Editors note: this article was orginally written in July 2014. I have not been back since 2014 so I apologize if any of my experiences or observations are today out of date.
It was all of the little things that made my stay at Laguna Lodge truly magical. It was the attention to detail and the staff going the extra inch to make everything work.
When our driver, Pedro, took us to the dock in Panajachel to catch the first of many boats, it was pouring rain and the water was dark and choppy. Our boat pulled up to the doc, and a tall, slim, white guy climbed out of the shaky boat and introduced himself in a thick Australian accent as Jeffro, the owner of Laguna Lodge. He offered us his umbrella and told the Captain of the boat, Andres, to take good care of us and to make sure that we got settled in okay. He shook both of our hands and headed off the dock, up the slippery hill, and disappeared into Panajachel.
After the 20 minute thrill ride, we arrived at Laguna lodge, which appeared to be a well built hut in the middle of a dense and dark forest. There were men waiting at the dock for us with umbrellas. They grabbed our bags, and walked us into the lodge.
This is what I mean when i say it was the little things. Jeff insisted on giving us an umbrella knowing that the ride to the lodge is covered and that there would be men on the dock waiting with umbrellas.
This primary anecdote reveals all you need to know about Laguna Lodge.
We walked up the stairs and a soft spoken baby faced Benjamin initiated our tour of the lodge by showing us into the dining area where a young woman was waiting for us with fresh squeezed melon juice. It was one of those moments where you had no idea that that is exactly what you were wanting. Right away you notice how beautiful the lodge is. There is so much attention to detail and yet it is all so simple. The lodge is small yet spacious with multiple communal rooms and a nature reserve.
Our room was a split level suite with a balcony over looking the ever expansive Lake Atitlan. It was clean and sturdy, built by Jeffro himself, and it was fabulous. I am no stranger to travel nor luxury but I could barely contain my squeals as I realized that I was going to be living in this modern paradise for the remainder of my time in the country.
The staff at laguna lodge is small and so you see the same people everyday. It creates a very intimate and safe space. You know who is cleaning your room, who is serving breakfast, and who to expect for dinner. In a really short time it starts to feel like family. I remember one night, Benjamin was off or sick or something and my heart legitimately sank a little.
Laguna Lodge, in an attempt to remain conscientious and reduce their environmental footprint, serves all vegetarian/vegan food that is mostly organic and locally produced. They grow and process their own coffee, they get vegetables from local towns, and they make most of their processed goods in house (brown sugar syrup, whole wheat bread, cheese).
I am not a vegetarian and up until my stay at the lodge, I truly believed that Indian Food was the only vegetarian food I could eat without missing meat, but I had some of the best vegetarian cuisine at Laguna Lodge that I have ever had.
For the record, I ate at other hotels, restaurants, and cafes all around the lake and in the cities near Lake Atitlan and Laguna Lodge has the BEST food.
From the beautiful views, to the lodge’s resident napping dog, to their bug-relocation (get this, they did not want any bugs killed so if a critter got into your room or in your way you could call someone and they would relocate it) policy. Everything was wonderful. It opened to my eyes to the possibility of living simply and in luxury without having to be wasteful and detrimental to the environment.
I hope to keep exploring and supporting places that are dedicated to the environment and to their local communities.
I can’t say enough about Laguna Lodge. It was such a phenomenal experience.
I will let the pictures (and there are a lotttt of them) do the rest of the talking.
Thank you Jeffro, Benjamin, Andres and the rest of the Laguna Lodge staff and team for such a wonderful experience.
Update: It's been 4 years and I still have such fond memories of Laguna Lodge. It was truly the trip of the lifetime. Maybe I'll try to make it back their this year and give you guys an update. No promises but fingers crossed!