Exploring Villa Sumaya in Guatemala

Guatemala Retreat Center Villa Sumaya

Picture a realm where serenity dances with adventure, where ancient rituals unlock the secrets of self-discovery, and where every bite of vegetarian cuisine becomes a culinary masterpiece.

Nestled on the serene shores of Lake Atitlán in the heart of Guatemala, Villa Sumaya, the best Guatemala retreat center awaits, a cherished sanctuary unlike any other.

Our recent visit allowed us to dive deep into this remarkable destination, uncovering its unique treasures. Come, join us on this personal odyssey as we invite you to step inside this hidden gem, and promise to reshape your very concept of paradise.


Situated in the charming village of Santa Cruz La Laguna, Villa Sumaya is like that hidden treasure you stumble upon in a crowded attic. It’s a picturesque paradise resting gracefully on the shores of Lake Atitlán, a place where the surrounding lush mountains, majestic volcanoes, and vibrant indigenous communities weave together a tapestry of breathtaking beauty. But let me tell you, getting to this piece of heaven is an adventure in its own right, complete with planes, long drives, strolls through charming villages, and a dash of boat riding on the spectacular Lake Atitlán.

Our Journey to Villa Sumaya

The journey to Villa Sumaya kicks off with a dash of aerial drama. You’ll find yourself aboard a plane, soaring above the clouds, your excitement growing as you inch closer to your destination. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Guatemalan landscape from above, offering a sneak peek of the wonders to come.

With Max’s insatiable curiosity for all things directional, he transformed our plane ride into an entertaining crash course in aeronautical geography. With him as my in-flight tour guide, we not only spotted the Florida Keys and Belize, but we also stumbled upon the enigmatic deep creators shaping the Guatemala mountains from high above. Who knew geography could be this entertaining?

As you touch down, brace yourself for the real adventure: a three-hour road trip through the captivating Guatemalan countryside. Buckle up and get ready for a scenic rollercoaster ride that’ll make your GPS question its own existence. You’ll watch in awe as the landscape undergoes many makeovers with lush forests, charming villages, and the intoxicating aroma of adventure constantly vying for your attention.

To drive or not to drive, that is the ultimate question… Let me put it this way: navigating Guatemala’s roads presents a challenge that’s like trying to juggle flaming pineapples while riding a unicycle on a tightrope over a pit of hungry crocodiles. But once you master the art of Guatemalan road survival (which might take a little practice), you’ll relish the freedom to stop whenever something intriguing tickles your fancy.

However, if you’re not a fan of seemingly nonexistent road rules, one-lane roads through villages that could fit on a postage stamp, and road signs playing hide and seek, then it might be wise to delegate the driving duties to the shuttle drivers. For a mere $120, they’ll whisk you from La Aurora airport to your destination on the lake, and your accommodating stay can make all the arrangements. It’s your call, but remember: adventure comes in many forms, even if it occasionally comes with a side of navigational chaos!

After what felt like an endless and somewhat stressful road trip, we rolled into Santa Cruz La Laguna and found the marina, which was destined to babysit our rental car for the next four days. It was time for us to unleash our unparalleled skills in nonverbal communication, attempting to explain the duration of our parking needs to the locals, who were surely entertained by our unintentional performance art.

With our unique charades performance in the books, we paid the parking fee and made our grand exit.

Now, picture this: cobbled streets that were as charming as your quirky aunt’s living room, colorful market stalls and kind locals. It was like stepping into a whimsical storybook village, with an added dash of Guatemalan charm for good measure.

As we took a leisurely stroll through this delightful place, searching high and low for the elusive dock where our public boat taxi would eventually make its grand entrance, it dawned on us: this journey itself was a delightful slice of the Villa Sumaya experience.

But wait, there’s more to this adventure! A boat ride across the serene Lake Atitlán!

Nestled amidst ancient volcanoes, this lake isn’t just a picturesque sight; it holds a special place in the hearts of locals and those who call its shores home. They believe it’s a place with a unique connection to nature and spirituality, where the tranquil waters are thought to offer solace and healing. It’s a truly heartwarming way to begin your Villa Sumaya experience, immersed in the beauty and culture of the region.

The Enchanting Grounds Through Our Eyes

Villa Sumaya’s grounds took our breath away and left an indelible mark on our hearts. As we strolled through the lush gardens, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, discovering a world of wonder around every corner. The vibrant flowers seemed to dance with joy, their colors painting a vivid tapestry against the backdrop of Guatemala’s azure skies.

Amidst these gardens, we found hidden nooks where we could escape the world’s hustle and bustle. Each one felt like a personal sanctuary, a place to reflect, journal, or simply lose ourselves in the beauty of nature.

