The Good Hotel Antigua
The Good Hotel Antigua demonstrates how premium hospitality and doing good for the local community can go together.
I am so excited to tell this success story. In 2012 when I first heard about it, Good Hotel Antigua was of those utopian dreams that sounded both totally exciting and practically impossible with its ambitious goals.
In September 2016 this radical experiment in “social business” opened its doors in the heart of La Antigua Guatemala just four blocks from the Parque Central on the quiet street Callejón Hermano Pedro.
Good Hotel Antigua is a “profit-not-for-profit” boutique hotel demonstrating how premium hospitality and doing good for the local community can go together. The hotel was dreamed up as a solution to raise sustainable funding for the local Dutch NGO Niños de Guatemala focused on education, empowerment and entrepreneurship.
One hundred percent of Good Hotel Antigua’s profits will benefit this NGO. Yes, 100 percent. The program that blows my mind is that the hotel staff is hired from unemployed locals and single moms who have never worked in hospitality.
There is a hotel training school not just to staff the hotel, but also as a service to the community by creating a qualified hospitality pool. After their on-the-job Good Training Program is completed, recruits are networked and supported to find hospitality jobs in the Antigua area.
In 2006 Amsterdam native Marten Dresen was backpacking and volunteering in Guatemala, unsuspecting that this journey would define the mission of his life. While volunteering he was inspired to buy a pair of desperately needed shoes for a little girl named Mirna. As he got to know Mirna, he wanted to do more to help her. Marten knew she would need both an education and job opportunities.
With a group of friends and a lot of heart, Marten created Niños de Guatemala. The NGO has many entrepreneurial projects, but the biggest impact has been its three schools that provide a quality education to those who need it most.
Schools provide English classes, extracurricular activities focused on developing independence, health programs, and social workers who support the students and their family’s physical and emotional well-being.
While many people are inspired to create NGOs in Guatemala, Marten knew that for Niños to be sustainable and create real empowerment (instead of dependency) two things had to happen:
1) The clients benefiting from Niños would have to be invested in its success, and 2) Successful businesses would need to be created for permanent revenue sources.
This entrepreneurial spirit has driven Niños to create its successful Guatemala Experience Tour and a language school (cambiolanguageschool.com). But the big entrepreneurial idea that had ability to generate long-term revenue for Niños was the Good Hotel Antigua. All of the profits from the businesses mentioned above support Niños.
Seeing so much poverty, next to so much tourism, Marten came up with the idea of the “profit-for non-profit” business model for the Good Hotel. After graduating from the schools that Niños has created, these educated children would now need jobs. The Good Hotel both creates jobs and offers much-needed training to the local unemployed community.
The Good Hotel occupies a refurbished colonial building with a refreshing minimalistic modern Dutch design combined with the beauty of Guatemalan touches. Abundance of light and innovative use of space are present throughout the hotel.
A central garden patio is surrounded by unique rooms all with different features, such as private patios, open-air showers and lofty mezzanines. An open living room with a communal table and bar area flows into the garden space, welcoming guests to dine, work or just relax.
The kitchen is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and the bar until midnight. Breakfasts can be Guatemalan style or healthy. Tapas inspired by the local culture can be enjoyed starting at noon. All dishes are home-made and organic.
Vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free and lactose-free options are available. The Good Team is passionate about coffee and trained by the official best barista of Guatemala. Coffee is complemented by a small taste of high-quality chocolate from Antigua’s Kaffee Fernando’s.
There are currently 20 rooms with a plan to build additional rooms and a pool on the adjacent property. Guatemalan touches inside the rooms include re-designed traditional pila washing sinks, huipils as art and welcome-gift worry dolls on your pillow made by Karla, a hostess at the hotel.
Prices range from $95 to $220, depending on the season and room type. Amenities include free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk, security, multi-lingual staff, concierge services and free iPads for guests’ use.
During the development phase, I helped write the hotel’s social impact goals and I am proud to report that many of them have been met. One of things I most admire most is Good’s commitment to local artisans. They source their materials and labor locally and work solely with partners offering a healthy work environment and fair salaries to their employees.
The first thing you will notice when you enter is the gorgeous, locally made handcrafted tiles. Also locally produced are all of the iron items, such as towel racks, excellently executed from the designs of Good’s creative team.
All of the amenities are produced by Antigua local Lucy Ashman, creator of Tierra & Lava: Luxury, Ethical, Vegan Skin & Hair Care, and are also available for purchase at the hotel.
Good Hotel redefines “premium” as “no golden taps or mahogany desks but a bed you want to take home, locally sourced food, great coffee and the most genuine service you can imagine.” You will decidedly feel both pampered and at home. Good’s intention is to stand out from the crowd–with personal interaction in a lush retreat complemented by expertise in local culture and high-quality finishes.
Marten, CEO and founder of the Good Group, remains busy in Amsterdam creating opportunities. He found investors to buy and renovate a prison barge and opened a pop-up floating Good Hotel Amsterdam and had the chance to test the Good training program by working with 96 unemployed local youths. Seventy percent of these trainees now have a permanent job and no longer claim welfare benefits.
Seven well-established hotels became Good hotel partners and requested more Good trainees to jointheir teams. Similar success results are expected in Antigua.
The barge has moved and is now the Good Hotel London for the next five years. The profits from Good Hotel London will also support Niños de Guatemala. Profits from all Good hotels will continue to be re-invested to create additional Good hotels around the world.
“We lead by example. We look forward to the day all businesses are social businesses,” says Marten.
The two elementary schools that Niños de Guatemala founded graduated 90 percent of their students, and a secondary school was built to serve students age 12-16. Niños currently educates 474 children at its three schools. Most of the current staff at the Good Hotel Antigua are parents of these children.
The Good Hotel Antigua radiates a premium and authentic experience and is an excellent choice for a luxurious, local treat. While spoiling yourself you can feel GOOD about the social business your money is supporting. The Good Hotel is also a perfect setting for intimate unique events and can host up to 120 people in its beautiful central garden patio and living room.
Last words from Marten: “We love to challenge convention, stimulate entrepreneurship and we believe in the power of community. Come and connect, hang out, share–let’s do this together.”
REVUE article by Maria Westfried
Contact information: email@example.com
Callejón Hermano Pedro No. 12
Tel: (502) 7797-6500 goodhotelantigua.com