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Introducing Lake Atitlán Eco Lodge La Fortuna

– Is it Remarkable?

Are you headed to Lake Atitlán? One of your top orders of business will be to find where you’ll stay. You needn’t dig very deep on social media to come across imagery of the beautiful Lake Atitlán eco lodge, La Fortuna, in Guatemala. But, is it as remarkable as portrayed? I’ll let you be the judge.

Lodging Type: Eco Lodge, Luxury Resort

Approaching La Fortuna by boat, its an intimate boutique property nestled into the landscape

Where is the Hotel Located?

Lake Atitlán is comprised of 11 quaint towns and villages. Some of them are more frequented by travelers than others. The first most important thing to know about La Fortuna, is that it is an isolated resort away from everything.

I arrived in Panajachel, which is often considered the “gateway” to Lake Atitlán, by car, from Antigua. Afterwards, it was time for local cuisine for dinner and then headed by boat to La Fortuna. Since we didn’t want to rush our meal, we kind of made a conscious decision to not take the public ferry boats to the resort. The ferry schedule seems to vary seasonally, but during our October visit, the last ferry was around 6:00pm.

About to board La Fortuna’s private boat to head to the eco lodge

If you do decide to stay at La Fortuna, they have a private boat that can ferry you where you need to go. Whether you book the private boat based on need (outside of public boat hours) or preference, the service is $15 USD and you can add this fee to the total bill for your stay.

Tip: The public boats can ferry you from town to town for 10 Quetzales per person, per trip which roughly comes to about $1.27 USD.

Amenities

On Site Restaurant

On Site Bar

Complimentary Kayak & Paddle Board use

Hot Tub

Plunge Pool

The Bungalows at Lake Atitlán

Eco Lodge La Fortuna

This is the area that La Fortuna truly shines. As far as Lake Atitlán eco lodges go, your actual accommodation, the grounds, the entire resort is just beautiful. The atmosphere is visually mesmerizing. The ambiance is serene. This is what La Fortuna is doing well. It’s photogenic, and thus, perfect for the ‘gram. This is part of what keeps the place booked year round.

Jungle Pathway leading to Bungalow #2

There are only 5 Bungalows on the property. This is honestly great if you’re looking for a low key place to relax. There are typically no more than 10-12 Guests staying at this Lake Atitlán eco lodge at any given time.

The “Deluxe Suite 5” Bungalow, which boasts its own private plunge pool is insta-famous, and thus, is booked out for months in advance. It’s also the largest and most luxurious, with a bath tub that overlooks the lake and volcano.

Bungalow #2 has a large, gorgeous outdoor bathroom area with a outdoor
shower & tub that feels like you’re bathing in nature

By the time I went to book, Bungalow #2 was one of the only two options left. I honestly loved Bungalow #2, which is positioned as their most private as its nestled a bit into the jungle. I loved the extra privacy, personally.

Service

Unfortunately, this is the area that La Fortuna falls short in several ways. Also, your experience will largely be dependent on who is working… more about that in a moment.

Let’s start at the beginning.

When you go to book your stay, you’ll learn about their cancellation policy, or lack of one, rather. La Fortuna does not offer refunds, credits, cancellations or any modifications to your reservation after you book it, no matter what. Or, in their words, “even an act of God” is not grounds for a refund, per their policy.

lots of green, plants, flowers and trees with a view of Lake Atitlan
Emerging from the jungle and heading towards the main lodge

Hmmm. An establishment that has that type of rigid booking policy doesn’t feel customer centric at all. Perhaps it should’ve been an indication of the stay to come.

I wouldn’t normally support a business that didn’t have customer centric policies, but… but… the water front bungalows! I also rationalized that it was a small boutique hotel and maybe too many losses in the past led to their policies.

bungalow at night surrounded by candle light
Bungalow #2 at night, really nice ambiance – we lit the candles for affect

The Lowlights

We had a really pleasant first evening at La Fortuna. The next day, we went to have our breakfast (which is not included, FYI) overlooking the water. The view was delightful, the breakfast was fine. But… (cue suspenseful music)….

Whoever setup the breakfast included a glass pitcher of creamer that was cracked. Unknowingly, I reached for it to pour a bit in my coffee, and ouch.

It cut me really good.

Like, we’re not talking a minor nick here. We’re talking like a mild stabbing and blood gushing down my hand. Cool.

Breakfast spread in front of the lake, macadamia pancakes, omelet, bread, drinks
Breakfast at La Fortuna – $7 person and beverages are extra

So my partner goes to go see if he can get a bandaid from someone and returns back with a first aid kit and an I’m sorry from the staff.

Honestly, it hurt a lot and it was messy, but this wasn’t even what turned me off about the place.

Next, one of the lovely employees (no really, she was pretty great overall), recommended a restaurant she thought I would like in the little town of San Juan. She urged us to check it out.

Only, she gave us the wrong address. We then went on a wild goose chase to find it, involving several tuk tuk rides, strained conversations in Spanish and lots of guess work on foot.

We finally found it. And they were closed. Sigh. Cool.

But, this wasn’t even what turned me off about the place.

brunette woman in a plunge pool overlooking Lake Atitlan
Nice views from the plunge pool and hot tub, available to all Guests

Shift Change of Doom

When we returned back to La Fortuna, there was a shift change. A middle aged woman, with American sensibilities, manners and diction was now holding down the fort, if you will. We asked if Angelica was still there (the sweet Guatemalan girl whom had been hosting us thus far), she curtly responded with barely a glance up:

“No, unfortunately you’ll have to deal with me.” She was likely trying some kind of odd attempt of self-deprecating humor, yet, it was delivered with such painful earnestness.

