This post was last updated on September 4th, 2014
We drove around and around the town, but to no avail. We couldn’t seem to locate Casa Hamaca, our hotel in Valladolid, though our map assured us that it was in the center of town.
We might never have found the B&B if it hadn’t been for the friendly local that was stopped next to us at a red light.
I rolled down my window and hopefully called out, “Conoces Casa Hamaca?”
A huge smile spread across our new friend’s face. “Si! Denis! Vamanos!”
And then we were off, escorted just a few blocks down to an unimposing parking lot, the name Casa Hamaca painted colorfully on one of the adjacent walls.
Though Casa Hamaca appeared small from the outside, our first impression was quickly swept aside the moment the staff pulled open the gate. What appeared to be just a small guesthouse on a plaza corner was actually a spacious bed and breakfast. We heard splashes from the pool, passed a few couples relaxing in the open-air restaurant, and walked through a mesmerizing garden to find Denis, the owner, ready to greet us, sincere grin on his face. It was as though we had stepped into a different world, one far away entirely from the colonial streets outside.
We could tell that this was going to be a memorable—if unfortunately brief—stay. The amenities here are top notch, but that’s not what sets this hotel apart. What distinguishes Casa Hamaca from the rest is the Mayan culture it so elegantly preserves and promotes, and which it so tastefully threads throughout every aspect of the hotel.
Casa Hamaca is aptly named after the hammocks that play a central role in the lives of Mayans. Even today, drive through a Mayan village and you’ll see colorful hammocks hung across each and every main room. Hammocks are not just a space for relaxing, but used in many aspects of life, such as a playpen for babies. Hammocks are thought to improve alignment and generally be better for the spine. You’ll find one in each room at Casa Hamaca. Though don’t worry—there’s a bed, too.
Perhaps the most striking detail of Casa Hamaca is the hand-painted murals that decorate the walls. Each piece is original, often telling a story and inspired by unique Mayan artwork. This makes each and every room unique. You’ll also find indigenous art and artifacts throughout the hotel. Seriously, it’s like a mini-museum.
All of Denis’ staff members are Mayan. They speak Yucatec Mayan, live in small Mayan villages surrounding Valladolid, and practice the same traditions as their ancestors did a thousand years ago (such as cooking on the floor with fire and sleeping in the traditional hammocks). Not only does this ensure a unique Mayan experience at Casa Hamaca, but it also promotes the local economy.
Denis’ deep love for Mayan culture and Valladolid is evident. Not only is he a wealth of knowledge about the local area, but he also goes out of his way to make sure you feel like a guest in his home. Because that’s what Casa Hamaca is—Denis’ home.
Denis first came to the Yucatan Peninsula 20 years ago to volunteer. He visited various Mayan states with a Mayan family, but it was the juxtaposition of Mayan culture and Spanish colonial design that caught his eye in Valladolid. An industrial designer by trade, Denis was able to apply his knowledge to the building of Casa Hamaca.
Denis loves to listen and to share his stories. You’ll often find him engaged in conversation with guests—we recommend joining in! You’re guaranteed to learn a lot about Valladolid and Mayan culture.
Denis is also committed to giving back to the Mayan community. He can facilitate the delivery of ‘care packages’ to Mayan households in need, where visitors also get to visit with the family and see what their daily life looks like. Additionally, you’ll find the Academia on the grounds, which provides tutorial and remedial educational services in mathematics and English for secondary, preparatory and university-level students.
As noted in the introduction, Casa Hamaca has all the qualities you would want in a personal B&B. The restaurant serves delicious food, but is also a beautiful place to relax with a coffee. The gardens are surprisingly expansive. There is a lovely pool if seeing all those nearby Mayan ruins proves a bit too taxing. Each large room has air conditioning, ceiling fans, screend windows, pressurized hot water, and wireless access. There are no TVs in the room (which personally we love) but there is a DVD player in the common room. If you really want to treat yourself, book an appointment at the Mayan Spa, featuring massages, facials, body work, and shamanic cleansing.
We love featuring hotels that are going above and beyond in the service they are providing to their guests. Casa Hamaca is certainly one of those places. We feel privileged to have had the chance to meet Denis and learn about the positive impact he is having on the local community.
Denis promises you’ll “Check in as a stranger, check out as a friend”.
It was certainly true for us! And we know it will be true for you, too.Fast Facts Casa Hamaca is located in the Spanish colonial town of Valladolid, less than 2 hours west of Cancun. It’s the perfect location to base your trips to Ek Balam and Chichen Itza. Each room is unique and for this reason prices vary, but range from $70-$150.
A huge thank you to Denis for hosting us at Casa Hamaca. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Have you been to Valladolid? Does Casa Hamaca look like the kind of place you would like to stay? Have you stayed at any hotels with memorable art?