An unforgettable getaway

by Anna Meira Neggaz

This story is part of our 'Unforgettable hotel nights' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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Many people ‘get away’ for the weekend. Travelling to be somewhere makes the place seem somehow more special. As my husband and I discovered whilst living in Guatemala, travelling even just a few blocks can make for an unforgettable getaway.

Our spartanly furnished, rented home was on the main square of the bustling town of Jocotenango, adjacent to the UNESCO world heritage site of Antigua. Jocotenango housed the workers, those that could not afford to live in the upscale colonial city next door. As the Director of a small charitable organization, I fell into this category. My husband started a chocolate shop and as his business grew more successful, we started to allow ourselves small luxuries. We started off simply buying a toaster. Then came the dinners in nice restaurants. And, finally, our weekend getaway.

Not three blocks from our home was the exquisite Finca Filadelfia, a hotel, restaurant, and coffee plantation. We had been to its famous Sunday brunch. On this visit, curiosity led us to the formidable gates that surround the hotel. I felt like a kid locked out of a candy shop despite being in my late 30’s. I had stayed in some nice hotels in my life, but the architecture, garden, pool and setting combined to make Finca Filadelfia special. We just had to stay there, at least once.

Some time later, we used some flimsy excuse – a birthday or anniversary – to justify the proportionately large expense of one night in this paradise like hotel. Most guests probably arrived in a fancy car – a Mercedes or BMW – some with a driver. The guards were used to this. But, our only mode of transport was our beat up red Suzuki moto. We packed a small backpack and hopped on our bike, dodging speed demon buses and stray dogs to ride the three blocks to the tranquil eden that is Finca Filadelfia. The guards did not know what to make of us. We were not their usual clientele. However, our reservation confirmed, the large iron gates swung open and for the next thirty hours, life could not have been better.

Upon entering our plush room, an IPOD played our favorite tunes. The fresh orange juice and champagne cocktail welcome drink hit the spot all the more so sipped slowly on our private garden deck overlooking the pool and grounds. We were the only guests that night. We had the place virtually to ourselves.

Nothing special happened that night, but the pleasure in small things can be magical. We swam with a stunning view of the nearby perfectly conical volcano. We drank wine. We ate. We watched a DVD. We slept on the impossibly high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, protected from light and noise by the electric blinds.

Later the following day, as we rode back out, on our run-down red Suzuki moto, into the diesel fumes and chaos that reigned outside the gates our lives were just a little bit better. What a difference a day makes.

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