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Haciendas in the Yucatan

Hacienda Tekit de RegilOur Favorite Things

One of our favorite things to do with guests on a daytrip is to take a tour of some of the local haciendas. Two years ago we were brought in on an assignment for the local architecture school in Merida (FUAUDY) in conjunction with Cultura Banamex to photograph haciendas for a textbook. In the process, we visited, photographed, learned about and experienced first-hand over 30 haciendas in the Yucatan Peninsula. Several of our clients and friends have been involved in the restoration of haciendas as well. Through these experiences, we have acquired a fascination and affection for these dream-like architectural treasures.

Haciendas in the Modern World

When we first moved to the Yucatan, the word "hacienda" meant practically nothing to us. If forced, we might have defined it as the name of a rather nondescript town in Southern California, Hacienda Heights. We were introduced to haciendas and their aesthetic by Salvador Reyes Rios, the architect of our home and our neighbor. He and his wife Josefina had been helping to restore haciendas in the Yucatan for a few years when we met them, and they spent a few days showing us around some of the haciendas that they were working on.

Hacienda San Jose CholulSince that time, haciendas and specifically haciendas in the Yucatan, have gained more notoriety on the world stage. Starwood Hotels bought a number of renovated haciendas from Roberto Hernandez, the man who single-handedly started the hacienda revival in the Yucatan, and added them to their Starwood Luxury Collection. The Yucatan hacienda hotels are named San Jose, Uayamon, Temozon, Santa Rosa and Puerto Campeche. They are similarly remote, tranquil and luxurious. The one pictured here is San Jose Cholul, one of our two favorites(The other is Hacienda Santa Rosa).

While the Starwood haciendas are perhaps the most well-known, there are many haciendas in the Yucatan in various stages of decay or renovation, both public and private, remote and accessible. Of the more than 170 or so haciendas in the Yucatan, each has its own history, its own charm and its own ghosts.

Haciendas in Yucatan

Hacienda Chenche de los TorresHaciendas 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 farming and manufacturing centers that produced meat, produce, and other products for export. In Yucatan, they used the local Mayans to work the fields and factories at slave-like wages or no wages at all. Like the southern plantations of the United States, haciendas enforced a social system of castes, based on race, with the European hacendados (landowners) as the masters and the indigenios (Mayans) as the slaves.

Over time, haciendas became symbols of wealth and culture, adorned with architecture, furnishings and art from around the world. And some of them became symbols of oppression. Even today, you can find a few ruined haciendas that were abandoned and destroyed years ago . We have heard that these haciendas were run by especially destructive and injurious dueños(owners) and were the targets of revenge during the Yucatan Caste War, and later, the Revolution.

Most Yucatan haciendas in the 19th century produced rope from henequen, a variety of the agave cactus, which was produced as a result of investment by the John Deere Company, looking for a replacement for metal hay baling wire that was less dangerous to cattle. Henequen rope, called sisal, was also used for everything from rigging on ships to placemats and carpets that we use today.

Hacienda YaxcopoilHaciendas maintained huge fields of henequen, tended by hundreds of men. The main house, or casa principal was usually the largest building, where the hacendado kept his living quarters and where most of the administration occurred.

Henequen processing took place in the machine house, or casa de maquinas. There was usually a capilla, or chapel, a casa del majordomo, where the jefe (foreman) lived, and many other smaller buildings for storage and living quarters. The diesel motor pictured here is one of the more well-preserved and is in the Casa de Maquinas at Hacienda Yaxcopoil, another favorite.

After the Mexican Revolution and the subsequent invention of synthetic fibers, most haciendas were abandoned to decay in the jungle. In the last ten to twenty years, they have been "rediscovered" by both locals and foreigners and many have been renovated and given new lives.

Hacienda Hotels

Hacienda TabiSome haciendas have been renovated into hotels. The aforementioned Starwood hotels are part of a luxury chain of hotels, but there are other independently-owned hacienda hotels. Hacienda Chichen, Hacienda Santa Cruz, Hacienda Misne and Hacienda Nophat are hotels, each very different in their location and ambiance. Hacienda Chichen is the oldest hacienda in Yucatan, and has a fascinating history (detailed on its website). It also happens to be right next door to Chichen Itza, making it a convenient place to visit if you are also taking in that particular attraction.

Hacienda Petac (see a photo of the capilla below) and Hacienda Yunku are two that have been renovated by private parties and are rented with or without staff. Hacienda Yaxcopoil is a museum that has a great little guest house that can be rented for overnight stay. When we stayed there, a Mayan couple fixed our dinner and breakfast… delicious local food served right in our house. We thoroughly enjoyed staying there and being able to walk the streets of the little pueblo after dark, sharing in the life of the residents. That’s not an experience that is easy to come by, but it is available if you stay overnight at Hacienda Yaxcopoil.

And perhaps our favorite hacienda, and one of the most remote, is Hacienda Tabi (shown above and to the left). We have fond memories of being the only guests at Hacienda Tabi on a moonlit night, lying out on that huge lawn, dividing our attention between a lunar eclipse above us and fireflies all around us. Pure magic! Unfortunately, we hear that Hacienda Tabi is no longer open to the public.

