Story and photos by Anne Dimon
Chablé Hotels in Mexico reopened the doors of Chablé Yucatán and Chablé Maroma on June 8th with their new Cleaning For Wellness initiative, merging tech innovation and new cleaning protocols for both guests and staff. Here’s the story I wrote following my visit in 2018:
In today’s busy, noisy often congested world, Chablé Yucatán, with its boundless nature, history and a spirituality that takes one back to ancient times, offers a uniqueness not easily duplicated. It’s not just a luxury resort. It’s an experience.
Yes, peace and quiet rule at this luxury retreat in the middle of a Yucatan jungle near the city of Merida. Opened in December of 2016 on an ancient 750-acre estate, Chablé Yucatán is a five-star hideaway where award-winning design meets, history, local tradition, wellness activities and the wilds of nature.
Invited to visit as their guest, I learned that the Chablé estate was once a plantation for growing and harvesting henequen, an agave cactus raised for the production of sisal (the fiber used in products such as ropes and rugs.) Around the property, rows of the cactus still bare witness to the booming 1800s industry that made the Yucatan one of the riches states in Mexico back at that time.
Spread across the expansive property, facilities include 40 modern, private and beautifully-appointed casitas and villas set out along brick-lined paths that carve their way through the bush. Each casita and villa is embraced in a jungle setting, and has its own heated swimming pool and private terrace. At any given time, there are no more than 80 guests, and the property is so spacious one can always find a quiet place to simply BE. Guests can simply choose their time to be alone for quiet reflection.
Beyond the casitas and several multi-bedroom villas, there’s a reception, three restaurants, a swimming pool and, at the heart of the resort, the Wellness Spa.
One of the largest spas in the region, the Wellness Spa is built around a cenote. To the Maya, these deep natural wells were seen as the portals to the underworld and were considered a source of energy, healing and rejuvenation. Some were also used as sacrificial sites.
Participating in a yoga or meditation class, just steps from this ancient cenote, surrounded by jungle under a blue sky, and with the only sounds being one’s breathing and that of local birds – the spirituality of the location is ever present.
Wellness director, Ricardo Jiménez says traditional Mayan wisdom, ancient techniques and Shamanism rituals have been woven into many of the spa treatments and signature Journeys. “We stay pure to the traditional rituals and ceremonies while bringing them into modern day treatments,” he says. For instance, a traditional Mayan herbal poultice – made with herbs harvested from the spa garden then mixed with organic oils – is used in the Mayan Herbal Compress Massage. And, the playing of the spiral-shelled conch shell – creating a simultaneous grounding and elevating experience – is an intro to some of the more contemporary spa offerings.
Beyond the treatments themselves, there are other spa rituals routed in the culture of the Maya. One is the daily Conch Ceremony where copal (an aromatic tree resin) is burned, and the conch is played to end the day. According to Mayan belief, the soulful sound opens portals to other dimensions.
A wide range of daily wellness activities are available to guests on a complimentary basis, while some are offered as private sessions. Daily options include classes such as Energetic Breathing Practice, Active Meditation, Conscious Cycling, Pilates, Total Core and others.
On a regular basis, the resort also invites wellness professionals from around the world to lead classes and work with guests on an individual basis. When I visited, the guest pro was Toronto-based Lily Eslahjou, a “move-mend” expert who teaches how simple forms of movement can be used to treat chronic pain. (www.lilyeslahjou.com)
The nod to Mayan tradition also extends to other areas of the resort.
Each morning, kitchen staff of KI ‘OL (the all-day pool-side restaurant honoring its name in Mayan, which means “healthy”), meet in the garden for the Ritual of the Ka’anche. It begins with a simulated cooing of a dove to let the staff know it’s time to begin. From small ceramic cups they sip the “Water of the Day” (today, it’s infused with pineapple and orange). They then gather peppers, radishes, sprouts, spring onions plus other vegetables, along with the herbs that will be used in the preparation of dishes to be served that day in the restaurant.
Food and Beverage Director Ivan Tejeda explains that the Ka’anche’s are elevated platforms developed by the Maya for growing herbs and vegetables away from the destructive ravages of small animals. There are three of these garden sites around the property, one for KI ‘OL, one for the spa and the third for the upscale IXI ‘IM, a contemporary dining room housed on the site of the hacienda’s former sisal factory. The stylish restaurant is famed for taking Mexican cuisine to a higher level of refinement with a sophisticated menu created by Jorge Vallejo, and also features one of the largest tequila collections – well over 3,500 bottles – in the world.
Chable is a luxury restorative experience with an average high season nightly rate of $858 US plus 31% tax including breakfast for two, daily refreshed minibar and wellness activities.
But if you are looking for remote luxury mixed with ancient ruins and Mayan culture on the edge of a Sacred Cenote, this is it. More on Chablé Hotels