Hundreds of Haciendas or plantations once symbolized the Yucatan Peninsula’s wealth but were abandoned in the 1950s after a sudden downturn in fortune. Over the years, the jungle has taken them back.
Through thick jungle vegetation, you will see a crumbling stone wall slowly being overtaken by creeping vines and alamo trees. The wall surrounded what must have once been an elegant courtyard. It was part of a larger hacienda, one of the many vast and magnificent estates that had been built with the wealth of Yucatan’s 19th-Century henequen-rope industry, all now a ghost of their former glory.
Though few travelers know of them, hundreds of these haciendas exist throughout the peninsula, many spanning thousands of acres. Some of the ruins are visible from the side of the road, while others require the keen eye and local knowledge of a guide, and whereas some have been left for nature to take back, a few have been reclaimed for a second life.
Yaxcopoil is a hacienda where time stops. You can wander freely through the bedrooms in the main house. There you will see the large dining rooms and other attractive spaces with high ceilings, original mosaic tile floors, and European furniture, as well as detailed hand paintings on the house’s walls. There is also an impressive machine house, with examples of the machinery used to process henequen, the area’s old business.
Hacienda Temozón Sur
At kilometer marker 182 on Highway 261 heading southbound, you will find the sign for Hacienda Temozón Sur. As you step out of the car, you will feel the fresh air and hear the birds of Temozón, a hacienda with palatial touches. The entrance leads you up the steps, past the unique dolphin-head fountain, to the large terrace. This hacienda was renovated by Mérida-based architect Salvador Reyes Ríos for Roberto Hernández of Banamex.
The property was selected for a summit between President Bill Clinton and President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico in 1999. If you are hungry, you can enjoy a delicious gourmet meal at a reasonable price. The service is impeccable, the food exceptional, and the occasional sound of birds gives it an exotic feel.
If you plan to spend the night here, be prepared for a luxury experience at a luxury price. You don’t need to spend the night to enjoy Temozón though. Before you leave, be sure to thoroughly explore the property, including what is probably the longest swimming pool in all of Yucatán.
Hacienda Ochil is of as much historical interest as Yaxcopoil, but with the added pleasure of several craft stores. Here you can find master artisans teaching young people to work in leather, stone, metals, wood, and sisal. You can find one if you are looking for a genuine henequen hammock. Ochil is an intimate and charming hacienda with an informal restaurant, a gift store, artisans’ workshops, and a museum.
One of the pleasures of Ochil is to take a walk on the grounds, enjoying the exotic gardens. Walking behind the restaurant, you will be surprised by the semi-hidden cenote. Depending on the water level, you may be able to walk over one edge and observe the ancient Mayan paintings on the cavern walls.
Over the years, Hacienda Xcanatun has become a landmark for visitors and locals alike thanks to its privileged location near the city of Mérida and standing out for its excellent customer service. In 2020, Angsana took over the management of the property and undertook an incredible renovation.
The legendary gardens, luxurious suites, magnificent Casa de Piedra restaurant, and sumptuous spa define this luxury hacienda. You can visit without reservations to either sample the dishes at the celebrated restaurant, have a spa treatment, or if you’re in the mood for pampering, both.
If you don’t have time to explore the haciendas for a full day, take an express trip on Highway 180 from Mérida to Cancún. Teya has been renovated with a modern restaurant, large enough to accommodate tour buses and social events. It has conference rooms, a store, a chapel, and beautifully appointed suites and the mirrored ballroom and sparkling pool impress. The restaurant has excellent Yucatecan food and is open daily from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Chichén Itzá is a fascinating world of magic and beauty. Hacienda Chichén is the perfect place to enjoy Mayan culture and an intimate, serene setting surrounded by lush, wild gardens. Hacienda Chichén is a Yucatecan paradise that offers a range of unique activities and experiences, such as its private jungle, a museum, an authentic Mayan ceremonial center, gardens, and Yaxkín Spa: a magnificent Mayan eco-spa. Hacienda Chichén is today an exquisite boutique hotel renowned for its high quality. It has a fabulous location in Chichén Itzá that will allow you a place to rest before and after venturing to the archaeological site.