Hot off the press. The April 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler showcases 15 inns in Mexico, among 150 in Mexico, Canada, the U.S. and Caribbean, as exuding the best “Sense of Place.” That’s out of a starting list of more than 600. To make the cut, each inn demonstrated how the guest experience incorporates the locale and its soul via food, ambiance, decoration, architecture, nature, culture, setting, staff etc., and how the inn gives back to the community, among other criteria. All that plus being a great place to stay. Selection didn’t require being big or on the beach, although a few are both.
Just to tease, below are eight inns from the list of fifteen in Mexico.
The former ghost town of Alamos, Sonora, in northern Mexico, achieves the honor for remoteness. It’s not easy to get to and there aren’t many places to stay. So it’s remarkable that two inns, of the fifteen selected in Mexico, rose to the honored list. Even today Alamos’ architecture exudes its 18th century silver mining heyday. Thick-walled, white washed, common-walled structures front narrow winding streets hinting at what lies within. What better experience than to stay in historic spaces created to serve silver grandees: the 27-room Hacienda de los Santos Resort and Spa (www.haciendadelossantos.com) and the 10-room Hotel Colonial (www.alamoshotelcolonial).
Four exquisitely restored former sisal haciendas on the Yucatan Peninsula ooze the essence of aristocratic life as it was a hundred years ago when the world clamored for Yucatan sisal and made mortals rich, rich, rich. These include the 18-room Hacienda Xcanatun (www.xcanatun.com), and three haciendas represented by Starwood Hotels: the 11-room Hacienda Santa Rosa, the 28-room Hacienda Temozon, and the 12-room Hacienda Uayamon (www.thehaciendas.com). When the clamor ended, once grand haciendas went to ruin. Today travelers bask in history amidst luxurious amenities and manicured surroundings.
Far away from sultry, flat Yucatan, and the desert of Sonora, is the central Mexico mountain village of San Miguel de Allende. This popular, beautifully preserved, colonial-era town is awash in comely inns. So it’s notable that two inns, created within historic structures (as are many), managed to stand out for offering a special San Miguel stay: the 10-room Casa Quetzal (www.casaquetzalhotel.com), and the 10-room Casa Schuck Boutique (www.casaschuck.com).
Other featured hotels are in Puebla, Baja California Norte; Nayarit and Quintana Roo. Unfortunately the short descriptions in the magazine don’t reveal all the ways each hotel captures the essence of each place, or its involvement in the community. For that, we must go.