Inside a New Oasis on Guatemala’s Famous Lake Atitlán
Imagine wandering through a lush, verdant landscape in search of the perfect oasis to reconnect with nature and feeling like you’ve stumbled on something out of a postcard. That’s exactly what it’s like arriving at Anzan Atitlán, one of the most charming places on the shore of Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America
Imagine wandering through a lush, verdant landscape in search of the perfect oasis to reconnect with nature and feeling like you’ve stumbled on something out of a postcard. That’s exactly what it’s like arriving at Anzan Atitlán, one of the most charming places on the shore of Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America located in the southwest of Guatemala.
Upon arriving at Panajachel, one of the largest and busiest towns three hours away by bus from Guatemala City, which surrounds the lake, I took a public boat for approximately 30 minutes toward San Marcos la Laguna, another nearby village. I was dropped off at the boutique hotel, Anzan, and was greeted by the most breathtaking view of the lake. The colors of the sunrise danced across the crystalline water, creating a spectacular and serene sight that left me spellbound. The sounds of the birds and the tranquility of the moment were unforgettable.
This hidden gem is also known within the area as Casa Rosada, which means pink house in Spanish, thanks to its rosy façade. Originally built as a family home in 2006, it’s a stunning juxtaposition of modern design and is surrounded by natural beauty. Its name, Anzan, references peaceful mountains in Buddhism, which is precisely what this tranquil place embodies. Ringed by majestic volcanoes, Anzan offers a serene and calming escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Fast forward to 2023, the year Anzan evolved into a resort for extraordinary experiences, offering a blend of relaxation, gourmet food, contemporary art, and cultural immersion. Now it’s the latest selection for Room Key, The Daily Beast’s column on exciting new hotels. The hotel’s designs were inspired by the Mexican architects Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta, two of the most prominent artists of modern Latin American architecture. Among the elements that stand out throughout the construction are the simple designs and open spaces that allow natural light to enter the area. And we can’t miss the shade of pink, which was one of the favorite colors used by Barragán.
The hotel has just four bedrooms and a fully equipped loft; each night costs between $250 to 350. I stayed in one of the bedrooms with a spectacular lake view that was subtly embellished by minimalist furniture. My favorite place was undoubtedly the bathroom as it was a giant room decorated in a very simplistic way with a bathtub placed in front of a window with views of the volcanoes and the lake. I enjoyed drinking a glass of wine there, listening to relaxing music, and reading a book.
At Anzan, guests are encouraged to disconnect from their electronic devices and let the beauty of the place enchant them. The hotel offers various activities, including yoga, meditation, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hiking, providing vacationers opportunities to explore their inner selves and reconnect with the environment.
The hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, or even a front desk. Unlike other hotels in the San Marcos la Laguna area, which often focus on arranging parties and other lively celebrations, Anzan is dedicated to helping guests connect with nature and appreciate the lake’s stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage.
One particularly notable offering the hotel puts forward is “The Anzan Table” menu, offering a culinary journey through Guatemala’s cultural heritage with dishes crafted from locally-sourced sustainable ingredients, such as vegetables like tomatoes, corn, beans, and cheese produced by people from the community. From contemporary culinary techniques to traditional Guatemalan cooking methods, Anzan’s food celebrates the local culture.
I had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious multi-course gourmet dinner; three appetizers, a main course, and a delightful dessert. Even though it sounds like a lot of food, I was satisfied rather than full since it was made with natural ingredients.
But Anzan isn’t just about relaxation and indulgence–it’s also a place to make a difference. In 2004, Anzan established and now supports the non-profit called Ecolibri. This organization empowers communities around Lake Atitlán, allowing guests to learn about how people from vulnerable backgrounds live and get the chance to collaborate and volunteer to impact the environment and local societies. Anzan offers tours for visitors to come and discover the communities and learn more about how the organization promotes sustainable agriculture, alleviates malnutrition and food insecurity in the area.
For those open to it, Anzan on Lake Atitlán is not just a pink house, but can be a transformative experience in a serene environment.
You can stay for one night, a few days, or a month-long retreat. It’s the kind of place that stays with you long after you leave, beckoning you back to its peaceful embrace time and time again.