Shortcut to Paradise

Hacienda Xcanatun introduces new Eco-Getaway Beach Excursion

By: Dawna Robertson

Hotel Hacienda Xcanatun an elegantly restored 18th-century sisal plantation and manor house that was converted into a luxurious boutique hotel believes guests should have it all at their fingertips. This unique corner of the Yucatan offers everything from private outings to ancient Maya centers or the Convent Route, to cenote diving and championship golf. But up to now, the missing link was a great beach experience.

That has changed with the recent introduction of Hacienda Xcanatun’s day-long Eco-Getaway Beach Excursion. On this special trip, paradise seekers will discover one of the finest beaches in the Yucatan during a full day at the environmentally friendly Hotel Eco Paraiso Xixim. When returning to the hacienda, visitors can also opt for a boat trip in Celestun’s wildlife refuge to watch the flocks of feeding flamingos and other water birds.

“Guests asked us to find a place where they could relax for a full day on a beautiful beach,” said Christina Baker, co-owner of Hacienda Xcanatun. “While they love visiting museums, shopping and exploring, at some point they want a day off to do absolutely nothing. Others equate coming to the Yucatan with beaches they want to have their cake and eat it too. This excursion is the perfect solution.”

The Eco-Getaway begins with a one-hour self-drive to Hotel Eco Paraiso Xixim, located nine miles north of the village of Celestun. Offering a complete break from civilization, the hotel lives up to its name with its undisturbed coastal dunes bordered by gentle green seas. The 15 private bungalows made from natural materials are nestled in a coconut grove.

“Eco-Paraiso is the rustic side of luxe,” Baker said. “Hacienda Xcanatun is colonial Mexico’s opulent side of luxe. It showcases the ‘other’ Yucatan. Many guests are unaware that we have gorgeous undeveloped beaches and incredible nature preserves nearby.”

Upon arrival, guests are given use of a thatched-roof seafront accommodation, complete with private porch and hammocks. For recreation, they’ll find a freshwater pool, bikes, kayaks and a small natural history museum showcasing the local fauna and flora. Two mapped nature trails meander through the property. Lunch features the house specialty some of the freshest fish in the Yucatan. The full-day Eco Excursion is available for $94 for two persons (including lunch).

After a day of total relaxation, those with energy to spare can catch a boat and explore Celestun’s National Wildlife Refuge that is home to thousands of pink flamingos and at least 175 species of waterbirds. The guided boat trek is approximately $45 for up to three persons.

According to Baker, visitor response to the getaway has been extremely positive.

“They love it spending the day in a pristine setting with nothing but sea and beach as far as the eye can see. Birders especially appreciate the nature walks around the resort where a multitude of the Yucatan’s coastal birds find refuge. But they also mention that insect repellant and sun block are musts!”

Guests can tie the Eco-Getaway Beach Excursion to any of Hacienda Xcanatun’s packages, including the five-night Discovering the Maya Package Plus Free Sixth Night plan that is priced from $865 per person (based on double occupancy) from June 1-Sept. 30. From Oct. 1-May 31, 2009, (excluding Christmas, space available), rates are from $952 per person.

The package is designed for either do-it-yourself drivers or those who prefer traveling with their own guide and driver. Included are accommodations in a deluxe suite with terrace and outdoor soaking tub, daily Xcanatun breakfast, one Maya spa treatment per person, plus arrival transfers from Merida Airport. Additional nights are $260 each, while spa treatments are $60. The cost for a guide/driver is $180 per day. Taxes and service charges are additional.

Conveniently located in the heart of the Mundo Maya near many of the Yucatan’s major attractions, Hacienda Xcanatun also offers privately chauffeured and guided excursions to the great Maya cities at Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. Guests interested in the modern Maya can experience firsthand life in a traditional village such as Yaxunah or Unil Ek Balam.

Activities include cooking in the Maya open-pit tradition, hiking, birding and exploring unexcavated ruins in the company of a local guide. Another day might be spent exploring Merida’s varied and rich museums, classic mansions, fine shopping and open-air concerts all only 20 minutes from Xcanatun.

At the close of each adventurous day, hacienda guests return to a baronial, luxurious lifestyle that’s carefully maintained by the hotel owners, who have long and deep ties to the Yucatan. Hacienda Xcanatun features 18 spacious suites and rooms decorated with period hand-carved furnishings, antiques, oil paintings and stone and marble floors.

Each accommodation is air-conditioned and features a sky-lit, marble-wrapped bathroom with a private patio or veranda. Welcome respites are provided by the hacienda’s two freshwater swimming pools and an intimate spa with the latest beauty and holistic Maya treatments. In its gourmet restaurant, fine fusion Yucatecan cuisine is paired with an extensive wine and cigar menu.

Guests can select from three types of accommodations Superior Rooms, Deluxe Suites and Master Suites. Nightly published room rates range from $235-$315, including breakfast for two. Taxes and hotel service charges amounting to 22 percent are additional.