Rated 1 out of 5 by ManolofromMiami “Beautiful, great service but serious drawbacks”
This is a tough review because although most reviews on TripAdvisor need to be weighted based on who the reviewer is, this is paramount in the case of this hotel. So I will best disclose who I am as a traveller to then convey my review so you can decide how relevant what I say is to you.
First, my characterization in one sentence of what this hotel is: upscale and comfortable camping in an authentic havienda in the midst of the jungle, where your room is no more than a masonry "tent" allowing the predominantly nocturnal wildlife to enter your room at will.
Second, the unqualified realities:
- the hotel is hard to find, even with the right location on google maps, and using GPS function on previously downloaded map on Google Maps for iPad, I got lost briefly and I am extraordinarily good at directions. The streets through the small pueblos you pass through are hard to follow at times at intersections. All in all it's not that complicated, though, but be prepared.
- this IS isolated as others have said, not by much, but bad enough that there is NO cellphone signal, and occupancy seems to be consistently quite low so that it may just be you and the staff. I thought this was great, my wife felt very vulnerable. When I thought of it in her terms, I understood how she felt, but rationally, the place is safe. Effectively, it is not as latches on doors are not exactly industrial strength and if someone wanted to get in, it wouldn't be hard.
Third, who we are as travelers:
- as you can see in other reviews, we've stayed in bush lodges in Kruger Park, the desert in Sossusvlei, lodge near Vic Falls, etc. so we have experienced nature and come close to it, albeit not in the full jungle in a WET environment.
- we prefer city travel (urban anthropology) and desert/glacial environments for their desolation and true solitude from almost all living things (death valley, the Namib, the Rockies, etc.), although we do recognize that those have living things, they are not TEAMING with life.
- we love nature, but we like to come into contact with it on our own terms and in the outside environment (game drives, hikes, strolls through nature, etc.)
Fourth, the positives:
- the staff is very affable and fixed things when we asked relatively quickly, they were ready and willing to do whatever
- the grounds are amazingly beautiful
- the place is very agreeable to do strolls around
- they will arrange very romantic dinners for you just about anywhere on the property
Fifth, the negatives:
- we alerted that insects were a concern prior to arrival, candidly more could have been done to help in that regard, in the room alone
- when we arrived, the hotel was still being brought to order and was not to order until other guests arrived the next day. This included the cleaning of the pool when we arrived where a gentleman was at work but with a pump basically spewing all of the detritus onto the pool deck with a power cord and extension cord literally inches from the spewing water. Needles to say, such practices often will not yield injury, will cause a short, or other, but it just isn't safe anyway you slice it and my wife refused to enter the pool for the duration of the trip. Not to mention a slug we saw on side of pool which initially looked like a leach. Further, the first couple of days the pool chairs were never setup for use which we only noticed was done after the other guests arrived.
- the food, as other reviewers said, was passable but not extraordinary for the price. Will pay for quality, but there was a mismatch here, and no good food in the vicinity.
- the junior suites are cavernous and done in the original style by some "talented" architect who should stick to museums and not livable spaces. This architect should be forced to live in his product for a week (cretin). While the rooms are authentic, they do not deliver luxury, they deliver authenticity with comfort. Last I checked, this was the LUXURY Collection, not the Authenticity with Comfort Collection.
- A/C was not turned on when we arrived, this is basic, anyone who says to contrary or that it is so so that guest may choose at their leisure, is full of it. If the guest doesn't like the room being cold then they can open all the windows and it will be hot in two seconds, but to cool these cavernous 25 foot ceiling rooms, with windows and doors with NO insulating properties is very difficult, the 2 foot thick walls make no difference if you have gaping holes in them!
- the fans are set to updraft since hot air rises and there are high ceilings for that purpose, but when the small A/C unit is 25 feet up, it struggles to deliver air down. Reverse the flow of the fans.
- the doors are like sieves, just about any insect can pass through and any small mammal. For example, a 4 inch tarantula I killed in the middle of the night, and several large millipedes running around above your head as you sleep, with thuds in the night as they lose their grip (thankfully not on our heads). While I appreciate that keeping all critters out is impossible, some basic weather stripping, insulation, and sealing would be well warranted, FIRST (memo to the foolhardy architect) because we are no longer in the 19th century and SECOND because it is oh so in vogue to be "green" and provide better insulation while retaining the charm of years gone by.
