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Imagine a week in paradise, waking up every morning to the sounds of birds and the serenity of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, learning to cook a variety of gourmet vegan specialties. Then this week-long vegan cooking workshop is for you!
The maximum participants in the group is 4.
Lake Villa Guatemala is truly private. It is located in a gated area, surrounded by trees, and have a private beach.
The Garden View room is on the 2nd floor, adjacent to the meditation and yoga space. This room is preferred by those who have difficulty with stairs, as it is the shortest distance to the common and dining areas, and by those who want the convenience of in-room WiFi.
This room is on the lowest floor, closest to the lake. It is two flights of stairs from the common and dining areas. The room has a private entrance and patio, with steps leading to the lake path.
In-room coffee and tea service is available.
If you are vegan, you know how challenging it can be to travel and maintain your vegan diet. Many who come to stay at Lake Villa Guatemala are not vegan or vegetarian, but appreciate the healthy whole food cuisine we offer. Even our non-veg guests rave about our food. You will as well explore local markets, visit picturesque villages, and see some of the spectacular sites of Guatemala.
Guided lake tour
Guatemala is literally in the heart of the Americas. Bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Honduras to the southeast, and El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean to the south. It is the most populated country in Central America.
The most popular destinations in Guatemala are Tikal, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan. Guatemala has many other wonderful destinations that are less visited. Some of these are:
Guatemala has amazing fresh fruits and vegetables with vibrant flavor. Produce is picked ripe here and sold the same day in local markets. We have a small garden, several fruit trees, and buy most of the produce in the local markets. All produce is disinfected with an ultrasonic washer. All meals are plant-based (vegan). Here are a few sample meals. With advance notice we can accommodate special dietary needs and food sensitivities (gluten, soy, nuts, etc.). We can also support a raw foods diet.
These are just a few of the possibilities!
Lake Villa Guatemala offers daily tours of local villages and trips to local markets. Lake Villa Guatemala will help you find the best of Guatemala's amazing textiles, art, and woodworking. They also offer guided kayak tours.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, vendors come from around Guatemala and set out their fabric items in the parking lot of the fire department (bomberos). This is where tipico dealers come to shop, and you can find some wonderful pieces at great prices. Selection is best in the morning, and the market usually wraps up around 3-4pm (or earlier in the rainy season).
Cerro de Oro is a sweet village that doesn’t even make it on to most tourist maps. It has no hotels or restaurants. It’s the closest village to Lake Villa Guatemala, and our workers come from there. It is a Tzutujil village. Cerro de Oro (Hill of Gold) is named for the hill that is its distinguishing feature. Some geologists say that the hill is a parasitic lava dome from Atitlan volcano, but others say it is an ancient volcano in its own right. The locals call Cerro de Oro the Elefante Dormido (sleeping elephant) because of its shape. The hill’s shape inspired Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s “boa constrictor digesting an elephant” in his book The Little Prince.
Lake Villa Guatemala can arrange for a local guide to take you up the hill. You’ll stop at the ancient Mayan altar (where ceremonies are still performed) and the mirador, with beautiful views of the lake. You may make it to the carved rock at the top, which some guides say is an ancient map. Though it’s a short distance, this is a steep hike that can be slippery on the way down.
Lake Villa Guatemala arranges fire ceremonies with local Mayan priests and personalized tours to acquaint you with local culture and spiritual practices. A visit to Santiago Atitlan isn’t complete without a trip to the Catholic church, built by the Spanish in 1541 on the site of an ancient Mayan temple, or a stop to see Maximon.
Many guests enjoy ceremonies with the “chocolate shaman” in San Marcos la Laguna. We suggest combining your trip across the lake with a tour of the lovely village of San Juan la Laguna. San Juan is known for its art galleries, weaving cooperatives, and fabrics colored with all-natural dyes.
Lake Villa Guatemala works with local healers to arrange Mayan fire ceremonies in Santiago Atitlan. All ceremonies are tailored to the needs of the participants.
Fire ceremonies must be arranged in advance. The shaman selects the day based on the purpose of the ceremony (such as physical healing, business success, relationships) and the date on the Mayan calendar. You can combine a fire ceremony with a short walking tour of Santiago Atitlan, a trip to the Cojolya Association of Maya Women Weavers, a bit of shopping, and lunch in town.
