A Spanish colonial hacienda set in the blue-green hills of the Copán valley, San Lucas is the place to stay if you’re visiting the Copán archaeological site.

Just a 15-minute drive from the town of Copán Ruinas (itself within walking distance of the site), the property sits on 121 hectares (300 acres) of pristine, forested land and has been part of the Cueva family for more than a century, though it was Flavia Cueva—the hacienda’s charming owner, manager, and chef—who decided to turn it into an eco-lodge in 2000. She began by carefully restoring the original hacienda using local materials, techniques, and labor. She planted thousands of native trees to provide habitat for wildlife and prevent erosion. She also sourced her staff locally, and today, the majority of her employees have been with her for more than a decade.

“People always comment on how friendly our staff is and how spiritual San Lucas feels,” says Flavia. “We consider it a privilege to hosts guests, so being friendly is easy. And I think the sense of spirituality is what brings so many people back. We have a lot of return guests. People feel a connection. They feel like they’re at home.”

The property comprises simple but elegant rooms with comfortable beds, handcrafted furniture, private baths, and porch hammocks that look out over colorful tropical gardens. At night, rooms are lit by candles, lending them a rustic, romantic aesthetic–though there are solar bedside lamps that can be used, too. (Phones and iPads can be charged via bathroom power outlets.) The original hacienda–which has been modernized with WiFi–is home to the kitchen, bar, and restaurant. Here, meals are cooked the old-fashioned way, using a traditional wood stove. Corn tortillas are made by hand daily and the menu features a seasonal mix of whatever is fresh from the market. Expect local Maya fare as well as Cueva family favorites; try Flavia’s signature oak-wood, fire-roasted chicken with adobo sauce, if you can.

Although the property has expanded over the years (there are now eight white adobe rooms in total), preserving San Lucas’s landscape has always been top priority. “Protect, protect, protect,” says Flavia. “It was important to my father and grandfather to protect the land (and its people), and it’s just as important to me.”

For good reason, too. In addition to being home to stretch of picturesque forest, San Lucas also has its own archaeological site (called Los Sapos, it’s believed to have been a spot where Maya fertility ceremonies were performed) and million-dollar views. At dusk, grab a glass of chilled white wine and settle into a lawn chair for a fantastic sunset over the famed Copán ruins (you can see the tops of the temples). Or get up early to watch the morning mist rising up from the valley below. “Sometimes,” notes Flavia, “it really does feel like time here has stopped.”

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