My first in-depth Journey to the Yucatan resulted in a new found love of Mexico. Eons ago, I visited Cancún, and other than a trek to the famed Mayan ruins, I have no fond memories of that visit. In fact, I would dissuade anyone from visiting the very touristy area that encompasses Cancún. The newish Chablé Resort is situated amid sleepy authentic villages and the bustling historic colonial city of Mérida. One of my favorite GM’s, Rocco Bova, has taken the helm at Chablé, if anyone inspires magic, it is Rocco!
Arriving to warm Merida at midnight, I was pleasantly stunned to see Rocco waiting for me. Welcome begins – chilled fragrant towel and water for the short distance to the resort which was punctuated by passing a lively fiesta in a local village – people wandering around carnival rides and dancing to live pulsating music…a colorful introduction! A lantern lit path leads you past the Casa Principal, a magical evening arrival. My jungle casita was illuminated, flickering candles outlined the terrace, white mosquito net drawn around my bed and a delicious turkey sandwich left for me was a well appreciated late night dinner! Apparently turkey is an extremely popular ingredient in Yucautaen cuisine.
I spent a very relaxing week at the mystic Chablé Resort, barely 30 minutes outside of the charming city of Mérida. I’m almost an expert in the area, which abounds with massive limestone and stone Haciendas, some in ruins and many restored – many located on acres of ancient henequén plantations. The Haciendas are Mexico’s equivalent to American southern plantations, dating from the 1600’s, built by the wealthy henequén (sisal) producers. Most Yucatecan haciendas in the 19th century created rope from henequén, a variety of the agave cactus, which was exported for the prosperous shipping industry. Acres of agricultural fields of henequén, were tended by hundreds of men. As in the south, the haciendas enforced a social system based on race; the landowners were masters of the indigenous Mayan workers.
The main house or Casa Principal, was the largest building, where the haciendado maintained his home. One aspect I love about Chablé Resort is the masterful juxtaposition incorporating the ancient stone hacienda and many of its still standing remnants of colorful outer buildings including the machine house – the life source of each plantation – into the body of the resort. The stone ruin of the Casa de Máquinas at Chablé has been restored into a stunning restaurant and bar, overlooking acres of rolling lawns and massive Ceiba and Tamarind trees. Glass walls edge the manicured grounds and intimate outdoor tables alongside a stream are perfect for dining at the elegant restaurant, Ixi‘Im, it is also prized for the largest private tequila collection in the world.
The gorgeous Chablé Casa Principal, has also been restored, soaring ceilings encompasses an elegant restful guest library, boutique, stylish cocktail lounge and is fronted by an elegant sprawling ceramic tiled colonnaded verandah – the perfect location to lounge under a whirling ceiling fan and enjoy a frosty drink and a book. The haciendas were architecturally adorned and artfully furnished with objects from around the world. A small chapel, San Antonio Chablé is within the Casa Principal, we can arrange private Mass if you desire.
If inclined, bike around the compact dirt paths, lined by stone walls. Acres of clipped lawns punctuated with massive stone arches and brightly hued buildings, and dangling from the massive Ceiba trees are woven sisal ‘nests’ with cushions, purported to resemble a pigeon nest – crawl in and sway from the most important tree in the Mayan cosmogony. They believed the trunk connected the planes of the Underworld to the terrestrial realm and the skies, what better place to pass the time. Certainly a waiter will wander by to refresh your chilled libation.
Wander the 75 acres, which are remarkably compact, to explore; when you reach a center circle of rock path, you have found the winding trails to the 40 stand-alone pool Casitas in the midst of an emerald green jungle, backing up to over 750 acres of dry Mayan Forest. Each white limestone Casita is privately situated off a short path, with a slightly deep plunge pool, comfy dining terrace, outdoor rain shower and acres of glass to view the untamed jungle. I never closed my massive shutters or drapes, preferring to peer out of my glass box to the swaying green trees filled with jabbering jungle birds! Woodpeckers, Chic Bul, Northern Cardinals, cooing Doves, and of course, the social fly catcher chatter all day while hummingbirds dart and dance. Floor to ceiling white mosquito nets surround the bed, if bugs annoy you. Lucky me, they never nibble and I didnt see any mosquito’s. At dusk look for the lawn of fireflies on your way back to your casita – the lawn is teeming with them!
Hand loomed hammocks sway across the pool, culturally symbolic for the Yucatecans, most homes have hammock hooks on the walls, still a typical Mayan bed during hot weather. Look in the old haciendas and you will see the massive hooks still attached to the walls.
Two three bedroom Villas can accommodate families. Enter the Presidential Villa through an ancient stone portal, meander across a small deck through the jungle to reach the very private residence with a large pool and wide expansive decks and outdoor dining alcoves. As with the casitas, the Villa furnishings are elegant and understated, mixing stunning art, authentically Mexican with accents of blue and sea green, calming hues meshing indoor and outdoor.
Don’t miss the morning Mayan ritual at the vast vegetable gardens – the Gratitude Ceremony K’aanchee’s; your nightly news sheet will remind you of the daily activities included with your stay. Activities include, yoga, biking, interval weight training. Full post coming on the gardens.
Imagined as a hedonistic and utterly private retreat, the hacienda’s centerpiece is its incredible spa built beside a “cenote” – natural cave formations believed to be sacred to the Mayans. Do plan on spending a few days just to absorb the positive energy and spa philosophy. The modern spa is sleek and contemporary, several pools are dotted around the main building for quiet visits, intimate teak treatment rooms dangle over the cenote, a natural sinkhole considered by the Mayans to be a spiritual gateway. Initiate a ritual cleansing by sitting quietly on the glass deck overlooking the jungle greenery and the deep clear mystical pool. Look for upcoming Spa post soon – yes, I enjoyed a burning sage cleanse, prior to my two hour treatment.
Chablé immediately immerses guests in the rich culture and history of the region, creating an authentic experience that harmoniously blends nature, luxury and an unmistakable sense of place. Every aspect in the development of Chablé has been carefully planned and executed to honor the history of the property and the ancient Mayan culture.
Dining – Chablé’s culinary menu was designed by the acclaimed Chef Jorge Vallejo, who was recently awarded as the #12 best Chef in the world, and #1 in Mexico, by the “World’s 50 best restaurants”. Under his leadership, Luis Ronzon, Executive Chef enhances the gastronomic experience at three restaurants – Ixi‘Im, Ki‘ol & Spa Restaurant which is based on organic & seasonal cuisine mostly sourced from the on-site traditional Mayan Gardens. The chef is committed to using only the freshest ingredients to create wholesome, flavorful cuisine paired with traditional Mayan dishes. Interested in selecting herbs from the garden and taking a cooking class, just inquire!
Chablé is located in a cultural area brimming with Mayan Ruins. We have access to sophisticated knowledgeable local guides for day trips to Uxmal, Chichen Itza, The Puuc Route Ruins, among other important sites; additionally visits to private cenotes and biosphere reserves, as well as some of the region’s best museums, art galleries and thriving colorful markets. Just 25 minutes from the Merida International Airport.
Chablé’s incorporation of ancient architecture with modern amenities and design combined with the preservation of Mayan culture and traditions defines the distinctiveness of the resort.
I am plotting a return – maybe during All Souls Day to understand more of the Mayan traditions.
Highly recommend, call us for VV VIP Access!