She shows her light in darkness, fluttering through the night sky. The firefly, affectionately known as the flash dancer, illuminates Mexico’s most enchanting new spa retreat, Chablé Resort. Located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, Chablé isn’t just a luxury hotel—it’s a world of ancestral mysticism and sensory indulgence.
Hacienda San Antonio Chablé, as it was once called, had been abandoned for the better part of a century when the current owner, a Mexican real estate developer, bought it. The 300-year-old property was originally a sisal plantation producing cordage and sacks; the intention for Chablé Resort was for it to go beyond being just another hacienda estate–style Mexican resort. The goal, general manager Rocco Bova says, was to “create a hotel that not only restored the traditional colonial architecture, but to also reignite the prosperity the property enjoyed centuries ago.”
There have been hacienda hotels in the Yucatán jungle before, but what sets Chablé apart is the sophisticated dyad between historical and modern. Despite having undergone an overhaul restoration, it is still one with its landscape and overflows with authenticity. “The intention was to let it be as it has always been,” says Bova.
Located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, Chablé isn’t just a luxury hotel—it’s a world of ancestral mysticism and sensory indulgence.
Chablé opened in 2017 and in the same year received the prestigious designation of Best Hotel in the World for Architecture and Design, bestowed by Prix Versailles. The 200-strong team led by Mexican designer Paulina Morán and architect Jorge Borja wear that honour proudly—as they should, this being unparalleled.
Completely away from it all, tucked down a dirt road, Chablé is roughly 40 kilometres from the cultural capital of Mérida. (In the surrounding area, ancient Mayan ruins await a day trip and the closest beach is an hour away.) If you arrive by night, a lantern-lit path leads to the main house, an oxblood-red 18th-century hacienda built in the era’s typically grand scale. It has been restored to its original glory, with handmade tile floors, wooden beams, soaring ceilings, and a long colonnaded veranda.
Chablé is filled with soul-lifting surprises: parota trees hung with lanterns, wild iguanas scampering about, and darling lightning bugs flickering in the moonlight. Crumbling remnants of the original hacienda walls and archways have been left in situ, including bougainvillea-draped stone arches. At Chablé, it’s about enjoying the moment, and fully immersing yourself in nature. It took 10 years to convert the sprawling 750-acre estate into what it is today.
Chablé opened in 2017 and in the same year received the prestigious designation of Best Hotel in the World for Architecture and Design
Accommodations consist of 40 casitas set apart from the hacienda among lushly landscaped gardens. The thoroughly modern villas are minimalist-cool and are constructed from rough-hewn limestone and dark wood—each is an intimate hideaway with its own hammock-strung plunge pool. (There is also a communal pool that curves through the tropical gardens.) Bathrooms, gleaming glass boxes, benefit from dual indoor and outdoor waterfall showers.
Without a doubt, the star of Chablé is the spa, where 15 treatment pavilions surround an ancient cenote. These sinkholes are found across the state of Yucatán; considered sacred by the Mayans, they were believed to be access points to the underworld, portals to the unconscious and the afterlife. Entering the spa is a personal journey—an immersion into an experience of self-reflection. Modern science, traditional Mayan wisdom, cosmic influences, and the abundance of Mother Nature come together to create the healing experiences found at Chablé.
There is a wide-ranging menu of treatments, from Nirvana stress relief massage to Mayan Rebirth massage, reiki, chakra therapy, remineralizing facials, a hydrotherapy circuit that includes three plunge pools, a steam room cave, and a saltwater floatarium. For something more outré, and cleansing on a deeper emotional level, choose a spiritual guidance session with resident shaman Monica Simona, or a temazcal ceremony—during which you enter a stone igloo-shaped structure and sweat it out to the sounds of chanting and musical instruments, and the fragrances of medicinal herbs.
Without a doubt, the star of Chablé is the spa, where 15 treatment pavilions surround an ancient cenote.
Simona, originally from Argentina, has been living on the Yucatán Peninsula for over 30 years and is considered by locals to radiate a light that uplifts everybody—a wise woman, a visionary, a nature witch. Robed in a fiesta frock, a talisman around her neck, shoeless so that her feet are connected to the ground, she holds the gifts of energy healing and expanded consciousness. Her passion is restoring harmony, balance, and health. Simona does not speak English, but verbal reciprocity is not needed to engage with her. Along with her ritual objects, fire, and a large conch, she selects the required herbs for spiritual healing from the traditional Mayan garden on the property, which consists of raised beds made from local wood and constructed using no man-made elements.
“Part of what gives Chablé its uniqueness is its duality,” says spa manager Carmelina Montelongo. “There is an eternal dance between two forces: shamanism combined with luxury, ancient healing combined with modern therapeutic methods. But the masterpiece of the healing journey is the cenote.”
Wellness is key, but if you want to indulge, Chablé makes it easy, as it’s home to three restaurants: Ixi’im, the main dining room, poolside Ki’ol, and a spa restaurant serving healthy options in bento boxes. All are overseen by chef Jorge Vallejo of famed Mexico City restaurant Quintonil. Ixi’im is lit up like a jewel at night: the stone ruins of one of the hacienda’s buildings have been attached to a glass dining room that’s lined with the owner’s 3,615-piece collection of tequila bottles—the largest private collection in the world. Inventive cooking showcases the region’s bounty in dishes like suckling pig with recado negro sauce.
Chablé is a serene and intimate place, with ceremonial and contemplative spaces to calm the mind and open the heart. It may be serendipitous that fireflies, long symbolic of illumination, abound here. Perhaps a spiritual message lies within them? Regardless, shaman Simona helps kindle the source of light within, awakening our own inner power. There is a transformation waiting for all who walk the Chablé way.
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