Hacienda Sac Chich in Merida YucatanA few haciendas are now being run as vacation rental homes, giving you the chance to live in the entire hacienda as if it were your own. Probably the most lovely of these (that we know of…) is Hacienda Sac Chich, owned by some fellow Californians. Sac Chich is actually two haciendas in one, and you can rent one or both parts. The Casa Vieja (the older and original building of the hacienda) is actually just the Casa Maquina of the original hacienda, and some additional structures. It has been renovated in two stages by the architect Salvador Reyes Rios and his designer wife, Josefina Larrain. The Casa Vieja has five bedrooms, a charming and spacious kitchen, living room and an outdoor living area where we would spend all our time if we were staying there, complete with fireplace! The new house, also called Casa Sisal, is a totally modern structure built with white cement, wood and metal in the middle of what used to be a henequen drying field. The two-bedroom house is stunning… our favorite feature is the way the sliding glass doors open completely into wall pockets, creating an indoor/outdoor living space.

Hacienda Misne in Merida YucatanOne of the easiest and closest haciendas to visit is Hacienda Misne, a hacienda that is within the boundaries of the Periferico of Merida and run by Hotel Indigo. Hacienda Misne is just this side of the Periferico on the way to Cancun (if you are heading there from the Centro of Merida), just about ten minutes from the heart of the city. Once you have left your car with the valets and walked inside the gates, you’d never know that the city is just outside. Hacienda Misne luxuriates amidst a tropical garden, with 42 rooms and 8 suites, all modern and spacious and facing both their own private gardens in the back, and a central garden at the front. A formal dining room, outdoor patio dining and a charming indoor/outdoor bar next to not one but two swimming pools make this a perfect hacienda for an event… wedding, conference, family reunion. We hear it is also a great place to take children for a day of swimming while you eat lunch and enjoy the surroundings. When we were there at the end of 2009, the food was good and the service was impeccable. Even the masseuse that came to the room was better than average.

Hacienda Chichen ArchSome haciendas around Merida have been preserved or renovated for uses other than hospitality. Hacienda Yaxcopoil, Hacienda Ake and Hacienda Sotuta de Peon are museums, providing a glimpse into former colonial times. Previously mentioned Hacienda Chichen, while also a hotel and spa, has a decidedly ecological and cultural charter. Over the last few years, the owners have created the Conservation of Maya Culture and Nature Reserve on the grounds. They have increased the farming site, organic vegetable growing fields and the banana production this year and have many plans along the same lines for the future.

Hacienda Teya is a restaurant and event location just outside of Merida. Hacienda Tahdzibichen is set up as a sala de fiestas (literally "party room") and hosts innumerable parties, weddings and quinceaños (coming out parties for 15-year old girls), as does the newly renovated Hacienda Tekit de Regil (pictured at the beginning of this article). Some haciendas are regularly used as sets for film, television and photo shoots, such as Yaxcopoil and Itzincab. Others, such as Chenche (whose elaborately-painted ceiling is shown above… check out the Chenche video in our video section) or Dzodzil are now strictly private homes or groups of homes, owned by both Mexican nationals and foreigners. Still other haciendas are unrestored and open to the ravages of time, like Yaxche de Peon, pictured below. To take photos of this hacienda, we had to dodge families of feral pigs sequestered in the ruins, as well as a number of less tame creatures.

The Hacienda Route

Hacienda Yaxche de PeonWhen we take visitors to spend a day exploring haciendas, we usually start out early, and drive south towards Uman. Following the signs to Muna on Highway 261, our first stop is usually Hacienda Yaxcopoil (YASH-coh-poh-EEL), which is Mayan for "the place of the green Alamo trees." You can recognize the hacienda by its beautiful arch, painted in a deep mostaza (mustard) color. Park outside and walk through the arch and up the front steps. At the small desk in front, you’ll be asked for $35 pesos per person admission, used to cover the cost of maintaining the hacienda.

What we treasure about Hacienda Yaxcopoil is that it is a place where time stands still. Rather than renovating the buildings, the owner has simply arrested the decay. You can walk freely through the rooms in the casa principal. There you will see the large lounges and drawing rooms with high ceilings, walls with painted stencils, original mosaico floor tiles, and European furniture in every room. Walk into the back and see the Mayan museum, with its display of ancient pottery and archeological relics, all found on the grounds. There is an impressive casa de maquinas in the back of the property, with examples of the huge machinery used to process henequen. Hacienda Yaxcopoil is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily, or from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sundays and it is really one of those "don’t miss" stops if you are visiting the Yucatan. We never seem to tire of it.

After touring Yaxcopoil, we usually drive to Hacienda Temozon for breakfast. There is a shady place to park to the left of the entrance, but check in with the man at the gate first to see if the restaurant is accepting guests. Sometimes there will be a wedding or private party, and the hacienda will be closed to outsiders. Leaving your car, don’t miss the smell of the sweet air and the sounds of birds at this most palatial of the restored haciendas. The entrance leads up stairways, past the dolphin-head waterspouts, to a wonderfully grand terrace. You can dine on the terrace facing the stairway or on the terrace at the back of the casa principal, overlooking the pool. (The photo below is taken from the far side of the pool, looking back to the Casa Principal where you can eat breakfast.)

Hacienda Temozon SurA few years ago, we discovered that breakfast at the ultra-luxurious Hacienda Temozon is priced reasonably and it has become a favorite stopping place. The service is lovely, with tables set in linen and a view of the expansive grounds, the inviting and elegant pool and the casa de maquinas in the distance. We love to sit under the lazily turning ceiling fans on a tropical morning, listening to the birds and dining on fresh papaya, fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice, fresh-baked wholegrain bread (a real treat around here), huevos Motuleños (a Yucatan specialty dish that consists of a bed of refried beans, topped with a fried tortilla, two fried eggs and then smothered with a tomato sauce, another friend tortilla, a slice of or diced ham, cheese and peas, of all things. Sounds weird, tastes great!) and a capuccino. Fortified with a breakfast like that, we’re ready to continue exploring (or we’re ready for a siesta… ).

