HENEQUEN HACIENDA NOW A LUXURY HOTEL
Katanchel was once a thriving 17th century cattle ranch, and later, in
the 19th century, with the advent of henequen, became one of the
lucrative haciendas of the region. Much earlier on, in the 3rd century
(A.D.) it was an astronomical observatory (the name Katanchel is a Mayan
word that literally means "the place to view the Milky Way").
An ancient pyramid and cenote,
unearthed at the property, have yet to be fully excavated and restored.
When the henequen boom went bust in the early 50's, the property was
abandoned, and subsequently reverted to nature, with many of its
buildings hidden under a cover of dense and exotic jungle growth, much
the way it was in early Mayan times.
The property remained
untouched, a rich and untamed nature reserve with some 80 different
species of birds, for 35 years, until its present owners, Anibal
Gonzalez, and his wife, Monica Hernandez purchased this 741-acre site.
When they removed some of the tall underbrush on the property, they
discovered 33 separate structures that once housed the henequen workers.
Suddenly the idea to
transform this rustic site into a luxury hotel was born and the
primitive worker dwellings were converted into luxury suites
There are also six
additional units which were part of the original hacienda complex. Even
the original henequen factory became the lofty restaurant now bearing
its original name, Casa de Máquina. The rest is history. Hacienda
Katanchel, about 15 miles east of Merida (on the Merida/Cancun Road), is
not only an ecological retreat, it's now a very "in" place to
stay in the Merida area. Rates range from $300 to $400 a day. The
toll-free fax from the U.S. is 888- 882-9470. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marvin H. Perton is a freelance travel writer with
"Mexico" as his specialty. For over three decades, Perton has
traveled throughout Mexico, first as a tourist, then as a public
relations executive for major hotel companies in Mexico (also was
president of his own public relations firm), and for the past 12 years,
as a journalist.