We hopped onto a bus in Tulum, three hours later, a ten-dollar ticket and a short siesta across the heart of the Yucatan peninsula is where it all began. Destination: Hacienda Chichen, a small boutique, eco hotel less than a five-minute walk from the gates of the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
Smells of the lush grounds, bungalows scattered between ancient seba trees and the golden arches of the hacienda were the initial sites our eyes captured. The well-dressed smiling staff immediately greeted us as we approached the main hacienda. Bags were freed from our hands and a server held a silver tray offering two glasses of fresh green juice. The perfect combination of sweet pineapple blended with chaya leaves, also known as sacred Mayan spinach, was delicious and hit the spot. We proceeded up the stairs of the open-air reception to an antique desk where the manager, Jose, waited for us to check in. He acquainted us with the history of the property and the sustainable tourism programs Hacienda Chichen proudly provided.
Set back on the expansive grounds lay the twelve charming guest cottages, each ranging from one to four rooms in size. The archeologist team who helped excavate the Mayan ruins was housed here originally. Each room was uniquely decorated with handmade Mexican furniture, photographs of flora and fauna, white linens, colorful embroidered pillows and vases filled with tropical foliage. One of our favorite perks to the cottages was the verandas where hammocks and rocking chairs await you.
We were amazed already by the relaxing aurora of our room and could have quite easily been content with just this alone. But it was time to take advantage of the extra activities and spa services we signed up for: the Mayan medicinal tour, Kulkulcan treatment, Chichen Itza ruins and an authentic cooking class. We had a busy three days ahead and many heartfelt memories that we were soon to embark on.
There was just enough sunlight left to squeeze in the medicinal tour on our first day. We both believe in holistic healing practices and make them a priority in maintaining good health. With this being said, we were looking forward to receiving more inspiring knowledge that we may be able to exercise in our own daily lives. Health and medicine among the ancient Maya civilization was a complex union of mind, body, science, religion and ritual. The fascinating natural cures and ritualistic traditions of their ancestors were passed down generation to generation. Depending on the ailment, plants were boiled and used in herbal drinks and/or baths, eaten raw, snorted, smoked, or inserted into one of the body’s orifices.
The four Mayan healers led us on a stroll through the gardens. Each of them pointed out trees and plants within the grounds and the healing properties they hold. It seemed to be that every possible problem that may arise in this region had a cure found on the same land they walked in return. For example; drinking the cenote water, which is full of calcium, tends to cause kidney stones. Their cure for kidney stones was made from a blend of plants that grow near the cenotes, conveniently enough. Today these remedies are still practiced and will never be forgotten, this is within their roots of culture. The healers of Hacienda Chichen are eager to teach the knowledge they possess. A formal diary of ailments is in the state of being published in the near future. This tour is a must for anyone whom has beliefs or wants to be introduced into holistic medicine.
The sun was dwindling and our appetites were growing, we showered up and made our way to the restaurant on premises. The restaurant, located in the main hacienda, boasts high standards of Yucatecan fusion cuisine. Tables, set with fine cutlery and linen napkins, over-looked a stunning garden with a fountain. We feasted on several dishes during our stay, all plated with great execution and presented with impeccable service. Some of our favorites include: huitlacoche crepes, chaya quesadillas, house salad and never to forget, the best chocolate cake. Experiencing new flavors to your palate is one of the best ways to learn about the regions agriculture, traditions and culture.
The next morning we woke to a variety of tropical jungle birds singing away to each other. Followed by a knock on the door, our lovely room service we scheduled on the terrace was awaiting; fresh coffee, the green juice and a tropical fruit salad. We were nourished and ready begin the tour of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Jose had arranged for his favorite guide to accompany us on a tour of the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza bright and early. The pyramid of Kukulkan was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples. Hacienda Chichen is a short walk to the entrance of Chichen Itza, staying here gave us full advantage of seeing the ruins early enough before the busloads of people from distant areas arrived. Our guide was friendly, resourceful, and passionate about his heritage. He spoke from his heart and shared with us the Mayan history, personal family stories of growing up here and the modern culture that exists today. The peace and energy that surrounds you in this enchanting place was unbelievable.
After the tour we had a short break to refresh and begin our cooking instruction. Classes were held outside, next to the pool under a canopy of coconut palms. The Executive chef himself, Josue Cime, and two of his assistants demonstrated three courses of traditional Yucatecan/ Mayan cuisine. Sopa de lima, bum and dolce papaya were on the menu. The majority of the produce used in the restaurant and class were harvested from the organic garden on premises. Simple ingredients, fragrant spices, a precise order of events and love made the meal especially delectable. The experience was wonderful and the food was divine. The setting, the service, the instruction and the fabulous lunch were well worth the small price we paid for this activity. The recipes, just like the memories will be revisited from time to time in the future.
The Yaxkin Spa offered both traditional spa and Mayan healing services. We chose the Kukulcan spa therapy; there are truly not enough words to describe how spectacular the treatment was. The head Mayan healer, Beatrice, is a very personable, caring, nurturing and special woman. She and her ‘angels’, she referred to them as, Marcella and Manuela worked together in this ninety-minute session. The deluxe treatment was created to renew your spirit, restore the equilibrium and align the energies within. Burning the spiritual incense of copal, freshly picked tropical flowers, candlelight flickering while entering the room was all sensationally inviting. It was time to relax and forget about the outside world and to be in complete harmony with the moment. The treatment began with a short prayer to the Mayan gods. Then a series of aromatherapy, stone therapy, massage and healing herbs were introduced throughout the magical ceremony. We both left in awe, we felt cleansed with a whole new freshness about us, deep from within our souls.
The accommodations were perfect: clean, simple and comfortable. The staff of the Hacienda worked fluidly together like a family. All passionate about their undying culture, pleasing the guests and most importantly operating in harmony with mother nature. We felt privileged and blessed to be in their presence while being cared for with such great hospitality. This retreat was exceptional indeed and will forever be cherished as one of the most special times in our lives. Thank you Hacienda Chichen!
A portion of Yaxkin Spa and Hacienda Chichen Resort’s profits are donated to the Maya Foundation In Laakeech social work programs benefiting the Mayan local communities nearby Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Please follow the link to learn more about Hacienda Chichen and the eco-friendly practices Hacienda Chichen has to offer.
Posted: June 16th, 2010 under Eco Travel, Green Vacation Rentals, Mexico.
Tags: Accommodations, Chichen, Culture, eco, Environmentally, Gardens, green, Hacienda, hotels, Itza, Mayan, Resorts, Reviews, Ruins, Services, Spas, Sustainable, Yaxkin