Finca Xetuc is located in the back of Santiago bay. Owners Jim and Nancy have a beautiful property and many years of experience with leading horseback rides. They offer hourly rides, or longer rides that include a meal upon your return to the ranch (breakfast, lunch, or cocktail rides). They also offer organized hikes with beautiful views.
You can rent our boat to explore on your own, or have us guide you to our favorite spots. Our most popular tour takes you to San Juan La Laguna and San Pedro La Laguna. Tour leaves around 10:00 for a boat trip to San Juan. San Juan is one of the cleanest villages in Guatemala. A 20-year campaign has resulted in recycling and everyone picking up trash. But more than cleanliness, San Juan is known for its painters and for its weaving cooperatives that specialize in natural dyes.
In the art galleries, you can see the work of young children, who are taught to paint at an early age. You can also see styles that are sold in Antigua for twice the price and are copied throughout Guatemala. The weaving cooperatives have demonstrations of spinning raw cotton into thread, backstrap weaving, and the plants used to create natural dyes. After San Juan, you take the short boat ride to San Pedro, which is the “hippie” capital of the lake, and is home to most of the lake’s Spanish schools. They have a lovely park in front of their church, but the real draw here is lunch. San Pedro has a good selection of restaurants with plenty of vegan options. An alternative to San Pedro is San Marcos La Laguna, the “New Age” town. The paths wind through the wooded town where no cars or tuk-tuks are allowed, past massage and energy healing schools. They have a few of restaurants with good vegan options.
Are you an artist? Beautiful subjects surround you. Are you a writer? We have lots of private space for you to write. Musician? We have an electronic piano and acoustic guitar available. The acoustics in the upper common area are amazing. Lake Villa Guatemala is the perfect place to get away from distractions and practice your craft.
San Antonio is home to small factories that produce a distinctive style of ceramics. From mugs and plates to door pulls and flower vases, you’ll find beautiful pieces for your home or to give as gifts.
San Juan is one of our guests’ favorite destinations. Walk up from the boat dock past weaving and art co-ops, many run by women’s groups. San Juan is best known for weavings made from natural-dye fabrics. Several co-ops have demonstrations of traditional spinning, dying, and backstrap loom weaving. San Juan is also know for its painters, and you can purchase original paintings at a fraction of the price you’ll find them in Antigua.- San Pedro volcano hike
This is a strenuous hike. It goes up and up. The views at the top are spectacular if you have a clear day, and clouds can quickly move in around the top of the volcano. The trail is well-maintained, and there are great guides who will offer encouragement along the way.
Some say it takes three hours to go up and an hour and a half to come down. Those people must have really good knees. I hiked with two guests who are around my age, and it took us as long to get down as to get up… about six hours total.Though well-maintained, the trail can be slippery. Expect to be sore for a couple of days after this hike.
We are blessed to have Dolores Ratzán Pablo in Santiago. Dolores lived in the US for 10 years and speaks excellent English. She is active in a Santiago cofradía (spiritual brotherhood) and gives an excellent walking tour, including the church, Maximon, and if desired, another cofradía.
Cojolya Weaving Co-op and Museum: For over 30 years, the Cojolya Association of Maya Women Weavers has been helping to keep the tradition of backstrap weaving alive, while providing income to its members. Cojolya uses traditional methods with high quality materials and modern designs to create unique styles. They have a small store and museum in the heart of Santiago. Cojolya offers tours where you can meet the weavers in their homes and workshops, and see how the work is done. Current price for the tour is Q80. They also offer weaving classes for Q23 per hour plus a materials fee of Q150. A stop at the store and museum can be included in any trip to Santiago during the week (they’re closed on weekends). Tours and classes require a day’s notice to arrange.
Panajachel has some of the best shopping for Guatemalan weavings (“tipico”), wood carvings, beaded items, and jewelry. It also has cheap, not-so-great stuff. The main shopping street, Calle Santander, has vendors selling almost anything you might want to buy in Guatemala. If you go on a guided tour, we’ll show you our favorite shops and, if you want, help you bargain. Remember that vendors expect you to bargain and they usually start with a high price - often double the real price.
The nearest airport is La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City.
"I had stayed here when this Shangri-La first opened. It was a wow, undiscovered jewel. The memories of the handmade cashew milk that was richer than cream in my coffee... truly amazing. Having recently returned and communing with Tracy (and Mark!) has made this non-social media guy - motivated to venture into the virtual world letting everyone know of this extremely special place. While it has been discovered...it remains a place that feels off the beaten path with high end personal connection and luxury!"
