I’m an ex-pat living in Guatemala and one of my favorite places to go is Lake Atitlan, why? There are a huge amount of reasons, to put it in one word: it’s simply beautiful. But don’t worry there’s a huge amount of places to visit in Guatemala, but on this occasion, I decided to spend some time in a villa called Hotel Villas Balam Ya, and here is my review!
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala has been written about for years and years. Even in the 1940’s this place was a hot spot for the ‘adventurous’ rich and famous (like the Swedish Countess) and many other aristocrats and merchants.
Why, you might wonder? Because it’s considered one of the top 12 most beautiful lakes in the world. And the world has many lakes. So this honorable credit doesn’t just happen. And once you visit the place you’ll see it too.
Yet, after visiting Lago de Atitlan many times with my family, something changes when you treat yourself to a bit of luxury.
Hotel Villas Balam Ya in Lake Atitlan
After my husband and I had a romantic getaway (lunch) at Meson Panza Verde we got to talking to Ingrid, the general manager, and she mentioned that they have a sister site at the Lake – Hotel Villas Balam Ya. Unlike the ‘adults only’ hotel in Antigua, these were villas specially designed for families. After a very little deliberation, we decided to splurge and enjoy one night on the lake.
Over the past several years we’ve stayed at the lake several times. Each trip we had a different experience from luxury hotels (one room) to small cabins. Yet, when we arrived to Balam Ya, the lake seemed to take on a different look and feel altogether.
If you think to get to Lake Atitlan is hard, there are great alternatives.
Why Staying in Hotel Villas Balam Ya is Worth It
Single room luxury hotels are fun. You have some cool amenities like turn-down services or fluffy towels. But when you have kids, having a living area where you can all hang out on comfy sofas with an awesome entertainment system it makes such a huge difference. And don’t get me started on having your own separate bedrooms.
My three year old still doesn’t sleep through the night at home. However, when we travel the excitement of a new place really wears him out and he gives me a full night’s sleep. And I take full advantage of it when I have my own master bedroom.
Our villa at B’alam Ya – the Mirador – has two floors with two full bedroom suites. One upstairs and another downstairs.
But it was the amazing terraces that truly did it for me. And we had two! Even though we traveled to the lake during the rainy season, and it rained all afternoon and evening, we enjoyed being outdoors for most of the time.
The villa also came with a fully stocked kitchen. I’m not a big cook, and during trips I almost never do. But for some reason I was struck with a domestic calling and decided to cook my family a meal.
Yet another reason to enjoy your terrace for sunsets and dinner.
Amenities and Design of B’alam Ya
The owners of Panza Verde and B’alam Ya have a unique talent for design and covering all the needs and wants of their patrons, without their patrons even realizing how much better their stay will be with these little additions and attention to details. Spiral staircases are always winners.
My husband is a huge Birder. He usually always brings his gear when we travel. But lately, after a three-year-old it’s easy to forget such things. So when we discovered binoculars and a book about Birds in Mexico and Central America, he was in his glory. He was up at 5 am checking out the different birds that came directly to our porch.
He even got my oldest son to do it with him, but at 7 am.
I fell in love with the artwork. All around the villa were unique artworks, sculptures, and photographs. Perfectly arranged and just in the right place. This is a weak spot for me, since I don’t have the talent for this. But when someone clearly does, that in itself is art.
Good Morning Lake Atitlan
Nothing beats feathered beds, with a gorgeous view from the glass walls of the master bedroom. But the knock on the door for our in-room breakfast service was sublime.
A light, healthy breakfast is included in the price of the villa made fresh for you in your villa and served on the terrace.
Time to Explore the Grounds of Hotel Villas Balam Ya
The property has four totally different and unique villas. There is even one for couples with one bedroom. Our villa is one of the highest over looking the property. But it is placed so well, you never see other people or hear anyone else.
You can go all the way down to the piers where you can take out canoes for free. Or you can have your kids climb the walls like mine were doing every chance they got.
I personally preferred to sit outside in the yard of our villa amongst the trees and flowers. Almost enjoying the tranquility. But with kids, that can never really be experienced. And quite frankly, if I don’t hear their excitement and see their curiosity, I stress more than simply sitting and listening to the birds chirping.
Information For B’alam Ya
There really isn’t a best time to come to the Lake and stay at the villas. You can have your pick of one of the four villas.
After reserving, you can decide if you want to have a cook, or do it yourself. They can also have groceries waiting for you from this list of groceries.
After staying at the villa, the lake has come back alive for me. The isolation and pure tranquility of the place will transport you to a place you never want to leave.
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