Antigua’s atmospheric colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and impressive volcano make it one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Founded in 1524, the UNESCO World Heritage site is Latin America’s top spot for weddings and honeymoons. So, after an extended stay at our rustic ranch in Guatemala’s sweltering lowlands with all 400 of Javier’s family, I was really looking forward to a romantic getaway in a cool climate, with a hot bath, luxurious sheets and some alone time as a couple. It didn’t quite turn out as planned.
Our getaway started off perfectly. Our uber-romantic suite at Hotel Panza Verde was located at the end of a leafy courtyard complete with gurgling fountains, a reflecting pool and original artwork. The room itself featured mahogany doors, an elegant private dressing room, antique chandeliers and a bed so large it could have slept King Ferdinand of Spain’s entire retinue.
“Hey, there’s room in here for my family,” said Javier. His philosophy on getaways is the more people the merrier – even if it means sleeping pyjama-party style on the floor. After persuading him that a getaway means getting away from people, we dropped off our suitcases and headed out for an evening of romantic dining.
We strolled Antigua’s historic streets, took photos beneath the Arch of Santa Catalina, lounged around Parque Central listening to marimba bands and toasted our love with glasses of Pinto Grigio and Merlot. To celebrate our big evening out, I decided to order a salad.
After dinner, we shared an umbrella as rain misted the cobblestone streets and turned the lamplights fuzzy with drizzle. Just as we passed the Palacio de los Capitanes, my stomach lurched.
“I don’t feel so good,” I said.
“What about cocktails at Hotel Santo Domingo? ” asked Javier. Our original plan had been to visit the swanky hotel located on the ruins of the 1538-era Santo Domingo Monastery.
“You’ll have to go alone,” I gasped. “I need a bathroom NOW.”
Our plans for a nightcap abandoned, we hurried past the charming monasteries, churches, plazas and shops in our haste to return to our suite.
I spent the next two days moaning in our spacious bathroom while Javier watched soccer on television, toted bags of stomach remedies and 7-Up from the pharmacy and, once I was on the mend, brought mashed potatoes from Kentucky Fried Chicken. In between, he talked to his family by phone. Hotel Panza Verde delivered endless pots of steaming camomile tea and privacy. They even offered to whisk me away to their luxurious villa B´alam Ya overlooking Lake Atitlan to recover.
If the true test of a marriage (and a great hotel ) is how they weather illness and hardship, then Javier and Hotel Panza Verde passed the test with flying colours. They were faithful partners in sickness and in health.
“Should we try again next year?” I asked as we checked out, my face still white and pale.
“Next time we’re taking the family,” said Javier.
If You Go
Room rates begin at just $85 USD a night for a double room in low season. A Junior Suite is $165 USD a night.
5a Av. Sur # 19 Antigua Guatemala
Guatemala, C.A. 03001
Tel/Fax: (502) 7832 2925