And oh, the hammocks! With the melodious sounds of birdsong in the background, I’d close my eyes and let the tranquility wash over me, while allowing the soft sunlight to play peekaboo through the swaying branches above. With each sway of the hammock, I’d feel my cares and worries gently rock away, replaced by an overwhelming sense of peace. It was as if time itself had slowed to a crawl, granting me the gift of uninterrupted serenity. It was in those moments, I was not merely a traveler; I was a part of the tranquil rhythm of Villa Sumaya’s enchanting grounds. Each creak of the hammock, each note of birdsong, and each whisper of the wind was a reminder that in this sanctuary, the world’s chaos could be set free, leaving only the tranquility and beauty of the present moment.

But, it was the views that truly stole the show. Standing on the shores of Lake Atitlán, gazing at the majestic volcanoes, I couldn’t help but redefine the word “majestic”. The volcanoes seemed like ancient sentinels, guardians of a land steeped in mystery and beauty. With every passing moment, I felt a profound connection to the Earth’s raw, unbridled power and the serenity it offered. These grounds were not just enchanting; they were a sanctuary for the soul, a place where nature’s beauty whispered its secrets to those willing to listen.

Each morning, as the sun gently rises over the horizon, you’ll be treated to a symphony of colors dancing across the water, casting a tranquil spell over the entire property. Whether you’re meditating on the private dock or simply sipping a cup of locally sourced coffee, the lakefront serenity at Villa Sumaya is an experience like no other.

Our Room

During our stay at Villa Sumaya, we were fortunate to experience the Ginger Suite #23. You know how in many hotels, room quality often hinges on the price you pay, with some rooms clearly better than others? Well, at Villa Sumaya, while there are variations in cost due to size and amenities, every single room possesses its own distinct charm and offers jaw-dropping views. There’s no sense here of treating some spaces as mere afterthoughts designed solely for extra square footage. Villa Sumaya is far from cookie-cutter; it’s a place where each sleeping area is lovingly crafted to exude its own unique personality and soulful ambiance.

Ginger Suite #23 at Villa Sumaya is a true gem. It’s not just a room; it’s a story in itself. Stepping inside, you immediately sense the personal touch and warmth that surrounds you. It’s where Wendy, the owner herself, once called home and raised her two daughters. The room bears the marks of a space filled with love and cherished memories. From the comfortable furnishings to the breathtaking views of Lake Atitlán and the volcanoes, every detail feels thoughtfully curated. You’ll find a sense of tranquility here that’s hard to put into words, as if the room itself whispers stories of laughter, growth, and connection.

Maya-Inspired Architecture

Villa Sumaya’s architecture pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the Maya people. The buildings seamlessly blend traditional Mayan design with modern comforts. As you walk through the intricate archways, adorned with vibrant textiles and indigenous art, you’ll feel a deep connection to the history and spirituality of this ancient civilization. The design invites you to slow down, breathe deeply, and embrace the serenity that permeates every corner of the property.

Healing and Wellness

Villa Sumaya is more than just a beautiful retreat; it’s a sanctuary for healing and wellness. The on-site Healing Arts Center offers a range of holistic treatments, including massages, acupuncture, and Mayan abdominal therapy. Yoga and meditation sessions are conducted in open-air studios with panoramic views of the lake and volcanoes, providing a serene backdrop for deepening your practice and finding inner peace.

During our stay, I had the privilege of experiencing some of these remarkable offerings

Blue Lotus Ceremony

Villa Sumaya hosts various spiritual ceremonies, including the Blue Lotus ceremony. Guided by a knowledgeable shaman, Max and I embarked on a transformative journey of self-discovery and healing, aided by the sacred Blue Lotus flower.

The sacred Blue Lotus flower, known for its mystical properties and revered throughout history, became our ally on this spiritual odyssey. Its petals, when consumed, are thought to carry you into a state of heightened awareness, a space where the boundaries of the self began to blur.

The setting was intimate yet infused with an aura of ancient wisdom.

The shaman, a master of her craft, exuded a serene confidence that instantly put us at ease. She was not just a guide; she was a spiritual mentor, a custodian of profound knowledge.

As we gathered, the air seemed to vibrate with the collective energy of those who were ready to delve into the depths of their own consciousness. It was a communion of souls, a shared intent to unlock the hidden realms of the self.

As we partook in the ceremony, the fragrance of the Blue Lotus filled the air, its essence serving as a bridge between the material and the metaphysical.

As we were granted the sacred space to immerse ourselves in this age-old ritual, we found ourselves enveloped in a profound healing journey that transcended the physical realm—an experience so profound that it defies adequate expression in words. It undeniably opened a new chapter in our lives, one we are wholeheartedly committed to exploring and understanding.

It was an experience etched into our hearts, one that time will never erase, and we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this ancient and sacred ritual.

