The Mexican state of Yucatán, sitting to the northwest of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, has been enjoying an extended moment of popularity. The historic mansions of its capital, Mérida, and long-neglected sisal haciendas are being bought up by newcomers attracted to the region’s Maya culture, rich cuisine, and warm climate. Even during the slowdown of 2020, when much of the world took a pause, new hotels opened in restored buildings that embody the design sensibility of the Yucatán today. It’s a mix of contemporary and cosmopolitan elements accented by traditional architecture—soaring ceilings, colorful pasta tiles, and endless hand-made detail. Here are five of our favorite openings where you can experience the Yucatán’s emerging status as a design destination.
This house built in 1914 in Mérida’s García Ginerés neighborhood was lovingly restored by Mexico City furniture dealer Claudia Fernandez and turned into an intimate six-room hotel. Fernandez, whose discerning eye has helped drive interest in midcentury design (both by Mexican and international designers), has created spaces that are at once inviting and understatedly spare. The vintage pasta tiles, many in exuberant floral designs, and the rooms’ high ceilings are its true stars, with supporting roles played by contemporary and vintage pieces rendered in tropical woods.
Also in García Ginerés, Casa Colon is a new project from a pair of publicity-shy brothers who grew up in Mérida. The mansion near Parque de las Americas was their father’s home, and after his death they restored it and filled it with an eclectic and cosmopolitan selection of furniture pieces and works of art. Headboards in the bedrooms are by local furniture designer Gabriel Peón, there are aluminum tables and chairs by Argentinian Jorge Pensi, and a sofa and tables by Philippe Starck are in a garden with a small pool and fruit trees. The house is available for rent; the owners can be contacted through the Instagram account @casacolonmerida.
Much of traditional Yucatán design skews toward the feminine with fanciful tiles, embroidered linens, and a penchant for pastels. The new Diez Diez hotel, a block from the city’s grand boulevard, Paseo Montejo, opts for a decidedly masculine aesthetic instead. The palette is largely black, white, and gray with details using tzalam, a local tropical wood. A winged figure by sculptor Jorge Marín greets guests in the small central courtyard, while a race car theme drives the decor of the largest suite—reflecting a passion of the owner.
Casona Los Cedros
The town of Espita is becoming an increasingly popular base to explore the Maya sites of Chichén Itzá and Ek Balam, and swim in the many cenotes (sinkholes) nearby. Leading the interest in Espita is a charming new hotel that opened this spring, the 10-room Casona Los Cedros, which is the brainchild of owner, architect, and designer Laura Lecué. From the woven basket lamps in the rooms to the wooden chaises by the pool, French-born Lecué was determined that every element of the hotel be produced in Espita itself whenever possible.
Agua de Ciénega
Long simply a stopping point between Mérida and the beach town of Sisal, Hotel Agua de Ciénega is one reason why travelers are now spending a night in the quaint town of Hunucma. The four-poster beds of tzalam wood, outdoor showers, and local textiles in black-and-white woven designs create an atmosphere that is at once contemporary and romantic. While much of the new design energy in Yucatán has been imported by folks from Mexico City and abroad, Agua de Ciénega is owned and was designed by Félix Augusto López Cureño, who was born in Hunucmá and returned home after years living and working in Jalisco.
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