Stayed here for a week nearly 10 months ago. Been meaning to review. It's a lovely home. It is clean and well-furnished. The home is spacious and has a modern, well-equipped kitchen. The bedrooms have views. The bathrooms are great. The yard is well-maintained and includes a nice BBQ area and lots of flowers. Surprisingly, we didn't see any fruit trees. The pool is a real plus. There is a washer and dryer. The views of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding volcanoes are spectacular. Staff include a gardener and housecleaner who are friendly and helpful as needed. It is a short walk down to the public dock. Nearby Hostal Iguana is run by the same owners. It was easy to communicate with the owners when arranging the rental. They arranged transportation for us from Antigua, that included a stop at a store to buy provisions. If you stop, I suggest that you ask to also stop at the regular market in Pana where you can buy more and better fruits and vegetables that are available at the store we stopped. We spotted more than a few large spiders and an occasional scorpion in the house, but you will find that anywhere in the tropics. It is a convenient 10 minute boat ride to Pana, and not much further to other more established villages like San Marcos. There are only a couple restaurants within walking distance. Bring a headlamp and/or flashlight. This is a really great place to stay, particularly if you have a larger group. Otherwise, there are cheaper options (the price at Casa Valdres has gone up since we visited). Unfortunately, the owners did not stop by during the week we were there, so we did not have the opportunity to meet them in person.
Our family of four stayed at Casa Valdres in April, and it was amazing! The house is very spacious, modern, quiet, architecturally beautiful, and the gardens are like living in a well-kept park filled with flowers, fruits, birds and butterflies. We all enjoyed the infinity pool, a nice amenity. The views of the volcanoes and lake, especially from the upper deck, are stunning. The house is immaculately maintained and contains all of the comforts of an exceptional property. I could not imagine a nicer place to stay.
A highlight of our visit was getting to know Dominga. Through Deedle, we arranged to have Dominga prepare numerous breakfasts and dinners for us, an opportunity to experience true Guatemalan living first-hand and try out our mediocre Spanish. The meals were delicious and very healthy. We enjoyed all of the nice outdoor places to eat, including the dining pavilion in the garden and under the covered deck by the pool. There are so many beautiful parts of the property to explore.
The walk to the private dock is five minutes down a winding, nicely-landscaped path in one direction. The small town and its dock are 5 minutes in the other direction, a very pleasant walk along a hilly, paved path. One night we walked along the shoreline all the way to Isla Verde for a massage and dinner, very pleasant and completely safe (we Americans seems to be afraid of everything – nothing to be afraid of here). Our only regret is that we did not get to dine at CECAP, simply ran out of time when we did not realize they were closed on Sunday.
We did several tours with Volcan Adventures. We highly recommended them. We did a boat tour on the lake to San Juan and Santiago on our first day. We had an unusually long trip to Santa Cruz from the airport at Guatemala City since we arrived late on a Friday afternoon and endured the legendary Guatemala City traffic on a Friday afternoon, so we were not sure if it was better to just rest on the next day or do a tour. Absolutely the right decision to do this tour, as it really got us excited for Guatemala. Two days later we did a very adventurous ridge hike to the bluffs above the lake. The hike was a rigorous three hours up, but the views were spectacular, the villages were a great experience, and the ride down the mountain on the other side through beautiful scenery was worth the hike up. The guides are local people who speak perfect English and give excellent tours. They will meet you right at Casa Valdres or at one of the docks, very convenient.
Lake Atitlan is a big, beautiful lake. We found that every morning was very calm and usually clear, with great views of the volcanoes. One day we even had a light dusting of ash from an unusually-large eruption overnight at distant Fuego, a great surprise and not something we get at home! In the afternoons the lake gets a little more rough with the winds, so few people go into the water due to its cool temperature and choppiness. Being a bit up the hill to take in the views is preferable to being right on the lake, we concluded, so Casa Valdres is just right. The lake is also very clean at Santa Cruz and in most places, something we were unsure of when we booked. It is a beautiful place.
Deedle is a great host and was very helpful with transportation arrangements. The house is wonderful. A little piece of paradise in Guatemala.
- Get any supplies you need in Pana. There isn’t much in Santa Cruz in terms of shopping
- There are a few good restaurants in Santa Cruz, but having Dominga make the meals is a great way to go
- Guatemalan merchants and banks are quite odd about US currency. They will only take perfectly crisp, nearly-new bills and will not accept anything with a little wear and tear. Best to have Guatemala Q, the smaller denominations the better. We found this to be true everywhere.
- Mornings are almost always clear and nice, afternoons are cloudier and hazier in general during the dry season. We are not early risers but became so to enjoy the beautiful mornings. We never saw any rain. The weather was excellent.
- The people everywhere we went were very nice, generally shy and reserved but always pleasant and helpful.