Journey into Sacred Expression Woman’s Retreat

I had the privilege of documenting a memorable evening during a retreat led by the incredible Aimee Hansen. Her session, titled “Divine Date with Desire”, was a profound experience for the women attending.

This particular night of the women’s retreat revolved around helping each participant uncover and articulate their deepest desires in life. Aimee achieved this through a series of engaging activities, guided meditation, and introspective writing circles.

What left a lasting impression on me was the revelation that all these women, despite their deep connections and camaraderie by the end of the retreat, had initially arrived as solo travelers, complete strangers to one another. This aspect speaks volumes about Aimee’s exceptional leadership and her knack for creating an inclusive and nurturing environment within her retreats.

I had the privilege of witnessing Aimee craft a space that was not only welcoming but also deeply charming, allowing these women to lean into their experience with trust and authenticity. It was a testament to the power of skilled facilitation and the transformative potential of such retreats. You can see when Aimee will be leading her next retreat on her website!

Mayan Cacao Ceremony

My senses were awakened during a traditional Mayan cacao ceremony, where I had the opportunity to witness and capture the rich cultural heritage of the Mayan people. The vibrant colors, and deep spiritual connection left an indelible mark on my soul.

Photographing the Mayan Cacao ceremony was an experience that transcended the boundaries of my lens and touched the core of my being. As I framed each shot, I couldn’t help but be drawn into the rich tapestry of Mayan culture unfolding before me. The vibrant colors of ceremonial attire, and the intricate process of cacao preparation all became my subjects, but they were more than just images—they were windows into a world steeped in history and spirituality.

Capturing the essence of the ceremony was a privilege that allowed me to witness and share the Mayan people’s deep connection to their heritage and the land. Each photograph became a piece of visual storytelling, a testament to the resilience and enduring traditions of this remarkable culture. Through my lens, I not only documented a moment in time but also learned that photography could be a powerful tool for education and cultural preservation, bridging the gap between the past and the present in a single frame.

The remarkable women conducting the cacao ceremony are a group of Mayan midwives affiliated with the Midwife Project Guatemala. These dedicated midwives are on a mission to empower their local communities and improve maternal health outcomes.

In Guatemala, where maternal mortality rates are alarmingly high, their work takes on profound significance. The country’s indigenous Mayan women face a disproportionate risk during childbirth, with limited access to quality healthcare. Educating and training local women as midwives is a crucial step in addressing this issue. By providing essential care and support during pregnancy and childbirth, these midwives play a vital role in reducing birth-related deaths among Mayan women.

Their commitment to preserving traditional birthing practices while integrating modern healthcare methods is both inspiring and life-saving. Through their efforts, they are not only safeguarding the well-being of mothers and babies but also preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Mayan people.

Being in the presence of not only this ancient ritual, but also surrounded by multigenerational healers left me feeling profoundly humbled. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been trusted and invited into this sacred space.

If you’re interested in supporting the education of future generations of midwives, you can find more information on how to contribute by clicking here!

Massage Therapy

Villa Sumaya offers a range of rejuvenating massage therapies. I can confidently say that the massage I received here was the best of my life. The skilled therapists and serene surroundings combined to create a truly transcendent experience.

In the hands of their skilled therapists, who wove together ancient techniques and healing energy, my tensions and worries quite literally melted away. As I lay immersed by the serene beauty of my surroundings, the massage transcended the realm of the physical, becoming a transformative experience that not only soothed my body but also rejuvenated my spirit. It was as if every knot released by the therapist was accompanied by a release of inner burdens, leaving me with a profound sense of renewal and a serene state of balance.

Culinary Delights

Three times a day, a sweet chime, courtesy of the village’s cherished chef, would summon us to the dining area, where each meal at Villa Sumaya became a delectable portal to the vibrant tapestry of Mayan culture, inviting us to savor its essence through our taste buds.

The vegetarian cuisine, a genuine highlight of Villa Sumaya, bore testament to the chefs’ artistry, with every dish meticulously fashioned from locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Be it the wholesome embrace of a nourishing breakfast bowl, the vibrant explosion of flavors in a salad, or the sheer delight of a delectable dessert, each culinary creation transcended mere sustenance – It was a symphony of taste, an exploration of textures, and a homage to Villa Sumaya’s culinary expertise. It also served as a haven for individuals with dietary restrictions, such as those following gluten or dairy-free diets, as the majority of the chef’s creations were thoughtfully tailored to accommodate allergies and sensitivities.

Our love for the food soared to such heights that it compelled us to carry a piece of this gastronomic treasure back home – a cookbook from one of the exceptionally talented local chefs, a tangible token of our heartfelt gratitude for the flavors that had etched themselves into our memory during our stay.

Vibrant Community

Villa Sumaya transcends the concept of a mere retreat; it’s a warm embrace of community, a sanctuary where kindred spirits come together in pursuit of self-discovery and connection.

