Delicious New Addition to Yucatan Historic Hacienda´s: Hacienda San Jose Pachul
By: Sylvia Ponce de Leon
Photography by: Stephen F. Dennstedt, Indochine Photography
After jostling around in the front seat of a car that was never meant to be off road, I desperately gazed down the tiny path we were on and scanned for signs of life that we were on the right track to meet the owners of a new hacienda in Kinchil. Jose, one of the owners had assured me that if I felt I could not possibly be on the right road to his place, then I was on the right one. Scattered to each side of the small and bumpy dirt road were beautifully huge henequen plants, shouting a song of time long ago, when they were considered the “green gold” of Yucatan. Now, only a picturesque reminder of the short lived memory of Yucatan´s good ´ole days remained on what must have been a rather large henequen operation from the early 1900´s.
To my surprise it was not a bend in the road that hid the hacienda from my view, but the lush jungle growth of overhanging trees and plants. Soon enough we pulled up to park next to the cutest yellow, black & white checkered, mini cooper. The impressive hacienda, brought back to life, greeted us, along with two very happy white labs and a smiling Señor Jose Fernandez. His partner, Richard Fuller greeted us as well with a warm handshake, while the dogs came to investigate the new arrivals.
The aroma was exquisite, something I have only ever found while visiting the jungles of Yucatan. A mix of wild flowers and fresh summer rain coasted atop the soft breeze, as we walked to the main entrance of Hacienda San Jose Pachul. An above ground pool, filled to the brim and glittering in the sunlight, was the first thing that caught my eye and made me wish I had remembered my bathing suit. I had to settle for dipping my toes in the cool water and imagine lying out on the very comfortable looking lounge chairs next to the pool, a fresh strawberry margarita at my side. With a sigh, I turned to the urging of Jose to come and see the best room of their hacienda, the bar.
A huge vibrant painting struck me as I entered and walked through the main dining and lounge area. An older man sitting on a chair with a dark red background behind him transmitted such incredible images, leaving me with the feeling of dark seductiveness and hours of life history if I were ever to sit and talk with the man in the painting. What a conversation starter this painting was and easily the central focus of “the best room” according to Jose.
The pop of a champagne bottle startled me back from my contemplation of the painting. Glancing at the wall the painting was hung on, I suddenly realized it was not painted or refined at all. I was looking at the original wall of the hacienda! Incredible and beautiful design could not have been reproduced for millions of dollars by man, only nature and time could do this. Jose and Richard had seen the natural beauty and preserved it, instead of covering it up and hiding it away. The other walls were painted and covered with interesting artwork, enhanced with perfect mood lighting and lots of comfortable seating, which left me feeling instantly at ease and knowing that I could easily spend several entire evenings just in this room.
After a moment of soaking in the relaxing beauty and a glass of bubbly in my hand, Jose asked if I would be interested in seeing his kitchen. I smiled and reluctantly left my seat at the bar. I love kitchens and was excited that he would be showing me this one. My microbiology instincts kicked into high drive as I prepared myself for another one of thousands of inspections. Little did Jose know my background and even less did I know at the time his. A short walk from the bar and I was instantly greeted by one of the most amazing kitchens I have ever been in. This place belonged in a five-star restaurant! It was obviously the creation of a serious chef, one who knew his way around a kitchen better than the back of his hand. Every single detail was in order, sparkling clean, and all stainless steel. Not a single place where those nasty micro-organisms hide was dirty. Every single detail was spotless in Jose´s kitchen. I was stunned and asked him immediately what his background was to have created such a beauty.
It turns out that Jose is a chef, and an incredible one at that! His specialty and passion is French and Italian recipes, but here in Mexico he cooks the traditional Mexican fares, “accenting the flavors and stepping up the quality to gourmet” says Richard. We were treated to stuffed chili poblano´s, avocado soup, paired with a soft angelic white wine and lime Crème brûlée with a plum topping for desert, an absolutely exquisite and very filling lunch. All the ingredients are organic and purchased by Jose himself. Guests to Hacienda San Jose Pachul, have the opportunity to receive a cooking lesson from Jose who will take them, if they desire, to the local market to purchase the ingredients, and then participate in the unique cooking experience with Jose. His specialty is not just cooking though; he was also one of Vancouver, Canada´s greatest wine specialists. Pairing wines with the city´s finest restaurants dishes is what has won him awards like the Dine Out Vancouver, Best Wine and Dinner Menu award and the fame of one of Vancouver´s top beverage managers. Every drink Jose pours is to absolute perfection; he is a top-notch bartender and has the flair and aura of an incredible chef.
Richard is perfectly paired in a ying-yang sort of way with Jose. He has the coveted green thumb and keeps the hacienda´s several private and communal gardens absolutely gorgeous. The plants are vibrant, full of life, and add a wonderful touch of greenery to the grounds. Every plant is meticulously cared for by Richard down to the small henequen nursery that greets guests at the entrance to the hacienda. Rich jungle foliage interspersed with orange trees and desert roses add something only nature can concoct: relaxation, peace, and tranquility.
Each of the two guest rooms boasts Richard´s private gardens paired deliciously with their indoor / outdoor showers. Complete privacy is maintained in such an astute way that could never be achieved at an all-inclusive resort or even an inner-city boutique hotel. Hacienda San Jose Pachul is just that, a place for guests to enjoy comfort, luxury, and privacy. Yet at the same time modern conveniences have not been ignored, televisions, iPod docks, complete sound systems, mini-bars, and safe´s are found in each room. Along with the massive king-size beds with mattresses that beg you to stay in bed all day and private outdoor lounging areas accompany each room.
The unique design style of the interior of Richard and Jose´s hacienda is what I love the most. A blend of old historic memoirs with contemporary styles leaves the vision swirling with images and colors. Not your typical hacienda of arches and Spanish Old World style, but a different and wonderfully designed mix of both new and old. The owners obviously treasure the small beauties left behind by the original early 1900´s owners and have found new life and new meaning for objects that most would consider rubbish or garbage. Instead they have made several pieces into works of art, accomplishing a one-of-a-kind and creative style that is not found anywhere else in Yucatan.
Hacienda San Jose Pachul is set to celebrate their grand opening in December of this year. A party that is an absolute do-not-miss and one of many to come! The pair are working together on their professionally designed website that is soon to launch, but for now guests can get in touch and book a room with Jose and Richard through their facebook page at:facebook.com/
To truly appreciate all that Hacienda San Jose Pachul has to offer, I recommend a stay of at least three nights. Day tours of very near Mayan archeological sites, local fairs and festivals, and a diverse range of activities at and around the hacienda will keep any guest from getting bored. If a luxurious evening get-away to relax, enjoy good food and wine, and be treated to incredible hospitality is your goal then this hacienda will certainly not leave you wanting for anything.
Click on any of the pictures below to open the photo gallery.