KM 30, Carretera Tixkokob–Tekanto, Tixkokob, Yucatan, Mexico
Starwood Luxury Collection's most secluded hacienda hotel beckons lovebirds to indulge in luxury hidden deep within the Yucatan.
Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the authentic 18th–century architecture of this historic plantation evokes a sense of privacy and isolation that may leave you feeling as if you've truly escaped the 21st century (except for the 30–channel TVs in the guest rooms).
Known locally as San Jose Cholul, this remote Starwood–run hacienda hotel is located southeast of Mérida, 13 km beyond Tixkokob and seven km west of Euan.
Beyond a small reception office at the entrance to the walled grounds, you'll be escorted into a secluded paradise that can feel lonely at times, especially when guests are scarce. At the rates these quarters command, this lack of visitors is a common occurrence, which adds to San Jose's appeal as an ideal romantic hideaway if you are looking for a sense of privacy and seclusion.
Standard accommodations consist of eight studios with private outdoor tubs and two superior rooms––one with a large ceiba tree in the bath (Room 9). The only unit to have a separate bedroom is the manager's suite, which has a private pool and garden as well.
Baths are stellar in all rooms––smartly designed with pampering touches like fresh cut flowers and high–end toiletries. Rooms are decorated with colonial furniture, antiques, and woven hammocks. All have ceiling fans and air–conditioning, but high 18–foot rafters can sometimes hinder quick cooling of rooms. A dip in your suite's private plunge pool should work to cool things off.
Alternative lodging is available in four Mayan huts that lie beyond the hacienda walls. Beneath these thatched roofs hidden among heavy vegetation you'll find rope–suspended beds draped in mosquito netting––it may seem like Survivor meets Yucatan luxury, but these rustic palapas are the real deal, complete with roomy baths and outdoor tubs on private terraces.
The relaxed atmosphere permeates to the pool area, where a unique tree resin coating on the bottom surface gives the water a soft green glow. The pool is long enough for swimming laps if you're so inclined––but the bubbling whirlpool and ramada–shaded cotton hammocks hanging over the water may seem a more inviting way to spend an afternoon.
San Jose's staff aims to please, and although the waiters may not be as well–versed in English as you'll fine at some of the less remote haciendas, they'll offer excellent personal attention––drinks will be served to you anywhere you wish around the pool or open–air lounge terrace overlooking the tropical grounds.
Other amenities accessible on site include a gym, bikes, horses, and a library with web access. Your dining options are limited to a pair of restaurants that rotate between international and Yucatecan specialties. To eat anywhere else, you'll have to drive at least an hour. If arranged in advance, the hotel can provide a shuttle service to Merida.
Although venturing out could make for a fun adventure, the point of visiting San Jose seems clearly to stay put and embrace the relaxing atmosphere. If interaction with the outside world and sampling other restaurants and nightlife is more your speed, try Hacienda Temozon or Hacienda Xcanatun instead.
Web Address: www.thehaciendas.com
Total Number of Rooms: 15
Published rates: $309 to $619
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.