Haciendas are Mexico’s equivalent to American southern plantations, mid-western ranches, and European land estates. Dating from the late 1600s to the early 1900s, haciendas were built by the wealthy throughout Mexico in the areas where their products were produced or developed. There were agricultural haciendas throughout Mexico, cattle raising haciendas in the northern part of Mexico, tequila producing haciendas in Jalisco, mining haciendas in Hidalgo, sugar producing haciendas in Morelos, lumber haciendas in the state of Mexico, and Yucatán’s henequén (or sisal) producing haciendas.

 

Like the southern plantations of the United States, haciendas enforced a social system of castes, based on race, with the haciendados, or landowners, as masters and the indigenous, or Maya, as workers.

 

 

Haciendas and Henequén

Most Yucatecan haciendas in the 19th century produced rope from henequén, a variety of the agave cactus, which was exported for the booming shipping industry. Haciendas maintained huge fields of henequén, tended by hundreds of men.

 

 

The spaces that make up a Hacienda

The main house, or Casa Principal, was usually the largest building, where the haciendado kept his living quarters and where most of the administration occurred. Henequén processing took place in the machine house, or Casa de Máquinas. There was usually a Capilla, or chapel, a Casa del Majordomo, where the jefe, or foreman, lived, and many other smaller buildings for storage and living quarters. Each hacienda had a school, an infirmary, a store, a church, a cemetery, a hydraulics area, a jail, and a stable.

 

The haciendas of Yucatán saw their heyday in the early 1900s when the local economy was booming due to the sisal fiber that was used to make rope, cord, and twine. The mansions on Paseo de Montejo and Avenida Colón in Mérida, are the rich homes the “green gold”, henequén, helped provide. It was the same owners of these mansions who built haciendas off in the countryside where the henequén was produced.

 

 

From Henequen to Synthetic Fibers

After the Yucatán Caste War and the subsequent invention of synthetic fibers, most haciendas were abandoned to decay in the jungles. A trip to Yucatán would be incomplete without visiting some of the many haciendas within a few minutes drive of Mérida.

 

In the 1940’s, the entire henequén industry went broke, and with it, the hacienda owners saw grey times. With no economical staying power, the haciendas were slowly abandoned and fell into disrepair, a derelict state they remained in until the early 1990s when once again, many of them were brought back to their former state of glory.

 

 

The Revival of the Haciendas in Yucatán

Some haciendas in Yucatán have been renovated into beautiful five star hotels, complete with elegant rooms, sumptuous dining facilities, swimming pools and magnificent grounds. These have inspired modern Yucatán architecture and interior design.

 

Other haciendas are museums, providing a glimpse into former colonial times. Others are lived in by locals whose ancestors reclaimed them during the Mexican Revolution. And still others remain unrestored and open to the ravages of time.

 

 

The Historical, Geological, and Biological Context of the Haciendas

In a historical, geological, and biological context, hacienda land was incredibly rich, with henequén plants that were a significant source of fiber during the Maya civilization about 3000 years ago. The fiber from henequén was shipped all over the world as the major export item from Yucatán.

 

Approximately 50 families owned 1462 henequén farms, known as haciendas. As the world demand for the material was enormous, hacienda business was incredibly lucrative, and actively run by a few rich Spanish owners. After the heyday of haciendas operating 3000 hectares of fields, and thousands of farmers who were mostly local Maya, Mexican, or Korean slaves, the industry eventually collapsed in 1950 with the emergence of the nylon fiber, petroleum business, and industrialization, and eventually abandoned in 1965. Twenty years later, it began to be restored in one or two haciendas only. Adolfo Lubcke is one of the significant investors who brought the idea of cultural and historical restoration with industrial and methodological adaptation of a hacienda. You can see the result at Hacienda Sotuta de Peón.

 

Walking through the preserved and rebuilt building and farm land, you will hear historical fairy tales and stories, what haciendas meant to México, to the people, and to their living descendants, by the tour guides who passionately share their knowledge. The delicately designed original European style of house, tiles, and chandelier represent the wealth of the ‘green gold’ era. Touching the henequén plants, freshly scraped fibers, and even the hands of the working farmers take you to a different level of the journey.

