How the Chablé hotels mastered luxury in Mexico
Begin your trip with a wellness reset at Chablé Yucatan before drifting to the blissed-out beach vibes at Chablé Maroma. It’s the ideal dual trip for indecisive travellers who want the best of both worlds.
Where is it?
Approximately a 50-minute drive from the pastel-peppered city of Merida, with its galleries, addictively chic boutiques and exciting foodie scene. Yet, the whole world falls away as you drive down the single-track lane and the 200-year-old haçienda unfolds before you. There is a magic in the air here as the sunlight dances off the sisal plants, white-tail deer roam the grounds and the scent of the Mayan jungle drifts into your soul. Two miles down the road is the village of Chocholá, with its own underground cenote — a cycle there for a morning dip is to be highly recommended.
Set in 750 acres of Mayan jungle (for which you are given bikes to explore) and one of the only hotels in the world to have its own cenote, award-winning architect Jorge Borja has masterfully blended the old with the new, nature with spirituality throughout the restoration project. Paulina Moran is to thank for the inspired interior design which lets the crumbling ruins of the haçienda take centre stage, while the modern casitas — of which there are 40 dotted around the grounds for maximum privacy — are pared back.
The focus at Chablé Yucatan is wellness and the spa is world-leading. The healing begins the second you enter. Twelve treatment cabins balance over the cenote and three temazcals (a traditional Mexican steam house) are to be found across the rest of the grounds. Complimentary yoga and meditation sessions are held daily by the cenote, too.
Back at the spa, choose from shamanic cleansing ceremonies with their resident abuela or pick from one of the three spa journeys: Fountain of Youth, Tree of Life, or Heaven on Earth, which incorporate all the best bits of the spa menu — from flotarium sessions to high-tech facials.
A place of peace and soul-searching, I arrived at Chablé Yucatan reeling from the recent loss of my father and the traditional cleansing ceremony in particular was cathartic. There is a spiritual element to everything here — if comfort, reflection and serenity sound appealing, this is the place. The bottled water in the spa is purified rainwater — a welcome eco-touch. The gym is state-of-the-art and overlooks the cenote.
Elsewhere, for golfers, the nine-hole course can be booked for exclusive use for a minimum of two hours. The Green Point bicycle tour is also a lovely way to spend the morning with guides showing everything from the Mayan herb garden to the stingless melipona bee sanctuary. Cooking classes, wine- and tequila-tasting classes are also available. There are plans to open a kids’ club.
Food & drink
You have three excellent options. You’ll have breakfast and sunlounger service at casual Ki’ol, which means ‘health’ in Maya — but don’t fear, there is plenty of scope for indulgence and the wine list is well-considered. On busier nights in the resort (Thursday to Sunday), the restaurant works thematically. Think BBQ cook-outs, Pib (traditional method of slow-cooking meat in an underground stove) fish, and so on. All excellent.
Those who can’t drag themselves away from the zen of the spa won’t go hungry in the wellness restaurant, with its nourishing vegetarian and vegan menu.
The jewel in the crown, though, is Ixi’im, with its adjoining 1,000-strong tequila bar. The mezcal-based Hacendado cocktail is perhaps the perfect cocktail — I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted a better. Visitors come from all over Yucatan for the culinary concept conjured up by Chef Jorge Vallejo and executed with flair by Luis Ronzón.
The architecture is as much a draw as the South-Mexican tasting menu, with the restaurant artfully wedged inside the crumbling ruins of the haçienda’s old sisal textile factory. Relax on the decking for views over the garden; we were cheerfully interrupted by an armadillo shuffling past our table.
Forty exceptionally chic casitas are strewn around the 750 acres. Private jungle sanctuaries all come with private pools, a hammock, sunloungers, and outside dining area. The bathroom is palatial, with both an indoor and al fresco waterfall shower, plus walk-in wardrobes. The mini bar is complimentary and restocked daily. There isn’t a dud room here, so book with abandon.
The nearby cenote in Chocholá is worth a visit — go early to have it to yourself. Elsewhere, it’s all about the Mayan ruins, and the hotel concierge is happy to help arrange tours to Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Merida is a pretty city with museums, world-class food and more interior boutiques than you’ll be able to afford to visit.
