3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Bathrooms, Sleeps 8 in 4 double beds
- english, spanish, Tzutujil
About Francesca Wade
El Castillo Tzutujil is a vacation retreat for my husband and me. He is a poet and writer who at 72 thrives in the tranquility of the bay and the house. For me, the opportunity for long hikes and immersion in good books is a dream come true. After years in the business work-a-day world in Arizona, the lake house gives us many wonderful days throughout the year to relax and get in touch with ourselves. In addition, on the Pacific side of the mountains across the lake lies a small indigenous community called Chocolá where we have been working with a U.S. non-profit known as Seeds for a Future to help improve the health and economy of the community. Being close to our work in Chocolá and the people there whom we are lucky to know and be able to help is, an added bonus for us. 2013 will be our 36th year of visiting and living in Guatemala, but believe it or not, we only recently really discovered Lake Atitlan and its incredible beauty, lovely people and peaceful surroundings. We were lucky to find this lovely home which we use part of the year and make available to other vacationers when we need to be elsewhere. I am sure you will enjoy the “castle” as much as do we and we encourage you to take opportunities to visit the nearby pueblos around the lake and taste of the art, culture and wonderful food available. Or, if you would rather just kick back on the veranda, be prepared to be enchanted and sink into occasional naps of the best kind.
Francesca Wade purchased this Chateau / Country House in 2013
Why Francesca Wade chose Pasajcap
We bought this property for many reasons but primarily because it is near (yet apart from) one of the prettiest Maya lakeside communities on Lake Atitlan, called San Marcos La Laguna. San Marcos is a magnet for people from around the world seeking the spiritual energy that many believe is there and conducive to learning, meditation and holistic therapies such as massage, yoga, reiki and more. Happily, the village is within easy walking distance of our house or a short boat ride. San Marcos itself is around a point of land from our house. Near the shoreline are the dwelling of ex-pats and businesses which have established themselves over the years to serve visitors with restaurants, therapy, a holistic center known as the Pyramids Meditation Center and apartments and some retail stores. In addition, San Marcos and the villages across the lake offer excellent dining opportunities, not to mention their cultural attractions. San Marcos also has an active program for kids to get involved in theater and the arts. The Maya village itself is above the shore side part of the town and has a wonderful central plaza. Hiking in the forest above San Marcos is a treat. A most important appeal to us of this property is the fact that it is new, well constructed and situated on what may be the quietest bay of the entire lake. We can sit reading or just enjoying the views for hours with nary a power boat passing within ear shot. And that means being able to listening to nature, the sounds of the lake and birds. On the other side of our bay are majestic rock cliffs and quality homes built on the lower hills and near the water. On our side is a shore level trail that leads to the Village of San Marcos and along the way passes through a delightful water and diving park. The trail is a little challenging, but a wonderful experience. The lake water at San Marcos and in our bay is said to be the cleanest for swimming and kayaking in the entire lake region.
What makes this Chateau / Country House unique
Aside from what we have said above, the house itself offers lake vistas from every room and magnificent privacy. Each bedroom has its own veranda on the lake side of the house and ceiling to floor windows. To the south side of the house is our pleasant grassy yard made into several terraces which are ideal for quiet relaxation and and meditation. Hammocks make for lazy afternoons and the Jacuzzi is an excellent experience at night while looking at the lights reflecting off the lake from San Pedro and San Juan. Now and then, firework displays are observed above the distant towns … (Guatemalans do love fireworks to celebrate national holidays, religious events, birthdays, weddings and maybe just because it seems like a good idea at the time). Another feature we particularly like is to watch cumulus storm clouds forming about 40 kilometers away above the Pacific but behind the mountains on the other side of the lake. And because the lake is at roughly 5,000 feet, the distant Pacific coastal storms sometimes provide some of the grandest displays of clouds and lightning. And for those of you who enjoy more active lifestyle, please see our 'amenities' page which lists all sorts of outdoor activities and night life around the lake. Our Managers in Panachel provides a constantly updated list of entertainment and recreation activities around the lake which are easy to access via public water taxis .
100% refund if canceled at least 60 days before arrival date. 50% refund if canceled at least 30 days before arrival date.
The website and pictures looked great and we were very excited to stay here. BUT
We had hot water issues at the property that were taken care of. I expressed my feelings that the house was filthy and was given an excuse that it is big season. NO no no. The house is plan and simple filthy dirty. Every corner, every window seal and walls, and even the headboard had previously killed smashed bugs. Mild in the shower and on the shower mat. All doors were corroded with thick dust. Cob webs etc. I took several pictures and sent them to the management company. I have more. If your site allowed I would show you. The care taker was very sweet and attentive, but I don’t believe they are responsible for cleaning or they suffer extreme vision problems. I was very disappointed. I have stayed in other properties around the lake and have found them impeccably clean.
