On the shores of Lake Atitlán, ancient Mayan culture is kept alive in bustling villages lying in the shadow of towering volcanic peaks. Colorful, history-laden and with shimmering lake views all around, Casa Palopó evokes the spirit of Guatemala at every turn.
Age-old crafts tell stories of the country’s past and present
Guatemala forms the heart of the old Maya territory, and to this day, the country is home to a wealth of indigenous traditions from hundreds of years ago. From brightly embroidered textiles to hand-molded clay vessels, the country’s rich crafts bear witness to the legacy of the former Maya civilisation, turning even the humblest of village markets into a kaleidoscope of color. While a lot of the techniques and patterns vary from village to village, Casa Palopó is dotted with some of the finest specimens of traditional artistry from across the country. Painstakingly-embroidered Huipils (women’s tunics) double as tablecloths in the hotel’s candle-lit terrace bar, wooden masks adorn the walls inside the historic main building and each of the rooms features an individual, art-filled decor – wherever you look, Guatemala’s unique arts and crafts abound at Casa Palopó.
Colorful villages unfold like living works of art
Casa Palopó lies on the outskirts of Santa Catarina Palopó, a small but lively town dotted with dozens of deep blue houses and shop fronts, each embellished with eclectic Mayan patterns. Just a few years ago, the landscape of Santa Catarina Palopó was still dominated by faded grey façades, but a community project launched by Harris and Melissa Whitbeck in 2016 transformed the village into an unmissable piece of artwork. The socially-driven project “Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó” aims to inject splashes of brightness into the lakeside community, calling upon donors and volunteers to help local families paint their façades in a choice of palettes. The goal: to create an entirely blue village that mimics the turquoise of the lake, the color of the sky and the motifs of the traditional Huipil tunics. Casa Palopó is one of the main sponsors of the project and hotel guests with artistic ambitions are encouraged to pick up a paintbrush and support the cause.
Guatemala’s natural beauty provides a stunning backdrop at all times
A land of tropical rainforests, fiery volcanoes, overgrown ruins, lagoons and cobalt-blue lakes, Guatemala is as rich in natural attractions as it is in history. Casa Palopó sits perched on the edges of one of the world’s most storied lakes (Lake Atitlán was a favorite of writer Aldous Huxley, explorer Alexander von Humboldt and many others), boasting awe-inspiring vistas of the region’s three famous volcanoes: Volcán Atitlán, Toliman and San Pedro. Everything about Casa Palopó feels as if it was designed to frame the surrounding nature – from the panoramic infinity pool to the guestrooms’ private lake-facing balconies. Guests have the option to hike to the summit of the San Pedro volcano, watch the sunrise from the peak of Indian Nose, take a boat ride across the vast lago, visit artisan markets or simply marvel at the ever-changing, mysterious beauty of Lake Atitlán from one of Casa Palopó’s many terraces with a cocktail in hand.
A diverse culinary tradition shaped by Mayan and Mediterranean influences
Backed by an abundance of fresh, tropical produce, Guatemalan cooking offers a journey into the country’s colonial and pre-colonial past. Corn, black beans and other indigenous ingredients once grown by the Mayans are paired with foods and aromas imported by Spanish colonisers, resulting in one of Central America’s most varied, flavorful cuisines. At Casa Palopó’s restaurant, 6.8 Palopó, the focus lies on freshness, offering Guatemala-inspired dishes with an inventive, contemporary twist. Mornings at Casa Palopó begin with hearty Guatemalan breakfasts of eggs, fried plantains and corn tortillas, or lighter options such as tropical fruit salads and acaï bowls. On the evening menu, local produce equally prevails, with specialities including Santa Catarina scallops, fresh-caught sea bass in jocón salsa and chilacayote squash crème brûlée, all vying for attention with the unparalleled sunset views over Lake Atitlán.