Here, the experience goes beyond individual moments – it’s about forging bonds, engaging in heartfelt conversations with fellow guests, and discovering the joy of shared activities. Whether you’re immersing yourself in group adventures or simply finding solace in the company of like-minded souls, Villa Sumaya weaves a tapestry of belonging and camaraderie that infuses every corner with a unique charm.

We undeniably forged personal connections with several other guests, connections that we cherish and fully intend to nurture in the days and years to come.

Local Tour Options

While Villa Sumaya itself is a sanctuary of relaxation and reflection, the surrounding region offers a wealth of activities and tours for the adventurous traveler. Here are some of the local tour options:

  1. Hiking Volcano San Pedro: The nearby San Pedro Volcano provides a challenging but rewarding hiking experience, offering breathtaking views of Lake Atitlán from its summit.
  2. Exploring Mayan Villages: Take a boat tour to visit neighboring Mayan villages and immerse yourself in their rich traditions, colorful textiles, and artisan markets.
  3. Textile Workshops: Discover the art of traditional Mayan weaving through hands-on workshops with local artisans.

Future Upgrades

Villa Sumaya has exciting plans for the future, enhancing the experience for its guests. Among these plans, they are set to upgrade their sacred sweat lodge area by adding a cold plunge tub. This addition will provide guests with a contrasting experience, allowing them to transition from the intense heat of the sweat lodge to the refreshing cold water, further enriching the spiritual journey.

Additionally, Villa Sumaya plans to introduce a modern bungalow to their accommodation options. This bungalow will offer a contemporary retreat experience while preserving the natural and cultural authenticity that defines Villa Sumaya. It’s a testament to their commitment to continually evolve and provide guests with even more choices for their stay.

A Transformative Journey

Our voyage to Villa Sumaya in Guatemala unfolded as a deeply personal tapestry, interwoven with threads of adventure, serenity, and profound beauty. From the very instant we stepped onto this enchanted space, an indescribable sense of peace and wonder enveloped us, surpassing even our most ambitious expectations. Villa Sumaya is not just a destination; it’s a transformative experience that touches the heart, mind, and soul. It is a place where healing is not just a concept but a living, breathing reality, where wellness is not just a goal, but a way of life.

Villa Sumaya is more than just a destination; it’s a transformative experience that leaves a lasting imprint on your heart and soul. Our visit was filled with spiritual awakenings, cultural discoveries, and moments of profound relaxation.

Whether you’re seeking spiritual growth, cultural immersion, or simply a break from the chaos of everyday life, Villa Sumaya in Guatemala is a haven worth exploring. It’s a place where nature, tradition, and wellness converge to create an unforgettable journey of serenity and self-discovery, with exciting plans on the horizon to make the experience even more enriching.

Planning Your Guatemalan Lake Retreat at Villa Sumaya

When it comes to securing your retreat at Villa Sumaya, timing is key. The high season spans from October through April, while often seeing bookings made a year in advance. However, if you prefer a more open schedule and greater flexibility, consider the summer months of July and August. During this period, the altitude keeps the climate refreshingly cool, and the lushness of the lake basin, nourished by June rains, creates a picturesque setting for your retreat.

Villa Sumaya retreats typically span 7 nights, commencing on a Saturday and concluding on the following Saturday. What sets Villa Sumaya apart is their commitment to tailor the experience to your unique needs and focus. Retreat leaders have the freedom to craft a schedule that perfectly aligns with their group, ensuring a customized and enriching experience for all.

In addition to the enriching studio sessions, Villa Sumaya offers an array of outdoor adventures to complement your retreat. Explore the local villages, embark on invigorating hikes, glide through pristine waters in kayaks, or immerse yourself in the captivating world of birdwatching. The choices are as diverse as the landscape itself.

Villa Sumaya also hosts a series of captivating ceremonies to deepen your spiritual journey. Immerse yourself in the Mayan Fire, Cacao, Sound Healing, Blue Lotus, or Sweat Lodge ceremonies, each offering a unique portal to inner growth and self-discovery.

And for those seeking pure relaxation, Villa Sumaya’s Harmony Spa sessions are a must. Unwind, rejuvenate, and pamper yourself in the serene ambiance of the retreat.

Rest assured, every group reserving space at Villa Sumaya enjoys their own dedicated space, ensuring an exclusive and harmonious environment for all your activities throughout the week.

Whether you’re enticed by the energy of high season or the tranquility of summer, Villa Sumaya stands ready to curate a retreat experience that’s uniquely yours. Discover, evolve, and rejuvenate in the heart of Guatemala’s natural beauty and rich culture. Your transformative journey commences here.

You can find all the information you need to plan your personal or group retreat here: Upcoming Retreat Programs and Personal Retreat. If you have any questions, or would like help planning your retreat or trip feel free to reach out to me here!