 

 

Harvesting and Farming Henequén

Harvesting and farming henequén plants in 40 C weather was absolutely harsh. Harvesting, scraping, drying, combing, and intertwining them was all done by hand. Currently, there are 140 local workers who still produce small amounts of the fiber and sell it to different parts of México. The raw material fiber is used for secondary production of hammocks, bags, hand fans, shoes, and more, much like the Maya people did. The amazingly and sophisticatedly made henequén hammock is something that you can only find in Yucatán. This hammock will complete the best siesta!

 

 

Feel like Exploring the Haciendas in Yucatán?

Following is a list of some of the haciendas in our region, with services ranging from tours to gourmet dining to spas to deluxe accommodation (both hotel and private rental). Most are available for private special events like weddings, etc.

 

Yucatán es conocido por sus haciendas, monumentos que permanecen de pie desde la época del Oro Verde. Hay varias que están muy cerca de Mérida y que podrás visitar ya sea como pasadía, para disfrutar un almuerzo regional o un tratamiento de spa e incluso en algunas, para explorar cenotes y pirámides. Aquí te contamos varias opciones para integrarlas a tu recorrido por el estado.

 

 

Catherwood Travels

Haciendas Itzincab Cámara, San Antonio Chichí de los Lagos, and Tekik de Regil (for private rental). www.catherwoodtravels.com

 

 

Hacienda Itzincab de Cámara

Located southeast of Mérida, this gorgeous hacienda was built atop an ancient Maya site and has a pyramid on its grounds. Here, you can get a day pass and enjoy a whole day in the Yucatecan countryside. Walk through its exuberant gardens, swim in its three swimming pools, discover the astonishing history of henequén in its Casa de Máquinas, and at the very end recharge yourself with positive vibes by climbing its pyramid! The pass also includes a three-course meal made with local products from their onsite Milpa. It’s best if you plan this day and make a reservation. www.privatehaciendas.com

 

 

Hacienda Tekik de Regil

This exquisite hacienda is located just outside of the city of Mérida and is a monument to Yucatán’s belle epoque. You can also spend time here through a day pass and discover the unique architecture of this property which includes its Casa de Máquinas, a chapel inspired on the Temple of the Madeleine in Paris and the impressive main house with its beautiful murals. Besides a tour of the hacienda, the pass includes a three-course regional meal and access to the main swimming pool so that you can relax and enjoy a truly luxurious time. www.privatehaciendas.com

 

 

Hacienda Chichén Resort

Chichén Itzá is a fascinating world of magic and beauty, and Hacienda Chichén is the perfect sport to enjoy Maya culture in an intimate, serene setting surrounded by lush nature. Hacienda Chichén is a Yucatecan paradise that offers many unique experiences and activities such as: a private jungle, a museum, a Maya ceremonial site, gardens, and Yaxkín Spa: a magnificent Maya eco-spa. You’ll encounter rich history in every corner of this exquisite boutique hotel, renown for the attention to detail of its services and hospitality, and its fabulous location right in Chichén Itzá. Without a doubt, it’s the perfect place to rest before and after an adventure in one of the World’s New 7 Wonders. www.haciendachichen.com

 

 

Hacienda Misné

Built in 1870, this hacienda has been restored to its former elegance, and the lush gardens have been surrounded with 50 spacious guest rooms and suites, each one opening directly onto the gardens. Spa, pool, bar, and event facilities are lovely and inviting. The hacienda is a perfect setting for the culinary experience provided by the restaurant La Pitahaya. La Pitahaya is a bright, airy dining room with lovely doorways, skylights, and stained glass windows. The hacienda is located only 15 minutes from downtown Merida, off the road from Cancun to Merida, just west of the Periférico. www.haciendamisne.com.mx

 

 

Hacienda Mucuyché

FSince opening, this estate located an hour south of Mérida has become a must-visit place for everyone. The former hacienda has many partially-restored constructions that include Arab and French-style arches, but the real attraction here are the hacienda’s cenotes. Cenote Carlota, named for the Empress of México who visited the site in 1865, has a canal surrounded by endemic plant life, Cenote Azul features incredible natural lighting that reflects off its stalactites. You will have access to changing rooms, bathrooms, lockers so you can store your valuables, and a pleasant restaurant and swimming pool. For your visit, dress comfortably; be sure to pack your swimsuit and your sense for adventure! www.cenoteshaciendamucuyche.com

