Find luxury wellness retreat Chablé Resort & Spa just outside the colonial city of Mérida, deep in the unspoilt Yucatán jungle. The restored 19th-century hacienda has more than a few surprises for its guests: under the hotel, the spa sits by a cenote (Chablé’s one of the only hotels in the world to have its own mystical sinkhole) and a tequila bar serving more than 1,000 different spirits. Your to-do list for the day: downtime in the pre-Hispanic-style temazcals (saunas), spiritual healing, shots…
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $626.34, excluding tax at 29 per cent.
Rates usually include an à la carte breakfast of fresh fruit, granola, yogurt and fresh omelettes with Yucatán-style spicy sauces; coffee delivered to your room each morning; one daily activity; and use of the spa and gym.
The hotel has recruited a local resident with a particular flair for Yucatecan cuisine to teach cooking lessons on-site. Ask the concierge to book you in and you could learn how to make home-made tortillas, tamales and salsas the traditional way.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, car parking, free WiFi. In rooms: Pool, hammock, sun terrace, Jacuzzi bath tub, TV, minibar, free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
If we were trying to impress, we’d book the Presidential or Royal villas. Both are pretty swish, but the former is a restful space complete with a bath tub hewn from polished rock; the latter is designed for laid-back parties. We’d bring our most attractive friends for a week of lounging around the pool, taking a dip in the Jacuzzi and kicking back with a film in the media room. The one-bedroom Casitas are also beautifully designed with their own pool, hammock and alfresco shower.
The freeform pool is dotted with islands, fountains and sunbathing decks. There are plenty of sunloungers to go round, plus a poolside bar so you’re never far from your next icy cerveza.
Chablé is home to one of the only spas in the world with its own cenote. There’s a menu of Maya-inspired spoiling – we’re keen on the hypnotic three-hour ‘signature ritual’ starting in the flotarium and ending with a restorative, herbal-salt exfoliation and a lymphatic-flow massage. There are more modern treasures too, including a brand spanking new gym and detox programmes from spa-savvy therapists. Choose from chakra therapy, Mayan rebirth massage, reiki, sound cleansing and spiritual guidance from a local shaman, or pick one of three temazcals (a sort-of traditional Mexican heated lodge) and just sweat it out.
Pack light: a tasselled kimono here, a pom-pom sandal there; swimwear is optional – your pool is blissfully private.
The hotel has the world’s largest private tequila collection, with over 1,000 bottles in all shapes and sizes; some are more than 100 years old.
Dogs are welcome for US$50 a night and get daily purified water, a bed and bowls. Four-legged Smiths must be kept on a short lead and can’t be taken into restaurants, the pool area or the spa. Doggie delicious menu, walkies and baths available for a fee. See more pet-friendly hotels in Yucatán.
All ages are welcome. Baby cots can be added to the Casitas and Villas. Babysitting is available for US$20 an hour with one day’s notice.
The hotel harvests the ingredients for its restaurants in its own Maya garden, where it grows vegetables and herbs in traditional raised beds made from local wood and no man-made elements.
Get in quick to bag the private table on the restaurant’s elevated terrace. It has its own fire pit and panoramic views of the grounds.
Mexi-casual. Light linens, floral prints and a short-brimmed sombrero.
Chablé’s three restaurants are presided over by Jorge Vallejo of Mexico City (the world’s 12th best chef), and his right-hand man Luis Ronzón looks after the day-to-day operations. Menus are light and inventive: Ixi’im Restaurant serves venison tartare with sour orange and habanero chilli, or coriander cake with soursop sorbet and chargrilled pineapple, in an Asian-inspired setting overlooking the gardens. Casual poolside restaurant Ki’ol is reserved for guests only and does a mean line in Mexican classics, while the Spa Restaurant has a healthy vegetarian-only menu and freshly-pressed juices.
There are two to choose from: a library in the main building, where the bar itself is carved out of an enormous tree-trunk, and a tequila-tasting bar inside the hacienda where you’ll find the hotel’s impressive array of aged local spirits. The bar staff are well-versed in modern mixology, fixing all manner of mezcal- and tequila-based cocktails using local fruit, herbs and spices. There’s also a wine cellar which can be reserved for intimate dinners and private tastings.
Ixi’im is open for dinner only (and closed Mondays); book your table between 6pm and 10:30pm. Ki’ol serves food from 7am until 10:30pm. The Spa Restaurant is open for lunch only.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be taken in your room. Choose from a scaled-down menu of Ki’ol’s classics.
Chablé is set amid the steamy jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula’s countryside; it’s around 30 minutes’ drive from capital Mérida – known for its historic heritage buildings.
Mérida's Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport is around 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel and has limited flights from the US and domestic flights from Mexico City. Flights from Europe stopover in the Mexican capital. Another option is to fly into Cancún International Airport, the main gateway for the Yucatán peninsula, and then can catch a connecting flight to Mérida, before completing the 30-minute journey by road. Call the Smith24 team to arrange flights and transfers, which start at US$160.
