Xanadu: A Dome in Paradise

Xanadu exterior.

Ivan Sheinbaum’s first completed Monolithic Dome has three fully furnished apartment suites at Xanadu Island Resort.

Xanadu kitchen.

Well organized, roomy kitchen in a Xanadu suite.

Xanadu—Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined that name for his imagined paradise when, in 1797, he wrote, “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure dome decree….” Some two hundred years later, Ivan and Judy Sheinbaum began creating their Xanadu—a Monolithic Dome tropical island resort on Ambergris Caye in the West Caribbean nation of Belize.

“Our plan calls for twelve domes, thirty-two feet to forty-two feet in diameter, a full-service restaurant, and a three-level swimming pool,” said Ivan.

He and Judy, both in their “active sixties,” have traveled extensively, owned and operated a hotel in South Africa, and developed housing and apartment complexes in Israel. Now they are permanent residents of Belize and highly excited about the creation of their paradise.

Construction of Xanadu Island Resort began in the summer of 1998. Ivan said, “To date, we have fully completed Dome One, with its three apartment suites now in operation. The shell of Dome Two is done and we’re now working on its interior.”

Deck overlooking the ocean.

Imagine relaxing on this wooden deck, shaded by a thatched roof, catching the tropical breeze and listening to the gentle waves.

Tiled bathroom.

Beautifully tiled bathrooms include both tub and shower.

Gary L. Clark, vice president of operations at Monolithic Constructors, Inc., trained and helped with the supervision of the native crew that built Dome One. “It’s an unusual and delightful place,” Gary recalled. “But when I first got there, I thought I was going to die. Hot and humid! After three days, my body adjusted so the heat no longer bothered me and I really got to love it there.”

The Sheinbaums want Xanadu to look like it really belongs on the island, and, with thatched roof and porch, have striven to give it a natural, native ambience. Gary described that process: “Ivan constructed eight massive beams around the outside of the dome. A porch at the dome’s second level connects those beams. The thatched roof is not attached to the dome, but sits over it.”

Through the Internet and other sources, Xanadu’s suites are offered to vacationers seeking the perfect island paradise as well as potential purchasers interested in tropical real estate.

“All suites have a sea view, floor-to-ceiling windows, lined drapes, and Italian ceramic floors,” Ivan said. “Each is air-conditioned, fully furnished, and has cedar closets, a fully equipped kitchen, and ceiling fans in every room.”

The suites come in five design choices, ranging from the beach level Efficiency Suite with living, dining, kitchen areas and one bedroom and bath to the Penthouse Unit. It includes the entire upper level of the dome and its mezzanine/loft level. “It’s the largest unit,” Ivan said, “and has the most beautiful features of the Monolithic Dome—panoramic windows all around, the graceful ceiling and rounded walls. There’s a wooden deck shaded by a Caribbean-style thatch roof, and the prospective buyer has the most options with the interior design of this unit.”

The Sheinbaums chose Ambergris Caye for their Xanadu because of—you guessed it—location, location, location! It’s on what Ivan and Judy describe as “a hidden, private beach facing the world’s longest, living coral barrier reef that glitters like a necklace just below the horizon.” According to Ivan, the uniqueness and beauty of the area “forces an instantaneous, favorable attitude adjustment over all new arrivals.”

So what more could you ask? Activities other than lazing on the beach? Xanadu has them. The resort is one mile south of the town of San Pedro, an easy walk along the beach, or accessible by golf cart, bike or taxi. San Pedro is a small but bustling fishing village with clusters of wooden houses of Mexican, Caribbean and English colonial architecture; gift shops; cafes and restaurants. Most residents speak English and Spanish, are friendly and devoted to a casual lifestyle.

Loft bedroom.

Private loft bedroom with a queen bed.

Combined suite.

Table set for guests in another suite with bed and living room together.

Other activities include diving, tours to Maya ruins and the rain forest, and evening dining and dancing.

The Sheinbaums said that they are “building each dome as if it were our own home.” Ivan said that they decided on Monolithic Domes for their structures because they’re “engineered to combat just about anything nature can deliver, including 300 mph hurricane winds, extreme storm surges and earthquakes.”

Coleridge probably never thought of those factors when he poetically created his paradise. But Judy and Ivan did. Unlike Coleridge’s imagined Xanadu, the Sheinbaums’ Xanadu, a Monolithic Dome Island Resort, is real.

Reprinted from the Spring 2000 issue of the Roundup: Journal of the Monolithic Dome Institute