 

 

Hacienda Petac

It was bought in 2000 by an American couple. With the help of renowned architect Salvador Reyes, they lovingly restored Hacienda Petac and now offer it in rent as a home. With five buildings housing huge bedrooms and elegant bathrooms, an enormous game-filled game room, a library, bar, chapel, pool, fountains and lush gardens, spa and exercise facilities, as well as a media room and a stunning teaching kitchen, this is the perfect place to have an up-scale family vacation with all the trimmings. Seven beautiful suites. www.haciendapetac.com

 

 

Hacienda Sac Chich

Sac Chich is the perfect hideaway haven for one couple, a group of friends or a family reunion. There is privacy and space for all. As you would expect from a villa of this caliber, every detail of the interior and exterior finish is flawless. Hacienda Sac Chich is not a hotel experience yet goes beyond a home rental. This historic hacienda captures the true spirit of Yucatán culture and reflects a sense of peace and harmony.  haciendasacchich.com

 

 

Hacienda Sacnicte

Hotel Hacienda Sacnicte (white flower) in Izamal, near Merida, is a truly unique, contemporary, luxurious, hip and secluded resort with the traditional architecture of the hacienda in Merida. To strike the balance between the 17th century and today, Philippe y Nadia have created an unforgettably serene atmosphere, to offer you a new reality of sophisticated vacations to spend with your family and friends. www.haciendasacnicte.mx

 

 

Hacienda San Francisco Tzacalha

PAK AL IN UOL (a garden in the heart). The Hacienda San Francisco was founded in 1857 by the purchase made by Albino Manzanilla Cámara of an old orchard, which according to local tradition belonged to the Franciscan convent of Santa Clara, Dzidzantún. Continuous ongoing purchases saw the hacienda grow to 9600 hs. It has 30 beautiful rooms, Maya-style Ripios, and a Junior suite, Suite, and 2 majestic Master Suites. There is delicious international cuisine in a setting of peace and complete harmony with nature in the Restuarant La Bodega. There is also a pool, game room, wireless Internet, large ponds, air conditioning, horses, beautiful gardens and birds and other wildlife at the hacienda’s reserve.

 

 

Hacienda San Jose Pachul

A former henequen-producing hacienda, is now restored to the comfort of a private villa B&B with two great luxury suites for your enjoyment and relaxation, with a beautiful swimming pool and delicious gourmet food. If you are not an overnight guest, come and spend the afternoon in a great setting for lunch, just reserve a day in advance and the owners will be more than happy to accommodate you. www.haciendasanjosepachul.com

 

 

Hacienda San Pedro Ochil - Jardin Ochil

Famous hacienda that was open to the public and since 2020 closed its doors for rental only. www.haciendaochil.com

 

 

Hacienda Santa Cruz

This hacienda was completely restored and is just twenty minutes from downtown Mérida, in a lovely, peaceful setting. The hacienda is spacious and laid-back. The food is hearty and delicious. The pool is filled with chemical-free water from the cenote below, and guests are welcome to enjoy it all. The hacienda’s accommodation includes master and junior suites, double rooms, and a casita, and children are especially welcome. The hacienda also has a spa on site. www.haciendasantacruz.com

 

 

Hacienda Sotuta de Peón Live Hacienda / Village Resort

If you take Exit 4 off the Periférico de Mérida it will take you only 45 minutes to reach this live hacienda that was built towards the end of the 19th century in Tecoh. Today, it is one of the few working haciendas that still produces henequén. Taking a tour of this magical place is a popular experience and it will show you the main house that still has its original tiles imported from Europe in the 1800s. Then you will get to know more about the henequén process in the Casa de Máquinas, take a ride in one of the trucks, and visit the Maya house where you will hear about local stories and traditions. Then you will reach cenote Dzul-há before enjoying a traditional meal at the hacienda’s restaurant. The hacienda also provides other services, such as a horseback riding tour that takes you to their organic orchard and around the grounds. www.haciendaviva.com

 

 

Hacienda Teya

Dating back to 1683, Hacienda Teya is now a restaurant-hotel-social events setting. Owned and run by the Cardenas Sosa family, they have slowly but surely developed a name for having the best Yucatecan food in the area. Lunch is served from noon to 6 pm. The social events areas of the hacienda include a chapel, an elegant staircase (great for photographs), lush gardens, and stained glass windows that make Hacienda Teya a very popular place that is the perfect setting for a wedding. www.haciendateya.com

