La Lancha: A Review
This fall saw me Spending Time in Central America, visiting both Guatemala and Belize. You probably haven’t heard of La Lancha, or Lake Petén Itzá for that matter, but you should know about them! I had the pleasure of staying at La Lancha recently and it far exceeded my expectations so I decided to write a review.
Some quick info: La Lancha is one of five of Francis Ford Coppola’s “hideaways” – I regularly stay at the two properties in Belize, Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn. There is also one in Argentina and one in Italy (both on my list!). Located on the hill above Lake Petén Itzá, La Lancha is an eco resort with all the 5 star amenities you could want. It is tucked into a gorgeous and unspoiled pocket of Guatemala. I also feel it’s worth mentioning that La Lancha is the least expensive of all three hideaways in Central America, however I find them each to be worth every penny!
The property has ten rooms, only two of which are free standing (the rest are connected). The smallest are the Rainforest Casitas which would be perfect for a solo traveler or a couple that doesn’t mind being in close quarters.
Photos of Rainforest Casitas from The Family Coppola Hideaways
The rooms with the “best view” are the Lakeview Suites, which are rather large and have two bathrooms, separate living areas and are connected (they share a large deck).
Photos of Lakeview Suites from The Family Coppola Hideaways
My recommendation would be the Rainforest Junior Suites. I booked one of them (there are two) and they are the most private on the property. They are located over a bridge from the main building and are free standing. You also get a fairly good view of the lake – I’m partial to the one I stayed in (the upper) but they’re both gorgeous. You get an entire wraparound porch to yourself, complete with seating area, table and hammocks. Inside you’ll find an open floor plan with living area and a large double sided bathroom. There’s plenty of space to travel with your SO without feeling like you’re tripping over each other (just ask Mr. BGB!).
Exterior photos of Rainforest Junior Suites from The Family Coppola Hideaways, interior photos from Baby Got Balance
Upon arrival we decided to grab lunch before doing the official check-in. The dining area and main bar are located under the main palapa along with the front desk, library/lounge area and gift shop. It’s all open air and has breathtaking views of the lake. The weather, however, has its own agenda on Lake Petén Itzá. We arrived under sunny skies and ordered food to eat before checking in. Ten minutes later a massive thunderstorm rolled in and we had to move our table farther in to avoid getting soaked by the torrential rain. Then the power went out! Due to this we were asked to finish our check-in the following morning as the computers were down. No issues for us, when you’re this remote you have to be willing to be flexible when it comes to WiFi, power and weather.
The next morning we got a tour of the grounds and it was so much more than I was expecting! High up on the hillside, near our lodging was the mirador. It’s an open air lounge and dining area that’s open to guests (but can also be booked for private meals, massages or yoga classes). Built into the hillside below the main building is the small pool and lounge area and below that is the entrance to the funicular. What’s a funicular? It’s a sort of open elevator/carnival ride that is used to go up and down to the lake shore should you not want to do the 200 plus steep steps in the heat and humidity. It’s also really fun! At the bottom of the steps/funicular stop is the temazcal and then the lakeside bar, dining area and dock.
Let’s be honest: you can stay at the most beautiful, perfect, dreamy place in the world but if the food and drinks are off it’s a disaster. This is absolutely not the case at La Lancha! From their continental breakfast that’s included in the room rate (fruit, pastries, toast, house made jam, coffee & juice) to the wine list (complete with Coppola’s own wines!) your biggest worry will be that you don’t have enough time to try everything you want.
The staff at La Lancha were more than accommodating for my dietary restrictions (vegan) and my husband, who eats meat but not seafood, was more than happy with his options.
I could easily have stayed for several days and not left the property. The sparkling turquoise of Lake Petén Itzá beckons and after a temazcal and lakeside lunch/cocktails I could just lounge by the pool or read at the mirador. I enjoyed my downtime here but also wanted to explore (how could you not?). You can pick from a number of Mayan site visits, including Tikal, or guided hiking, horseback riding, Spanish lessons or zip lining. You can also head out onto the lake, either via the provided canoes/paddle boards or boat hire. I went with a hike to Tikal (one of my reasons for staying here was to be close to the site) and a day on the lake visiting several local towns via charter boat (read more about that here).
I would highly recommend La Lancha if you’re looking at Guatemala for your next adventure! The staff were wonderful, which is something you’ll come to expect when you stay at a Coppola property. The balance between being unobtrusive and completely available (and helpful) is perfectly achieved at La Lancha.
So who should go and who should pass? If you’re looking for quiet tranquility or romance it would be amazing! Want a jumping off point for hiking, exploring the lake or other adventures? Totally for you! Solo? Snatch up a Rainforest Casita and enjoy! You might want to look elsewhere if you have mobility issues or if you hate nature. Also, if you’re not flexible when it comes to issues with eco/remote resorts this probably won’t do it for you. Finally, while they accept children I’m not sure if this would be ideal for traveling with small children but ultimately you know your situation/kids best!
Just a final note: La Lancha did not provide me with any incentive or discount for writing this review, nor were they aware that I would be writing about them during my stay. These opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post!
If you enjoyed my La Lancha review make sure to stay tuned for reviews of other Coppola hideaways. Interested in reading more about Central America? Head over here to catch up on where to stay, Mayan ruins to visit and more!
Have you stayed in Guatemala? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know all about your trip in the comments.