Latin America

Wildly Luxurious

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2010

guatemala Located on the shore of mystical Lake Atitlan, the Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Reserve is a luxury getaway set on a 100-acre nature reserve. Access to this corner of the world of the Mayas is by private boat from Panajachel. Nine spacious suites are individually furnished with woven textiles and indigenous antiques. They come with large private balconies, king beds (convertible to twins), lovely bathrooms, and large private balconies looking out over the lake and surrounding volcanoes. The gardens are home to a jacuzzi, lakeside sauna, palapa and sunbathing deck, the Native Health Spa, the Zotz Restaurant and Lava Bar. The lodge is very much of the land serving imaginative organic dishes that make up its signature eco-cuisine dining style. The staff comes from the Maya Kaquchikel people, whose women wear traditional dress, and the lodge boasts interesting archaeological displays of artifacts from the lake basin. Guests explore trails through the surrounding Tzantizotz Nature Reserve alone or in the company of Maya guides, and those most active enjoy swimming, rappelling and cliff jumping, as well as kayaking and canoeing.

Rooms and jr. suites range from $225 to $290, and also included in the rate is breakfast, high tea and boat transfers.

nicaragua A 20-minute speedboat ride away from the colonial town of Granada brings guests to the dock of the Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a private-island retreat in the Granada Isletas with spectacular views of the Mombacho Volcano. As the region’s first luxury lodge, Jicaro boasts nine private, beautifully designed 2-story casitas, built with Rainforest Alliance-certified hardwoods. Bedrooms, furnished with king-size beds, are located on the second floor, while the first floor is occupied by a spacious living area that connects to an outside deck with comfy furniture and a hammock. All casitas have lake views and are within a short walk from the infinity pool and lounge area and include an open kitchen and restaurant, large yoga decks and thatched-roof wellness center. Spa services are available, with the focus on massage therapy using local organic products. Off-island excursions include kayaking trips through the surrounding islands, tours of charming Granada, a boat ride across the lake to the foot of the Mombacho Volcano where guests hike up to hidden hot springs and go ziplining through the lush canopy of the surrounding reserve. Additionally there are boat tours to Ometepe or Zaptera Island and visits to the Masaya artisan market.

Rates for a double room start at $480 and include all meals, non-alcoholic beverages and one roundtrip lake transfer from the Granada port to Jicaro Island.

argentina It’s just a 3-hour flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate and a 40-minute drive beyond to Hosteria Los Notros, a luxury lodge situated on Lago Argentino, where the fabled Perito Moreno glacier towers right in the “front yard.” With 32 rooms fitted with picture windows framing the massive glacier, guests are guaranteed an intimate and spectacular stay. Each room is slightly different in color and furnishings, but premium and superior room amenities range from complimentary mini-bars to bathrooms with hydromassage shower and hair dryer. The main building has a large restaurant serving regional specialties of lamb, duck and trout, while upstairs is an airy lounge area with chaise longues in front of panoramic windows and a TV room with a large selection of nature videos. Expert guides lead excursions ranging from a leisurely walk to the glacier’s perimeter, to a full-day trek on the ice through the crevices and caves of the glacier itself. Guests also enjoy a boat cruise that navigates through chunks of gleaming icebergs to view the glacier and surrounding mountains from the blue waters of Lago Argentino. And right in front of Los Notros, one can walk the catwalks to observe up-close masses of ice crashing into the waters.

Guests must opt for multi-day packages that include airport transfers, meals, box lunch for expeditions, guided trekking, boat excursions and ice walks. For a premium superior room, the cost pp for these multi-day packages starts at $2,075.

brazil The ultimate getaway in Brazil may just be gorgeous, tranquil, 7-sq.-mile Fernando de Noronha, the only inhabited island of a small archipelago that lies 340 miles off the northwest coast by air from Recife and 224 from Natal. Declared a UNESCO Natural Heritage site, Fernando is a place where visitor numbers are limited and spinner dolphins and sea turtles outnumber the local people. All good reasons why this Atlantic outpost has taken off as the celebrity eco-hideaway du jour, offering 16 pristine beaches set among craggy sea cliffs. Still another plus is the truly world-class scuba diving and snorkeling in protected marine national park waters. The pick of the accommodations pack is Pousada Maravilha, offering luxury accommodations whose clean, minimal design and grand verandahs harmonize easily with its beautiful natural setting and grand sea vistas. Guests stay in either five self-contained bungalows, or three apartments in the main house. Bungalows are the top pick, with spacious verandahs and hammock, cushioned deck chairs and breakfast table. Interiors are distinguished by vaulted ceilings, rich Brazilian woods, king-size four-poster beds and large and lovely bathrooms. All guests share the horizon pool and deck with gorgeous views of Baia Sueste, as well as a restaurant and spa. Pousada Maravilha is as eco-friendly as it is posh—a nice combination. Double rooms are priced from $678 to $725, with breakfast.