
88 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed August 1, 2013

We are in two minds about Utopia because on one hand the atmosphere is friendly and we made some nice friends. However on the disappointed other hand were our wet (not just damp) bed, sharing our room with creepy crawlies (doors left open if uninhabited) and the fact that Utopia is in the middle of nowhere. It is not close to Lanquin (an extremely uncomfortable 45 minute ride) and still too far from Semuc. Also we failed to note beforehand that this is a VEGETARIAN lodge and after 9 hours travelling from Flores this was an interesting revelation! The wifi is extremely weak and they could use some light along paths to cabanas. A place with potential but at the moment there are better options in Lanquin or right by Semuc.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank EDGE-09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
John h, Owner at Utopia Eco Hotel, responded to this review, August 27, 2013
I’m sorry you felt your stay here was not worth it. Utopia is new and this is the first rainy season that we have been through. However I’m sure that the start of each rainy season will present its problems every year that we are here. Water is always a challenge with any building especially here in the tropics and with metal roofs. If I remember right you were moved to another room and we put our guys to work fixing the problem the next morning. With each rainstorm and direction and strength of wind we get different issues but we don’t know there is a problem until it presents its self and then we do actually take immediate steps to repair what ever is wrong.
I’m not sure about doors being left open when uninhabited that does not sound like here since if we were to do that any person could just crawl into what ever bed they wanted at any time day or night. Maybe you were there when the girls were cleaning otherwise things are locked up. There are however some creepy crawlies that may find their way into your area. We do not spray harmful chemicals here. We are finding that most spiders and other insects tend to move on with the vibration of the building and for the most part nature is in pretty good balance here and we’d like to keep it that way, but from time to time a visitor does show up and if we are told about it we remove it for you. This is the jungle and it’s to be expected that these things will happen from time to time. We do even have scorpions in the area and on rare occasions they may make an appearance, but they are not the deadly kind you find in other parts of the world.
They are however scary.
We have now installed a motion sensor light going down to the river front cabins its not a perfect fix yet but we are working on it. We are looking for some quality solar lights to put along the many paths here in Utopia.
I’m not sure how you found out about Utopia but it is on our website that we are Vegetarian as well as many postings here on trip advisor and on all of our posters and flyers. I the owner am a 4th generation vegetarian so the food we offer here is tried and true old family recipes not just food you may get from a newly converted vegetarian most guests say they never even miss the meat. My family has had several restaurants in the past that have served top quality meats so we do know how to cook meat. When I first opened Utopia there was no electric and so, no way to keep the meat from spoiling. Originally I thought once I got electric installed I’d change my menu but after shopping in the markets both in Lanquin and Coban I found there was just no way to safely offer meat. Lanquin has very little and very poor quality meat available and Coban is not much better. What really bothers me is there is no guarantee as to when or where the meat was butchered and how long has it already set in a un-refrigerated conditions and then I know at the very least I have a HOT 3 hour drive back to utopia before the meats would be placed in proper refrigeration….. assuming that all is working well and that our power is on. So after much thought I decided I’d rather have a few guests go away unhappy about not having a thick steak or juicy burger than to run the risk of sending even 1 guest away with food poisoning. I have seen how sick bad meat makes people as many of our guests show up here after risking eating something along their road trip here and then find themselves spending 2 or 3 days curled up in bed and missing all the fun. So for the time being we will remain a Vegetarian hostel offering the best quality food we possibly can. Always keep in mind this is NOT Antigua and though we would LOVE to have the many options available there, its not possible. We have to deal with reality and that is we must do most of our shopping locally in Lanquin so our options are very limited.
You also commented on the uncomfortable ride from Lanquin, its true the road is rough but there is nothing that we or any other hostel can do about that. Every single person that goes to Semuc Champey must also endure that road. The good news here is you only have to endure it once when coming and again when leaving. Many people find Semuc so pretty they want to go once with a guide and return another time alone, so once here you can return again and again. As stated in our web site we are indeed 11 km from Lanquin.. We are about 2.5 km from the pools, which is a 30-45 min walk or a 10 min drive.
We understand that Utopia is not for every one. There are other options in the area. Here at Utopia we want to provide a friendly, peaceful, beautiful and natural setting that is away from the noise of Lanquin and the rat race of life in general. We always try to treat each guest in the way that we ourselves would like to be treated with friendliness, respect and honesty. When ever a guest lets us know they are unhappy here for what ever reason we will do everything within out power to help you re-locate to another hostel that you feel would make your time at Semuc Champey more enjoyable. We truly do want you to have a wonderful time, so please if you find Utopia is not for you than let us know and we help you locate another place. We don’t want un-happy guests here any more than they want to be here……so Please let us know and we will help.
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Kansas City
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed July 26, 2013

