Haciendas in Yucatan
Haciendas in Mexico were the basis of an economic system begun by the Spaniards in the 16th century, similar to the feudal system of Europe. They were efficient farming and manufacturing centers that produced meat, produce, and other products for export. Over time, haciendas became symbols of wealth and culture, adorned with architecture, furnishings and art from around the world.
Haciendas are Mexico's equivalent to American southern plantations, mid-western ranches, and European land estates. Dating from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, haciendas were built by the wealthy throughout Mexico in the areas where their products were produced or developed. There were agricultural haciendas throughout Mexico, cattle raising haciendas in the northern part of Mexico, tequila producing haciendas in Jalisco, mining haciendas in Hidalgo, sugar producing haciendas in Morelos, lumber haciendas in the state of Mexico, and the Yucatán's henequen or sisal producing haciendas.
Like the southern plantations of the United States, haciendas enforced a social system of castes, based on race, with the haciendados, or landowners, as masters and the indigenios, or Mayas, as slaves. Most Yucatecan haciendas in the 19th century produced rope from henequen, a variety of the agave cactus, which was exported for the booming shipping industry. Haciendas maintained huge fields of henequen, tended by hundreds of men. The main house, or Casa Principal was usually the largest building, where the haciendado kept his living quarters and where most of the administration occurred. Henequen processing took place in the machine house, or Casa de Máquinas. There was usually a Capilla, or chapel, a Casa del Majordomo, where the jefe, or foreman, lived, and many other smaller buildings for storage and living quarters. Each hacienda had a school, an infirmary, the store, the church, the cemetery, the hydraulics area, the jail, and the stables.
The haciendas of Yucatán saw their heyday in the early 1900s when the local economy was booming due to the sisal fiber that was used to make rope, cord, and twine. The mansions on the Paseo de Montejo and Avenida Colón in Mérida, are the rich homes the "green gold", henequen, helped provide. It was the same owners of these mansions who built haciendas off in the countryside where the henequen was produced. After the Yucatán Caste War and the subsequent invention of synthetic fibers, most haciendas were abandoned to decay in the jungles. A trip to the Yucatán would be incomplete without visiting some of the many haciendas within a few minutes drive of Merida.
In the 1940's, the entire henequen industry went broke, and with it, the hacienda owners saw grey times. With no economical staying power, the haciendas were slowly abandoned and fell into disrepair, a derelict state they remained in until the early 1990s when once again, many of them were brought back to their former state of glory.
Some haciendas in the Yucatán have been renovated into beautiful five star hotels, complete with elegant rooms, sumptuous dining facilities, swimming pools and magnificent grounds. These have inspired modern Casa Yucatán architecture and interior design.
Other haciendas are museums, providing a glimpse into former colonial times. Others are lived in by locals whose ancestors reclaimed them during the Mexican Revolution. And still others remain unrestored and open to the ravages of time.
Following is a list of some of the haciendas in our region, with services ranging from tours to gourmet dining to spas to deluxe accommodation (both hotel and private rental). All are available for private special events like weddings, etc.
Hacienda Chichén Resort
The Hacienda Chichén Resort, "a 16thCentury colonial landmark" is a hop and a skip from the archaeologicalsite of Chichén Itzá. A stately hacienda, nestled in lush gardens, thishotel has modern amenities that include color satellite TV, AC, anexcellent location, restaurant, and pool. Hacienda Chichén also offers YaxkinSpa, a Mayan retreat designed for sanctuary, healing and renewal. Check the website for rates and services. www.haciendachichen.com
Built in 1870, this hacienda has recently been restored to its former elegance, and the lush gardens have been surrounded with 50 spacious guest rooms and suites, each one opening directly onto the gardens. Spa, pool, bar, and event facilities are lovely and inviting. The hacienda is a perfect setting for the culinary experience provided by the restaurant La Pitahaya. La Pitahaya is a bright, airy dining room with lovely doorways, skylights, and stained glass windows. The hacienda is located only 15 minutes from downtown Merida, off the road from Cancun to Merida, just west of the Periférico. www.haciendamisne.com.mx
It was bought in 2000 by the American couple Chuck and Dev Stern. With the help of renowned architect Salvador Reyes, they lovingly restored Hacienda Petac and now offer it in rent as a home. With five buildings housing huge bedrooms and elegant bathrooms, an enormous game-filled game room, a library, bar, chapel, pool, fountains and lush gardens, spa and exercise facilities, as well as a media room and a stunning teaching kitchen, this is the perfect place to have an up-scale family vacation with all the trimmings. Seven beautiful suites. www.haciendapetac.com
Hacienda Sac Chich
By Day… The hacienda presents some wonderful indoor/outdoor lifestyle options: swimming, sunbathing around the pool, a game of bocce ball, hammock siestas, or sipping a cool drink as you ponder your next move. The lush gardens of the hacienda attract an abundance of songbirds and offer plentiful privacy. The large open air loggia, the pool, the rooftop lounge and the master sunken living area all become areas for a private interlude or a gathering place for friends.