We were very sorry and disturbed to hear that you found the house dirty; unfortunately, we never received any photographs from you – to where did you send them? Please send them again, so that we are able to see the specific issues.
We asked the cleaners (the caretaker's wife and daughter) to re-clean the house the very next day. When we asked you how this had gone, we never received a response. This made it hard for us to be able to fully address your issues.
The managers will be going to the property to give additional training to the cleaners and explain to them the high standards that we and all our guests expect.
Our manager did mention that it was the end of the DRY (not high) season when it is normal to go 6 months without rain. With it also being windy most days, dust is a continuous natural problem. This time of year, our cleaners sweep daily to deal with this seasonal issue.
If you still have the photos you mentioned, please send them to us via our email address. It will help greatly to have these photos when we work with the cleaners to ensure improved service. Thank you.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!!!
We were really disappointed. Arriving by boat and looking at the pictures provided, we were looking at a great stay for seven nights. This was not the case. This home is very outdated and dirty. Really dirty. Needs an update badly starting with the day glow painted walls covered with smashed bugs to the kitchen which in two words..a mess, three words a dangerous mess. The care takers did all they could the management company was sarcastic and rude. This home has no screens on the widows which required us to live by candle for seven days or face thousands of bugs from the lake. The responses from All are “there are no bugs, this is rare” you can tell by the walls it is not rare. First morning after we swept up a pile inches deep of snats and mosquitoes that covered a six floor tile area. One towel per guest per week no laundry no other linens. Paper products are on you. One tank of clean water then it is yours to deal with. The care taker will handle for a fee. With no screens no air can circulate which means you are in a hot box. We spent days and evenings in town and only slept by candle light there. Cooked once. Kitchenware is old and unusable. Caretakers tried to help us but could only do so much. The property managers contacted us on day four asking what needs cleaning. The entire property needs a VERY thorough cleaning and update. San Marco was fun and held our attention for the week but we longed for the place we stayed at across the lake in Santiago the whole time. Our complaints to the management company were greeted with sarcasm. Looking back all of these complaints were listed by guests previously and answered by ownership and management as good feedback that would be addressed. BTW there are also no window coverings for privacy or shade which were supposed to be “taken care of” we really don’t want one of the canned responses. Thanks to VRBO for working diligently for two hours so that we could make a review of this property. The management have changed our email address so that we could not do a review. We made the best of a bad situation and had a good time with San Marco people. Ps. You have to be on the roof to see this view of the volcano due to over grown vegetation.
Beautiful home on a beautiful lake
The house was perfect for this family of five and Nicolas could not have been more helpful, setting us up with a guide for a hike and bringing us candles when San Marcos lost power due to a nearby brush fire. Thanks for sharing this fantastic home.
This was such a lovely home and experience. Everything you need with unbeatable views of the Lake. Thanks!
We are so glad you enjoyed your time at El Castillo. We very much hope to see you back this way again soon! We await your return!
The one thing that is true to read is that El Castillo offers the most spectacular views, regardless of the time of day or weather. To see the lake and surrounding mountains in all their glory is truly wonderful.
However, the description of the 'luxury villa' needs to be tempered with some facts and the provided information in the villa needs to be updated. Some of the reviews on VRBO actually say that the house is suitable for people with disabilities. Trust me, this is so wrong. For a slim, fit [and middle aged] person I was seriously challenged in accessing the house from any angle. First was from the water's edge: the caretaker Nicolas collected my and my suitcase from the dock at San Marcos and I enjoyed the short ride to the Villa's private dock. However, to get out of the boat and clamber gracelessly onto the dock was a struggle since the steps and boat edge do not align vertically or horizontally! A very ungainly descent sent was also required getting into the boat. The other issue is that the brick path around the Villa leading to the steep path which accesses the village of San Marcos, peters out over a rough piece of land with a short unadopted footpath which is receding into the Lake.
With regard to the steep path; when the word steep is used, trust me that is the truth. What is not mentioned is that there is no lighting, the steps are uneven and there is no suitable hand-rail. Within the villa document file, it should be mentioned that a torch is essential if returning after dusk. Also the access to the neighbouring hotel, restaurant and bar requires you to go up and down the slope!
The villa needs a good deep clean, and cleaning was not regular.
#The ladder on the dock was broken and very rickety making an uninviting access to the Lake for swimming or entering the canoe.
#The close proximity of the caretaker, his large family and barking dogs was an invasion of privacy. They should have a separate access from the path and having a fence outside the kitchen window. It was embarrassing having to observe the family doing their ablutions and uncomfortable to know that they could see us eating and drinking in the comfort of the villa.
