Americans are interested in Guatemala. But why?
“Guatemala has the perfect combination of cultural sites, picturesque views and extreme adventure to make it a must-see destination for a range of travelers,” Paul Adán, vice president of development for Marriott’s Caribbean and Latin America Region, said about Marriott’s plans to open two additional hotels in Guatemala City by 2019. Adán cited over 19,0000 conferences and meetings in Guatemala, most of them in the capital city, in 2016, as a sign that Guatemala is rapidly developing, motivating him to expand the brand’s portfolio for business travelers and, by extension, tourists. Regionally, Adán also predicts Nicaragua and Costa Rica to rise in popularity in the next few years, for similar reasons to Guatemala.
The most populous country in Central America (roughly 15.5 million people live in Guatemala’s 109 square kilometers), Guatemala is great for its outdoor adventure and ancient Mayan culture, the opportunity to explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites, boat across Lake Atitlan and the ideal climate always spring temperatura.
Guatemala also has three active volcanoes, hundreds of acres of coffee farms and Mayan ruins. The Mayans, who still live in remote and urban parts of the country, speak more than 20 native languages, cook traditional dishes dating back to pre-colonial times and create traditional textiles and homewares that rival décor you’d find at West Elm.
Volcanoes at Guatemala
A mix of urban and outdoorsy activities
Almost a dozen tour operators offered up the same response for what makes Guatemala suited for success: It has it all. Sure, this may be the standard industry answer, but in my four days in Guatemala I walked through the historic streets of Antigua (a UNESCO World Heritage site), hiked Payaca volcano, soaked in hot baths at an outdoor spa, took a boat ride across Lake Atitlan and shopped for Mayan textiles onshore in San Pedro, ate at upscale (molecular gastronomy) and local restaurants and purchased street food for next to nothing.
Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala
Not every trip is going to be an extravaganza and affordability can sometimes be the main criteria in planning a great trip. Our experience says that you can do a big trip to Guatemala and not spend a lot of money.
A Mayan textile market in Antigua