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A Luxury Hotel With a New Spa, Volcanoes, and TWO Helipads for $140 a Night? Get Thee to Guatemala!

August 5, 2014
casa palopo guatemela
casa palopo guatemela

Casa Palopó on Lake Atitlán has a solar-heated pool, among other things. (Photo: Al Argueta)

By Chris Bunting


Some people go to lunch and wind up with spinach in their teeth — others walk away with a hotel. Well-to-do Guatemalan native Claudia Bosch found herself in the latter camp back in 2010 when she was grabbing a bite one lazy afternoon with the then-owner of Casa Palopó. He offhandedly mentioned he was selling her favorite micro-boutique hotel — so, boom, she cut a check.

casa palopo guatemela
casa palopo guatemela

Rooms like Casa Palopó’s Santa Catarina Master Suite are heavy on the arty flourishes. (Photo: Al Argueta)


High up in the lush hills surrounding Santa Catarina Palopó village, about a two hour’s drive west from Guatemala City (assuming roads/people are behaving), sits 1,000-foot-deep Lake Atitlán, the starlet of the Highlands. Imagine it as a giant horse’s head — Casa Palopó is the eyeball on its northeastern shore.


The hotel’s hosting a wellness week Oct. 12-19. Over the summer, they just added a full-service, Balinese-styled, 130-square-foot (one at a time, please!) spa right next to its restaurant, 6.8 Palopó. Not to be outdone, the solar-heated pool area was just renovated with new mosaic tiling, a wooden deck addition, backsplash and more space to lay out. They’re embroiled in a veritable space race vying to pleasure you more!

Related: Watching Baby Turtles Hatch and Other Natural Attractions Along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

casa palopo guatemela
casa palopo guatemela

The town of Santiago Atitlán. (Photo: Handout)


I’ll give you three: Toliman, Atitlán, and San Pedro. That’s the troika of 10,000-foot-high volcanoes your panoramic view ain’t skimping on.

Working well

The hotel’s chock full of charmingly weird curio from round the globe — from Asian sculptures of acrobats on elephants, to paintings by chubby chaser extraordinaire Botero on just about every wall, to a life-size confessional booth in the lobby (you may need it after all your fun and games in Palopó’s Italian luxury beds).

casa palopo guatemela
casa palopo guatemela

The Toliman Suite in the hotel villas. (Photo: Al Argueta)

Needs work

At night this place can be downright muerto (and the rooms are TV-less) — you’re going to want to get out and about. We suggest the live music-hosting, pizza-baking, boozy blue drink-pouring Circus Bar in nearby Panajachel, only 10 minutes away.

Must try

The seven bedrooms in the main building are fancy enough, but kick it up a notch inside the towering fortressed villa behind it, which looks down upon them (figuratively and literally). You might need a sherpa to get you up its steep 150 steps, but your reward is two-private bedrooms, an infinity pool, Jacuzzi, gazebo and a patio that doubles as an outdoor spa when you order up a full body massage that’ll leave you marinating in L’Occitane sauce.

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Competitive edge

Some “luxury” hotels only have one helipad — pfft, how pedestrian. Palopó has two, should you and your mates choose to whirlybird in, Miss Saigon-style.


From $140; casapalopo.com

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