Haciendas in Mexico were the basis of an economic system begun by the Spaniards in the 16th century, similar to the feudal system of Europe. They were efficient farming and manufacturing centers that produced meat, produce, and other products for export. Over time, haciendas became symbols of wealth and culture, adorned with architecture, furnishings and art from around the world.
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. 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 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. 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.
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.
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). All are available for private special events like weddings, etc.
Haciendas Itzincab Cámara, San Antonio Chichí de los Lagos, and Tekik de Regil (for private rental). www.catherwoodtravels.com
The Hacienda Chichén Resort, “a 16thCentury colonial landmark” is a hop and a skip from the archaeological site of Chichén Itzá. A stately hacienda, nestled in lush gardens, this hotel has modern amenities that include color satellite TV, AC, an excellent location, restaurant, and pool. Hacienda Chichén also offers YaxkinSpa, a Maya retreat designed for sanctuary, healing and renewal. Check the website for rates and services. www.haciendachichen.com
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
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 (accommodation and dining), in Izamal
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 & Nadia have created an unforgettably serene atmosphere, to offer you a new reality of sophisticated vacations to spend with your family and friends.
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. www.hotelhdasanfrancisco.com.mx
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. Reservations: Cel. 9991 25 52 30. Email: [email protected] www.haciendasanjosepachul.com
Intimate and charming hacienda used as a tourist stop, open to the public, where you’ll find a Yucatecan restaurant, the museum of henequén haciendas, craft workshops, truc tours, a gift shop and a pond for swimming. www.haciendaochil.com
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
A henequen-producing 19th century hacienda. This is the only working hacienda in Yucatán which offers tours of the entire process. The beautifully restored hacienda also has a restaurant which serves Yucatecan food, and a spectacular cenote for swimming, as well as comfortable cabanas for overnight stays. www.haciendaviva.com
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, 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 and flesh of the Yucatec. www.hotelhaciendaticum.com
The closest hacienda to Mérida, Xcanatun is owned and run by a couple from Mexico City. When they were restoring this hacienda, they used the finest materials available and did it with excellent taste and care. Today Hacienda Xcanatun, a Star Diamond Award winner for many years from The American Academy of Hospitality Services, also enjoys a 4-Diamond ranking from AAA (The American Automobile Association), is a boutique hotel with 18 luxurious suites, a restaurant that boasts exquisite cuisine, and a spa where they will surely pamper you. www.xcanatun.com
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
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
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Read more about haciendas:
- Hacienda Route
- Haciendas: History and Elegance Restored
- Magical and tropical, a day trip in Yucatan’s majestic haciendas
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