On your way back to your car, note the sign to the helicopter pad. This hacienda was chosen for a summit meeting between President Bill Clinton and Presidente Dr. Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico in 1999. Thus, the need for a helicopter pad. We hear it is still used on occasion for privacy-seeking actors, rock stars and politicians.

After Temozon, we like to go north to a little-known hacienda called Uayelceh, which literally means Place of the Haunted Deer and is pronounced “why-el-kay”. This is an abandoned and unrestored hacienda. There is a caretaker living there, and the fields are used by the town for soccer, which is a common practice. The hacienda itself is uniquely beautiful, with an elegant clock tower on the Casa de Maquinas. If you’re lucky, the capilla will be open and it too is quite stunning. Other haciendas that are abandonado (abandoned) such as Chunchucmil or Mucuyche are also lovely in their decay.

Hacienda ChunchucmilIf you do decide to explore an abandoned hacienda, be aware of a few things. Some, like Uayalceh and Chunchucmil, are in the center of town and the grounds, at least, are open to passers by. Others, like Mucuyche, are closed off and strangers are not welcome. You can still enjoy the buildings from outside the grounds, but do not enter hacienda grounds that are obviously closed to the public. There are more than angry caretakers to beware of: beehives, wasps nests, and other creatures can be found in abandoned buildings, as well as open pozos (wells) and cenotes (sink holes).

Hacienda PetacAfter Temozon and Uayalceh, we usually return to Highway 261 and continue south. We might quickly stop at Hacienda Ochil (oh-CHEEL), or we might do it on the way back. We like Ochil for the mini-museum about haciendas that takes about three minutes to enjoy, as well as for the lovely little cafe that serves authentic Yucatecan food. Great panuchos here, among other things. Or you can just order a refreshing glass of horchata (rice milk) or tamarindo (a cold drink with the flavor of tamarind). There’s a great little gift shop that has our favorite kind of hammocks (undied cotton string hammocks) and a few other well-crafted things. There are Cultura Banamex-sponsored shops on the grounds of Ochil, which are sometimes open and sometimes not. If they are, you can pick up some nice handmade stone boxes candleholders or henequen placemats or tiny elaborate picture frames carved from the horns of local bulls. Ochil is a friendly, intimate hacienda and it has an extra added attraction. If you walk down behind the building that houses the bathrooms, you can visit a cenote at the bottom of a hillside amphitheatre. We are told it is being prepared as a venue for concerts and we can’t wait to attend one there.

Hacienda Chunchucmil ChicoAfter Ochil, well, quien sabe (who knows) where we might go next? We may visit Hacienda Santa Rosa (quite a ways down the road) and on to Chunchucmil, which is out at the end of the road to Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a restored hacienda hotel that is one of the prettiest we’ve ever seen. We have never spent the night there, but we would like to. Chunchucmil is an uninhabited hacienda that is still quite well preserved. The townspeople use the capilla for their local church and archaeologists have explored a lot of the surrounding countryside and found things worth looking for, or so we hear. The hacienda buildings surround a very large field which is used by the town as a soccer field or a baseball field, depending on the season. Based on the size and elegance of the hacienda, Chunchucmil must have been quite something in its day. We like it there because somehow, we always get good photos like the one of this young man, his hands covered with the chalk after laying out the lines of a baseball diamond for a game later that day with a neighboring town.

Haciendas Close to Merida

Hacienda XcanatunIf you are in Merida but don’t have time for a day of meandering through the countryside, Hacienda Teya is only a few minutes outside of town. You can have a wonderful lunch at the restaurant there, enjoying some of the best regional cuisine available, and see a real hacienda with a stunning ballroom that is still used for parties and events. Hacienda Misne (mentioned above) is even closer than Hacienda Teya, and a great place to go for a lovely lunch or dinner. Hacienda Yaxcopoil is about twenty minutes outside of town and doable in half a day. Hacienda Xcanatun is only fifteen minutes to the north of town and is one of our favorites for dinner. (To the right is a photo of the bar in the renovated casa de maquinas) It has probably one of the best two or three restaurants in all of Merida, as well as luxurious hotel rooms and a full service spa.

There are other haciendas close to town that we’ve visited, but we can’t remember their names, and many more we’ve not yet seen. We know there are a finite number of them, but the list seems rather endless. An endless list of architectural and cultural treasures: just one more thing we love about living in Yucatan!

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Interested in staying at any of these haciendas? Here are some links to reviews or websites of local haciendas:

Hacienda Misne – Hacienda closest to Merida Centro

Hacienda Chichen – Oldest hacienda in the Yucatan, next door to Chichen Itza.

Hacienda Petac – Exquisitely renovated. Entire hacienda for rent by the week. 30 minutes outside Merida.

Hacienda Xcanatun – 10 minutes north of Merida. Luxury hotel, spa and gourmet restaurant.

Hacienda Sac Chich - A beautiful hacienda vacation rental. Rent the main house (Casa de Maquinas) or the new modern Casa Sisal. About 40 minutes south of the Merida airport.

Hacienda Santa Cruz - A small luxury hotel. 20 minutes outside Merida.

Hacienda Yaxcopoil – 30 minutes south of Merida. Museum and guest house.

Hacienda Temozon – 35 minutes outside of Merida. Great place for breakfast, but not always open to the public.

Hacienda Santa Rosa – Most romantic hacienda, an hour south of Merida.

Hacienda San Jose – OK, maybe this is the most romantic hacienda! We can’t decide. Hacienda San Jose has a special package for local expats (ask about it and say Yucatan Living sent you!) and it is just 35 minutes east of Merida… but a world away!

