I highly recommend staying at Casa Juana if you are visiting Panajachel. Having stayed in a beautiful villa overlooking the lake the previous year, we were skeptical that we would find any other place to be as perfect, but we found it in Casa Juana. If you like the convenience of being in the touristy part of town, close to the action, then you might not like the location and solitude here. But if you enjoy watching the dawn come gently over the lake and volcanos while you enjoy your morning coffee, if you enjoy watching the sun disappear into the clouds behind the mountains in the evening, if you like being surrounded by beautiful roses, bougainvilleas, flowering trees and bushes and enjoy hearing the birds call early in the morning, then you will love Casa Juana. Inside, the casita has been decorated with a decorator's eye, reflecting the Guatemalan culture through the furnishings, weavings, pottery and pictures.
The gardens surrounding the property are lovingly cared for by Miguel, the caretaker, who will see to it that you have everything you need, Miguel and his wife, Otilia, that is. Along with the property owner, Murray, we felt warmly welcome and well cared for. Not only did Otilia clean the casita every day, she did our laundry and prepared a traditional Guatemalan dinner for us in our kitchen one evening. That was indeed, one of the highlights of our stay at Lake Atítlan. Aside from that very special dinner, we also enjoyed eating at the restaurant El Sol, a Japanese restaurant conveniently located at the end of the street.
Murray, who resides on the same property, lined me up with a very good Spanish language tutor and answered all our questions about where to shop. We arrived late in the evening and found the kitchen stocked with coffee for breakfast, a basketful of wonderful fresh local produce and a bottle of wine. We felt at home.
Two things to be aware of: There are 121 steps from the road to the casita. They add to the ambience and allure of the property and make possible the incredible view. They are also a good workout. The other is to be sure and wear long pants and long sleeves or insect repellent when you are in the garden.