If you are looking to experience the Guatemalan jungle in a relaxed and magical setting Las Lagunas boutique hotel is the ideal choice. Just 15 minutes away from the Santa Elena airport and the Island of Flores and 45 minutes from the Mayan ruins of Tikal, Las Lagunas is the ultimate jungle getaway.
After having a stressful few weeks at work, I made a last minute decision to hop on a plane and head for the Guatemalan rainforest. When I travel to Guatemala, I usually go to see my family, but this time I needed to recharge my batteries and getting close to nature always fills me up with positive energy. As a kid, I traveled to the Mayan ruins of Tikal with my parents. We drove there from Guatemala City along roads that cut deep into the rainforest, and we camped in the Tikal National Park. Waking up in the midst of the jungle with the sounds of the rainforest all around was an adventure I will never forget. Now as I traveled back to Peten, this time via airplane, I wanted to find a hotel that would provide that sense of experiencing the rainforest from the inside out rather than from the outside. After reading reviews and looking at pictures of many hotels Las Lagunas seemed to be the right choice for me.
I grew up and lived most of my life in Guatemala, and I am no stranger to its natural beauty yet as I walked across the lobby of Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel and took in the view of the infinity pool that seemed to blend right into the lagoon I was taken aback by the fantastic and magical sight. I dropped my bags and slowly walked out onto the terrace as if in a trance. I stood at the edge of the balcony that overlooks the emerald green lagoon; from that point, the whole jungle seems to open up around the building that houses the lobby, the restaurant, and a few small meeting rooms.
I sat out on the terrace trying to take it all in; the breathtaking view of the emerald green rainforest all around me, the symphony of insects humming, birds chirping and leaves rustling in the soft breeze coming in from the lagoon and the smell of the crisp morning air mixed with the sweet fragrance of fresh vegetation, flowers, and wet earth. I could feel tears of happiness welling in my eyes: this was paradise, and it felt like home to me.
I had arrived on an early morning flight, and just a couple of hours ago I was in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City. Now as I sipped on a frozen Rosa de Jamaica mocktail the chaos of the city and the stress from work seemed distant and unreal.
As I entered my private cabin I immediately fell in love with the warm space; all made of wood and filled with light the room was beautiful and refined yet it felt inviting and familiar. Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel has only 19 rooms, all of them suites. Each suite is built as a private wood cabin overlooking the lagoon. Most of the rooms are on stilts, not only providing a magnificent view but also making you feel like you are completely surrounded by water wich, in turn gives you a sense of peace and tranquility. The rooms are not only comfortable but they also provide all of those modern amenities we have grown accustomed to, from a large screen TV, which I have to admit I never turned on, to free WiFi in the room and in the pool area, which was surprisingly fast.
The suites have a covered terrace with a sitting area and a whirlpool, ideal for relaxing after a long day of exploring the Mayan ruins. I loved the spacious bathroom which opens up into the room, and the verbena scented toiletries from L’Occitane were a real treat.
After settling into the room I headed out to the pool which wraps around a big, beautiful tree filled with wild orchids. I was almost weary of getting in as I did not want to disturb the water where the reflection of surrounding vegetation made it look as if the pool itself was also part of the thick canopy of trees all around me.
After taking some time to enjoy the pool I was ready for lunch. The hotel restaurant offers spectacular views of the forest canopy and lagoon. Here you can enjoy a breakfast of huevos rancheros, refried beans, and sweet fried plantains or a variety of other choices including fresh yogurt with tropical fruit, which is included with your stay. For lunch and dinner, there is a wide array of options from traditional Guatemalan dishes to international cuisine created with local fresh ingredients.
You can also enjoy your meal poolside, which is what I chose to do. I tried the Subanik, a traditional stew made with three types of meat which was accompanied by a corn tamale and I paired that with a Michelada, a beer cocktail that combines tomato juice, lime, and spices. I have to say that the Subanik was one of the best I’ve had, the stew was thick and flavorful with just a bit of heat and the meat was soft, moist and delicious.
After lunch, I decided to explore the rest of the hotel and check out the recently finished full-service spa which offers relaxing massages and a series of rejuvenating and reenergizing spa services and dry and wet sauna as well as a secluded infinity pool. You can also request your massage in the privacy of your suite or on the enclosed dock overlooking the water.
Every morning the hotel offers a scenic boat tour across the lagoon. While on the boat tour you also get to visit the islets which are home to a group of rescued spider monkeys which are fed by the staff from the boat. I had so much fun watching the monkeys swing from tree to tree, some of them carrying babies. But the best part was getting to meet Margarita, a friendly monkey that likes to go for short rides on the boat with he guests, taking advantage of the fact that she then has all of the treats to herself!
The owner of the hotel has an exceptional collection of Mayan artifacts, which you can marvel at in the newly finished museum quality gallery built to house them. Some of the pieces are really breathtaking and as I looked at them I wondered how many of these treasures are still buried in the countless Mayan sites that are still completely covered by vegetation and how many Mayan sites are still yet to be discovered in the area.
Las Lagunas’ ideal location makes it the perfect base camp for exploring the spectacular mayan ruins of Tikal, Uxactun, Yaxhá, Nakum and many others. You won’t find another hotel in the area that combines this level of luxury and comfort within a breathtakingly beautiful natural setting.
Additionally, this unique and magical jungle getaway provides you with countless ways in which to explore and enjoy the rainforest. From jungle treks and kayaking on the lagoon to ATV tours of the natural reserve.
My experience at Las Lagunas was truly memorable. I could just move there and stay forever. I have to admit it was hard to go back to reality after spending a few days in paradise. I can’t wait to go back and bring my family with me, I know my kids would fall in love with Las Lagunas just as I did.