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Travel & Arrival
When I arrive in Guatemala, what can I expect?
When you arrive at Aurora Airport in Guatemala City, you will first go through Immigration and then you will get your bags and exit after customs. Do not leave your bags unattended in the airport or at the curb.
Please see your emailed “Shuttle Confirmation” for detailed instructions on where to meet your driver (he will have a “Villa Sumaya”). It is a 4-hour drive to Panajachel and then a short boat ride to our dock.
Most guests like to have a private boat waiting when they arrive in Panajachel. The cost is $25 for 1-4 people and $5 for each additional person. Public boats run between 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., leaving every half hour. Be sure to ask to be taken to the Villa Sumaya dock. The cost is about $3 per person on public boats.
Can I take a chicken bus?
We do not recommend that our guests travel by chicken bus.
What are the entry requirements into Guatemala?
A valid passport is mandatory to enter Guatemala. Visitors from the USA, Canada, and most European countries do not need visas. You will automatically receive a 90-day tourist visa upon entry.
Safety & Health
Is the Lake Atitlan area safe?
Here in Santa Cruz, we all feel very safe. If you’d like more information about safety, please request our “Note from Wendy,” the owner, which goes into detail about her experience of over 25 years in Guatemala.
Should I have travel insurance?
We recommend CSA Travel Insurance, one of the leaders in International Travel Insurance. On average, a policy for a one-week program is less than $100. For more information, please call (800) 348-9505.
Should I bring valuables?
Most people do bring a laptop, tablet, phone and/or camera. We have lockboxes in all of our guest rooms. We do not recommend walking around and having valuables visible. Leave expensive jewelry at home.
What important phone numbers should I have?
Please take the Villa Sumaya hotel phone number and shuttle company number in case you encounter flight delays or other travel complications and need to alert us. We will send you this number upon confirmation of your shuttle. Our hotel managers speak English and most of the time they are near a phone in case you have questions.
Can my family reach me in case of emergency?
Yes, they can either email our hotel managers or call the hotel phones to reach you.
How much money should I bring? Do places accept US dollars?
There are ATM machines in Panajachel, San Pedro and Santiago. We recommend that you carry about $100 cash to cover incidentals. The exchange rate is best when using ATM’s rather than exchanging money at the bank or airport. At Villa Sumaya we can only change small amounts of dollars to Quetzales.
You can put all your extra purchases on a personal bill. At the end of your stay, you can cancel your bill with a US check, Credit Card or US Dollars or Guatemalan Quetzales.
Many places do accept US dollars but we recommend that you have Quetzales for excursions and shopping.
Paying for tips, treatments, and excursions.
If you enjoy the services you receive, we recommend tipping the hotel staff $7-10 per day ($50-100 for the week). These tips will be divided among the staff. For spa treatments and anywhere from 10-20% per service is typical. If you feel you have had an outstanding adventure, $5-10 per person is a nice tip for your tour guide or driver. At most restaurants, a 10% service fee is included on the bill.
In some cases group leaders may have included extra services in their retreat packages. Please check with your group leader in order to determine what services or tips may have been part of your package.
What if I need to cancel?
If you are coming as a Villa Sumaya guest, see our cancellation policy at the bottom of the Accommodations page. If you are coming with a group, you must ask the leader of your group what their policy is.
How much are spa treatments?
Our wonderful and soothing treatments are:
One Hour – $75
One and Half Hours $100
Two hours $130
Some treatments have different pricing; please check at reception when you arrive.
What to Bring
hat – for sun and for chilly nights (We are at high altitudes – 5,000 ft)
bathing suit, cover-up or sarong
windbreaker or raincoat
layers for cool mornings and evenings
sunny and warm weather clothing
shawl, sweatshirt, poncho or fleece (one warm thing for cold mornings and evenings)
For getting around
sunscreen and lip balm
flashlight (we sell eco-flashlights in our store)
walking shoes or sport sandals
highly recommended – Nutribiotic (grapefruit seed extract) tablets can really help bad travelers’ stomachs
Dramamine (for car sickness) for the winding roads to Panajachel
Yoga and meditation props
yoga mats and props only if you want your own special ones. (We love donations of old mats!)
zafus for meditation (ask group leader if necessary; we do have some)
Food and other comforts
decaf coffee, decaf black tea or other special teas – WE DO NOT HAVE DECAF COFFEE IN GUATEMALA
clocks and hair dryers
laptops – we have wireless in most of our center for a daily or weekly fee. Limited up and downloading permitted.
any other items that will make you feel at home such as iPad, headphones
snack for airplane and shuttle ride to hotel (3 hours)
books and magazines (we love donations for our guest library)
PASSPORT and a copy of it, Airplane Tickets and other form of ID
Personal checks (3), cash or travelers checks to pay for incidentals and spa treatments are preferred. Credit cards have an 8% fee.