 

 

Hacienda Ticum

Hacienda Ticum, or Xcum, is the “place of the Maya god of the air.” It was built in 1891. it was a small hacienda processing henequén, making ropes for ships from the henequén plant. Everything was done by human hands and through giant stone molds and mortars. The hacienda was abandoned in the 1940s at the time of the agrarian reform of President Cardenas, and the land was given back to the farmers. Subsequently, Xcum became a ranch for several years and gradually its buildings collapsed into ruins and finally fell abandoned. Only women from the village of Ekmul chapel were returning to celebrate the Holy Cross. But since 2010, the Hacienda Santa Cruz Ticum regained its splendor in the history of the Maya world and is today again a jewel in the history of Yucatán where henequen is engraved in the heart of the Yucatecan people. www.haciendaticum.com

 

 

Hacienda Xcanatun

Hacienda Xcanatún is a reference for locals and visitors alike thanks to its prime location near the city of Mérida and its unparalleled customer service. In 2020, after a stunning renovation, Angsana took over the management of this property. The legendary gardens, luxurious suites, magnificent restaurant Casa de Piedra, and sumptuous spa continue defining this luxury hacienda. You can visit even without making a reservation and try the culinary masterpieces at Casa de Piedra, have a spa treatment, or if you’re really in the mood to pamper yourself, go ahead and do both! https://www.angsana.com/es/mexico/hacienda-xcanatun

 

 

 

Hacienda Yaxcopoil

This is a hacienda where time stands still. You’ll roam freely through the rooms in the main house. There you will see the large lounges and drawing rooms with high ceilings, walls with painted stencils, original mosaic floor tiles, and European furniture in every room. There is an impressive Casa de Máquinas here also, with examples of the machinery used to process henequén. It was built in the 1600’s and has been in the Faller Cervera family since 1864. Present day owner, Miguel Faller, is 5th generation. He has opened the hacienda, which is on the way to Uxmal, as a museum, making it a popular stop for tourists. The entire setting is frozen in time, and you will feel as though you have stepped into a time machine while wandering the grounds of this beautiful hacienda. There is also a casita, with a kitchen, that is available to the public for overnight stays, where you can opt for the delicious breakfast and dinner served in the casita. This is a wonderful place at an accessible price where you will surely get the feel of hacienda living. www.yaxcopoil.com

 

 

Luxury Collection

In the early 1990’s we find visionary Mexican banker Roberto Hernandez coming to the Yucatán and buying some of the derelict haciendas and turning them into Grand Tourism hotels after carefully, lovingly and faithfully restoring them (under the talented hand of Arq. Salvador Reyes Ríos) to their previous splendor – and splendid they were and splendid they are now. With no more than 28 rooms, the haciendas are Yucatán’s most luxurious lodgings. Personalized attention, a refined setting, lush gardens, tropical plants, antique furnishings and friendly staffs await you. You will feel totally pampered. Today, these restored haciendas make up The Luxury Collection – Haciendas Temozón, Santa Rosa, and San José, in Yucatán, and Uayamón and Puerta Campeche in Campeche. These hotel haciendas, Grand Tourism establishments that “don’t mean to spoil you, but they will”, are the ultimate getaway in total luxury. www.thehaciendas.com

 

 

Hacienda Temozon Sur

When you get out of your car, you’ll smell the sweet air and hear the birds of Temozón, the most palatial of the restored haciendas. The entrance leads up stairways, past the unique dolphin-head waterspouts, to the grand terrace. This hacienda, renovated by Mérida resident architect Salvador Reyes-Ríos for Roberto Hernández of Banamex, was chosen for a summit meeting between President Bill Clinton and Presidente Ernesto Zedillo of México in 1999, and again for President George W. Bush and Presidente Felipe Calderón in 2007. If you’re hungry, you can enjoy a delicious gourmet meal for a reasonable price. The service is impeccable, the food outstanding, and the occasional peacock adds to the peaceful and exotic setting. If you plan to spend the night here, be prepared for a luxurious experience at a luxurious price. But you don’t have to spend the night to enjoy Temozón. www.thehaciendas.com