Mesón Panza Verde’s Silver Anniversary
“You can buy it as your house or buy it as a business—either way it’s the same price!” said Hartmut Zersch, the previous owner. With that agreed to, Mesón Panza Verde, La Antigua Guatemala’s first European-style bed and breakfast which opened in 1986, had two new owners: Laurel Jacobson and Bruce McCowan.
For the first half dozen years after assuming ownership in October 1992, Laurel (who decided to keep it running as a business) was in charge since Bruce was still commuting to New York City, trying to escape the buzzing sound of Wall Street.
They raised two beautiful girls, Tara and Kendra, and built a successful business, which is now known as an Antigua institution. Throughout all this time Antigua has always been home, and either Laurel or Bruce or both were very much in evidence.
As anyone who has been to Panza Verde knows, its signature is good design and good taste. Laurel was the principle designer, but Bruce lays claim to the stone stairways and Park Avenue-style glass doors in La Cueva, which was a major addition to the original building in 2002.
La Cueva created one-third more restaurant space plus a stage for music several nights a week. Laurel’s interest for art and yoga inspired the yoga studio/art gallery, where monthly art shows and daily yoga classes take place. Also at this time the hotel was doubled by adding six beautiful new suites, each with extraordinary baths. The ambiance is eclectic Spanish Colonial, with a marked Moroccan influence. As one friend notes, “the newest part looks the oldest.”
Their latest undertaking is Villas B’alam Ya, a beautiful four-villa property that opened last December at Lake Atitlán. Located lakeside at Km 4 on the road to Santa Catarina Palopó, it is the perfect weekend or weeklong, full-service getaway. Each villa has unobstructed views of the lake and the surrounding volcanoes. Visitors can swim, kayak and learn to row a sculling hull or simply relax in a tropical garden with numerous private spaces to read, enjoy the abundant bird life, do yoga or meditate.
For Laurel, the business is all about creative design, compelling atmosphere, good food and service. For Bruce, his passion is really about Panza Verde’s great food and the fun. They are a good team!
In honor of the 25th anniversary, Panza Verde will have specials on wine, gourmet dishes and hotel rooms throughout October.
Every day of the month there will be a free appetizer offered so diners will get to know different items on the menu. In addition, there will be a grand anniversary performance-art party on Oct. 29 starting at 7 p.m. This will be a fun event where many performance artists will have cameo acts throughout the evening. A Cuban jazz band will provide dance music. The Q100 entrance fee covers drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The staff of Panza Verde thanks all of you for 25 years of patronage.
Check www.panzaverde.com for specials or more information.