Posted on 07 January 2013
Laguna Lodge, Guatemala
It’s not just the stunning setting of Laguna Lodge, nestled in a 100-acre nature preserve on the shores of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by three volcanoes. Or the ultra-sybaritic services, like soaking your body in the hot river rock pool or opting for a deep tissue massage at Hummingbird Spa after a day of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing or horseback riding. No, it’s that the owners Mayah and Jeffro Brandon (she’s a Kiwi, he’s an Aussie) have their hearts in the right place.
In 1997, Jeffro and his local crew constructed the lodge entirely of indigenous volcanic stone, adobe, wood and palm. The art and furnishings found in the nine rooms were also made from locals. The meat-free restaurant serves innovative cuisine that utilizes produce from their organic garden, eggs and cheeses from nearby farmers, fruits from the coast, and, of course, rich Guatemalan coffee. Solar panels line the roof and rainwater is painstakingly filtered for drinking. Their main focus, however, is community involvement, employing all locals. They also go out of their way to ensure that everyone in the local community gets proper eye and dental care. This is one place where your money not only purchases a fantastic vacation, but also helps to keep this small lakeshore village afloat.
As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure
, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel
, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside
, Men’s Journal
, and Sierra
, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England
and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life
. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World
. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels