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Situated in the heart of Tequila, Mexico, with panoramic views of agave fields stretching against a backdrop of picturesque mountains, is Hotel Solar de las Animas, a luxury property that opened its doors in April 2015.
The town of Tequila is located in Jalisco, one of the five Mexican states that are authorized to produce this namesake spirit. Located about 40 miles from the city of Guadalajara, Tequila is home to some 40,000 residents and exudes a special ambiance, accented by the sweet omnipresent scent of roasting agave from the local distilleries.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was designated a Pueblo Magico (magical town) by the Mexican government in 2003.
Hotel Solar is conveniently located near many of the small town’s attractions, including the Plaza Principal main plaza, the Parroquia Santiago Apostol church and Jose Cuervo’s renowned La Rojena distillery, the oldest in Latin America. The hotel offers guests immediate warmth, charm and character with its “Creole colonial” style of Mexican architecture that is reflective of hacienda design from the 17th and 18th centuries.
In my mind, Hotel Solar may as well have sprung from the ashes. On my previous visit to Tequila in December 2014, the property was a massive pile of dirt and equipment surrounded by a chain-link fence. At the time, I was informed that the resort would eventually open as a luxury destination, so it was a personal thrill to return and experience such a sophisticated hotel that exceeded my expectations.
The property features 93 modern guestrooms of varying sizes, including one Royal Suite (with butler service) and 11 Master King suites. My own room was spacious, designed with a pastel color palette and high ceilings. It featured a king-size bed, a desk, a flat-screen television (with many U.S. channels) and a large bathroom with a rain shower, a makeup mirror and L’Occitane toiletry products. A fitness center, a coed sauna and a gift shop showcasing local jewelry and other products are on-site, as well.
Other hotel features include a swimming pool on the main terrace and a smaller rooftop “splash pool” in the chic Sky Bar, which is a hot spot with house music and breathtaking views of the agave fields and Tequila’s volcano. Both pools have plenty of seating, lounge chairs and umbrellas.
Although the property mirrors a traditional structure, it is modern throughout, with free Wi-Fi access, good lighting and conveniently located power outlets in guestrooms. The on-site restaurant, La Antigua Casona, is a stylish space with a bright, airy courtyard that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering an array of regional specialties. The cozy hotel bar, Chucho Rios — a tribute to contemporary Jalisco painter “Chucho” Reyes Ferreira — provides a delectable selection of house-made cocktails (including a tamarind and vanilla margarita and a tequila colada) in a traditional setting surrounded by artwork.
Augmenting the hotel’s offerings is the adjacent Hacienda El Centenario International events center, with some 75,350 square feet of venue space of varying sizes that can accommodate up to 3,500 people. With expansive gardens featuring fountains, pathways, seating areas and sculptures, the center offers a selection of catering options and state-of-the-art technology and business amenities.
While visiting Tequila, it’s fun to stroll around the walkable town. Guests can take an extensive guided tour of the La Rojena distillery (other distilleries and haciendas are nearby, as well) to learn about the tequila production process and participate in a tequila tasting. Other activities include visiting the National Museum of Tequila, horseback riding in the agave fields, mountain biking, taking tram tours and more. The El Rio Country Club golf course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, is about 45 minutes away. For guests visiting from Guadalajara, the Jose Cuervo Express train to Tequila runs every Saturday, with an immersive experience of onboard mariachi bands, snacks and cocktails.
Hotel Solar is run by Mundo Cuervo, the tourism division of Jose Cuervo. The company is dedicated to increasing tourism to Tequila, and this property is a key element to the area’s growth and reinvention. Since opening, Hotel Solar and the events center have been steadily attracting more guests for overnight stays and elevating the town’s tourism with their capabilities to hold conferences, large events and weddings. Mundo Cuervo provides approximately 300 hospitality-focused jobs, and about 90 percent of its employees are locals. Overall, $60 million was invested into the hotel and hacienda. A Relais & Chateaux property, Hotel Solar is also a member of Virtuoso.
It may have seemingly sprung from the ashes, but Hotel Solar is now helping Tequila shine bright.