Outside of Town
On a working 40-acre avocado farm, Earthlodge (tel. 5664-0713 or 5613-6934, www.earthlodgeguatemala.com, dorms $4 p/p, $13 d in tree house or cabin) is a sure bet for wonderful volcano views and the chance to get away from it all at a reasonable distance from town in the surrounding hillsides. Accommodations include a shared-bath, eight-bed dormitory, three A-frame cabins, and a tree house. The private cabins and tree house are wonderfully secluded in a grove of Spanish oaks and have fabulous views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Each has a large double bed. Bathrooms are shared.
Delicious vegetarian dinners are served family- style for $5, though carnivores need not despair as meat options are also available, including a fun weekend barbecue. Breakfast items include eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Heaping sandwiches and salads are served for lunch. You can relax in a hammock and take in the valley views, hike nearby trails, or sweat out any remaining First World stress in the stone-and-mortar sauna. There are also books, movies, music, and games on hand should you need further entertainment. Spanish classes are also available and the owners accept volunteers to help out with chores in exchange for reduced rates on food and bed. The lodge is run by a friendly Canadian-American couple who will pick you up in town in their green VW bug with prior notice for a nominal gas charge, as they come into Antigua almost daily. Alternatively, you can hitch a chicken bus to the village of El Hato for about $0.50 or flag a pickup truck heading this way.
In nearby Santa Ana, Posada El Ensueño (Calle del Agua, Callejón La Ermita Final, Santa Ana, tel. 7832-7958, www.posadaelensueno.com, $95–115 d) is a splendid bed-and-breakfast in a quiet setting. Run by American expatriate Carmen Herrerias, the lodge has three tastefully decorated rooms with garden showers, one of which is a suite. It’s a great place to relax away from the action in Antigua. Breakfast and home-cooked meals are served poolside, and Carmen loves to cook for her guests. There’s also a small heated lap pool and bikes to get around. It’s about a 25-minute walk to Antigua’s central park.
Just minutes from Antigua in neighboring San Felipe de Jesús, Filadelfia Coffee Resort and Spa (150 meters north of the San Felipe de Jesús church, tel. 7728-0800, hotel [at] rdaltoncoffee [dot] com, $211–449 d including breakfast) is a working coffee farm where you can stay in a splendid neocolonial building harboring luxurious accommodations. The 20 spacious rooms have tile floors, king- or queen-size beds, classy Guatemalan furnishings, cable TV with DVD player, large two-sink bathrooms, glass showers with antique tiles, and nice patios with furniture. There are four standard rooms, 14 deluxe doubles, and two master suites with island kitchen and a living room with leather sofa and large desk. Coffee machinery and wooden carvings adorn the public areas, while the main building harbors a cozy lobby adorned with Persian rugs. Activities include twice-daily coffee tours lasting two hours each at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. ($15), mule riding ($20), and a four-hour hike to a lookout point ($50, including sack lunch). An elegant restaurant in the main lodge serves international dishes with flair.
Closer to the farm’s main entrance is Cafetenango (tel. 5219-9291, 7:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 7:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Sun.), offering a more casual dining atmosphere in a country setting with lovely volcano views. It serves eggs, fruit, and yogurt for breakfast ($4), grilled meats and sandwiches for lunch and dinner ($6–12). Traditional Guatemalan dishes ($10) include pollo en jocón and pepián de pollo.
Antigua now has its very own golf resort, thanks to forward-thinking Guatemalan investors willing to plunk down $80 million to provide Antigua with something its world-class offerings once lacked. Opened in 2008, La Reunión Antigua Golf Resort (Km. 91.5 Carretera CA-14, tel. 7873-1400, www.lareunion.com.gt, $220 d) lies 17 kilometers from Antigua in neighboring Alotenango on the road to the Pacific Coast. The hotel setting and its Pete Dye–designed 18-hole golf course is truly spectacular, flanked by four volcanoes and lush green fields. The larger Suites Gran Clase are worth the splurge (an extra $30), for their private infinity-edge plunge pools and a Jacuzzi hot tub with stunning volcano views (Agua and active Pacaya). The luxuriously well-furnished rooms have L’Occitane bath products, a/c, and satellite TV.
Plans call for the existing 26-room boutique hotel to be joined by a 125-room hotel managed by an international hotel chain. For now, La Reunión remains wonderfully peaceful. The only sounds you’ll hear are the chirping of birds, the occasional roar of a distant lawnmower, and, once in a while, a landing helicopter announcing the arrival of Guatemala City’s business elite coming in for a round of golf. It’s all par for the course.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com