Francis Ford Coppola Shares the Feature Every Hotel Room He Builds in the Future Will Have

It’s been over two decades since Francis Ford Coppola first opened the doors of his family’s tropical getaway in Belize to the public, beginning the Oscar-winning filmmaker’s second act as the proprietor of the Family Coppola Hideaways. Today, he operates six resorts: Blancaneaux Lodge, Turtle Inn, and Coral Caye in Belize; Jardin Escondido in Argentina; Palazzo Margherita in Italy; and La Lancha in Guatemala. (He also owns three wineries in California and Oregon.)

The director of The Godfather recently updated the lush rain forest property at La Lancha, adding two new suites; a funicular, or “jungle elevator,” which transports guests from the shore of the Petén Itzá lake to the mountaintop hotel; a fiberglass boat for transportation and sunset cruises around the lake; and a traditional Mayan sauna, called a temazcal, which uses volcanic stones to produce heat. The suites are built from a variety of native woods, including mahogany, white mahogany, and Manchiche, a highly sustainable wood for the tropical area. The decor of the rooms is a reflection of the indigenous culture of Guatemala, something which made Coppola fall in love with the place. Below, he tells us more about the upgrades at La Lancha—and a bit about his plans for any future hotels he may build.

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Temazcals are used in traditional Indigenous ceremonies to purify and detox the body.

Courtesy of La Lancha

Architectural Digest: Why was it time to upgrade La Lancha?

Francis Ford Coppola: La Lancha was a purchase from a young French couple, so, not a place I created. But over the years I have come to love it and consider it a personal favorite, especially because of the wonderful people and their artistic traditions. Their art, their food, their textiles, their kindness. So although I didn’t have much invested there, I consider it important to keep improving and making it the wonderful experience that I myself enjoy when I’m there.

One of the two new Rainforest Junior Suites at La Lancha.

Photo: Gundolf Pfotenhaur

AD: What inspired the design of the two new Rainforest Junior Suites?

FFC: Hotels seem to do a “copycat” type of improvement: Someone puts a piece of chocolate on the pillow, they all do. A double sink is added in the bathroom, and they all do the same. Someone offers pillow selections, and they all do. My own improvement is that the master bedroom should have two bathrooms, one for each partner. And between them, the shower can adjoin the two. This is what we’ve done in the new Rainforest Suites, and a feature I plan to do in every new accommodation I build.

The new suites offer views of the lush rain forest outside.

Photo: Gundolf Pfotenhaur

AD: Where is your favorite place to spend time when you visit La Lancha? Do you have a favorite room?

FFC: I personally try to stay in all accommodations, so yes, my favorite are the newest ones we built there, but I love all of them.

AD: What’s the one thing every visitor to La Lancha should do?

FFC: Certainly, visit Tikal [National Park]. It is a beautifully kept park quite close to La Lancha, and to experience Tikal is to be enchanted by one of the few true wonders of the world.

An outdoor lounge area at La Lancha.

Courtesy of La Lancha

AD: What makes La Lancha different from the other Coppola properties?

FFC: The indigenous culture of the Guatemalteca people; their art, food, and lovely nature.

AD: Of all of your hotels, do you have a favorite?

FFC: Each is certainly unique, but in truth, I have a natural fondness for La Lancha. I love the sound of the howler monkeys in the morning there.


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