CASA PALOMA: Your Own Piece of Paradise in San Marcos Atitlan, Guatemala

In Destinations by Kathryn Lejeune

As the boat glides through the beautiful waters of Lake Atitlan and around one last rocky outcropping, a dream comes true. Like a shining white gem, Casa Paloma stands out among the deep jungle greens while still somehow existing in complete harmony with its surroundings.

This custom built house took years of loving design and contemplation to become the architectural masterpiece it is today. Cultivated from a rich appreciation of the local culture, combined with an inspired aesthetic that mirrors the natural beauty of Lake Atitlan, we found ourselves captivated by every square foot. Paintings, sculptures, and textiles abound and serve as excellent motivation to go shopping at the nearby craft markets– as if we needed any more incentive!

Each spacious room afforded picturesque views of the volcanos. A loft with a live tree growing through is perfect for children or imaginative adults. For extra privacy and a bit of adventure, a separate hut near the sauna can create a true jungle experience.

The extensive gardens, with nooks for reading and entertaining, are carefully tended each day by talented gardeners. The discrete, yet friendly, staff, is always happy to help set up the sauna, fireplaces, and pizza oven. Several reading nooks and lounging areas provide a chance for seclusion even within the grounds. A small private dock is perfect for jumping into the jewel toned lake whose healing waters refresh body and soul.

Upon arrival, the manager, Tim Reher, who is also a local coffee brewer greeted us warmly. He provided us with a freshly baked loaf of thick nutty bread and offered some of his incredible coffee for purchase. Through Tim, we arranged for some local women to cook a welcome lunch of tamales, vegetables, rice, beans, and tortillas. We ate on the front patio, overlooking the dramatic visage of the volcano. The kitchen is fully stocked with all the tools we needed to make dinner throughout the week using the supplies we purchased in Panajachel.

The nearby town of San Marcos is a ten minute walk from the gate of the house, though the gate is up quite a few stairs. The other easy option is to simply take the kayak over into town. San Marcos is known for its holistic centers. Plenty of options for massage, yoga, and readings. I met a Reiki master who fixed my shoulder after too much kayaking. Live music is easy to find in town and there are several restaurants worth exploring. Call Tim for any suggestions around San Marcos or neighboring villages.

A private boat is easy to secure for a short trip or the day. There are also frequent public lanchas that leave from the main San Marcos dock, though be advised that those end around 7pm.

Casa Paloma is available to rent year round through VRBO: http://www.vrbo.com/101621

Sleep 10. Rates start at $1,000 per week.