Hacienda Uayamon – Hidden treasure hacienda of Campeche. Very cool pool.

Hacienda Puerta Campeche – Newest link in the Starwood hacienda chain. In Campeche.

Yucatan Living’s GO list on Trip Advisor: Top Ten Haciendas to Visit in the Yucatan

Trip Advisor’s page on Hotels in the Yucatan Peninsula

Read about the new book about Haciendas of the Yucatan here

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Read more about the history of henequen in the Yucatan here

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For more photos and information about Yucatan Haciendas, be sure to visit our Photo Gallery

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65 Responses to “Haciendas in the Yucatan”

  1. oh, no! i tried giving this post a five-star rating, and accidentally only gave it one. i give you full permission to change it if you can. this was a fantastic piece of great information about places that i would oh, so love to visit. you’ve gotten my imaginative tastebuds running amok. i hope that one of these days, patricio and i will be able to explore these treasures. thank you for writing this!

  2. We hope so too, Alisa. You two must come to the Yucatan sometime soon. We’d love to meet you!

  3. I was just reading Mexicocinas that features a couple of Haciendas in Yucatan that were renovated by your neighbors. We have been in several during visits in Yucatan but this article makes me want to go on the Hacienda trail along with rechecking out 16th century churches. Gotta get back to Yucatan soon!

    This is a great blog entry.

  4. it all sounds fantastic!! i will print this page and follow your steps. i have a feeling it is going to be a great day! thanks from me too for taking the time and writing all of this. going to go check out the rest of the site now and see where we are heading next… : )

  5. Very informative. it’s hard to get info on Hacienda Kantanchel.
    Help anyone?

  6. Ellyne,

    Whoops – major oversight on our part.

    Hacienda Kantanchel is one of the more beautifully appointed in Yucatan. It was expertly renovated and open to the public as a hotel and restaurant until hurricane Isidore caused major damage in 2002. We ate dinner there before the hurricane closed its doors and can say it was one of the best restaurants around at the time.

    The owners did restore the hacienda but it is only available now to private parties who rent several rooms or the entire hacienda. You can learn more about Hacienda Kantanchel by visiting their website at:

    http://www.haciendakatanchel.com/en/home.html

  7. Hacienda Tabi is a “must see”. I hope it is restored some more, but not so much that it looses it’s charm. The article in Achaeology magazine was great. I would love to read more about it’s past in another edition.

  8. [...] Hacienda Ake has a working henequen processing plant, called a casa de maquina, that they fire up every so often to produce twine. You can see the whole operation from start to finish, but don’t expect a Disney-style tour. It’s a sleepy town and you get to poke around the hacienda and the machinery. [...]

  9. [...] For more about haciendas, be sure to read Yucatan Living’s article on haciendas. [...]

  10. Wonderful article; thanks so much.

    By the way, I am reading more complaints about Hacienda Xcanatun on tripadvisor. Do you know if the management or owner has changed?

    Thank you.

  11. As far as we know, the ownership of Hacienda Xcanatun has not changed. It is still owned by an American woman and her Mexican filmmaker husband.

    As locals, we have never actually stayed at the hacienda. After reading the most recent two pages of TripAdvisor comments, we can only think that the people with complaints might be a bit pickier than most or were there on a bad day. Paint peels, bugs die and dust settles at a more rapid rate in the Yucatan. While it is the job of the people who work at a whatever-star hotel to care about these things, we’re sure there are days when they just can’t do it all.

    From our experience, dining at Hacienda Xcanatun is always a lovely treat and the food is consistently good. Are the rooms worth the price? That is a matter of taste and finances.

    We did notice a few people complaining about the location. If you want to spend a lot of time enjoying the ambiance of the centro historico, Hacienda Xcanatun is not the place to stay. It does take 20-30 minutes to drive from there to downtown Merida. Unless you are going on your honeymoon, you probably wouldn’t want to stay there for more than a day or two without a car.

    We find the little town surrounding the hacienda rather charming. But the difference between the financial level of the guests at the hacienda and the people living just outside the gates can be disturbing to someone with political sensitivity, or just annoying to someone who doesn’t want to think about it.

    If it gives you any clue, we will probably suggest that Working Gringa’s mother stay there in March when she visits. And we doubt she will find the village charming or neglect to mention the dead bugs in the jacuzzi.

  12. Is there a taxi service that is available from Merida airport to Hacienda San Jose? Or, has one to depend on the Hacienda management to arrange transportaion to and from the airport. It’s rather expensive.

  13. [...] There was none of that this time. Bush and Calderon visited Uxmal, but no one was allowed near them. The two presidents and their wives had dinner at Hacienda Xcanatun and the wives visited Hacienda Ochil (hmmm, they must have read our article about haciendas…) But no one here saw the President of the United States unless they were invited to a private audience. [...]

  14. Again and again, the more I read the better I feel about my hometown seen thru your eyes, it is amazing, I have always been facinated with the Haciendas (since my youth) and it is much nicer now that Cordemex and private owners are
    restaurando most of them, I had that idea of wanting to buy one and restoring it and my family thought I was nuts, see now? Anyway thanks for all the information, keep up the good job.

  15. We are looking for a small, interesting b&b for 8 day stay in June/07. We love more authentic and arty. We thought the haciendas but prices really seem too high for us. Saw a place called Casa Pocito in Merida (vaction rental, 2 bdrm) and that is perfect. Any suggestions along those lines in case I do not hear back from them? Your web site is great and really helping me plan our trip.

    Starr in Miami, FL

  16. Other lovely places to stay include Casa Santana (www.casasantana.com), Hotel Marionetas (www.hotelmarionetas.com) and Luz En Yucatan (www.luzenyucatan.com). Each one is different but all are wonderful!

