verena-gerberIt is not often that we meet an entrepreneur who IS her company. Verena Gerber represents the essence of her business, Hotel Xixim: Unique Mayan Hotel in Celestún. The hotel’s slogan is “the pleasure of connecting with nature”, and when you hear Verena talk about her beloved hotel, you know that she is connected to it by far more than hotel rooms and price lists. “I have invested a lot in my hotel,” she admits. “But the biggest investment comes from my heart.”

Verena was born in Guadalajara to Swiss parents. Her father came to Mexico City in 1935 via Spain and Cuba, and was instrumental in establishing Nestlé’s Mexico operation. So it is no wonder she has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. “I wanted to build an eco-lodge the way it should be,” she explains, “but it had to be in the perfect setting. I searched long and I searched far, and finally found this property in Celestún. I knew immediately it was just right.”

Perched on 538 hectares, Xixim offers a unique blend of virgin beach, flora, wildlife, sea and sun, harmony and wellness, hosted by an eco-touristic, architecturally sensitive building. Only 25 hectares are developed, and only 2% of the property contains construction. The rest is nature.

What makes Xixim an eco hotel? The answer is longer than the question: recycled water, no contaminants, solar hot water, preservation of the coastal dune, organic gardening, low intensity lighting, and more. Xixim is a pioneer of eco-resorts in Mexico.

Guests experience all of this in a setting of simple luxury. Room amenities are 5-star, and the dining room serves gourmet meals. Service is attentive and gracious. The wellness center, with its windows facing the emerald sea, offers massage, yoga, juice therapy, and a gym. There is a swimming pool with snack bar, as well as dining room and bar with wireless Internet, library, and game room. No detail has been overlooked.

Xixim opened in 1996 with 15 rooms. In 2009 it was completely refurbished, and in 2010 more suites were added. Now there are a total of 32 junior and master bungalows, each with a private terrace and breathtaking ocean view. The wellness center was inaugurated in 2011. To celebrate World Environment Day, presented the tenth annual Colibri Ecotourism Award in the form of their first Colibri Ecolodge Award to Verena Gerber.

Verena is particularly proud of the contribution the resort has made to the local community. “We provide training and human development to our personnel,” she says. “This has contributed to their well-being and professionalism. We have grown people here.” She is also pleased to report that 80% of the 33 staff is from Celestún.

“At Xixim, you can listen to yourself and listen to your partner,” says Verena. “You can walk on a beach for miles and not encounter another living soul, with the moon to light your way. Or walk on the beach with no moon, and when you look up at the sky, you will feel the universe getting closer. This is why we call it ‘the pleasure of connecting with nature’.”


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