Three grand haciendas are now part of Starwood's Luxury Collection.
There's more to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula than its superb beaches. For a taste of the region's vanished golden age, venture inland on the historic hacienda trail. Several of these grand 18th- and 19th-century sisal plantations have been meticulously restored under the Starwood Luxury Collection brand, and three are less than an hour's drive from Yucatán's capital of Mérida.
Arriving at Hacienda Santa Rosa on a jungle-lined dirt road is a revelation: a sweeping lawn flanked by tropical gardens with a cerulean blue main house beyond. The rooms are located in the hacienda's original machine house and have original hand-painted pasta-tile floors, high ceilings, carved wooden doors and iron beds. Some rooms have outdoor tubs and showers with tree roots entwined through them.
Hacienda San Jose feels even more tucked away. Set in gardens linked by winding paths, this 15-room gem has all the intimacy of a guesthouse, with a small spa, a sweet old chapel and huge swimming pool. Yucatecan-inspired meals are taken on an airy terrace or beneath the trees, and guest rooms have been restored to their 19th-century glory, with the addition of modern luxuries such as outdoor jacuzzis.
Hacienda Temozón is perhaps the most impressive of the collection. Huge in scale, this property once housed a large family and hundreds of workers and there's still a Gone With The Wind-style romance about it, lent by formal gardens, a grand staircase leading to the main house, rooms full of 18th-century Spanish colonial details and a restored henequen factory set behind a near-Olympic-sized swimming pool. Like the other pair, this hacienda was restored under the direction of fêted Mexican architect Salvador Reyes Ríos, whose aesthetic marries Old World Spanish and French colonial charm with contemporary chic.
Read more: Gourmet Traveller's guide to Mérida, Mexico.