#152 - Mayaland at Chichan Itza
Wonderful Hotel... Corny Name!
When I found this hotel on the internet, the name made me cringe.
It sounded like a Mayan Theme Park. But Don and I decided to go for it and book a nightWe were glad we did, when our taxi pulled up to these gates.
Historic Hotel on Ancient Grounds
The hotel, which opened in 1923 has an impressive history, but it's the location that really lured us.
Steps from Chichen Itza
The hotel was built just steps away from the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. You could get away with that in 1923.
Tourists weren't flooding the site like they do today. Staying at Mayaland gave us a chance to see the ruins without the crowds. The hotel had its own private park entrance, which opened an hour before the main gates.
Cool Lobby in Late Morning
Although it was heating up outside when we arrived, the open air lobby was cool and breezy.
Our room wasn't ready but we were given goblets of chilled fruit juice, which we enjoyed in massive wood and leather chairs.
The lobby was peaceful except for a short while, when a tour bus dropped off about 50 Chinese tourists. Evidently, many foreign tourists come by bus just for the big lunch buffet on the grounds.
Windows and Doors
While we sipped our juice we enjoyed studying the lobby. The leaded glass windows with blue trim, framed the colorful scenery. The arched doorway revealed an even better view.
Out beyond the palms and bougainvilleas, we spotted the ancient Observatory Temple, beneath a sky of blue and white. We had a peek at the ruins, without leaving the hotel!
After sitting a while, we wandered the grounds.
It was a little early for a stop in the original hotel lounge. But it was open.
I felt like I was stepping back in time as we wandered over the multi-hued tiled floors with fans whirling above.
The Moorish arches and columns on the patio, made me feel like I was in Casa Blanca.
The New Part
This new addition to the Main House was added in later years. I was glad to know our room wasn't in this motel-looking section.
We did however spend a little time in the courtyard. We took a seat under a shady umbrella, then joined the touristy crowd at the 15-dollar lunch buffet.
There were lots of food options, including a whole section of Mayan dishes. The whole vibe sort of made me feel like I was on a cruise ship.
The tourists wandered around with their plates while Mayan dancers performed here and there. I was actually more intrigued by the tortilla makers than the food.
We did discover another outdoor dining option the next day.
This pizza garden was quite delicious and the umbrella tables were under a wonderful jungle canopy. It was a much more relaxing atmosphere and the pizza was delicious.
Finding the Room!
How I wish I'd snapped a photo as we followed our dear bellhop, trotting up and down stairs and down hallways.
He was about half Don's height and our 4 bags probably added up to Don's weight. He seemed exhausted, yet delighted to show us every detail of our room.
Our door to "Andrew Carnegie 24" opened up to a spacious balcony.
It felt like we were in a treehouse.
Besides the garden view, we had a nice view through the mahogany framed doors and windows, into our guest room.
When we kept our door to the hall open, we had an added treat. There was a small balcony at the end, with a view to the west. I couldn't wait to see the Observatory at sunset!
I Love Lucy
Our room had the same comfy-retro feel that I get when I watch an old black and white sitcom.
In fact I could picture Ricky and Lucy staying here in one of their travel episodes. The tile floors and shiny, carved wood, made the room feel cool and clean.
Even the bedspreads seemed retro, but fresh. We were able to open the window and door slats, to let a breeze blow through later. The dense growth outside, meant we didn't need curtains.
The Mayan Influence
The figures and designs on the bathroom door and window frame reminded us again that we were in Mayaland. Not only is the hotel decor very Mayan, but supposedly there are over 180 hotel employees and all are of Mayan decent.
When Don heard that the official language of the hotel was Mayan, he stopped practicing his Spanish and questioned staff about Mayan phrases.
It was impossible to get a good shot of this amazing tree.
The branches seemed to weave themselves into the canopy above. At dusk, a noisy peacock wandered the same tree.
Bungalows and Event Spaces
Don and I spent some time in the late afternoon wandering the grounds. There are over 100 acres, with patches of rainforest and gardens, pools and fountains.
We found charming bungalows, as well as dining and event spaces, all available for rent.
After walking the grounds, we took books to the pool for a little cooling time.
We enjoyed a cocktail on our balcony in the early evening. We had an amusing time trying to talk over the large table.
The 10-ton chairs were too heavy to move, so we shared one. The view of the dining patio below was tempting, but we didn't want to miss sunset.
Our room didn't have a view of the west, so we headed for the front of the hotel round 6:30.
Don was content to sit and enjoy, but I was almost goofy with excitement. I insisted on dashing up to the little balcony a few times, for a different view.
I felt just a little guilty that I wasn't sitting next to Don, toasting the sun when it finally dropped out of sight. But I waved and smiled down at him. Then rushed down after my last photo.
Dinner in El Mural
I spotted this dining room earlier while exploring.
Again the Spanish-Moorish designs intrigued me. The purple-pink cloths, lured me.
But the terrace looked pretty inviting, knowing that after dark there would be candles and views of the illuminated garden.
In or Out?
Don and I arrived at 8 and were surprised that all diners had chosen to eat outside.
We thought for a moment, but decided we didn't want to miss dining below that soaring ceiling and dramatic mural.
We did get a touch of the outside breeze, since we were seated beside the massive glass doors. The servers seemed almost amused by our choice. The service couldn't have been better.
Our feast started with a basket of bread and 4 flavored butters. The Relleno Poblano and salmon dishes were perfecto.
I thought the tequila, served in a cone shaped glass, resting in a tiny fishbowl of ice... was pretty adorable.
We rose early to be the first tourists to enter the park. I should have felt grumpy after some sleep issues, caused by music at all hours. The mysteriously, distant rhythms played all through the night.
A couple times, I stepped onto the balcony and but couldn't figure out the source. At check out, we learned there had been some festivities in a distant village, beyond the grounds. Maybe I really just heard ancient spirits having a little party at the ruins!
Our April stay in Mayaland was totally enjoyable. The connection to Chichen Itza will be what I remember most. However, if Mayaland had been anywhere else in the Yucatan, I would have enjoyed the stay thoroughly. The generous staff and the gracious hacienda style hotel, made me feel like a ritzy guest. Maybe Pavarotti and Jackie Onassis got better treatment when they visited years ago, but i have no complaints.
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My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!