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Luxury in the Guatemalan rainforest

Francis Ford Coppola’s magical eco lodge in the rainforest of Guatemala is remote, luxurious and exotic

Travellers flock to the ancient Mayan ruins and temples at Tikal,Guatemala, said to be the very epicentre of Mayan spirituality. Tucked in the rainforest a short drive away is La Lancha Lodge, which with its jungle setting, hidden casitas and winding paths, captures a little of its mystique.

La Lancha is part of the Family Coppola Hideaways group, owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola and his family. He fell in love with the jungle while filming Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, and went on to establish two hideaways in Belize, one in the rainforest and the other on the Caribbean coast, and most recently a private island off the cost of his beach hideaway, Turtle Inn, called Coral Caye, as well as the stunning La Lancha in Guatemala.

Ten thatched suites and rooms are dotted around La Lancha. My Lake View Villa is a luxurious treehouse filled with Guatemalan artefacts and crafts, from colourful throws to animal masks and huipils (the traditional Mayan woman’s dress) hanging on the walls. Each room has a terrace with hammocks and chairs looking out over the beautiful Lago Petén Itzá – the second largest lake in Guatemala – and a, cool marble bathroom with handmade toiletries. After a long day getting acquainted with the Mayans at Tikal the king sized bed is welcoming and even the monkeys cannot keep me awake.

My favourite spots are the two-level swimming pool and the Mirador or look-out deck, complete with giant sofas from which to look over the lake, listening to the parakeets and toucans. I can pick up the Shellphone – a pink conch shell which is actually a telephone for guests - and order a cocktail. Later its time to detox at the Temazcal, a traditional Mayan sweat lodge or sauna for cleansing and relaxing with copal incense burning.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in La Lancha’s lovely open-air restaurant under the thatched roof of the Main Lodge with fabulous views over the rainforest to the lake. In the evening meals are cooked on an open parilla or grill. Food is a combination of traditional and Guatemalan dishes including fresh fish from the lake and Chef Ezechiele is happy to accommodate any dietary requirements. Top class wines are from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California and drinks are on offer at the rooftop bar and library or down at the enchanting lake-view bar accessed by a quirky funicular.

My breakfast of fruit, yoghurt eggs and banana bread is enjoyed with the parakeets for company dining on fruit on an adjacent tree.

La Lancha is ideal for anyone visiting Tikal, but guests can also swim, kayak or canoe in the lake or take a horse-riding tour. Tel: 00 (502) 30450817

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