Providing awe inspiring views of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Villas B’alam Ya offers luxurious accommodations on the shores of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. Perched on the mountainside or nestled among luscious tropical vegetation the four villas provide a private and tranquil getaway and are the ideal place to spend a weekend or a week with your family.
As you drive down the mountains towards Panajachel and catch the first glimpses of the turquoise waters of lake Atitlan, guarded by majestic volcanoes, you can not help but wonder if this is real. The beauty of the lake is striking and when you pair that with the wonderful weather (there’s a reason why Guatemala is nicknamed the land of eternal spring) and the colorful culture and friendly locals lake Atitlan becomes one of those places you just want to get lost in and never leave.
I grew up in Guatemala and have been to lake Atitlán countless times and every time I am taken aback by it’s beauty and it’s magical and mystical presence. But this time was especially meaningful as I was bringing my kids to the lake for the first time. Although they where both born in Guatemala my daughter was just a toddler and my son a baby when we left our home country and this was the first time we where visiting after 6 years living in Florida. Taking them to Atitlán was at the top of my list for our family holiday trip back to our home country and I really wanted them to have a memorable experience. I wanted them to feel that they where coming home to their country and that is why I chose Villas B’alam Ya.
As we entered our villa I truly felt like we where coming home, not just visiting. The villa is spacious, warm and inviting: the decor is a tasteful mixture of antique and modern furniture combined with colorful local textiles, there is artwork from well know Guatemalan artists on the walls and huge windows that let in the light and frame the wonderful view of the lake and the volcanoes.
The Villa El Mirador has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining area, a full kitchen and a outdoor deck with a table and a hammock and a large terrace on the upper level. There are two sofa beds and the villa is large enough to accommodate 4-6 people. All of the living spaces, from the kitchen to the bedrooms offer magnificent views of the lake.
The upstairs bedroom opens into a half circle terrace that provides sweeping 180 degrees views while the master bedroom on the first floor has floor to ceiling windows that let you enjoy the striking views right from your bed.
I can not say enough of the views and we where so entranced by them that we slept with all of the curtains open and got to enjoy watching the starry sky against the silhouettes of the volcanos at night and witnessed the sunrise unfolding slowly before us in all it’s glory. I love sunrises and have seen sunrises at lake Atitlán before, but never from the comfort and warmth of my bed.
The kids felt right at home; they loved sitting out on the deck, swinging on the hammock and browsing through books about local birds while they observed the hummingbirds feeding from the beautiful flowers hanging from the pergola in front of the living room. The villa really brings the lake and the natural surroundings inside with it’s huge windows making the lake seem like part of every space.
That night we slept like babies, there was so much peace and quiet and we where waken up by the sounds of birds. Breakfast was prepared on our own kitchen and served on the terrace by the friendly mayan woman and consisted of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola and freshly squeezed orange juice.
After breakfast we went outside to explore the grounds. We relaxed in the small private garden and then went down to the lake. On the dock there was a kayak you could borrow to explore and the vegetation and flowers in the gardens where just beautiful.
During the day we explored the surrounding towns of Santa Catarina Palopó and San Antonio Palopó, had lunch at a nice restaurant in Panajachel and shopped for local textiles and crafts. During the evenings we where able to relax and enjoy our surroundings and spend some quality time together and talk about our adventures. For us staying at B’alam Ya was perfect as we got to experience both the tranquility and magic of the lake and where also able to visit the colorful lakeside villages.
What we loved about Villas de B’alam Ya
- You will not find better views of the lake anywhere, period. There is a great view of the lake from almost every room in the villa. Even the second bathroom has a partial view of the lake and of the luscious yard right from the tub.
- For the price of a luxury hotel room you get a luxurious and homely villa that fits a large family or two small families!
- The privacy, tranquility and peaceful environment of the villas, surrounded by lush vegetation and overlooking the lake in all of it’s beauty is really priceless.
- You will find yourself in what can truly be described as a getaway location, where you can relax, recharge and get away from it all but still take advantage of the comforts of the modern world like cable TV, a rocking sound system and free Wifi.
- The villas are right on the lakeshore and only a 15 minute drive from Panajachel (10 minute boat ride) and a 5 minute drive from the beautiful town of Santa Catarina Palopó.
- The full kitchen lets you cook some meals at the villa saving you money and letting you enjoy eating on the deck while you take in the view. You can stock your kitchen or use the Villas Balam Ya’s shopping service to request what you need and have it there waiting for you.
- Thanks to the secluded, private location I got the best night sleep ever and I feel asleep entranced my the view of the stars that filled the night sky over the lake.
- Breakfast is included and served right at your villa. You can also request to have a chef prepare other meals.
Things To Consider
- B’alam Ya is a 10 minute car drive from Panajachel and a 5 minute drive from Santa Catarina Palopó, the next town on the shores of the lake. If you do not have a car you can get to B’alam Ya via taxi or in hiring a private lancha or water taxi, which should not cost more than $10-$15. Check with the hotel staff and they will be able to recommend or arrange transportation from Panajachel.
- There is no restaurant on site so if you want to eat out you will have to drive there or request a water taxi. My recommendation is to take advantage of the kitchen and buy fresh fruits and other groceries in the market in Panajachel and save some money cooking some of your meals, you won’t get a restaurant with a better view than what you have in your own terrace at B’alam Ya. Breakfast is included and will be served in your villa by hotel staff.
- Villa Mirador is perched on the side of the mountain so getting to and from the parking lot or the lake to your villa means going up or down lots of steep steps and this may be challenging for anyone with mobility issues.