  17. Does anyone know anything about / have anything to say about Hacienda San Antonio in Izamal? We’re thinking about booking. Gracias, in advance…. Margo

  18. If you are talking about San Antonio Chalante it is in Sudzal which is about 15 minutes outside of Izamal towards the cuota for Can Cun. It is owned by Diane who was the original owner of Hotel Macan ché in Izamal. She offers horseback riding. And although I know Diane, I have yet to visit the Hacienda. My husband and I own Macan che and keep meaning to get out there for a visit. Mañana…..

  19. I wanted to thank both of you for your insightful answer to the lady who commented on the Tripadvisor page. We have certainly had our share of “guests from hell”, and unfortunately, those are the ones who LOVE to write reviews…
    As you mention, it is a real challenge here to keep things on an even first-rate keel, and that is one of the reasons that I spend most of my time at Xcanatún, and have opted to play “manager” myself.
    I would love to meet you both, so please let me know in advance when your next “dinner date” will be, so I can make a point of being here…as I say to everyone, “I live at Xcanatun, but I sleep at home…”, so I am not around at dinnertime except on weekends, and if we have an event.

    Best regards, Cristina Baker

  20. I have just painted my dining room a Hacienda “rust” and in my decorating wish to use a painting of a real Hacienda. do you have any cards or photos of Hacienda Tomozon or Hacienda Uayamon. I have checked many web sites and can not find a “complete” photo. Any help you can give me, I will appreciate.

  21. Hello, Patricia. We’re not sure what you mean by a “complete” photo… do you mean something frameable? We have a nice wide shot of the Casa Principal of Hacienda Temozon… but there are so many buildings in a typical hacienda that the only way to get them all in one shot is with a helicopter. And we don’t have one of those. Let us know and we can probably send you something.

  22. This is an amazing site that I came across by pure accident. Thank God for accidents (well… sometimes)! It was very inspiring to read, especially since I was born in Yucatan. Although my family moved to Los Angeles many moons ago, I fondly remember our annual summer trips to my beloved native land (by car even –imagine?!?!). My dad would always say that when he retired, he was going to buy himself an Hacienda in Yucatan. Well… his wish came true. His Hacienda looks NOTHING like these beautiful, polished ones… but there is hope that one day it will (albeit, one day in the very FAR future, as he isn’t a rich man and works on it on his own and at his own speed). It is so great that “Gringos” created such a wonderful site for all to get informed about these architectural treasures, and have, in the process, become honorary Yucatecos! I will be sure to pass along this site to my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and anyone else’s email that I can get my grimy little hands on! Again… Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  23. Maria,
    We are so thrilled that you found us! Thank you for the compliments… we are so glad that you enjoy the website. When we started, we wanted to share our love of the Yucatan with fellow extranjeros. A completely unexpected benefit has been how much the Yucatecos around the world who miss the Yucatan also love the site. Thanks so much and stay tuned for more wonderful information, photos, videos and other great stuff from this magical place.

  24. Mi amigo Miguel is the owner/operator of Hacienda Yaxcopoil. I remember discussing his plans for the estate when he and I were in high school together, and I am so very happy for him now that his dreams of operating the place as a “living museum” have come true. His dedication to the history of the place shines through each time the subject of his beloved Yaxcopoil comes up in conversation. Visit Yaxcopoil–and see a young man’s dreams realized in living, breathing color!

  25. My sisters and I just returned home from a week in the Merida area, we had a marvelous time.
    We rented a car and with ok-good maps and lots of help from the concierge, we only really got lost once. Driving in Merida requires you know exactly where you are going, or have someone navigate and another drive. It is impossible to do both jobs at the same time. Once you study the city maps and get used to people double parking, walking into traffic, more trucks and cars than lanes and all the noise and people it is really rather easy.

    Next trip I would go on line or to a local book shop for DETAILED Yucatan road maps, and one specifically for the Merida area. The highways are not always marked well, and the smaller roads are a challenge, especially if you get into a medium-small town. The signs do not always get you where you want to go. If you get off the main tourist areas, you will need to speak some Spanish. Lucky for us one of the sisters spoke fluently.

    With a car, you can see many sites and we lunched at both Hacienda Teya and Ochil. Both were very good, but Ochil was outstanding. Be sure to walk around and see the whole Hacienda and its grounds.

    During our daily outings, we drove by many Hacienda signs, but with only 6 days to visit, we decided to see more Mayan sites and save the “Hacienda tour”, for our next visit.

    Best meals were lunch at the Uxmal museum restaurant (cheap and delicious), dinner at Casa de Frida (Incredible) in Merida and lunch at Hacienda Ochil. Honestly, we had wonderful food wherever we went; these were just the top three.

    Merida and the entire NW Yucatan deserve repeated visits.

  26. One additional note to mention regarding the Hacienda Chunchucmil is that over the past decade it was home to a multi-national archaeological project researching the nearby ancient Maya ruins.

    If visiting Chunchucmil, ask the hacienda caretaker “Juventino” to give you a tour of the interior of the Hacienda. It includes the original “ice box” for storing meats, a wonderful hooded oven in the kitchen, roof tiles marked from France, a “Ladies” sitting room, and a Japanese styled sleeping room.

    Then you might ask Juventino to suggest a tour guide to show you the unrestored Maya ruins that stand only 5 minutes from the hacienda (between Chunchucmil and Hacienda Santa Rosa). Juventino’s son (the director of the elementary schools) is well versed in the history of Chunchucmil (both the hacienda and the ancient ruins).

    Currently, the fundacion Banamex is planning to turn the Hacienda Chunchucmil into a new hotel.

