Waking up in one of the suites at Lake Chapala hotel La Vita Bella Hotel and Spa you can watch the early mist rise off of Mexico’s largest lake as the sun slowly burns away the morning chill. It’s an impressive view in an unexpected location, atop a small hill hidden inside a subdivision in San Juan Cosala, a town just minutes from the lake’s main tourist destination, the town of Chapala. While many international tourists don’t make it past the lake’s namesake town, there are a myriad of little hotels that ring the lake’s perimeter that are worth a stay for their service and style.
Unlike the hustle and bustle of the lakeside restaurants and hotels, La Vita Bella is the picture of tranquility, the only sounds are from the surrounding nature and the distant meditative rhythms that float up from the restaurant-bar. This hotel is an offshoot of Monte Coxala, a large resort up the hill a little further, built by the son of Monte Coxala’s owner. In contrast to Monte Coxala’s sprawling grounds and thematic architecture, La Vita Bella is modern, sleek, and yoga-inspiring. The white-washed facade and draping greenery give it a sense of seaside luxury without the sea.
Off to one section of the hotel’s compact grounds is a small pool complex – three pools fed by the nearby thermal hot springs. While not hot, the pools are an agreeably warm, and feel luxurious after a massage or other treatment in the open air spa on-site. La Vita Bella has become the go-to spot for hosting large groups that rent out the entire space (there are only 12 rooms) and so they offer menu of things that groups might find appealing – spaces for yoga or other meditative arts, sound baths, thermal pools, temezcales, hydrotherapy and more.
Each of the spacious suites has an outstanding view – either of the lake or the mountains, but the four suites in a separate building off to the side of the main reception area have the most privacy and unobstructed views of Lake Chapala below. Master suites are slightly larger that Juniors, but all are basically the same layout and style. All rooms have a simple, but thoughtful décor – wooden accents, tan and white linens, gray stone bathtubs, and pops of color added by abstract art or a bright red salon sofa. Each suite includes robes, TVs, safety deposit boxes, a limited mini bar, and a stand alone fan in case you get warm sleeping. The comfortable king beds and lake views right in front of you, make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Rooms run from $124 – 333.
The restaurant has a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner and stays open late (10:30) for a final night cap or snack. That said, it’s not a music-pumping, cocktail chatter kind of vibe. The place is very mellow and with such a small amount of rooms, it’s likely to just be you and one or two other guests during the week, more folks on the weekend.
It’s vital to have a car to stay at La Vita Bella, you will find public transportation sorely lacking in this area, but it’s worth it to rent one anyways so you can explore Lake Chapala and the handful of small towns that surround it. There are also lots of recreational activities to be had — kayaking, boating, and bike riding, with a paved bike lane that runs from the town of Chapala to the edge of San Juan Cosala
La Vita Bella’s location means that it’s not on the international traveler’s radar – yet – but as it builds a reputation for relaxed luxury we think folks will start to pay attention. For now you can be the first of your friends to have this intimate hotel experience close to one of Mexico’s natural gems.
You won’t find this hideaway on any of the hotel booking site, so go to the direct website for more details.
Lydia Carey was hosted at the property while doing research for another publication.