Amid overgrown ruins and dense jungle outside the walled city of Campeche, Hacienda Uayamon hotel is a romantic hideaway where former workers’ quarters are now luxurious lairs. Crumbling walls and incomplete arches form the fairy-tale backdrop; the former main building has been reimagined as a swimming pool surrounded by topless pillars. The one-time hospital and homes of workers have been revived into sultry suites spread across the grounds.
Noon, but flexible depending on occupancy and subject to a $40 charge.
Double rooms from $255.00, excluding tax at 18 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 5% per room per night on check-out.
Rates exclude breakfast.
Horses and bikes are available for expeditions into the undergrowth, and the hotel will organise hiking trips for jungle explorers.
At the hotel
Spa, WiFi in main building. In rooms: TV, CD player (DVD players are available for a charge), open fireplace, hammock; minibar; private terrace.
Our favourite rooms
Apart from the two high-ceilinged Colonial Suites in what used to be the hacienda’s hospital, all of Uayamon’s villas are detached mustard-coloured casitas nestled in the jungly grounds. Each one features black-and-white tile floors, oversized mahogany beds, glass walkways between bedroom and bathroom, and a private terrace with a cosy day-bed. The Colonial Suites have outdoor hot tubs, so you can bubble away under the stars to a soundtrack of birdsong and monkey chatter.
Situated in a ruined part of the building, the pool is one of the most beautiful Mr & Mrs Smith have ever splashed in. The walls and pillars of the original structure are still standing – you feel as though you’re bathing in an archaeological site.
Massages and other treatments are offered in the tranquil spa, which uses all-natural products. Try the hotel's signature therapy, which combines ix-canan flower, cinnamon and rose of castile.
A torch – the partially lit walk back to your villa at night can be tricky after few tequilas.
Up to two under-12s can stay free in their parents’ room – cots and extra beds are available free; babysitting can be provided with 24 hours’ notice. The extra guest charge for children over 12 or adults is $50.
Hacienda Uayamon uses waste water to irrigate its gardens, grows its own fruit and vegetables and its owners are behind the World Haciendas Foundation, which supports henequen rope-making communities in the Mexican southeast.
Sit at the edge the front terrace overlooking the finely manicured gardens and the enormous century-old ceiba tree (sacred to the Mayans), or ask for a table to be set up anywhere in the grounds, lit by hundreds of candles.
Casual for lunch, add an aristocratic flourish at night. Closed-toed shoes will keep biting insects at bay.
Up an impressive set of stone steps in the main hacienda building, the restaurant is split over two terraces and a small indoor area. Cuisine is typically Yucatecan, featuring fresh fish, chicken, pork, turkey, and lots of lime.
Although there’s no bar as such, you’re free to enjoy a drink anywhere in Uayamon you wish.
The restaurant closes at 10.30pm.
Restaurant meals can be enjoyed in your room, or anywhere in the hacienda’s grounds, from 7am–10.30pm.
Km 20 Carretera, Uayamon-China-Edzna Uayamon, Campeche null México
The nearest airport is Campeche, which lies twenty minutes from the hotel and is served by frequent Aeromexico (www.aeromexico.com) flights to Mexico City, where there are connections to cities throughout the US and Europe.
A car will be useful for exploring the Yucután Peninsula – there are car hire desks at the airport. The hacienda is 26km south of Campache. There's free parking at the hotel.
Our taxi driver has no appreciation for the elegant entrée I’d had planned for the Hacienda Uayamon. Creating clouds of dust behind us, he roars down the drive with loud European techno music blaring from the window. As we emerge from the backseat cringing, two gardeners with wheelbarrows stop and look up, curious of these brazen strangers. The dust begins to settle, and a manicured lawn leading to a grand colonial house becomes visible, and a smiling member of staff is on their way down to greet us.
As our luggage is whisked away on a cute yellow rickshaw, we observe how the jungle imposes on our surroundings, the ruinous buildings fighting with vines and tree roots. We have come 30 minutes inland from the walled city of Campeche with its pastel-lined streets and bustling plazas. We could be in another world – a lost city. We head towards a larger building, the huge entrance houses a doorway with a dramatic stone arch, with fronds creeping over faded paintwork.