    But on your way back to the big city, be sure and stop at the Hacienda Santa Rosa for a tour of their botanical garden, which is a rich repository of native Maya plants from the region (plus, the Santa Rosa staff makes an amazing Sopa de Lima for lunch or dinner).

  27. Working Gringos:

    I found your website by searching for haciendas in Mexico. My husband and I will be traveling to Cancun (actually staying in Playa del Carmen) in February for a week. We have been to other parts of Mexico, and stayed over-night in an old hacienda (no electric) in the mountains outside of Puerta Vallarta and also another one that was more of a persons home (B&B) (which was a great experience!). This is our first time in Playa del Carmen and only have a week in a timeshare resort. We intend on seeing as much of the area and the ruins as possible while we are there, but would like to have an over-night stay in a hacienda in our travels. We wanted a hacienda that was not too large. Hacienda Yaxcopil sounded interesting, but didn’t know if it would fit into our traveling locations. Would appreciate any suggestions you may have around Playa del Carmen.

    Thanks again for such a great web-site! I will keep checking back to keep up-dated! I know we will be returning to the area after February. I love Mexico!

  28. I just got around to seeing the photo section of this website. The slideshow of a working henequen hacienda is absolutely a treasure. Thanks for including it. Great job.

  29. For Dorothy:

    For much of the “western world” occupied history of Yucatan, the Merida area (northwest) of Yucatan peninsula was the most populated and developed. So, most of the haciendas are in the northwest area of the peninsula. Until very recent times, Can-cun, Playa del Carmen, etc, were “uncivilized” or barely populated areas of small indigenous communities in the thick of jungle.

    Can-cun for example was only a few small hamlets until a 1967 study by Mexican bankers. Development started in 1970. No haciendas there. As recently as 20-25 years ago, Playa del Carmen was a small fishing village. So, none there.

    From Playa, fun excursions to Tulum ruins or to Sian Ka’an ecological park may be of interest. Chichen Itza isn’t too awfully far to the west.

    But for an authentic “old-timey” hacienda stay, you may have to travel much closer to Merida. Due to the Caste Wars lasting from 1850s to early 1900s, nearly all the area of modern-day Quintana Roo was inhabited only by the rebellious Maya. Or, you could say “free Maya” because they had fought back against harsh slave-like conditions and abuse present on haciendas.

    Most of the well-known Yucatan haciendas open for visitors are within an hour or so of Merida.

  30. Thank you so much for your information (history lesson). With that in mind, we will plan on a two day trip(one day going and one day coming back) in order to stay in a hacienda for one night. We wanted to see Chichen Itza, and I also read there is a light show there on Wednesday evenings. Hacienda Chichen seems to be the most likely to stay at (if available). What would be your suggestions on where to go and what to see on our way to and from Playa del Canmen? Do we have enough time to see around the Merida area to see some of the other haciendas you mentioned? We love history! That is one of the reasons we go to Mexico, it has such interesting history! We are big on exploring, not too strenuous through, as we are getting up there in age :-( We do a lot of hiking to out the way places, waterfalls etc. We have stayed on an indian reservation at the bottom of the grand canyon. And hiked to God knows how many water falls all over the world. I love photography and have some fantastic pictures of places that not too many other people have seen! After telling you a little about our interests, what places do you think would be good to see?

    Again, thank you for all your information! It’s people like you that make traveling and our world so wonderful!

  31. CasiYucateco is absolutely correct. The best hacienda trails are in NW Yucatan (for exactly the reasons given). To be perfectly honest, while I love Playa del Carmen, my general advice for those seeking historical tourism in Yucatan is to fly into Cancun then immediately get out and drive to Merida or Valladolid. Cancun and the “Mexican Riviera” is made for modern western tourists. If you want some genuine historic tours, best to make your way inland. If you rent your own car, the trip to Merida takes about 4 hours (but by bus it might take 5 plus getting to and from the bus stations). So if you do plan to got to Merida, I might suggest doing it after your visit to Chichen Itza (which is a little less than half way there). Kill two birds with one stone. But if you only have two days, the 5 hours of travel each way is going to eat up most of your trip. You’ll spend more time in the car than at your locations. Best to schedule more time in the interior (Merida and the hacienda route).

  32. Es lamentable la traducción del inglés al español. La página esta buena pero no asi la traducción, deja mucho que decir. Muy mala, malisma!

    (Translation: The translation from English into Spanish is sad. The page is good, but not the translation. It leaves much to be said. Very bad, the worst!

  33. We’ve had an inquiry about our Haciendas of the Yucatan calendar which you can buy through CafePress here:
    http://www.cafepress.com/yucatanliving/

    Here are the haciendas that are represented on the calendar:
    Cover: Hacienda Tabi (no longer open to the public, sadly)
    Jan: The chapel at Xcanchacan (unrenovated)
    Feb: San Jose Cholul (A luxury hotel by Starwood)
    Mar: Santa Rosa (A luxury hotel by Starwood)
    Apr: Uayelceh (unrenovated)
    May: Yaxcopoil (www.yaxcopoil.com)
    Jun: Chenche (the chapel) (a private home)
    Jul: Chenche again (the Casa Principal)
    Aug: SacChich (you can rent this through http://www.urbanorentals.com)
    Sep: Mucuyche (unrenovated)
    Oct: Petac (www.haciendapetac.com)
    Nov: Tabi (the cover)
    Dec: Chunchucmil (the chapel) (unrenovated)

    And yes, these are photos that we took when taking photos for the book that is so hard to find. Enjoy!!