A car will help you to explore the Yucatán Peninsula’s wilds and Mérida’s monuments. Hire a car at the airport; the hotel has free on-site parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Without a doubt the spa should take up a decent portion of your time here: where else can you roll out of bed, wander down to your cenote and partake in Mayan therapies in the entrance to the sacred underworld? As well as the signature treatments we’d recommend speaking to the concierge about the many activities on offer: Ayurvedic yoga, walking meditation, qi gong and t’ai chi to name but a few. This part of the Yucatán Peninsula is deep in jungle, but you can reach the coast in around an hour. Progreso Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico, while Celestún is located on its eponymous Biosphere Reserve. The area is dotted with Mayan ruins, and the hotel can help to arrange self-guided or escorted trips to the pyramid complexes at Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Spend a day in state capital, Mérida, and while away a few hours exploring the city’s museums. The Anthropology and History Museumoffers a glimpse into the life of local residents over the years; art lovers will enjoy the contemporaryFernando Garcia Ponce-Macay Museum.
Chablé has a sophisticated mod-Mexican menu, but for a traditional taste of the Yucatányou’ll need to head to Wayan’e in Mérida. This glorified taco stand’s hot sauce and family-run conviviality have made it an institution. La Chaya Maya offers more of the same, located in a lovely colonial building and serving black-turkey stew and slow-cooked pork – both local favourites.
Deep in the middle of another never-ending New York winter, we’ve wrapped up all our vacation dreams into one very long weekend in the search of somewhere slightly exotic, warm, yet easily accessible. It’s decided we’ll fly south of the border to rediscover ourselves in Mexico…
From Merida’s main airport, we make our way into the unspoiled Yucatán jungle to the recently opened luxury wellness retreat, Chablé Resort & Spa. It’s just past 4pm as we arrive at the estate-esque gates – there’s a certain air of magic that comes with arriving at an unfamiliar place as the afternoon light chases the evening.
This restored 19th-century hacienda is spread out over 750 pristine acres steeped in tradition and Mayan culture. We’re happily greeted by the hotel staff and whisked away on a golf buggy to a small terracotta color cottage.
After warm greeting from the hotel manager and a fuss-free check-in we’re eager to explore. Our casita is one of only 38 hidden among the lush tropical greenery. Our private pool is front and center with a space for Mr Smith to enjoy his morning coffee and for me to live out my tropical fantasies and while away hours in the hammock.
The inside is light-filled and minimally decorated: crisp white linens adorn our king canopy bed with handcrafted timber furniture and the all-important daily health and wellness activity list bedside. Add to this the three glass showers with options to rinse inside or outside and we’re starting to understand what heaven looks like.
I curl up into the corner sofa admiring our room and think ahead to the following day – yoga, pilates, meditation a morning group run… Every element of Chablé is designed around wellness, balance and indulgence which is just the combination we want from this trip.
At this point, about 30 minutes in, we decide we would happily stay here for an eternity. After a quick freshen up we make our way across the lawn to dine poolside. The restaurant’s blue patterned tiles and white linen table tops are elegantly highlighted by lanterns scattered among the tables and towards the water’s edge. The hundred-year oak tree is scattered with an abundance of hanging lights.
A corner pair of love seats is the perfect spot for us to raise our salt-rimmed margaritas and marvel at the solitude and seclusion. The dinner that follows is an a la carte feast of locally sourced produce grown in Chablé’s traditional Maya garden, casually served amongst the lush gardens. We opt for crisp ceviche, tostadas and finish with a ‘healthy’ chocolate casserole.
We sink into our seats noting how each element has been so carefully considered; so much love poured into every detail. Nothing is too much to ask and every request is met with a smile and patience as I repeat the limited Spanish I’ve been so proudly practicing.
Surrounded by beautiful grounds in every direction, Chablé is as exclusive as it is magical – a private world we currently have the key to.
With full bellies and our room only footsteps away, we slowly make our way down the softly lit path back to our casita, roll into bed and awaken to the sun shining bright and the birds humming the sounds of a new day.
Wellness and indulgence is the brief for this trip so I’m off to work my limbs at pilates. Dressed the part and with mild enthusiasm I make my way out of the dreamy clutches of Mr Smith’s arms and up to the health retreat. I arrive to find the class wrapping up and I’m kindly advised that the class commenced an hour earlier.
My disappointment was also mild having to ‘sacrifice’ the one exercise I had earmarked for the day – some would say that’s what tomorrow is for….
Instead, Mr Smith joins me at the spa restaurant for a medley of fresh fruit, yogurt and coffee. We opt to take a pair of bikes and ride down and around the property admiring every inch manicured to perfection by 30 full-time gardeners.
We gently pass some more time before for my midday spa appointment by swimming in our private pool, taking turns in the hammock and shielding ourselves from the reflection of our translucent winter skin.
I get back on my bike and ride up the incline on time for what is to be the most extraordinary spa treatment of my life. This is one of the only hotels in the world with its own private ‘cenote’ and the spa overlooks this sacred sinkhole. I stand tall overlooking nature’s creation, taking in the rarity of this moment and can’t help but feel lucky to have been given a little glimpse into this untouched wilderness.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Chablé Resort & Spa’s Guestbook below.
Beautiful property, wonderful staff and amazing food. The spa is a must! Loved all of the Mayan traditions woven into experiences. Private plunge pools give you the option to stay secluded on days when you just want to rest and relax. There are lots of nooks around the resort to hideaway. Overall just really thoughtful design, inside and out.
Don't expect a lively party like atmosphere.
Stayed on 24 Jun 2018
We loved everything about this place. The staff was incredible. The casitas are completely private and all of them have a private pool. The spa is beautiful and peaceful. Plenty of dining options and plenty of things to do, from endurance cycling to massages and facials or just simply relaxing in your casita with room service.