Food & Accommodations
Does Villa Sumaya accommodate special diets?
Yes! Our center does accommodate most special dietary restrictions like allergies, vegan and non-gluten diets. We serve wholesome, fresh, meals that are simple and delicious. If you are concerned you can bring some alternative snacks to supplement your meals.
Is the water safe to drink?
You must drink bottled water. At our center we provide unlimited filtered water. Bring your water bottle or buy a Villa Sumaya one. We do not sell bottled water (plastic bottles).
Will there be enough protein?
Most meals have a protein source (eggs, beans, cheese, nuts, etc.). If you are on a high protein diet, please let us know in advance. It may be a good idea to bring a protein bar per day. You can also order chicken or fish as a supplement for buffet meals ($7 per portion). We do have meat options on our cafe menu when retreats are not in session.
Should I bring my own snacks?
Meals at Villa Sumaya are abundant and well-balanced. If you have extreme allergies or strict dietary needs, you may want to bring some supplemental foods. We also have a raw fruit and veggie juice bar, with exotic smoothies, raw cacao and granola treats, chocolates, kombucha and other delights for in between meals.
What drinks do you serve?
We have beer, wine, tequila, and rum cocktails. Healthy smoothies, kombucha and fresh juices and sodas are also available.
All of personal and group packages have 24/7 access to teas and coffee as a complimentary service.
Is there laundry service?
Yes, we do have laundry service for $3 per pound. Please allow a 24 hours turn around for the laundry service.
Communications….. Internet and Phone?
If you’d like to have internet service on your own device we charge $3.00 a day or $20.00 for the week. Calls to the U.S. are $1.50 per minute.
Do I need to bring my yoga mat or props?
We have mats, blankets, blocks, straps, eye pillows, and some folding chairs. In most cases, you are all set. Some guests do choose to bring their own props. We also appreciate any mat or prop donations.
What type of electricity do you have?
Same as the United States. No adapters necessary.
Do I need to bring shampoo, lotion, hair dryer, and a towel?
We provide soap, shampoo and conditioner. Please bring your own lotion and hair dryers. There are towels in the room for bathing and beach towels to use in the spa area at reception.
Is there a pool, sauna or hot tub?
We have a lovely lakefront lounge with a pool, lounge chairs and gas-heated hot tub. Guests are often found sunning and swimming off our dock and swim platform. We also have a natural stone solar-heated hot tub, sun-permitting.
Additionally, we have two saunas. Our electric sauna must be ordered in advanced and is $30 for a 1.5 hour sweat. Our new kiva-inspired Chichimeca Sauna is available for a traditional Sweat Ceremony. See the Tours & Activities Kit for more detailed descriptions and pricing.
Can someone with mobility issues get around?
If you have slight mobility issues, we can most likely accommodate you. Getting off boats and onto docks, walking on stone paths and stairs can be super challenging to impossible for those with moderate or severe issues.
What if I want to extend my trip? Can you recommend other hotels?
If you are a part of a group and want to come early or stay on, please contact our reservation coordinator. If we have availability we would be happy to accommodate you. Please note this would be separate from the group arrangements and you would be charged accordingly.
If you would like to visit Antigua or Guatemala City, we have recommendations in our Guest Welcome Kit.
What is the language in Guatemala? Do people speak English?
Spanish is the primary language spoken. The Mayan speak Spanish as a second language and there are 20 dialects of the Mayan language. It’s a great place to practice your Spanish as it is spoken more simply and slowly here. Spanish lessons are also available. At the hotel our managers, reservations coordinator and the owner speak English.
Can I come alone to your center?
Retreat participants, please check with your group leader. For most retreats, single rooms are available or you can share a room with a new friend. Going on retreat can be a great way to meet new people.
If you are not a part of a group retreat, we are delighted to host individual guests. Meals are served on a buffet at certain times when we are hosting group retreats. This is a wonderful time to connect with others. If you are looking for some alone time, there is plenty of space for you to find solitude.
Are children welcome?
Whether you come as a hotel guest or with a group, children are loved and welcomed at our center. Please contact our reservations coordinator for current policies and pricing. If you will be visiting as part of a group, check with your group leader to be sure that bringing children is appropriate for particular retreats.