La Tropical is a contemporary lush retreat hidden behind one of the many colonial facades of historic Merida.
How would you describe Casa Sisal in a nutshell?
Casa Sisal is a modern vacation villa rental that serves as a great gathering place offering a sensory experience in Mexico’s Yucatán region. The vacation homes’s setting is very private with lots of nature surrounding it.
What was the inspiration to build Casa Sisal?
Casa Sisal was added onto our first part of the property which is Hacienda Sac Chich basically for one reason, the arch. Walking from the Hacienda property to Casa Sisal you walk through this really beautiful arch. For a long time we’d sit here, looking at the arch, thinking of how much we’d love to own it someday. Therefore, once the opportunity arose to acquire that other property, we bought it right away.
Our idea of Casa Sisal was essentially a traditional Mayan hut, but modernized. The architect who we brought on board for Casa Sisal works with traditional haciendas and is known for the modernization of many of the hotels and residences in the area. Since we love modern architecture, over time the idea for Casa Sisal sort of developed from a Mayan hut to what you can see today.
Where is your interest for architecture coming from?
Cindy has an art degree and for some years also was a homemaker in California. I have a degree in engineering and have worked in the construction industry all my career. But both of us have always had a keen interest in architecture and most of our vacation trips were architecturally oriented. It helps surrounding ourself with many of our friends who are creative people like designers and architects.
We’ve also had some non-traditional abodes, like living on a boat for a couple of years in Boston Harbor and living in a yuppie teepee in California where we’d spend our weekends.
What else would you recommend to see in this part of Yucatán?
For guests interested into architecture, I would recommend keeping a lookout for chimneys, often the hacienda’s they are attached to, are in a poor condition. It’s interesting to see the scale of them and how some still have the machinery in them. It’s amazing to think about how these were built in the jungle, without roads, just connected by some narrow trains. There are working haciendas only 30 mins away from us, which you can tour as well.
There are two cities that are also just about 30 mins from Casa Sisal. The capital Merida has a historical downtown with the oldest cathedral of North America and nine big Mayan ruins nearby. Izamal is known as the golden city and has a large Franciscan convent that was built on top of a Mayan ruin, sitting up above the town. There is also a delicious Mayan restaurant, which we can highly recommend.
Tulum is our preferred beach coast city. It is very charming with nice beaches and a couple of Mayan ruins. It’s on the east coast of the peninsula and about three hours away from the hacienda.
What’s been the biggest reward renting out Casa Sisal and Hacienda Sac Chich?
The biggest reward of owning Hacienda Sac Chich and Casa Sisal so far has been meeting all these interesting people from all over the world. It is so nice to be able to share such a beautiful and luxurious place, especially for occasions such as weddings and other big events.
Twenty years ago we never would have guessed we’d be in the middle of the jungle, and yet it has turned out to be the best thing our family has ever done. It truly has fulfilled our fantasy of owning an old architectural structure and turning it into a vacation rental like this.
For me the amazing part is how interesting and enjoyable it has been to be out here in the middle of nowhere and just see rural Mexican living up close and personal and find it as interesting with all the rodeos and celebrations and the lovely people.
What’s the feedback you get from your vacation guests?
Oftentimes guests are pleasantly surprised. They often say Hacienda Sac Chich and Casa Sisal are even more beautiful than the photographs, which is true; you really can’t capture the immensity of the architecture, the openness, and its natural sounds with a camera.
Some of our guests are very unsure of traveling around Mexico. They have pre-conceived ideas of the (lack of) safety in places such as Cancún. It surprises them when they realize that Yucatán is the safest state in all of Mexico. Also, the people’s authenticity and the beauty of this place make them feel welcome right away.