Tablaje Rustico Catastral, Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
Trade seclusion for modern day luxuries and easy access to Merida at this centrally located hacienda that offers fantastic service in a boutique hotel setting.
The best place to experience the Mexican hacienda without being chained to one location in the Yucatan region is Xcanatun, a boutique hotel located 15 minutes by car from central Mérida. It's sort of a semi–hacienda experience––you get the 18th–century historic structures and sense of place, but its proximity to the city results in better food offerings on site, as well as a wider selection of amenities and hotel staff with stronger English proficiency.
This refined boutique hotel (whose Maya name means "tall stone house") occupies the estate of a colonial-era sisal plantation and draws on its pre-Colombian roots. The nine-acre layout makes the most of limited space, with gardens, ponds and meandering paths that snake around private sitting areas flanked by royal palms and balconies draped with bougainvillea.
Accommodations are sophisticated, with canopied beds and inlaid marble or original tile floors. The Spanish-colonial decor incorporates reproductions in romantic surroundings and all rooms have furnished terraces with hammocks. The five studios have gigantic baths with whirlpool tubs and stall showers. The best of these is number 18, which offers more privacy than the others. Nine so–called deluxe suites are really large studios, with larger verandas, living rooms furnished in English–colonial style, and baths with spacious double vanities. Four of the five true suites are in the original hacienda and these are the preferred ones to book. All five boast living rooms, huge baths (two with coral–stone tubs) and outdoor private whirlpools.
Award–winning Casa de Piedra restaurant features Yucatan–inspired dishes as well as others that are a fusion of haute Caribbean and French cuisine. Dinners here have often been praised as the best in Merida and dishes are presented with artistic flair. Located in the former sisal–threshing house, the restaurant comprises two private dining rooms in an airy setting under skylight canopies or on the candle–lit veranda. Be sure to sample the extensive wine list or sample from the wide choice of tequilas.
More top–notch indulgences are available at one of the two freshwater swimming pools, fed by underground springs that were reconstructed from the plantation's original reservoir. A sybaritic spa with five treatment rooms, perched over the pool, offers steam baths, body wraps, Mayan healing therapy, and the house special––a honey and flower massage.
With the highest staff–to–guest ratio in the region, personal service is consistently attentive. With your request, the hotel can arrange golf (10 minutes away), tennis, fishing, and horseback riding excursions offsite. The restored 18th–century chapel is an atmospheric venue for small weddings.
If you truly want to get away from it all and have the Mexican equivalent of a plantation all to yourself, try Hacienda San Jose. Otherwise, this stylish upscale alternative gives you a more polished experience, with plenty of dining, entertainment and activity options just a short drive away. As with all the hacienda hotels, however, don't expect chain hotel standards: there are no TVs in the rooms (only in the library lounge) but Internet access is available and rooms have CD players or docks for MP3 players. Peaceful gardens outside make for pleasant views and strolls and Mexican antiques add to the sense of place throughout. Though it is more expensive, you'll find that there is far more pampering at Xcanatun than the city properties, and without the lonely isolation of the Starwood destination haciendas.
Web Address: www.xcanatun.com
Total Number of Rooms: 19
Published rates: $270 to $370 including mandatory service fee
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.