After surviving the hour long trek in the back of a pick up on a bumpy road, we arrived at a paradise that is the Utopia. The views at the hotel as well as the surrounding area are amazing. The staff was incredibly friendly and super helpful in organized whatever tours or transportation we needed. The Semuc Champey tour and tubing that we did after were well organized and a ton of fun. The meals were tasty and very big portions. The power went out every night but the candles made the atmosphere worth it. The second night we did get attacked by mosquitoes so bring repellent. Definitely check this place out if you're in Guatemala.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Beth M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Barbara, California
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 18, 2013

Our new adventure started already with the truck ride to the hotel. Be prepared it will be a taff ride, but the landscape is incredible. Arrived in the paradise the stuff was so friendly and we got a warm welcome.
Utopia is an awesome place. The stuff is always there for you. They offer great trips, especially the Semuc Champey Cave and El Mirador tour. One of my favorite experiences so far during the last 10 months traveling!! They give you good recommendations for your future travel. They also offer bus rides to your next destination.
We came there and wanted to stay only 2 nights but we ended up with 6 nights. We had an awesome time. Great adventures, walks around the hotel in the mountains and along the river, talks to the locals, chill out time, great live music in the evenings and long nights ☺ .
The Eco Hotel is a vegetarian place. The food is incredible and every time something else. Every morning different breakfast, you also can ask them if you want something different, for example fruits instead of eggs, it was always possible. The bread and the dessert are legendary for the dinner!! The best eva!!!!
If you love being away from all these fancy big tourist places, if you love the nature and you wanna see something from Guatemala. YOU NEED TO GO THERE!!!!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Chrissy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lucerne, Switzerland
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed July 18, 2013

It takes around an hour with a funny ride standing behind on a truck through a beautiful green scenery. The Utopia is set in the middle of the jungle and above a river, it's a magic place :-) The owner and the staff are unbelievable welcoming and friendly and make you feel at home! The breakfast, lunch and dinner changes everyday and is unbelievable delicious and the portions are very big. And although I'm not a vegetarian I enjoyed every single meal a lot! The have a big variety of different drinks and the prices are more than reasonable. Also, we did the Semuc Champey tour and it was a lot of fun: first we did a cave tour with candles, afterwards a trek to Semuc Champey and afterwards you had the possibility to tube down the river. Originally, we wanted to stay two nights only but ended up with 6 nights which says everything I guess ;-) A beautiful place to enjoy nature, relax, have a good time with the staff and other travelers and let you coddle with very healthy and delicious food! :-)

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank waverider2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
wales
Level 4 Contributor
22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed July 16, 2013

My husband and I spent 2 nights of our honeymoon backpacking through Guatemala and Belize. If you're a bit scared of heights like me you won't enjoy the bus ride to Lanquin (narrow roads and sheer drops!) but even with the hairy journey it was really worth it. Utopia is in a stunning location. I immediately warmed to the staff there, they were really welcoming and friendly and always up for a chat. Also really helpful at suggesting places to go next / transport advice.

The atmosphere at this place is special (depending on the other guests I suppose), and I could have watched their crazy dogs play and bird watched from the balcony all day.. but you can't really come here without exploring Semuc Champey and the caves which are 10 mins pick-up journey away (tour arranged through Utopia was really good). Let's just say that there's a reason people rave about this place!!

They were really helpful at giving me gluten-free food, but meals are set so if you have any requirements let them know as far in advance as possible.

Power was cut most of the time we were there, but everything was lit by candles and this made it even more beautiful.

We stayed in a riverfront cabin - gorgeous and very private, but the spiders do get in! Take lots of mozzie repellant and you'll have a great time.

Room Tip: riverfront cabins are gorgeous - perfect for couples, but they've got a really wide range of acc...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Nia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Utopia Eco Hotel

Property: Utopia Eco Hotel
Address: Utopia St. by the River, Lanquin 16011, Guatemala
Phone Number:
Location: Guatemala > Alta Verapaz Department > Lanquin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 14 Specialty Lodging in Lanquin
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Utopia Eco Hotel unique tropical accommodation & eco farm set amongst beautifully landscaped tropical gardens secluded from the hustle and bustle and some of the greatest adventures to be had in Guatemala.Whether you are looking for a hotel, hostel or camping or are just passing through and want to spend a few nights vacation on the hidden gem of Semuc Champey, Utopia Eco Hotel is where you will be able to do as much or as little as you like. Situated on the Rio Cahabon, You will find our established Cabanas nestled in amongst exotic flora and fauna providing unique lodge accommodation in Semuc Champey.At Utopia Eco Hotel we offer a wide range of activities; hiking, bird watching, river tubing, caving, Chocolate making classes, Semuc Champey tours, or why not just relax in one of our many hammocks located on the river shore? Everything is within your reach when you stay at Utopia! psThere are NO ATM Machines in Lanquin or the Sumec Champey area & no Credit Cards are accepted anywhere at this time. Note: here at Utopia Eco Hotel we do accept Pay Pal & USD but only bills in good condition. such as no torn or marked banknotes. Our Exchange rate is 7.5. We can also accept credit cards now but only when the internet is working good. ... more   less 

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