  34. I am sort of surprised that everyone missed another “jewel box” of a hacineda that takes guests that is very near Merida – specifically Hacienda San Antonio Millet which is in the little town of Tixkokob just off the road from Merida to Progresso.

    It has been highlighted in many books including two recent books on Haciendas by Banamex. (Absolutely WONDERFUL BOOKS if you haen’t seen them yet. The are a bit expensive , but the most complete I have ever seen, including architectual drawings of what each hacienda orginally looked like when they wre built.)

    The rooms and the service at HAcienda San Antonio Millet are totally first class! The “major domo” who supervises the estate on behalf of the owners is wonderfully knowledgeable and speaks wonderful English. The property has a swimming pool and a number of out buildings to explore.

    The present owners have spared no expense to restore the property to its full glory of years gone by. The newly stenciled antique style wall paper, the reproduction tiles made for them in Europe to replace some of the orginial tiles that were damaged, the truck loads of beautiful anitque European furnitire selected in France –all make this a show place of 100+ years ago, yet it is still very comfortable and not intimidating.

    By the way the food is also to die for! The cooks have beeen trained to produce very sophicated dishes to the tastes of the owners, but they also can and do make great Yucatan food as well. The room prices vary depending on the indvidual acccomodations and the season…but it is truly a do not miss hacienda!

    Their telephone is 52 (999) 910 – 6144.

    Thoses who follow up on the “insiders tip” will not regret their dicision!

    JOHN VENATOR

  35. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to see Chenche (de los Torres?) before it was renovated. One of the caretakers gave us a jar of the most delicious raw honey you ever tasted – direct from the hives. Wow.. what a deal!

    At that time, the chapel was a little more intact. It’s sad to see that the main house (casa principal) has been restored, while the chapel has deteriorated so much. The the peak of the front wall has falled down now. Something about the chapel was romantic – sort of a Da Vinci Code feeling place. Time rolls on…

  36. Hello: Thank you for your informative and friendly website, and to everyone who chimes in. A question: Can anyone provide good driving directions between Hacienda San Jose and Hacienda Temozon? We need to plan it all out in advance (just because we’ll have our kids with us, so getting lost in the Yucatan is not as romantic as it once used to be…), but we can’t find reliable info on this anywhere. Your insights are so appreciated — thanks!

  37. As in Italy with Rome, all roads lead to Merida. So your best bet is to retrace your steps from Hacienda San Jose back to Merida (on the 178 or the 180). When you get to the Periferico (Ring Road), go south (left) and take the exit that points you to Uxmal. That will put you on the 261 going south. You’ll see the signs to Hacienda Temozon after, oh, 25 minutes or so. You’ll turn left off the 261 and just follow the signs (the signage is very good).
    For reference, this is all mapped in Mapquest… the Yucatan just isn’t remote as it once was :-)

    http://europe.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formtype=address&country=MX&addtohistory=&address=&city=Merida

  38. [...] about it from the famous architect, Salvador Reyes Rios, who made his name restoring some of the most beautiful haciendas in this area (Hacienda San Jose Cholul, Temozon, Santa Rosa) and used this finish in his [...]

  39. I love these haciendas, too!
    does anyone know how I can make arrangements to visit or stay overnight at Hacienda Tabi?

  40. Another great source of info on haciendas in the Yucatan is a book CASA YUCATAN. You can buy it in hard cover or softcover. You can get it on Amazon.com and other sources, sometime even at a discount since the book was published 5 years or so ago. However the photos are wonderful and the info timeless.

    (If you want to order it from Amazon, click here: Casa Yucatan (Country Workshop))

  41. hello there. great article. i was wondering if there is any type of document or source that has collected data on the yucatecan haciendas and original property lines like names, photos, dates (anything!) available? my fiance owns a property with a smallish, unrestored hacienda south of merida and we wanted to find more information so that we can restore it to most original condition possible. if anyone can point me in the right direction we would appreciate it!!

  42. The Yucatan public university – UADY – issued a book on haciendas some years ago: 1995 study, Arquitectura de las Haciendas Henequeneras. U.A.D.Y. Mérida, Yucatan.
    It is not totally complete and, generally, the B&W pictures are small. It could be found in Merida libraries. It is out of print and no longer available for sale. The book mentioned in this article is a great source, but it also is not all the haciendas that exist. I don’t know of any one source that includes 100% of the Yucatan haciendas. One resource you may try is the UADY School of Architecture next to the Mejorada Church in Merida. I’ve been told they have a good library, but have not been there to see it.

    Also, you don’t mention if your hacienda is a henequen hacienda, a cattle hacienda, a sugar plantation hacienda, etc. The henequen haciendas have, generally speaking, been better documented, but there are many types.

  43. [...] after moping about for a bit, I’ve found some focus.  Some haciendas to visit and a training program.  I’m already running 3 miles every other day (3-4x/week) so the [...]

  44. Wonderful aticle and great feedbacks!

    I am planning to get married in one of the lovely haciendas in either Campeche or Merida. I am still quite uncertain… I love San Jose, Temozon and Uyamon. Now I do have a question, why ísn’t Uayamon mentioned in the aticle? The chapel ruins are spectacular! I really do not want to be very far from a city, just in case some guests have to stay in hotels.

  45. At the time we wrote this, Uayamon was closed to the public. It was originally open, but didn’t see enough business, from what we understand.

  46. I am currently planning a honeymoon, and one of these haciendas sounds great! Are there any that are on the beach, or close by. Thanks and great article!!
    -Mike

  47. We know of no hacienda built on the beach… they were originally built as the central structures for large farms, so building near the beach wouldn’t have made much sense.
    NEAR the beach is another story. Most of the Yucatan haciendas are only an hour or two from the Gulf of Mexico beaches to the north of Merida.

