If you’re the kind of person who sees rays of sunlight coming through a shady tunnel of beautiful trees and feel like it calls to you, I know of a place you’re going to adore. It is an oasis of nature surrounded by history, lovingly restored to offer you a super comfortable experience with whoever you want to share it with: Hacienda San Francisco Tzacalhá.
Hacienda San Francisco Tzacalhá has been many things throughout its history, which began in 1857. What it has always been is huge. At its heyday, it stretched across more than 9,000 hectares (about 11,000 regulation soccer fields, in “visual” terms), as it was one of the most important henequen, salt, and cattle ranches in Yucatan. Nowadays, it “only” spans 160 hectares (in fields, 195); perhaps that’s why it looks so different from other haciendas out here, where there are only two or three buildings, facing each other, and the walls are visible at all times. Here, wherever you look, there seem to be no limits.
The facilities of San Francisco Tzacalha
It’s hard to decide how to start trying to put it into words. Perhaps because of its many, many facilities: they have eight Ripios, which are Maya-style homes made of masonry, with curved walls and thatched roofs. They’re all air-conditioned, although, among so many trees, even a warm September day feels cool with just the fan and the open doors. They also have 14 villas, each one different from the next, but all spacious and exquisitely decorated. These are also air-conditioned, but they also feature a small pool, and a kitchenette equipped with utensils if you feel like whipping up something to eat. Now, if being in the kitchen is not your idea of a relaxing getaway, they also have a restaurant, called “La Bodega” (the warehouse), as that’s what it was back when the hacienda was operational. There, chef Andrés Avilés will delight you with the cuisine of your choosing. Despite being proudly local (from the neighboring municipality of Yobaín), his career began in international and Italian food.
The common areas of the Hacienda are simply endless. Boundless gardens, a gorgeous swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, pool and ping pong tables, as well as board games and a gazebo are just some of the options offered to spend a pleasant time exploring (or just chilling) with your companions, among trees and bird songs. I can only imagine how gorgeous a garden wedding would be in any of those spaces.
What you won’t find here are TVs, and all the better. This is a space to really enjoy your (own) company, to have a good conversation while you walk to pick fruit from the orchard, to be surprised by a bird that you had never seen before, or to look at the stars; all of these are activities that you can do on your own or with the help of a guide that you can book through the Hacienda. You can also explore by bicycle (they have several available to borrow), or take a pottery class at Isabel Ruz’s workshop, inside the facilities.
Yidzat Il Kay (the art of singing) Choir and Foundation
One of the advantages of having this much space is all the things you can do with it; the Hacienda administration has truly chosen to do their best. Back in 2001, they created a foundation (Centro Cultural San Francisco Tzacalhá A.C.) to offer music and art instruction to children and youth from Dzidzantún and surrounding municipalities. In addition to classical instruments, such as piano, clarinet, or flute, children learn pre-Hispanic instruments, traditional dance, and theater, and have access to scholarships to continue studying, be it music or art or anything else. Their alumni include a clarinetist currently in the Orquesta Sinfónica de Yucatán, a tenor in Xalapa, and a nursing student. Be sure to ask if it is possible to attend a presentation during your stay; the kids will be as delighted to show off as you will be to enjoy the concert.
I feel that no time is too long to spend in this magical place; there is a lot (way more than you can imagine) to do without ever leaving the premises. However, it can also be your base to go to the beach, or to nearby Izamal, Motul, or Sinanché. But even if you’re short on time, a day pass to see the Hacienda for yourself and swim in their pool will be definitely worth the stop.
If you do have the opportunity to stay for a few days (perhaps taking advantage of the promotion they’re offering to our readers this month, wink wink), definitely do it. For a fraction of the cost of a getaway to the neighboring state, you can take in the sunset in your own pool, or the sunrise over coffee set to birdsongs. It’s hard to imagine a more reinvigorating experience.
List of activities available
- Tours of the facilities (including private areas)
- Birdwatching (with or without a guide)
- Hiking (with or without a guide)
- Bicycles on loan for guests
- Picking fruit from the orchard for your own consumption
- Cooking classes
- Pottery classes
- Music classes
- Horseback riding
- 14 equipped villas, overlooking the gardens, starting at $2,000 pesos per night, taxes included
- 8 air-conditioned Ripios (masonry Maya homes), starting at $1,800 pesos per night, taxes included
- Main House
- Spaces for events
- La Bodega Restaurant
- Game room
- Cycle path to the beach (18 km)
Includes access to the pool, towels, and bicycles on loan
Access with food is not allowed for day pass holders
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Price: $125 pesos (adults), $70 pesos (under 12 years old)
By Alicia Navarrete Alonso
Communicologist born circumstantially in México City, but who says “uay” since 1985. Life has allowed me to see the world, which in turn has allowed me to discover how much I love the place where I live.
Photography by Alicia Navarrete Alonso for use in Yucatán Today.
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