By Night… The villa becomes a wonderland for the senses as the soft mood lighting transforms the myriad of spaces into a romantic tropical paradise. On the rooftop lounge at dusk watch as the birds take flight and sunset fades to a star filled evening. Imagine the flicker of soft candlelight, the sound of music floating in the air, palms swaying and bamboo clacking and the distant sounds of the village beyond the hacienda walls.
This estate can become what you want it to be: a private oasis away from the rest of the world, a fun filled family retreat or a magnificent event environment. Sac Chich is the perfect hideaway haven for one couple, a group of friends or a family reunion. There is privacy and space for all. As you would expect from a villa of this caliber, almost every detail of the interior and exterior finish is flawless. Hacienda Sac Chich is not a hotel experience yet goes beyond a home rental. This historic hacienda captures the true spirit of Yucatan culture and reflects a sense of peace and harmony. haciendasacchich.com
Hacienda San Francisco Tzacalha
PAK AL IN UOL (a garden in the heart). The hacienda San Francisco was founded in 1857 by the purchase made by Albino Manzanilla Cámara of an old orchard, which according to local tradition belonged to the Franciscan convent of Santa Clara, Dzidzantún. Continuous ongoing purchases saw the hacienda grow to 9600 hs. It has 30 beautiful rooms, Mayan-style Ripios, and a Junior suite, Suite and 2 majestic Master Suites. Delicious international cuisine in a setting of peace and complete harmony with nature in the Restuarant La Bodega. Pool, game room, wireless Internet, large ponds, air conditioning, horses, beautiful gardens and birds and other wildlife at the hacienda's reserve.
Hacienda Santa Cruz
This hacienda was completely restored and is just twenty minutes from downtown Mérida, in a lovely, peaceful setting. Owners Robert and Caroline Franck moved from Paris and bought the hacienda in 2007. The hacienda is spacious and laid-back. The food is hearty and delicious. The pool is filled with chemical-free water from the cenote below, and guests are welcome to enjoy it all. The hacienda's accommodation includes master and junior suites, double rooms, and a casita, and children are especially welcome. The hacienda also has a spa on site. www.haciendasantacruz.com
Hacienda Sotuta de Peón Live Hacienda / Village Resort
A henequen-producing 19th century hacienda. This is the only working hacienda in Yucatán which offers tours of the entire process. The beautifully restored hacienda also has a restaurant which serves Yucatecan food, and a spectacular cenote for swimming, as well as comfortable cabanas for overnight stays. www.haciendaviva.com
Dating to 1683, Hacienda Teya is now a restaurant-hotel-social events place. Owned and run by the Cardenas Sosa family, they have slowly but surely developed a name for having the best Yucatecan food in the area. Lunch is served from noon to 6 PM. The social events parts of the hacienda have a chapel, an elegant staircase (great for pictures), lush gardens, and stained glass windows that make Hacienda Teya a very popular place that is the perfect setting for a wedding. www.haciendateya.com
The closest hacienda to Mérida, Xcanatun is owned and run by Jorge and Cristina Ruz, a couple from Mexico City. His father, Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, is the archeologist who discovered the Royal Tomb of Pacal in Palenque. When the owners were restoring this hacienda, they used the finest materials available and did it with excellent taste and care. Today, The Hacienda Xcanatun, a Star Diamond Award winner for 8 years from The American Academy of Hospitality Services, also enjoys a 4-Diamond ranking from AAA (The American Automobile Association), is a boutique hotel with 18 luxurious suites, a restaurant that boasts exquisite international and Caribbean cuisine, and a spa where they will surely pamper you. www.xcanatun.com
It was built in the 1600's and has been in the Faller Cervera family since 1864. Present day owner, Miguel Faller, is 5th generation. He has opened the hacienda, which is on the way to Uxmal, as a museum, making it a popular stop for tourists. He has also finished a casita, with a kitchen, that is available to the public. You can also opt for the delicious breakfast and dinner served in the casita. This is a wonderful place at an accessible price where you will surely get the feel of hacienda living. www.yaxcopoil.com
In the early 1990’s and we find visionary Mexican banker Roberto Hernandez coming to the Yucatán and buying some of the derelict haciendas and turning them into Grand Tourism hotels after carefully, lovingly and faithfully restoring them (under the talented hand of Arq. Salvador Reyes Ríos) to their previous splendor – and splendid they were and splendid they are now. With no more than 28 rooms, the haciendas are Yucatán’s most luxurious lodgings. Personalized attention, a refined setting, lush gardens, tropical plants, antique furnishings and friendly staffs await you. You will feel pampered. Today, these restored haciendas make up The Luxury Collection - Haciendas Temozón, Santa Rosa, and San José, in Yucatán, and Uayamón and Puerta Campeche in Campeche. These hotel haciendas, Grand Tourism establishments that "don't mean to spoil you, but they will", are the ultimate getaway in total luxury. www.thehaciendas.com
Hacienda Sacnicte (accommodation and dining), in Izamal. www.haciendasacnicte.com
Hacienda Vista Alegre
- Yucatan Peninsula Map