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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Casa Santo Domingo

Antigua, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Walking through the city of Antigua, Guatemala, is like taking a trip back through history. Ancient churches, old convents, the ruins of government buildings destroyed by earthquakes, cobblestone streets, and gardens all give you the sense of the beauty that was here centuries ago.

Today, these historical buildings have been modernized into restaurants, hotels and shops.

One of the most beautiful of these is Casa Santo Domingo

5 Star Hotel Casa Santo Domingo

In its earliest days, Casa Santo Domingo was one of the grandest convents of then-known America. Those who lived in this sanctuary were the followers of the order of Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Today, the hotel is an important monument, preserving the treasures from the baroque era of ancestral America.

The walkway up from the entrance

The manicured gardens showcase the renovated convent, which now provides hotel rooms for tourists.

 

This building was partially destroyed in the 1773 Santa Marta earthquake.

The building opened up as a hotel in 1989, and this hotel/museum has 128 rooms.

Another walkway around the grounds

The ancient walls, brick archways and tile corridors display the beauty of this place.

Santo Domingo is a 10 minute walk to the central Cathedral in town, and another minute or two to the famous Santa Catalina Arch.

Menu at El Refectorio Restaurant

There are a couple of full restaurants and a bar in Santo Domingo, serving up creative food offerings. This restaurant is El Refectorio.

The menu lists a watermelon salad with shrimp, cherries, avocado, and green apple along with pineapple vinaigrette and smoked pineapple foam. This dish goes for 120Quetzales, or about $16USD.

Another unusual dish is lightly seared tuna with a bit of jalapeno chili, leeks, parsley oil, and an avocado/arugula foam and mole sauce. All of this food artistry is priced at 90Quetzales or about $12USD.

One section of the dining room

Here you can see the very thick walls of the monastery archways. This is only one section of the dining area and as you  can see further into the photo, there is outdoor seating as well.

We visited Santo Domingo during the Catholic Church's Lenten season and as you can see, the table runners are purple, the traditional color of Lent.

The bar and lounge

In the bar and lounge one can sip on a cocktail or soda and enjoy the stonework of the ancient walls. No matter where one goes in this Casa, history is artfully displayed.

Outside sitting areas

The grounds of this old convent are sprawling and there are many places to sit and enjoy the view. One might want to read a book or have a conversation with a companion or new friend. Everywhere is manicured by maintenance crews.

Rooms inside the hotel are rustic or one could choose a suite with Guatemalan art on the walls. Modern conveniences such as flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and mini-fridges are provided. Most rooms have fireplaces and some have hot tubs and living rooms.

Expansive swimming pool

Sight seeing through the town of Antigua is rewarding, with all the photo opportunities available, the various restaurants and cafes serving splendid coffees, pastries and a diversity of cuisines like Italian, Mexican, Guatemalan, and steak houses.

But then one can return to Casa Santo Domingo and float or swim in their large pool in splendid surroundings.

What luxury!

A tropical parrot

Walking around the hotel and the surrounding ruins can take you some time because it is so large and captivating. While wandering, you'll see a dozen parrots kept here on perches amid the lush foliage.

The main fountain of the old convent

Can you imagine living in such luxury as a spiritual disciple of Santo Domingo de Guzmán?

I don't know if there are plans to reconstruct this fountain and make it functioning again, but this must have been tranquil and mesmerizing in the days when it was flowing.

Ancient fountain inside the hotel/convent

Speaking of fountains...

These remind me of the Holy Water fountains found in churches, where one can take the water on your fingertips and bless yourself as you pass by.

 

Notice the beautiful stone and brickwork of the walls, and how thick these walls are.

This fountain is at the end of a hallway of hotel rooms.

A mix of Maya and Catholic

These stone animals and heads that you will find along this pathway must be from the Mayan times and were probably dug up during the excavation of the ruins of the monastery.

A museum is to the right of the photo.

A local Maya worker

A young woman sells tickets to the museums on the grounds of the convent. Many of the ruins are available to see by just walking around, but if you would like more information and to see different artifacts, you can purchase a ticket to enter the museum.

Graveyard for members of the monastery

There were a couple of places for graveyards and crypts, displaying the bones of those who lived in this monastery.

Perhaps one would find more information about these burial places when visiting the museum... for instance, were they sealed up? These are constructed as if to give members of the convent a way  to view the bones of the deceased. Did they have glass fronts? Who, exactly, were chosen to be buried here?

A better view

A humble reminder to the members of the convent that "Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return" lest someone get themselves worked up to be high and mighty.

A large gathering place

We weren't clear as to what this space was used for in the olden days, but we thought it would be perfect for a small acoustic band, a violinist or pianist.

What a venue!

Mayans weaving and selling their wares

Continuing around the walkways you will find an area where several local Mayans are weaving and have set up some of their wares to sell to the tourists who visit the hotel and restaurant.

Notice the old stonework on the ground.

This place is a mixture of history, dreams, visions, and dedication to a spiritual life all being thrust into the present day. If you come to Antigua, Guatemala, you must make a visit to Casa Santo Domingo.

Hotel Casa Santo Domingo

3a Calle Oriente 28 A, Antigua Guatemala Phone: 502. 7820. 1220

Website

For more stories, photos and information about Antigua, click here

For more stories and photos of Guatemala, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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