La Casa del Mundo occupies an enviable slopeside site between Jaibalito and Santa Cruz, with noteworthy views of the lake and volcanoes. And the food coming out of the dining room is very good--even more amazing on a morning when the hotel lost power, and the hot items. . .French Toast, coffee, etc. all came out wonderfully.
So why the scathing review, along with a recommendation that if you are considering a stay here that you think about your other choices?
Hospitality comes from a special place when practiced well--and it is not merely about the most recent transaction. La Casa del Mundo has lost sight of that.
The hotel decided that the interchange charges credit cards were assessing the hotel were too high, and decided to discontinue taking any credit cards. Fair enough--although I’d argue a cost of doing business. But they made the change in the autumn, and I’d made my reservation in early July. . .and no one bothered to share this change with me via e-mail or any other means prior to my arrival. (A special consideration--I’d suggest--when the nearest ATM is a boat ride away. . .) While the owner finally agreed to have me pay for the stay with my AMEX card, I had several unsuccessful conversations with one of the managers on the staff, who was unbudging. Oh, and even after I got them to accept my AMEX card for payment, I got hit with an additional 3% surcharge for using the card. (Nowhere on the website could I find that credit card use enjoyed such a surcharge.)
The second issue was worse. Road construction and other factors convinced me that I’d not easily be able to sleep in the hotel and get back to GUA for a 130p flight, so I notified the hotel to check out early. The hotel--same manager who was difficult on the credit card front--was adamant that I should be charged for the room, with the most interesting logic. Was told that since it was high season, I’d reserved a room that they likely wouldn’t fill--thus lost revenue. (I could hear a flipside argument if I’d notified them of my desire to leave a night early during low season--we can’t get anyone to fill the room you’ve reserved. . . Oh well).
Ended up negotiating with the owner to pay for all three nights, and he took $20 off the bill. Begrudgingly. As if I was doing him a favor. And frankly, I came to such a lovely setting to get away from worries, not to battle with a transactional hotel owner.
I hope the hotel invests in additional marketing the extra money from the credit card surcharge and the night I paid for but didn’t use.
For, however wonderful the setting and good the food, I can’t return to a hotel that shows such disregard for me as a visitor--and I can’t recommend it to others. Managing those situations better would have resulted in my having good things to say about the hotel, and prompted return visits (this was my second trip to Lake Atitlan in four years). Instead, I get to share with readers here my frustrations with the hotel, and look for a different hotel for my next stay in the Lake Atitlan area. . .
So while I won’t be staying here again, or recommending this hotel to others, a few things about the place:
The views here come with a noteworthy climb. . .was 173 steps from the dock to my room. If you are not built for such cardio, consider other places to stay. That said, if you do like the hike and were to stay here--don't miss the rather spectacular walk/hike from the top of the hotel property to Santa Cruz La Laguna. . .the walk showcases one stupendous view after another.
There are a variety of rooms here. . .everything from very nice rooms with private baths and terraces, to small rooms with shared baths. It was staying in one of the latter that lead to the “hostel” characterization. . .Small, clean, firm bed.
There were a few more bugs here than I might like. (note: when a room comes with its own fly swatter, you may have to use it. . .) And while spiders are a great counter to those bugs, if you don’t like spiders, you will like this hotel even less. Spiders and scorpions are everywhere.
The food here is really good. Good thing too, as you are in for the night after about 6p (the last lancha run). Even there, though, the lack of forethought and communications the hotel displays was apparent. The hotel asks that you order dinner before you arrive--and I reserved dinner for my arrival. But it was Thanksgiving the evening I arrived, so instead of the 630p dinner at 90Q it was a special feast at 500p for 120Q. This is not a big hotel, and for those of us arriving that Thursday, an e-mail beforehand explaining the change would have been thoughtful and appropriate. There was no such e-mail or any explanation of the change when I checked in. . .had to sort of figure it out once I arrived.
My photos of the property and the views here came out quite nicely. What a shame that with such a spectacular setting the hospitality is inferior.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Guatemala's most magical hotel - Lonely Planet. 19 Rooms built upon a Jaibalito cliffside pleasantly house travelers from all over the world. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel La Casa Del Mundo
- La Casa Del Mundo Hotel Guatemala/Lake Atitlan - Jaibalito