#The top bedroom is accessible by outside concrete steps often covered in dog's excrement.
#Extra payments were required for use of the private boat and for the jacuzzi.
#As for being suitable for more 8 people it would be very uncomfortable.
St Marcos La Laguna is a very special village, and has much to offer the discerning tourist.
Dear Lynn: Thank you for your detailed review. I'm sorry that recent substantial changes in the lake level (for which lake Atitlan is known) made access to and from the dock difficult. New access steps and ladder have already been built and we hope the lake level will remain stable for awhile. With regard to the steps and path up the hill, we have been waiting for a response from the owner of the property, as he must authorize any enhancements we want to make. As to the nearness of the caretaker and his family, it is difficult to find the desired balance between security (including watchful dogs) and availability for assistance, and privacy and distance. We will talk to Nicolas and his family about being more respectful of guests' needs, as well as taking more care to clean up after their dogs. We would like to add a bathroom to the third level bedroom, as soon as some ecological concerns can be worked out. As you can imagine, working on a volcanic slope at the very edge of a lake presents some special challenges. We have continued to make upgrades to the house since we bought it just about 2 years ago. Thanks for helping us focus our actions where they are most needed.
FANTASTIC -- AGAIN!!
This repeat visit was just as great as the first time, with an added treat: the house now has a motor launch, complete with driver and assistant whom we hired for a lovely tour of the lake shore with a stop to visit the charming village of San Juan La Laguna. The tropical fruits and artisan bread that we bought in San Marcos made a great breakfast while we watched the little fishing canoes and the beautiful view of the lake. The house is more welcoming and colorful than ever, with fresh paint in most of the rooms and new tile features in the kitchen. A very relaxing stay!!
We're very glad you had a pleasant stay, and that you liked the new and more colorful rooms. It was a pleasure to have you for your second visit, and of course, we hope you will come again!
The village of San Marcos La Laguna is famous for its holistic and meditation centers but even more so for its relaxed, low pressure atmosphere. It has a lovely shaded central park and a band shell for locally produced music and plays. Trails and a local lake along the lake are available but a little challenging. Our caretaker will arrange for a launch to pick you up at our dock and take you anywhere on the lake.
The entire lake and the villages around San Marcos are accessible via inexpensive 'bus launches' (lanchas) that run throughout the day every 20 minutes. A road north from the village leads to Quetzaltenango (Xela) and the many historic archaeological sites of that region. Quetzaltenango is a university city and a historic gate way to Mexico.
The major town of Panajchel on the lake is loaded with quality restaurants, night life, grocery stores and other urban attractions, but San Marcos itself is a lovely, quiet family friendly town.
Across our end of the lake are the villages of San Pedro and San Juan which are delightful towns filled with interesting visitor attractions, casual sight seeing walks and good restaurants and cooperatives of artisans. Further away is the famous village of Santiago Atitlan which attracts visitors from around the world for its sights, arts, weaving, woodcarving and entertainment.
Finally, one can tour the highlands of Guatemala from the Lake and visit interesting places such as Solola, Chichicastenango and the ancient pre-classic and classic era Maya ruins of Iximche, Zacaleu, Takalik Abaj. To the northwest is the large hot springs of Fuentes Georginas, in Zunil, which is open to the public and situated in a delightful cloud forest. It is quite a treat to float in the hot waters while watching clouds swirl through the trees above. In the nearby valley is the village of Zunil where shrines to Maximon can be visited. The vegetable market in Almalonga is one of the very best in all of the highlands.
Our local manager in Panajachel can arrange all travel and accommodations for you if you are interested in some side trips around or away from the lake. Try and visit the Reserva in Panajachel too with hikes, a butterfly arboretum and ziplining! Carlos Eduardo Paez, Reserve Entomologist said that identifying the new species took several years of study on wing and other characteristics such as flying habits, food and way of playing. Paez said that this lepidopteran belongs to the Papilionidae family, subfamily and Heraclides. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on a fruit called matasano (ajachel Cakchiquel), whose scientific name is Casimiroa edulis, a tree well known in the Lake. The insects lay their eggs on this plant.
Paez said they will take their data to laboratories in England, Switzerland or the United States, where before accepting it as new, worldwide data bases will be checked.
A special treat coming up is to be at Lake Atitlan in the weeks and days leading up to Easter (Semana Santa) when street processions, art, religious ceremonies and music flower in extraordinary ways.
Our house at San Marcos is within a short walk or boat ride to some of the most fascinating Maya towns in all of Guatemala such as San Marcos, San Pedro and San Juan.
We also have a 15 foot canoe for guests, and have a private boat/lancha for guests to hire for short trips and to go into San Marcos.