One of Mexico’s best kept secrets
Yucatan has many surprises reserved for its visitors. One of the most impressive is the Celestun Biosphere Reserve: an earthly paradise that is located about 100 kilometers from Merida. A half-hour dirt road between the fishing village of Celestún, between the jungle and with an imposing blue sea in the background, you arrive at Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel, one of the hidden gems of the region.
The hotel was opened in 1996 as Hotel Eco Paraíso. The idea was born from the need to fill a niche of the tourism market that has been in constant growth, that of sustainability . Of course, at that time, 22 years ago, that niche was still not structured and there were no rules to follow or institutions to prove the sustainability of a hotel. “Today, I can proudly say that Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel complies with all national and international ecotourism guidelines,” says Verena Gerber Stump, general director, who thanks to her work has maintained and preserved the priceless riches of this sanctuary.
The Celestun Biosphere Reserve is an earthly paradise where Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel is located.
The size of the property has always been the same: 530 hectares. The original concept has not changed: ecotourism, sustainable tourism, nature observation, conservation and preservation. What has evolved is the built area. They started with 15 junior suites , a clubhouse with integrated restaurant and bar, a pool and a reception. In addition to what is necessary for the hotel to work: a warehouse, a laundry, a maintenance workshop, an employee lunchroom and a village. In 2009 they undertook a major remodeling. Today there are 24 junior suites and eight master suites, a central pavilion with a restaurant, and at the top, a bar with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico; also, a wellness center with gymnasium, three massage cubicles, a jugotherapy palapa, a yoga pavilion, and an adult pool. The original facilities were also remodeled, to harmonize with the new.
The planning was carried out with great care, using natural products from the same region for its infrastructure. For example, the roof of the reception is a huge palm palapa, built in the style of the Mayans. Xixim does not buy individually packaged products, in order to avoid non-recyclable waste. In addition, all trash generated in and around the hotel is carefully segregated.
Another of the great protagonists of Xixim is the fauna. Throughout the property, there are raccoons, iguanas and birds. All of them are in total freedom and gives the impression that the guests are, in reality, humans. Also, it is unmissable to see the pink flamingos of Ría Lagartos or all the species that live in the mangroves and cenotes.
“After so many years there are great lessons learned. The first is that nature always wins. The second: shoemaker to your shoes. It is very romantic to want to manage a little hotel in the middle of nowhere, to fill my retirement years. I predict a sure failure. These highly specialized hotels should be managed by a person from the hotel industry, someone with studies and experience, “concludes Verena Gerber.
The Mazatlan Post