A tasselled key opens the large wooden doors to our suite. The room is enormous and cool, with high beamed ceilings and the confident sound of fans whirring above. It is smartly furnished with deep yellow walls, and white and black tiled flooring. Heavy shuttered windows keep the midday sun at bay and huge ornate mirrors with dark wood frames hang on the walls. The carved-headboarded king-size bed is placed in front of a dividing wall that conceals the ensuite. I wonder at all the flowers and palm leaves that have been placed on every conceivable surface.
‘Did you know that this room was once a hospital?’ Mr Smith calls from the bedroom, his nose already in the hotel’s literature. ‘If this is convalescing, then I’m all for it,’ he murmurs. I pick up the oatmeal soap from the sink to smell its ginger fragrance. Outside, I spy a sunken tub, and furthermore a padded day-bed in a wooden pavilion.
Joining me on our tropical lounger, I can just make out Mr Smith mumbling, ‘…and nearby are the Mayan ruins of Edzna.’ But the sounds of the jungle have taken me on my own primeval fantasy. Hidden by foliage, the wildlife hoots and chatters. The trees seem to shift and shimmer in the heat and I half expect a wild beast to come rampaging through the undergrowth. Looking to Mr Smith for safety, I remember our age-old dilemma when holidaying. Being an architect and sensible type Mr Smith likes to be purposeful – he has even been known to remove leaves from a hotel pool – while I am the romantic daydreamer happy to wander without agenda.
‘These Edzna ruins have an incredible water system with 29 channels, 27 cisterns and 70 wells – not bad going for a pre-Hispanic structure,’ he continues. Recognising the warning signs, I persuade Mr Smith to accompany me to the pool. ‘Did you know that the pool is housed in the ruin of a centuries-old building and is sealed using the ancient Mayan technique called Chu-Kum?’ I counter.
The pool area is a stunning scene. The tumbling walls, renovated but keeping their original ruinous charm, contain the shimmering water. Between two corners, a hammock is strung over the pool. Mr Smith stares in wonderment at the Ionic pillars placed enchantingly in the centre of the water – I can tell this illogistical feat is now occupying his mental synapses.
A rustling behind us reveals a large prehistoric-looking iguana sitting at the base of a tree, bobbing its head frenetically. Camera in hand, we quietly approach. ‘Do you think he might be in some sort of distress?’ I ask. Mr Smith snorts, ‘Darling, I think you’ll find he’s having some afternoon delight.’ Sure enough, Mrs Iguana lay hidden underneath his scaly reptilian body, eyes closed. Urged on by Mr Smith’s encouragement, the reptiles scuttle around the dusty courtyard. Perturbed by our presence the female scarpers, earning us a dirty look from Mr Iguana, his pink tongue darting distastefully. Back on our loungers, therapists from the spa await to offer complimentary foot massages and a chance for Mr Smith to view his video footage of the copulating Iguanas.
Dusk approaches and we head for an amble around the grounds. Mr Smith fills me in on the Hacienda’s history. In the 17th Century, it was awarded to a commander from the white army who earned the Hacienda through courageous fighting. In the 19th Century it became a factory and developed into a little working town with its own machine house, cemetery, chapel, hospital and railway station. Today, 12 renovated rooms from the original hacienda buildings lend faded colonial charm, while housing modern facilities along with quirky touches such as huge bedroom-width hammocks.
Night falls and we admire the ruins of the chapel, spooky and rather exciting. The starred sky makes a bewitching new ceiling, and the altar, by now a tangle of roots, vines and blocks of stone, all produces a startling effect. Stumbling on a rock I clutch Mr Smith’s hand who is equally enchanted by the atmosphere.
Sixties music and chirpy waiters slightly break the spell, but we’re hungry for dinner and happy to sit on the breezy terrace of the main house overlooking the majestic cieba. This tree is over a hundred years old and an important symbol of the afterlife for the Mayans. Lingering by the trunk of the tree after a dinner of local specialities (zesty sopa de lima and a steamy banana leaf parcel with fresh fish, octopus and mussels), and we admire the vast branches reaching out over the candlelit ruins – it is a fantastic fusion of history and nature, and it epitomises the special charm of Hacienda Uayamon.
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