High-End Hotels and Resorts
Guatemala City boasts the presence of many luxury chains, including Crowne Plaza, Westin, and InterContinental, among others. You’ll also find luxury hotels in Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and the vicinity of Tikal and Flores, in Petén. Antigua has some of the nicest boutique hotels anywhere in the world, and plenty of them. Rates at Guatemala’s nicer hotels can range $100–900 a night. Many Guatemala City luxury hotels cater to business travelers and deals might be available for weekend stays. These are usually advertised on their websites. Near Retalhuleu, the Hostales del IRTRA seem like a bit of a misnomer, as the complex is less like a hostel and more like a large resort complex with some truly luxurious suites with all the look and feel of a Four Seasons. There are plans in the works for a convention center and golf resort.
This category has gained relevance only in recent years as the Pacific Coast’s long-neglected beaches have become the target of tourism development. Most of the Pacific Coast’s resorts are Along the Iztapa–Monterrico Road or in either of these towns, including brand-new Cayman Suites and Dos Mundos Pacific Resort. West of Puerto San José, Chulamar features the sprawling Villas del Pacífico, a sizable all-inclusive resort fronting black-sand beaches. It’s popular on weekends, but you may have the place all to yourself during the week if a cruise ship isn’t docked at nearby Puerto Quetzal.
On the Caribbean Coast near Puerto Barrios, Amatique Bay Resort is a sizable complex fronting an artificial white-sand beach with its own marina and three restaurants. Across the bay near Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla and its new cruise-ship terminal, Green Bay Hotel also fronts an artificial beach along a lagoon and provides easy access to nearby nature preserves. It is rumored that international hotel chains have expressed interest in developing the remote beaches on the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge promontory, though it seems to contradict its status as a wildlife refuge. But then again, that’s never stopped tourism development before.
Another recent trend is the development of ecolodges springing up seemingly everywhere. These vary from somewhat simple community-run ecolodges to downright stylish, with Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha (on Lake Petén Itzá, near El Remate) at the forefront of the latter category. Most ecolodges are found in Petén department and in the regions of Izabal and Las Verapaces.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com