2024 Wellness Guide

An aerial view of a large hacienda surrounded by lush, green highlands. The large estate has a red tile roof, many windows, and pink-colored stucco walls with some outer walls covered in greenery.
Hacienda de San Antonio in Comala, Colima, is spread over more than 5,000 acres.


Mexico's Enchanting Haciendas: Where History Meets Modern Luxury

by Bruce Wallin
A lush green garden with a fountain as its focal point. The manicured garden is in front of a hacienda-style building with a paved walkway in the foreground.
The Hacienda’s grounds have extraordinary gardens that unfold into immense vegetation.

Interior of hacienda estate with balcony that overlooks the bottom floor. The high ceiling is colorfully painted with a floral motif.

The restored Hacienda has high ceilings and large French windows which invite the outside in. 

In Mexico, the search for a more authentic travel experience leads inland from the country’s coasts, toward the high country of Colima, the jungle-shrouded flatlands of the Yucatán, or the cobblestoned streets of a colonial town in Sonora. Each of these distinct destinations—and many others throughout the country—is home to a historic hacienda that has been reborn as a hotel. Storied yet still largely off the radar, the best examples of these hacienda hotels offer a quintessential Mexican travel experience.
Horses graze in a large grassy field with many trees and a stream flowing through it. There are mountains in the background.

The Hacienda’s Rancho Jabalí consists of over 5,000 acres of stunning mountain landscape.

An aerial view of a large swimming pool surrounded by trees. There is a patio deck area next to the pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas. 
The 110' swimming pool features an adjoined dining pavilion with a dedicated wait staff and full kitchen.

A large pink estate sitting on a lush green field with many trees. The building has many large windows on both floors.

Hacienda de San Antonio’s architecture and interior echo the design of a large Mexican home.

A picnic set up on a dining terrace with a beautiful view that overlooks a lush green mountain range.

Dreamlike picnics provide an entirely unique way to immerse in nature while relaxing in absolute luxury.

“It’s the epitome of sense of place,” says Zachary Rabinor, founder and CEO of the luxury travel company Journey Mexico. “You’re staying and eating in a setting where history took place. The architecture, the materials, the people—it really gives you a next-level depth of the destination.”
A blue, white, and red hot air balloon floating on top of a large calm lake. There are roling hills in the background.
A beautiful hot air balloon awaits to carry guests high over the surrounding Western Mexican highlands.

 A suite with blue painted walls, wooden beams on the ceiling, a fireplace, two balcony doors and a king-size bed.
Suites enjoy garden or volcano views and are warmed by the bright colors and textiles of Mexican design.

Mexican equivalents of French chateaux or English country-house hotels, the haciendas are typically sprawling estates that date anywhere from the 16th to 19th centuries. Rabinor notes that the word hacienda derives from hacer, the Spanish verb for “to make or do,” and the estates were once factories and local epicenters of political and social life. “These were the royals, the aristocracy, and you see that in the grandeur of the main house,” he says.

Following are three hacienda hotels where the sense of grandeur is most pronounced—and the sense of place is unmistakable.

Hacienda de San Antonio

Comala, Colima

Strike up a conversation with your server or guide at Hacienda de San Antonio, and chances are, he or she isn’t the first family member to have worked at the estate. In fact, many of the staff represent second-, third-, or even fourth-generation employees of the hacienda, some dating back to its origins as a ranch and coffee plantation in the late 1800s.

Spread over more than 5,000 acres in the shadow of the 12,595-foot Colima Volcano, the hacienda and adjacent ranch were acquired in 1980 by the British financier Sir James Goldsmith. He, his heirs, and a handful of top designers and architects gradually and lovingly restored the estate into what is today Mexico’s most magical hacienda hotel.

The fairytale setting—complete with Alice in Wonderland–inspired garden sculptures, a checkerboard-tiled swimming pool, and a 120-year-old aqueduct made from black volcanic stone—is anchored by a bougainvillea-draped main house. Inside are 25 guest suites and a collection of club-like rooms: one with a chessboard, another lined with books, another with a pool table leading to a speakeasy-style bar. Meals are at an elegant indoor-outdoor restaurant serving food sourced largely from the ranch, where, true to its origins, the hacienda produces and raises everything from coffee and cheese to honey and cattle.

