Whilst we were not quite ready to leave our sublime beachside location at the extraordinary BeTulum Hotel (read more about our Tulum adventures here), we had another very special treat in store… The mystical Chable Resort and Spa.
We had been spellbound by their website and noticed that Tulum did not look too far on the map. We also noticed that the ancient Mayan site of Chichén Itza, one of the seven architectural wonders of the world, was approximately half way. This helped inform our decision to travel by road, with an extremely knowledgeable bilingual guide, organised through the delightful staff at Chable Resort.
Our first detour on our journey was a visit and refreshing swim in the Cenote Samula, near the town of Vallalodid. It was much smaller and a little colder than the one we had visited near Tulum but definitely worth the visit, especially as we were fortunate enough to have the cenote almost to ourselves. It is often said that each cenote has it’s own unique character and energy and therefore it is recommended to visit as many as possible. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of this cenote is the powerful beam of natural light illuminating the crystal clear water. Cenotes hold such importance in the Mayan culture, not only as their water source but also in terms of spiritual significance.
From there we travelled to the world renowned Mayan ruins of the ancient city and World Heritage UNESCO site of Chichén Itza, whilst we enjoyed a summary of the fascinating history from Pablo, our guide. Perhaps the most famous of the ruins is the Kukulcan Pyramid, also known as El Castillo, an architectural marvel, built with extraordinary mathematical precision, representing the calendar, with 91 steps on each face and one on the top (representing the 365 days of the year). On the spring and autumn equinox, the shadows create an image of a serpent on the sides of each staircase, drawing enormous crowds to witness this phenomenon. Traces of the rich history can be seen in the intricate carvings and structures depicting the sometimes gruesome stories and rituals within the many well preserved sites, such as the Columns, the Temple of a Warriors, the Great Ball Court, and the Wall of Skulls.
As we travelled further we learned more about of the ancient Mayan civilisation and the history of the resort to which we were headed, which only opened a few months before our arrival.
Arriving at the gates of Chable Resort and driving through the lush grounds and abundant agave plants there was a sense of other worldliness, almost as though we were being transported to another time. The main house was an exquisitely restored hacienda, where women had worked, weaving the agave plant into sisal – who knew that sisal rugs came from agave fibres!
There is a strong focus on maintaining traditional mayan culture at Chable Resort, reflected in the food, ceremonies and healing rituals. The spa experience was unlike any other, starting with a guided hydrotherapy circuit (fantastic for circulation), followed by personalised consults to decide which treatment option was best suited to our individual needs, shamanic cleansing (a Mayan ritual), and a ‘tree of life’ healing massage overlooking the ceremonial cenote.
Our dining experiences were also exceptional, ranging from a world class restaurant, “IXI’IM”, to a charming dinner prepared in a traditional mayan kitchen, cooked in a time-honoured wood fired oven by a mother and daughter. The mother actually worked in the hacienda prior to it’s refurbishment. Their warmth and engaging smiles, and (we imagine) welcoming words which we didn’t understand, together with the very tasty meal we were served on the patio of the hacienda, created a unique and unforgettable experience. Note: If you would like to experience the traditional mayan dinner you need to give 24 hours notice.
The top-notch restaurant IXI’IM, located within the resort, is rated in the top 50 restaurants in the world, with most plant based ingredients sourced from the grounds of the hacienda itself. Again the Mayan cultivation methods of raised garden beds were to be seen alongside the restaurant. This restaurant is also home to the world’s largest tequila collection, so, of course, we had an obligatory margarita… certainly amongst the best we have had. The entire dining experience was a treat, we chose a salad incorporating local leaves and exotic flavours, followed by an exceptionally tasty cauliflower dish. We were even tempted by desert, choosing a guava sorbet served with cacao.
For breakfast and more casual dining, the resort also has a cafe called “Ki Ol” which means ‘delicious’ or ‘funny’ in Mayan… Depends on who you ask! There were many vegan, dairy free and gluten free options.
For breakfast they offer an extensive selection of freshly squeezed juices as well as a daily juice special. The flavour combinations were exotic and always delicious. Our first morning, we shared avocado on toast and vegan ‘cheese’ on toast with assorted tomatoes. Our second day we tried the chai bircher muesli and coconut chia pudding with fresh fruit. Every meal had that ‘clean’ feel we love which is not surprising given the quality of the produce they use.
For lunch they offer a delicious complimentary dip of sunflower seeds and a basket of homemade breads. The guacamole and ‘avocado tacos’ were the perfect accompaniments for a light lunch overlooking the resort’s beautiful main pool.
The only thing we would change about our visit would be to make it longer! If we had more time we would have liked to explore the nearby city of Merida and also would have taken part in more of the activities on offer at the resort… Each day there was a list delivered to our door with activities ranging from early morning bike rides, pilates and outdoor yoga to experiencing traditional Mayan rituals.
We had an unforgettable stay at Chable Resort and we hope to be back before too long.