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"Set in a beautiful location on lake Atitlán with lake frontage this B&B was excellent. Super comfy bed, hot tub and best of all sumptuous vegan cooking. If you're a meat eater you'll still love the food! Traci and Mark were really helpful and fabulous hosts. I will come back. The lake is an amazing experience."
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"This is a wonderful experience. The location is beautiful, Traci and Mark are excellent hosts, not only providing useful information but also fun conversation that helped us understand the region better, and of course the food is excellent. Traci and Mark were also very accommodating of our logistical desires, which helped us make the most of the limited time (3 nights, 2 days) that we had available to us. I would love to come back here."
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"I expected to have a wonderful time at Lake Villa Guatemala after viewing the website, (I actually chose to travel to Guatemala because of this vegan bed and breakfast), but it surpassed my expectations. Traci and Mark are wonderful hosts. I really appreciated how they provided information about local activities and food. "
"My boyfriend and I stayed with them for three days and not only enjoyed their beautiful, comfortable home (RIGHT on Lake Atitlan, but also quiet,) but their company. We loved conversations over dinner and felt like we were talking with interesting, intelligent, cultured, fun, kind friends. "
"On the same note, both Mark and Traci are very supportive of personal space. Though it is their home, I never felt like I couldn't leave to take a nap or eat breakfast with just my boyfriend, if I wanted to. The house is large and there are areas to practice yoga, relax in a hammock, or even lift hand-weights. Truly, Traci works with her guests to tailor the trip and activities to personal preference. She even asked us which foods we liked/did not like before arriving to Guatemala! "
"And the food. We were so happy! Traci cooks everything vegan and from scratch, including her breads. She gives guests a guide about what she can make, and lets you make suggestions. I am certain that even non-vegans would enjoy her cooking. We were so happy with the meals that we bought dinner each night too! (Breakfast is included)."
"We explored Santiago by ourselves one afternoon and had Traci and Mark with us the next day to visit towns around the lake. One day when we needed a guide to hike Cerro de Oro, Traci contacted a trusted friend to help us make the climb. "
"I can't say enough about our stay at Lake Villa Guatemala, the view, and our hospitable hosts. Thank you Traci and Mark for a wonderful time!"
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"If you are ready to disconnect from the stresses of a busy life, I highly recommend the Lake Villa Guatemala. It is one of the most peaceful places on the planet. Only several hours from Guatemala City, on a road that can be a little bumpy in places, the time flew by as we chatted with our driver, Mark. We stayed in the Lake View room which offers great privacy and beautiful views of Lake Atitlan. We enjoyed fresh French Press coffee in our room each morning as we watched the fishermen out for their morning rounds. The vegan cooking workshop was great as we learned new ways to prepare wonderful gourmet meals each afternoon. The meals were delicious and we were never hungry. I even came home 3 pounds lighter from the healthy meals. Traci and Mark were very gracious hosts and tended to our every need. They guided us on tours and shopping in the many adorable villages around the lake. Both are very talented musicians and singers and we were delighted as they performed fun songs from folk to modern rock. Traci even found a fantastic place for my wife to get a facial, which she thoroughly enjoyed. We enjoyed learning about the Mayan culture and the very friendly disposition of the local Guatemalan residents. Hiking the volcano in Santiago was arduous, but the views from the top are spectacular. Mark’s son, Kyle was our wonderful guide for the hike and we were impressed by his knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Spending afternoons in the hammocks down by the lake with a good book was very relaxing and nap inducing. While our trip was to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday, don’t wait for a special occasion to visit this incredible place. Everything was perfect."
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"I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat that well again for a six-day stretch! I took Traci up on her offer of a vegan cooking workshop at Lake Villa Guatemala and it was exactly what I was looking for. We (used loosely - I did a lot of learning from the expert) cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of my stay (with a couple of exceptions to accommodate boat trips during the day). Everything (truly not an exaggeration) was delicious and I left for home with doable recipes, tips from an experienced chef, and a desire to see how vegan I can be (I’ve been vegetarian for years but only experimenting with veganism). The setting is beautiful, the bed and breakfast beautifully appointed, and I thoroughly enjoyed outings to several indigenous villages and kayaking on the lake. Traci took care of everything - including transportation to and from Guatemala City - and she and her partner, Mark, had lots of Guatemala-related knowledge which I was eager to lap up. Traci was lovely and my stay delightful. I highly recommend Lake Villa Guatemala. What a gem!"
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