- fix the potholes on the incoming driveway
- have more explanations of the property around the property, not just on some sheet given to the guest on arrival. I learned more about sisal production and haciendas in the Yucatan from a shop owner in Merida than I did while at the hacienda.
- having managed many items and restaurants previously, there is a lack of consistent direction at this property. The level is good overall, but the detail is lacking. For example, we have a small plunge pool in the junior suite back porch with an outside chair with cushion. Both were filthy and not ready for use, we were politely, but still unceremoniously told that these could be made ready for use if we so desired. But In fact they should just be ready, even if only for the guest to look at. Otherwise, next year's capital plan, just have them all removed. We had no desire to use them after we saw how they looked. Perception is half of everything. Also, some bulb was burnt out on our front porch on arrival and for first dinner. We are the only arriving guest, who did the pre-arrival inspection? It was replaced thanks to restaurant staff noticing. housekeeping, first line of defense, final line of defense is not the restaurant staff, it SHOULD be MOD or GM or RM ensuring that the SOLE concern they have at such a small property is that everything is set for the arriving guest. This property needs reports the opposite of this one, it needs occupancy up even in the low season, that's "found" money. Low season is not time to be down on your game, this review posts just as a new flock of guests considers their high season arrival.
- I'm a platinum SPG, I generally (but not completely) accept the reason why I was not given a better upgrade at an empty property (less bugs in the junior suites apparently), but regardless I did not feel special in any way. I was Diamond VIP with Hilton for many years while I was Platinum with SPG as well, I chose SPG as my lone horse for the one and only fact that they have small properties like this across the world and Hilton does not. Again, I forgive the "jungle" aspects of my stay, that is a matter of preference, but the other elements of the stay were generally unacceptable. As a Hotelier, I appreciated when my guests delivered the information to me in person while still on property so that I could remedy the issue, but sometimes when the list is so basic and yet comprehensive, you don't want to sit there and tell someone how to do their job on vacation, just want to move on and make the most of your vacation somewhere else where you can actually enjoy yourself. Also, management with good English should contact the guest on arrival. A well meaning and sweet Spanish speaking desk agent is not enough, particularly when, even with the best training in the world she cannot be truly in tune with the guest since she has simply never ever experienced the lifestyle of that guest. It is why we have sophisticated, cosmopolitan hoteliers plying the world's best secluded hotels, so that they can provide guidance to the indigenous staff who has no frame of reference.
- there is noting, really toning of interest that is convenient to this property, you need to drive a good 45 minutes to find anything. If that's the case, then stay in merida where there are things to do there and you still have to drive 45 minutes to see the same other things.
All in all, this is a great property but it is overrun by nocturnal insects, more could be done in guest rooms, both from a physical standpoint (sealing) and a preventive standpoint (second line of defense such as sticky tape, spraying outside every night, etc.). I regret that I have to post such a scolding review for what has clearly been a positive experience for many others (just don't wake up in the night, that's when the tarantulas are in your room), but it is my experience and I write many many reviews and this is what I have to say . . .
October 6, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by RachK Idyllic Jungle Retreat
As soon as you drive down the winding entrance to Hacienda San Jose, you feel as if you are taking break from life. It is the most tranquil, restful hotel imaginable. Miles from the nearest large town, the night sky is crystal clear and the only sounds you hear are of nature and the calm staff going quietly about their business.
The hacienda has a rustic charm, and is beautiful with its aged imperfections juxtaposed with the modern, impeccably maintained rooms.
Jonna and her staff are unassumingly attentive and kind, and no trouble is spared in ensuring their guests have a great stay.
January 5, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by Rut65 Very beautiful hacienda
Beautiful, quiet and relaxing hotel. Nice gardens, beautiful swimming pool, good spa and much privacy
August 7, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by cnwo4life The very best.
This little gem has got to be the biggest treasure in Mexico. Getting there is half the fun, then once there, you are treated like royalty, as if you were the only ones there. For such a small place San Jose delivers the largest pleasures. Simply perfection.
September 21, 2012