In our continuing series featuring the unique homes and neighborhoods of Mérida, Yucatán, we are proud to present La Ceiba. Our host is Keith Heitke, a senior sales agent for Mexico International Real Estate.
Each video episode on our website features a different residential neighborhood of this interesting and beautiful city, focusing on a home which exemplifies the best of that neighborhood. While we’ll give you lots of great footage and design ideas, we hope it only whets your appetite to see more, and of course nothing beats experiencing these amazing homes in person. Yucatan Today operates a series of House & Garden tours every Wednesday from November through March as a fundraising project for three different non-profit organizations.
If you would like to savor the details about the neighborhood of La Ceiba, and the house itself, scroll down for a written summary. And if you would like to post a comment, you can do so at the end of the article.
Now, let’s have a look!
Located eight miles to the north of Merida’s historic center is the city’s first golf course community called Club de Golf La Ceiba. Named for the sacred tree of the Maya, this luxurious tropical oasis set amid fruit trees seems a world away from the tiny narrow streets and sober facades of downtown.
Felix Mier y Terán was the architect who brought golf to not only the state of Yucatán, but to the entire southeast of Mexico. A passionate traveler and sailor, many of his trips took him to Miami, where he was impressed with the golf course neighborhoods there. Once when he returned to Merida, Mr. Mier y Teran said to his friend Vicente Erosa Cámara, “you’re a banker, you can get the funding, I’m an architect, I can design and build it – what do you think?”
The “what do you think” idea is now the Club de Golf Yucatán that was founded in April of 1969. Created in the middle of the low Yucatán jungle, when the city of Mérida ended miles to the south, the average Meridano considered La Ceiba really far away from town.
Today La Ceiba is an upscale residential neighborhood nestled among a great golf course that sponsors several tournaments, features a golf academy and active clubhouse.
The private home we’re privileged to visit today is nestled deep in the community, among old growth tropical trees and behind sturdy stone walls, A real fortress of solitude and luxury in the jungle.
After passing the security gates at the entrance, we weave our way through many diverse architectural styles, the one constant being the fact that the homes all open onto a fairway and embrace the tropical outdoors.
Behind its own rock walls and through a simple wooden gate lies the dream home of a couple of local business owners who travel the world when not in residence. But when they are, what a residence it is!
Arriving from bustling Centro Merida, the silence here can be deafening! All we hear is the wild tropical birds either singing sweetly or screeching exotically. The large entrance yard flanks the ceremonial cut-stone entranceway, through which we see all the way to the back of the property right through the open center of the house.
This house is definitely NOT designed to impress the passer-by. All the standard stereotypes of “gracious Living” have been deleted here… there is no huge motor court in front, no gigantic double front doors, no oversized pillars that scream “I’ve arrived.” This subtle luxury continues throughout the house and grounds, no shiny marble floors, no non-local building styles imported from wherever, just a wonderful sense of well-being and perfect scale.
The house is laid out much as the old haciendas were, and this is no accident. The owners toyed with the idea of purchasing an actual hacienda and restoring it, and with their great appreciation of the haciendas’ history and architecture, this was an intriguing proposal. But after looking at many options, all of which would have been lacking in some way for their growing family’s physical and social needs, in 1989 they decided to build their own “new hacienda” which would suit them all perfectly.
Indoor-outdoor living is the key here, there are actually several pavilions linked together by thick overhanging roofs, providing shade and cover from the intense sun and heavy tropical summer rains. Walls appear up to 4’ thick, a modern trick made to resemble the thick stone walls of old Spanish style buildings. Because the climate can be brutal—harsh sun, torrential summer rains, and being so near the Gulf, salt and wind—the materials are few and durable: a local, walnut like wood called Cedro for the doors and furniture, rich terra cotta colored stucco and conchuela stone.
Throughout the property, terraces and double-height ceilings capture the sky and ocean breezes, inviting cross ventilation without the need for air-conditioning and bringing in the sensuous sound of rustling palms.
Passing through the entranceway, there is a very wide and ample covered patio, where the owners spend the majority of their time. It’s a tranquil place, with not a neighbor in sight in any direction. A large pool is just to one side of the patio, and features a unique water stairway spilling down from the roof, which helps cool the water both physically and psychologically.
Just off this large room are all the public rooms, formal living room, formal dining room, cozy media room and finally the kitchen and service area. Each of the wings on either side features bedroom suites with the master suite having the prime spot facing the back garden and with its own smaller, secluded and covered patio.
Being built on the flat limestone plain of the Yucatan, the lack of topography is remarkable, yet it totally works in harmony with the tropical plantings and lawn of the property. The house is situated on an organically shaped lot, lending to the sense of space and country life that a hacienda property would provide.
Set in its own area and away from the quiet areas of the house is a large motor court and beyond that is the fenced ball court. Past this area is a fully outfitted home gym pavilion out of view, and behind that is one of the owners’ favorite features of the property, their own private tropical jungle with trails running through randomly.
The gardens throughout the substantial property are lush, and they shift from style to style—elegant courtyard to tranquil water garden, party lawn to tropical swimming pool
This family is always on the go, but by the time they enter through the main gates, and then through their house’s own gates, they leave the hectic real world behind, and enjoy the tropical Eden they’ve created.
Click here to see more videos of Merida homes.
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