La Tropical is a contemporary lush retreat hidden behind one of the many colonial facades of historic Merida.
How would you describe Hacienda Sac Chich in a nutshell?
Hacienda Sac Chich is a luxury vacation villa rental that serves as a great gathering place for families and groups of friends offering a sensory experience in Mexico’s Yucatán region. The villa rental’s setting is very private with lots of nature surrounding it.
Please tell us a bit about the history of Hacienda Sac Chich.
The haciendas were set up like plantations, with a business structure and a factory. Casa de Maquinas was actually the heart of the factory. The floor of the main outdoor living area was where the machinery was stationed and below it ran the trains bringing in material from the fields.
The lands had then been subdivided by a couple of prior owners and eventually it was bought by a couple 10 years before we acquired it. They converted the factory into a residence, put the roofs back onto the structures and restored Casa Antigua, which now houses the living room, dining room and kitchen next to the swimming pool. Since then we have kept working on it to restore it to its former glory. There are a few remnants of the former factory we kept, but not much was left.
The main house of the original complex, Casa de Principal, the former owner’s residence, is on our neighbor’s property.
What was your inspiration to buy the hacienda, restore it and rent it out to vacation guests?
We’re both architecturally oriented and during past travels to Mexico had always very much enjoyed staying in the regions we were visiting. We deliberately came to the Yucatán to look at haciendas and experience staying at hacienda hotels. Ultimately we became more and more attached to the Yucatán culture, its area and the region in general.
For my 50th birthday we rented one of the big haciendas and sort of had a sense of ownership for the four days we were there. We looked at Hacienda Sac Chich while on that vacation and bought it within six months. It was one of the few haciendas that needed a lot of work but wasn’t a complete ruin so that we knew we could bring back at least part of its original glory and turn it into the luxurious vacation home it is now.
Basically, our desire to own a place and rent it out came from our love of Mexico and these haciendas.
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 lovely rural Mexicans living up close and personal as well as all the rodeos and celebrations.
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.