  48. Any thoughts on Hacienda Sacnicte? http://haciendasacnicte.com/

  49. Linda, we have been to Hacienda Sac Nicte as party guests, and it is indeed a beautiful place. We have no experience of the place as a hotel and know no one who has stayed there.

  50. Does anyone have a map showing all the hacienda locations?

    We are planning a trip and want to visit many of them, and it will be easier if we can group them.

    Thanks for this story and listing of haciendas. It is delightful to see that an essential period of Mexican history has been preserved for future generations.

    Michael

  51. There are a few hundred haciendas, large, small, in ruins and restored. Several are within the city of Merida and suburban villages and some are far out in the countryside (campo) on poor roads.

    Here are a couple articles about haciendas:
    http://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/hacienda-route
    http://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/haciendas-yucatan

    There is more on Yucatan Living that you can find by doing a search for the word “hacienda.” Several books have been written that list the larger and more famous. While many of these books are not in print, you can still find them at some stores and online.

    This map of Yucatan shows several haciendas: http://yucatantoday.com/en/maps/map-yucatan-peninsula

    The state highway department used to have a map that showed many of the haciendas in Yucatan. I haven’t tried to check for several years to see if they have a new one.

  52. Other haciendas in UMAN:
    SanAntonio Mulix
    http://www.lavozdeuman.com/reportaje_i.asp?ix=45

    Poxila
    http://www.lavozdeuman.com/reportaje_i.asp?ix=34

    Hunxectaman
    http://www.lavozdeuman.com/reportaje_i.asp?ix=28

    Dzibikak
    http://www.lavozdeuman.com/reportaje_i.asp?ix=22

  53. Muchas Gracias for all your hard work and historical research.

  54. I have a question for someone.
    ?Can we visit Sotuta de Peon early in the day, I see on other info sites it takes 3 hours to complete the tour.
    My problem is we don’t really have 3 hours to take at the Hacienda. I did email, but have not heard regarding tours and times. I sent an email asking if they had tours before 10am if one makes a reservation, but I have not heard back.
    The site looks great, but it does lack information.
    The location for us on the way to Uxmal is great and then to visit Uayalceh would be a great before and after for my son.
    Thank you for any info anyone may pass on, or advice on another, not so lengthy tour would be great. I did a few others in September, but thought this would be an interesting way to see his first Haciendas

  55. Sotuta de Peon has an organized tour that runs twice a day and is WELL worth the 3 hours. It is a glimpse into the past and a valuable introductory history lesson that anyone interested in the Yucatan must experience.

    It will give you the background to begin appreciating the other haciendas you may visit during your stay here.

  56. I am a Mexican American who has been in Mexico since December1963. My business was principally in Mexico City. I have spent many years visiting Merida. Ever since I started coming to Merida I have been interested in the Yucatan golden period of the Yucatan peninsula and since I came here I have collected hacienda tokens and presently have more than 600 pieces representing a great number of haciendas. My wife and I spend the greater part of our time in Yucatan. Best regards.
    John

  57. Hello!! I am a college student from Ohio University, and let me say THANK YOU SO MUCH for being my “guide” in the months before coming to the Yucatan. I check your website everyday to make sure I am getting the most out of my trip! I have fallen in love with you, showing your home to us and giving me my first pointers about the bus systems! I leave in Mid-March and I hope to meet you before I leave. Please check out my site and send me an email… I have to shake your hand!

  58. Hello:
    I am also an ex Californian who has lived and worked in Mexico for a little more than 50 years. Like you I collect Yucatan and Campeche hacienda tokens and now have more than 600 different pieces. I Started more than 30 years ago when I purchased a collection from a missionary who had collected for more than 3 decades. Thereafter I bought from local dealers.

  59. John, that is an amazing collection from what we know about these. They are not that easy to find anymore. Felicidades!

  60. Hmmmmm. I personally, have begun to rethink this hacienda movement as a way of erasing history. Most, if not all, of the haciendas had rooms where workers were beaten and abused by owners not unlike American slavery. I think the history of these places should be included or a plaque placed somewhere stating its history. I keep thinking what would happen if someone suggested turning Auschwitz into a 5 star bed and breakfast. Mayhem!

  61. Moira, we have talked to Mayans about this very subject. Just a few, but… We had the privilege of going with some to a festival in the southern part of the State of Yucatan one year. There was a hacienda there that was renowned among them for having had a very cruel owner. The hacienda was in ruins and as part of the ceremony, all the Maya men went and pissed on the walls at the beginning of the event. We were told that the haciendas that had cruel owners were often still in ruins and had not been renovated. Of course, that was years ago and things change.

  62. I am an American-Mexican who has lived in Mexico for a little more than 50 years and my wife and I have a home in Merida. At this moment we are in our home in Mexico City, trying to sell our home. To give you an idea about my interest in Merida, I have collected Yucatan – Campeche fichas for more than 30 years. I would like to talk, by telephone, to someone from your group but I don’t have a name nor telephone number. My number is: 55 5683 0009. John Rhoads. I hope to receive a response. Best regards. John

  63. The authors may be correct in that the John Deere Company invested, assisting in the production of “henequen”. However they do not mention that the first to document the plant and its usefulness for ropes and other naval utensils was José María Lanz, a Mexican-born engineer.

  64. Gracias, Mateo! Good to know!

  65. I very much enjoyed this super-informative article and all the commentary which follows. I and my sons will be exploring the Yucatan for 2 weeks in December and hope to visit (at least) one or two of these fabulous haciendas. Thank you so much for the insights!

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