Burnt-out Londoners and spa junkies ready to be enchanted by the Mayan magic.
Rates start from $1,019 (approx. £822) per night for a Casita with private pool, including breakfast and taxes. yucatan.chablehotels.com
You’ve healed and washed off the London anxiety, time to head to your own private slice of Maroma beach on the Riviera Maya.
Where is it?
If you’re coming from Chablé Yucatan, it’s a long but comfortable four or five-hour drive. For those coming straight from London, fly direct to Cancún, which is about 30 minutes away.
First things first: that pool. The main infinity pool overlooks the white sands of Playa Maroma and neighboured by a thatched beach bar serving chilled beers and creamy guacamole to happy sunlounger-dwellers.
Ordinarily, the pool would be the star of the show, but the beach is something else entirely. Crystalline waters, silky sand and bobbing boats — Chablé Maroma has a front-row seat to it all.
Set further back, cocooned in more of that lush Mayan jungle, are 70 casitas, a spa, and the showstopping reception complete with gigantic, gravity-defying knotted-rope chandelier. This is the Chablé group’s second hotel (after Chablé Yucatan) and interior guru Paulina Moran is the woman behind the design again.
The spa is a must. Seven thatched treatments planted around a trio of hydrotherapy pools are the scene of knot-busting massages, restorative facials and healing therapies. Down on the beach, hidden in the undergrowth, is the Temazcal (translation: ‘house of heat’), where a local shaman will guide you through an intense and confronting two-hour ceremony. Searing coals create a stifling amount of heat as you sit in the pitch black and address your hopes, fears and past traumas. An overwhelming but perspective-altering experience.
Food & drink
Fresh coffee and pastries are left in a basket outside your room each morning — you’ll have to fight the resident racoons for first dibs but it’s worth it. Then it’s over to poolside restaurant Kaban for the à la carte breakfast. Juices, smoothies, all kinds of eggs, Mexican classics — the menu is extensive and pitch perfect.
Acclaimed chef Jorge Vallejo is responsible for the culinary offering at Chablé Maroma, too, and nowhere does it shine more than at Bu’ul — the more formal dinner-only restaurant where wine-paired tasting menus of modern Mexican delicacies are served against the backdrop of the beach. We feasted on creamy rice and blue shrimp from Campeche; beef tongue with manchamanteles sauce and plantain; and pickled venison tzik and tlayuda. Wine was served enthusiastically by Micheal the sommelier, who was charming, highly knowledgeable and patient. Sundowners (definitely plural) on the roof terrace should be mandatory. The hotel uses local suppliers where possible — sustainable fishing, coffee from an independent farm, filtered water and avocado straws (no plastic) are used.
The rooms are set back away from the beach to protect the sand dune and so, while there are no sea views, you can rest even easier in the gigantic beds knowing the environment has been protected. Villas vary from ground-floor or second-floor villas to stand-alone villas all the way up to the presidential villa. All come with a private terrace and outdoor pool. As with Chablé Yucatan, there are waterfall indoor and outdoor showers and the mini bar is complimentary. The rooms are slightly cramped and dark compared to the casitas at Chablé Yucatan but what you gain is just a few metres away: the paradise of Playa Maroma.
All the usual water sports are available: kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling and diving. The world’s second-largest reef is a short boat ride away and is an explosion of colour. I saw far more marine life than I did on the Great Barrier Reef. Sustainability is a serious subject at Chablé Maroma and they have recently introduced an ‘adopt a coral’ activity, whereby guests can make a donation to have a piece of coral protected and rejuvenated. They’ll be sent regular updates on their coral after they’ve returned home.
Playa del Carman and Tulum are both short car rides away for shopping, beach-hopping and margarita-sampling. The hotel also offers cooking classes, agave spirits and wine-tasting sessions.
Those for whom only a private beach will do. We also saw several solo travellers — so it’s a welcoming space for all.
Rates start from $990 (approx. £799) per night for a villa with a private pool, including breakfast and taxes. maroma.chablehotels.com