And boy, did the inference prove true. Cue laughing, then crying.

large white dog resting on a palapa hut overlooking the lake
This sweet girl lives at La Fortuna and is very protective of Guests – she kept us company during breakfast

Later that evening, my partner and I were having a personal conversation while changing our clothes and we heard a knock at our bungalow door.

It was her.

We didn’t know how long she’d been on the porch. We had to scramble around and finish changing, and I ended up having to scurry away to the bathroom so that he could open the door. But by the time he opened it, she was gone. Weird. Because… she could’ve just WhatsApp’d us like the other employee had.

Bumpy Check Out Process – the Hospitality Business Isn’t for Everyone

During our dinner, she then calls my cell phone. I didn’t hear the phone ringing, thus, I missed the call. But to be honest, we were eating dinner and… I wouldn’t have wanted to be on my phone at that time, anyway.

Later, after we finished dinner, I took a shower and got in bed. Like fully in pajamas. She then sends a WhatsApp message asking if we can come to the desk to settle our bill since we would be leaving before they “opened” in the morning. FYI – they “open” at 7:00am and our private boat to take us to Panajachel was arriving at 6:45am.

My partner, also in pajamas, changes and goes to settle the bill. However, the credit card is in my name (it’s my business credit card), and she needed me to come and settle the bill. I asked her if there was any other way we can settle the bill (since she had no problem coming to our bungalow earlier?) and she provides a snarky, yet unhelpful, response. Cool.

So, I threw on a jacket, walked through the resort in my pajamas and she ran my credit card on her phone, where she also had me take a selfie on her phone. Odd, right?

In any case, succeeding this instance, we had an exchange over WhatsApp, where she was delightfully passive aggressive.

I asked one of the other darling and wonderful employees the next morning who the Manager of the entire resort was, and… and… it. was. her. My jaw fell into Lake Atitlan.

Sigh.

If you skim negative reviews on Trip Advisor or Google, you will see several reviews mentioning the manager and owner’s horrible dispositions. I take these things with a grain of salt, but after staying here, I can attest that at least one is true (disclaimer: the owners were not there during my stay, that I know of).

This is their “house drink” made with locally made rum.
Angelica makes amazing drinks, this was delicious!

Hotel Cost

During the month of October, I paid $179.00 USD for Bungalow #2, inclusive of any taxes and fees. This nightly rate does not include any transportation or meals.

Safety & Security

Generally speaking, everywhere I visited in Guatemala and Lake Atitlán felt safe. This property was no exception. Albeit, I did not see any security during our stay, particularly at night. One employee stays overnight on the property, but, it’s unclear how you would access them or communicate with them if needed during odd hours or in case of emergency.

Food Situation

I had modest expectations for the food here, as I’d read that it was underwhelming. While breakfast was good, I thought dinner here (which includes an appetizer course, a main and dessert) was really delicious! Overall, really pleasantly surprised by the food.

Tip: breakfasts are $7, dinners are $20, beverages of any kind are an extra charge.

Spa

While there isn’t a full blown spa here, they do have a massage room. You have to climb a very steep winding staircase to get to it (in fact, the entire property is not friendly to anyone who has mobility issues of any kind). That being said, the massage room is beautiful and overlooks the lake.

Tip: The massages are a great value – 276Q or $35 USD for an hour. The masseuse only accepts cash, USD or Quetzales.

steep, wooden, winding staircase
The beautiful, yet very steep, winding staircase to get to the massage room

Know Before You Go

This Lake Atitlan Eco Lodge does not accept children under the age of 12.

Dogs are welcome, but there are several contingencies; you can read about them here.

If you need transportation outside of the public boat availability, you can schedule a private boat with La Fortuna. They can also book a car ride back to the airport for you in advance, that can be billed to your room.

In the welcome email, they claim to not be setup for credit card, but, outside of my massage, I thankfully was able to put our bill on my card. There is also the option to pay with PayPal, for a 7% up charge. I would come prepared with cash, just in case!

La Fortuna can only be booked directly, through their website.

blue boat on a lake, with volcanoes in the background and the sun rising
Headed to Panajachel by boat to begin our journey back to the airport

Would I Stay Here Again?

All in all, I don’t regret staying here. I had a mostly good experience. Most of the staff is lovely and helpful and really wants the Guests to have a good experience. Undeniably, this is probably one of the most alluring and aesthetic stays amongst Lake Atitlán eco lodges. This is a great place to stay if you’re looking to disconnect, be off grid and immersed in serenity and quiet. It’s not the best option if your intention is to explore the towns and surrounding areas with ease and accessibility.

I wanted to love it here – objectively, there’s a lot that I loved. But, due to several things I mentioned above; when I return to Lake Atitlán, I’ll likely, if not undoubtedly, stay elsewhere.

Have any questions about staying at this Lake Atitlán eco lodge? Drop them in the comments, below!

Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

Going – I have been subscribed to Going (formerly, beloved, Scott’s Cheap Flights) awhile now and it’s an amazing resource for finding… did you guess cheap flights? Yes, you can set your preferences from airports to flight class and get destination deals right to your inbox. It’s fab! I use the Premium paid version, but they have a FREE version too. So what are you waiting for?! Let’s get Going!

Booking.com – the majority, if not almost all of my stays are booked on Booking.com. It’s a reliable site to book and manage your reservations. It’s a great way to find boutique stays and unique accommodations at the best rates! You can also easily communicate with your accommodation through the app!

Expedia – If I am looking for a flight to a specific destination for specific dates, I find myself booking the majority of my flights on Expedia. It’s user friendly and straight forward. I often can find the most cost effective rates, while earning points for every flight I book (in tandem with the points I receive from the credit cards I pay with).

Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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