I’m currently checking out the luxury hotel scene in Guatemala, which is not all that extensive, but when it comes to great service and excellent views, it’s hard to beat La Lancha. This lakefront hotel, owned by movie director Francis Ford Coppola, is an impressive gem among a range of rather overpriced basic offerings near the Maya ruins of Tikal.

La Lancha Tikal

There are good reasons to stay out at one of the three hotels right by the entrance to the Tikal ruins, but being pampered certainly isn’t one of them. None of them have to try all that hard to fill up and it’s hard to hold onto a well-trained staff in the middle of a Guatemalan national park, so you can’t expect a whole lot.

At La Lancha, it’s a different story. It’s a good 30-45 minute ride from the ruins to La Lancha’s spot above the lake, but it’s a world away in terms of facilities, food, and personal attention. This opened in 2006 as Coppola’s third hotel in the region, joining Turtle Inn and Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize. It shares the same attentive sense of design and has the same conch “shellphone” in each room as Turtle Inn, but the theme here is a mix of the nautical and the Guatemalan.

La Lancha Hotel Guatemala

Finding some wildlife is not difficult here. I took this photo from the restaurant while having lunch and at 5 in the morning heard at least a dozen howler monkeys going nuts.