[size="3"]When it first appeaed on LuxuryLink.com, Casa Palopo sounded intriguing.. small luxury property in the West Central Highlands of Guatemala overlooking the second largest fresh water lake in Central America. Could be fun exploring
.when considering a hotel offered any auction sitewe usually check tripadvisor.com as well as other on-line communities especially if we are unfamiliar with the property. Opinions and experiences of others could become factors in our final decision.
what about some of those complaints on tripadvisor.com posted by previous visitors:
cost of a taxi ride to the closest city.
dogs barking at night.
excessive cost of dining at the hotel restaurant.
Nothing really sounded insurmountable.an alternative mode of transportation, if we wanted to visit the closest city.. ear plugs or an extra nightcap might help with barking sounds..skip some meals at the hotel if the prices are too high.
Maybe the solutions were in hand!
Casa Palopo was our choice.scrap budget hotels, posadas and backpacker hostels.place the bid and buy! As a matter of fact, we bought two auction packages and booked them back to back! A few phone calls and email exchanges with CP and we had eight consecutive nights locked in.
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After the long drive from GUA to Panajachel, we took a short stretch break and looked around town. Might as well see what the major cross roads had to offer. Pana turned out to be a conglomeration of something for almost every visitor.
We found a bank, converted some currency and began driving the last few miles to Santa Catarina Palopo, the up the hill to the entrance of CP. After passing through the gated entrance and climbing the very steep drive, we were greeted in the entry courtyard by smiling faces and willing hands to assist with our bags.
Clear afternoon.so we had to stop and stare across the lake at Volcano San Pedro..what an imposing site to see ittowering above Lago Atitlan.
Bienvenidos, said a smiling Gael from Recepcin. We were each handed a chilled and refreshing glass of jamaica hibiscus and sandia juice and offered a brief tour of the hotel common areas, dining room/bar and small sun deck and pool.
We have Junior Suite #3 ready for your arrival, said Gael, and maybe you would like to finish your drink on your patio!
With our bags unpacked, we opened the full sliding doors and took in the lake and volcano views.fantastic! Junior Suite #3 is not the largest suite of the seven accommodations, but it does have more than adequate space, a comfortable king-sized bed and the largest patio with a superior viewwe loved it!CP proved to be a perfectly situated hideaway, offering the ambiance and sophistication of a private villa and the services of an attentive but non-intrusive staff. During eight nights in residence, guests from Australia, France, the UK, Germany and assorted states in the US, as well as a number of Guatemalans came and went..no complaints were heard from any of them.
The owners private villa is further up the hillside, with three bedrooms, a large private swimming pool and multiple decks, two helicopter landing pads, and several exquisitely decorated indoor and outdoor common areas. Nice, but not the type of place we would have chosen to spend our time.the main building, with all of the cozy common area, restaurant and extensive decks and patios, was more to our liking.
For local transportation we used colectivos, (small pick up trucks which operate on regular routes and somewhat irregular times.but provide an open air ride with Mayans traveling from village to village).why take a taxi or tuk-tuk when 3Q to 5Q will buy a ride and some local interaction in broken Spanish?
Several days we hired a private boat to pick us up at the CP private dock (about one hundred steps down the side of the hill) and explored other villages around the lake.one stop included visiting Casa de Maximon in Santiago Atitlan.how can you possibly not agree to pay only 10Q for the opportunity to take a photo of the Mayan saint of gamblers and drunkards with alleged tendencies for aberrant sex thrown in the mix.worth the experience just meeting two members of the local cofrade guarding the cigar smoking effigy! We also had a boat man drop us at one village....took a couple of hours trekking along a well marked trail.....and arranged a rendezvous later at another popularlakeside restaurant for pick-up.
Jennifer, the General Manager of Casa Palopo, was very helpful and most informative. She has been living in Central American for many years and spent time at other resorts around Lago Attitlan before accepting her present position. If you have a question, want some ideas for a day off the beaten path, just ask her. She is a true asset to the property.
Blanca is another treasure at Recepcin..she is so"sweet" and perfectabout arranging even the tiniest of details to ensure a pleasant visit.
At check-in you are asked to sign a form confirming you would not bring food or drink on to the premises.of course we signed with the full knowledge we had carefully squirreled away snacks and a couple of bottles of red** carefully in our luggage. We had never seen a similar form used before.
Chef Mario Miralles (a classically trained culinary school graduate, as well as the personal chef to the owner) and his experienced and creative cocina crew, such as Edwardo, were more than willing to create interesting off-menu cuisine when requested..if the ingredients can be located, they will make it happen. The chef even got up earlier than normal one morning to prepare Chilaquiles (maybe not gourmet level to many, but something we enjoy when prepared correctly) for our breakfast after we had bought some tomatillos at the Solola market.
We also contacted Carlos at Atitlan Services [email protected]. A very enterprising young man, who owns the successful family operated tour service, and also works as a waiter at CP. Carlos has a fleet of new and clean Toyota vans and can arrange to take individuals or small groups almost any place in Guatemala. His services are competitively priced, including his private transfers to and from Antigua or Guatemala City.
Thinking back about those on-line complains...maybe they picked the wrong property for their stay, since there are ample budget hotels, posadas, and hostels around Lake Atitlan. Local bars are also plentiful in Pana (PanaRock is owned by Pasqualea French expatspeaks great Spanish with a French accent). Most of bars offer Happy Hour specials and low prices on Guatemalas Gallo Cerveza.so there are alternatives for inexpensive drinking, should Casa Palopos wine list pose an economic hardship!If you feel good about yourself..splurge and let yourself go.enjoy the food, the wine and most of all, soak up every nuance of this very special place.
If you feel otherwise, take along a sleeping back, hitch a ride on a Chicken Bus and pick another place to stay!
Would we considerstaying at Casa Palopo again to relax and continue our explorations????.of course!
**(a 750ml Cheateau Pichon Longueville 2004 Pauilla and a 750ml Dievole Broccato Toscano 2004. ThePauillac was rationed over the course of several nights at sunset, while we enthusiastically consumed the Braccato with a plate of selected imported cheeses including a tangy chvre from France and an exceptional Picorino Romano from Sardinia.)
Message Edited by omegaet on 02-21-2009 06:02 PM
Message Edited by omegaet on 02-28-2009 08:38 AM