If there is one destination in Mexico to see in 2022, it ought to be Bacalar. I’ve preached this before, but it bears repeating. Bacalar is one of those destinations in Mexico that will take you back to the golden days of laid-back vibes, crystal-clear water, ecofriendly bungalows, street tacos and live music. But Bacalar is indeed changing, with newer, design-forward luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and an influx of well-heeled travelers looking to venture slightly off the beaten path. Where do these travel aficionados stay when they come to Bacalar? Casa Hormiga, of course.
From the outside, Casa Hormiga begs the question, “What’s inside?” The ochre-colored walls and massive thatched palapa roof sit like a quiet fortress on a low-key corner, not far from Laguna de Bacalar. A carved wooden door akin to something you’d find in Morocco only adds to the mystery.
Stepping inside the hotel, senses are automatically heightened. You feel as if you’ve been here before, and at the same time it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The design of the hotel can only be described as boho chic — an amalgamation of all the off-beat, bohemian, artistic destinations where you backpacked in your 20s, but elevated to a luxury level. Gray walls are enhanced with bright pops of bold art, wood accents and stone, and hundreds upon hundreds of jungle plants create a magical oasis far away from the outside world.
The hotel has only 18 rooms, each of which looks like its own jungle bungalow, but with higher thread count and beautiful stone bathrooms. At the center of the hotel is a gorgeous pool, which weaves like a maze behind towering stone walls. It feels like you’ve discovered a pristine pool amid Mayan ruins in the jungle, or a secret cenote.
The main building of Casa Hormiga is an open-air, treehouse-style bungalow under a soaring thatched palapa roof. This area has reception on the ground floor, which opens out to the pool. On the second level is the small restaurant, communal living room lounge with honor bar and an elevated, pillow-strewn pavilion called The Nest, which is where the hotel hosts daily yoga.
The spirit of Casa Hormiga is all about tranquility and disconnecting. The grounds are almost silent, safe for the rustle of a breeze through the many trees within the oasis, or the gentle splash of water from the pool. Guests read quietly in the living room or swing lazily from hammocks on their private patios.
A point of pride for the hotel is its spa, which specializes in treatments called “rituals.” These include massages, temazcal (sweat lodge), therapeutic tarot readings, sound-healing, water meditations, reiki and sacred crystal skin treatments.
One of the big draws to Bacalar is its eponymous lake. While Casa Hormiga is not directly on the banks of the beautiful lake, it is within walking distance to La Playita beach club, where guests of the hotel have priority seating. The food here is superb, and the restaurant has one of the best perches on the lake for swimming.
Overall, what Casa Hormiga reflects is the new image of Bacalar. This still sleepy, ecoconscious, tranquil community is very much devoted to keeping the ethos of Bacalar alive. Casa Hormiga is keeping the destination true to its roots, but it elevates the experience to a luxury level.
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