Gu­atemala has a spir­i­tual and cul­tural rich­ness that’s hard to ex­plain. There’s some­thing about the coun­try’s land­scape— its misty moun­tain peaks and lush jun­gles— that draws you in and cap­ti­vates you from the mo­ment you de­scend into Gu­atemala City. This en­chant­ment is only fur­thered as you make your way into the high­lands to­ward Gu­atemala’s crown jewel: the nat­u­ral won­der that is Lake Ati­tlán. Three ac­tive vol­ca­noes tower over this sap­phire­blue ex­panse of wa­ter, which is framed by charm­ing Mayan vil­lages and hill­side hip­pie en­claves. It’s a place where peo­ple look to shamans for spir­i­tual guid­ance and chil­dren grow up re­spect­ing the xo­comil, a wind that blows in to churn up the lake each af­ter­noon and, ac­cord­ing to leg­end, takes with it the sins of the vil­lagers.

Lake Ati­tlán is also home to one of the most beau­ti­ful bou­tique ho­tels in Cen­tral Amer­ica, Casa Palopó. This Re­lais & Châteaux prop­erty (the only one of its kind in Gu­atemala), perched in the bu­colic hills out­side the tiny town of Santa Cata­rina Palopó, pro­vides guests with in­cred­i­ble ser­vice, gourmet food, an on-site he­li­pad, and a mag­nif­i­cent view of the lake and vol­ca­noes. Whether you choose one of the seven rooms in the Casa’s main build­ing or the prop­erty’s sep­a­rate two-room villa, you’ll find the ho­tel is the per­fect base from which to ex­plore the area.

Spend your days boat­ing, hik­ing or tour­ing the coffee fields of nearby San Pedro on horse­back, and your evenings watch­ing the sun set from the ter­race of 6.8 Palopó, the ho­tel’s fine din­ing restau­rant. Casa Palopó can also ar­range spa treat­ments, mar­ket tours and even tra­di­tional shamanic bless­ing cer­e­monies dur­ing your stay. —Jen O’Brien

Learn more about Gu­atemala at wed­ding­­atemala

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