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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.

El Dragon Hotel

San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

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When living in Guatemala, we spend most of our time in Panajachel, the most "developed" of the dozen or so villages around Lake Atitlan. We have plenty of ATMs, banks, restaurants, yoga and art classes, grocery stores, delis, coffee shops, bars, hotels, large Mayan markets with fresh food of all kinds, pharmacies, doctors, clinics and volunteer opportunities.

Every once in a while, we like to get away just for a different perspective. Many times we go to Antigua, a favorite of ours, but this time, we thought to stay the night in San Marcos, just across the lake.

The San Pedro dock in Panajachel

The morning was glorious. Several days previously were overcast and a bit dreary, but today was crystal clear, and had a crispness in the air.

We arrived to witness the lancha leaving for San Marcos, so we just waited a few minutes and another one filled up quickly.

We're off!

Map of the lake

On this map, we left from Panajachel, number 9 as marked, and we were headed to number 6 where El Dragon Hotel is located. The first lancha was probably a directo, one that goes directly to San Marcos, whereas the one we were taking made stops to little towns and private docks along the way.

Normally with a directo it takes about 20 minutes to arrive at San Marcos, but today it was a leisurely 45 minute boat ride to the small town.

Map from the dock to the hotel

There are two ways to get to El Dragon Hotel, leaving from the dock. We took the shorter route through the soccer field and arrived at the hotel around noon.

Colorful dragon painting and glass encased details about the hotel

At the first right from the dock we notice this excellent signage to help us find El Dragon.

There are several dragon motifs on the property

Here you see a large dragon protecting the property from intruders and bad mojo.

Signs letting us know where to go


El Dragon is clean, manicured and up-to-date. There was not a scrap of anything out of place.

Lounge, reception area and kitchen

We checked in at the reception area, stating that we had reservations. Ruiz, the manager, was professional and friendly. He confirmed our names in his concierge book and in a few moments, Billy was registered. Ruiz checked our room to be sure it was prepared before he gave us the key.

We had room Number 1!

Our spacious room awaited us

Towels twisted into swans were on the firm bed and from our window we could see the dining room, various gardens and the lake.

A flat screen TV was on the table, and we quickly got the WiFi code so we could check our website and email.


The bathroom was immaculate, with a very large open shower and various towels on the rack. Shampoo, lotion and packets of soap were provided.

Hypnotic Lake Atitlan with volcanoes

We quickly took a look around to get some photos, and immediately went to the hotel's beach. People do swim off this beach, but to us, the water is chilly! 

Dining room with another side dining room at upper right

The dining room was enchanting. Due to these flowers descending from the overhead canopy, humming birds and other bird species abound!

A different angle of the dining area

Here you see the reception area and lounge to the right, and the open air dining room in the center. Menus are posted on the windows and individual menus are given to you when you order.

It was moving towards 1pm and we were ready for lunch! The ribs sounded good, so we both decided to try them.

Pork ribs with mango sauce

Advertised as "fall-off-the-bone" pork ribs, they did not disappoint. Served with grilled potatoes and a fresh salad, there was plenty of food for a large appetite. Price for the ribs plate was 70Quetzales, about $9USD.

Common areas

Another large TV, tropical sofas and various tables and chairs, one can find a place to hang out, read, lie in the sun or enjoy a meal, snack or drink. The whole space is open air and the well tended gardens are just to the right. The beach is straight ahead.

In the center of the photo up the steps you will see a bar that serves drinks during busy evenings.

Lounge chairs to enjoy the sun

With several sofa beds and chairs, one can relax, take in the views of the lake and gardens and enjoy the sun.

The Dragon Protector looks on.

A local Mayan man in his cayuco

Commonly seen around the lake are locals in their scraped out tree trunk boats called cayucos. These locals row their boats a bit off shore and go fishing to bring food home to their families.

Beautiful Mayan waitress with our Key Lime Pie

Back in Panajachel we have heard people rave about the Key Lime Pie at El Dragon, so this was another treat we indulged in. With a cup of Guatemalan brewed coffee, we split the pie between us.

Truly amazing pie!

Well, this pie hit the charts on the best Key Lime Pie we have had. Certainly it was Lime-y, airy, and not filled with gelatin to keep its form. The graham cracker crust was fresh, and you could taste the butter with which it was made. All in all, it was scrumptious. At 25Quetzales, (about $3USD) it was a bargain!

Another shot of the beach

Tranquility beckons as you can hear the lake lap up on the stones here at the private beach. Gardens are to the right and behind, out of the photo.

From the gardens looking towards common area and beach

The tropical gardens add a sense of peace to El Dragon Hotel. There is a little concrete bridge that runs over the creek, and gravel paths to get from place to place. Beach towels were placed on the grass by guests to also relax into the sounds of birds and gentle surf.

Another common area

There were several places to just hang out and appreciate the weather, the views, and the peacefulness of the place.


Dining room is to the right, and the hot tub is to the left.

Other rooms are privately tucked away

Stone walkways lead you to other beautiful areas in the hotel. El Dragon currently has eleven rooms, but more are being built as we speak. There will also be three apartments available in the months ahead. If you wanted to live for a month or more in paradise, you could reserve an apartment!

The hot tub!

We wanted to take part in everything offered at El Dragon, so we asked the girls at the desk if they could prepare the hot tub for us at around happy hour. They were quite pleased to do so, and when the tub was ready, they knocked on our door to let us know.

Hot tub with jets on

The hot tub had powerful jets to massage tight areas of our body. The water was hot and clean.

We reveled in the waters to soak out any aches and pains, then prepared ourselves for dinner later on.

The Richie Rich Goat cheese/bacon pizza

This pizza is worth mentioning. The crust was perfect - crispy and thin. There was no skimping on the goat cheese, the bacon, the caramelized onions or the red bell peppers. We asked for a little hot ground pepper to sprinkle on and there was enough pizza to share between the two of us. Price was 70Q, about $9USD.


Sunrise the next morning

The next morning was another dazzling display of nature with all the perfect ingredients put together to impress.

We had a leisurely morning enjoying coffee and ordering breakfast at the dining room later.

A man and his cayuco

Mayans have been living at Lake Atitlan for centuries. They have survived everything that history and nature has thrown at them and many still choose to live their traditional lives in small villages.

Eggs Benedict

For breakfast we chose to try the Eggs Benedict (45Q or $6USD). Served over crisp bacon and on a thick fluffy muffin, the eggs and sauce were done nicely and the plate included rosemary potatoes. Definitely filling for a morning, although I would have liked a slice of fruit on the side as well to break it all up.

In the gardens

Time to go!

It was a delightful stay in the town of San Marcos at the lovely El Dragon Hotel. Food was delicious, the room was spotless and service was friendly.

The next time you are in San Marcos, check out the restaurant and hotel, have a meal or decide to stay the night!

Mystical Lake Atitlan

We headed out to the dock and boarded right away. Our stay in San Marcos was a special break from the routine we have in Pana.

From the beach looking through the hotel grounds

Rooms run from $24USD per night to $79USD. Service was good, rooms were immaculate, food was tasty, the gardens well manicured and the views of the lake were simply stunning.

El Dragon Hotel

San Marcos La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, Tele: 011. 502. 3109.7707, or 011. 502. 3108. 1715, Email: Website:

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, 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 available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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