“ Yndie, you and Bill have spoiled me forever … no matter where I go, nothing will compare with Hacienda Uayamón”, comments Isabela Luján, a Venezuelan anthropologist and daughter in law to be.
Uayamon is one of a collection of old haciendas dating back to the sixteenth century, bought and restored by Starwood Hotel and Resorts and located in the state of Campeche in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Originally a working cattle ranch, later ravaged by English pirates and years later sold to the Carvajal family. It was like a small village where cattle, corn, sugar cane, dye wood and henequen reined for centuries. The premises include the Main House, chapel, charity hospital, cemetery, school, irrigation systems, workshops, workers houses, engine room and its own railroad. This historic hacienda was refurbished with first class amenities for discriminating tastes, yet maintains its ancient ambience, giving one the best of both worlds.
As one walks up the wide manicured path towards the bi-level hacienda, a huge century old Ceiba tree greats the guests with its sacred reverence, known to the Mayans since before Christ. The Ceiba was associated with the dwelling place of their ancestors and represented heaven, earth and the underworld. A moonlit dinner with torch lights under this old one makes for an unforgettable experience.
Old hacienda walls sans roof surround a long rectangular swimming pool peering through open windows into the outside jungle. Huge columns set within the pool provide a dramatic Romanesque effect, the perfect backdrop for a glass of wine and dip before heading to dinner.
Thanks to our Spanish we were told by one of the workers of the legend of the aluxes (spirits), ancient little “people” of the rain forest, energetic, happy and playful like small children noted for their trickery. He related the story of a visiting French couples children having seen and interacted with them. They are believed to be related to Ireland’s leprechauns, Scandinavia’s gnomes and Europe’s trolls and gremlins.
Two or three nights sleeping in the jungle in this colonial hacienda transports one to a bygone era, one that’s still tangible and real at Uayamon. The night calls of the jungle with the morning sounds of a variety of exotic birds puts the mind at ease and the body at rest. Whether a weekend or a week, this is a very special reprieve from life’s realities.
Activities include walking, swimming, bicycling, horseback riding and games both inside and in the gardens. Satellite TV, internet, room service and massage round out the package. Day trips to the ruins of Edzna are highly recommended.
Other haciendas we’ve visited and would recommend are Hacienda San Jose and Hacienda Temozon, all tucked away in the Yucatan peninsula jungle. As with Uayamon, all have been tastefully restored and adapted to today’s needs.
Getting to Hacienda Uayamon is easy, whether by car or bus, the highways are safe, well maintained and patrolled by Mexican tourist vans, in case of flats, car trouble etc. Our car trip began in Playa del Carmen, then to the city of Campeche and on to Uayamon, a nine day glitch free Mayan ruin extravaganza.
Biodegradable products, energy and water conservation along with intelligent irrigation systems are all part of Starwood Hotel and Resorts commitment to Mother Earth.
For anyone wanting or needing an escape from reality and an unforgettable experience, keep in mind these unique and updated colonial haciendas.
Pictures Raul Sojo and Bill Milligan