The sprawling ranch also serves as a stage for horseback rides, ATV excursions, standup-paddleboarding sessions on one of two lakes, and even hot-air-balloon and skydiving adventures. The latter take off from the hacienda’s airstrip, which can accommodate private flights from Guadalajara, Manzanillo, and other nearby cities. haciendadesanantonio.com

A spacious guest villa with wooden ceiling, wood carved art piece above the bed and stone walls. The space is outfitted with the best of Mexican artisanal design and décor.
The ultra-luxurious Royal Villa is a stunning work of modern architecture merged with colonial-era influences.

An infinity pool surrounded by a deck with lounge chairs and umbrellas. There are lush green trees in the background.
Each villa has a private pool and natural privacy from tropical foliage

Chablé Yucatán

Chocholá, Yucatán

Mexico’s most modern hacienda resort can be found about 30 minutes outside of Mérida, on a 19th-century henequen plantation that has been transformed into a haven of both wellness and indulgence.

The plantation’s former processing room today houses Ixi’im, a fine-dining restaurant where rough stone walls frame a floor-to-ceiling glass case filled with rare tequilas. You can sample from the tequila collection—said to be one of the world’s largest—at Ixi’im’s bar, which is made from the factory’s old machinery, or with a hand-rolled cigar at the clubby Sikar Bar across a parklike lawn.

Retiring to one of Chablé’s casitas and villas—the smallest spanning more than 2,000 square feet—feels like settling into a hacienda all your own. Each has a private pool and the natural privacy afforded by towering tropical foliage.

The hacienda’s main house now serves as a reception center, while various outbuildings include a destination-worthy spa that hosts multiday wellness journeys rooted in Mayan healing traditions. There’s even a nine-hole “wellness golf course,” which one group at a time can reserve for two hours—and play barefoot at their own pace.

Mérida is high on the list of Mexico’s culinary meccas, and Chablé highlights the region’s rich legacy with Mayan cooking classes where you can learn to craft sikil p‘ak, a savory salsa made from pumpkin seeds and tomatoes. Much of the resort’s produce comes from onsite organic gardens, which are also popular with the property’s free-roaming herd of white-tailed deer. chablehotels.com

A night view of a lit courtyard at a hacienda with a swimming pool at the center. Lush green trees and buildings with arched hallways surround the courtyard. 
Mission-style courtyard of the Hacienda de Los Santos in Alamos, Sonora

A guest suite with a large poster bed, table, chairs, balcony and fireplace in the background. The ceiling has wooden beams and the room is painted a mustard yellow.
The property houses 34 guest suites decorated with an assortment of antiques and artworks.

A colorful archway to an entrance of a hacienda property. The Spanish architecture is an elegant patchwork of colonial mansions from the 17th century.
The Hacienda is linked by stone bridges, arches, garden paths, and secret hallways.

Hacienda de los Santos

Alamos, Sonora

Alamos is hard to get to—and all the better for it. Located in the Sierra Madre mountains, about an eight-hour drive south of Nogales, Arizona, Mexico’s northernmost colonial city is a smaller, quieter, and less touristed alternative to San Miguel de Allende. At the heart of the cobblestoned town, just a few blocks off the Plaza de Armas, sits Hacienda de los Santos, an elegant patchwork of colonial mansions and a former sugar mill that an American couple purchased, restored, and connected over the course of 24 years.

Linked by stone bridges, arches, garden paths, and secret hallways, the structures now house 34 guest suites decorated with an incredible assortment of antiques and artworks, many depicting religious figures or scenes (thus the hotel’s “of the Saints” name). The owners also added a chapel to the property, modeled after the first mission of northern Mexico (which is now located across the border in San Antonio, Texas).

Discovering the hacienda’s many nooks and crannies—and swimming in its various tiled pools—is enough to keep you occupied for days. Alamos, however, is worth exploring, not simply for its charming town square but also for the hiking and equestrian trails, rivers, and silver mines in the surrounding Sierra Madres. haciendadelossantos.com