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Guatemala: An Artsy Escape

Words by Susan Moynihan
Photos courtesy of Casa Palopó

Set in the Guatemalan Highlands on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Casa Palopó started as a vacation home and still feels that way, dressed with vibrant colors, handcrafted wooden furniture and an eclectic array of Latin American art. In fact, the art was one of the things that sealed the deal for owner Claudia Bosch when she bought the hotel. "The former owner was an art collector," she says. "I loved the artwork, too, so when we bought the hotel he included it."

The homey living room/bar welcomes visitors who make the 90-mile trek from Guatemala City with oversized sofas, cheeky Botero paintings and colorful folk art. A wooden confessional booth sits in the tiled hallway, adding whimsy. Each of the seven suites has a different color palette, with wood-beamed ceilings, textile accents and cushy beds facing lakefront windows or terraces. The hotel is a member of Relais & Châteaux, so the cuisine at 6.8 Palopó is a work of art as well, offering a classic European take on local ingredients like seafood and plantains. For destination weddings, take over the property’s sister villa as well. Located just above the hotel, it has two more bedrooms, a large open-air salon and infinity pool with wide sun deck, and overlooks a grassy lawn perfect for ceremonies. Casa Palopó has a second private villa in the historic capital of Antigua, ideal if you want to do some pre or post-lake exploring.

Guatemala is spot-on for adventurous honeymooners interested in nature and cultural exploration. Hiking and horseback riding are a natural in the region, as are tours to indigenous villages like Panajachel and Santa Catarina Palopó, where women weave and sell colorful textiles, with patterns unique to each home village. And you won't want to miss a chance to get out on the water; Central America's deepest lake is strikingly beautiful and edged by three active volcanoes. When you're back from your excursions, settle into a chaise at one of the two solar-heated infinity pools and watch the sun disappear behind the mountains.

For your honeymoon finale, arrange a session with a local shaman who will come to the hotel and perform a private blessing for you both, designed to strengthen your bond as you go into your next chapter of life together – the perfect cap to a honeymoon.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2016 issue. You can order a copy here.

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