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Trip Report: The Yucatan with Catherwood Travels

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

Lunch at Cenote Xchen

Travel is always interesting, most often enjoyable, and sometimes simply magical. I came home from my trip in the Yucatan with Catherwood Travels and almost immediately contacted them to book another trip. It was that good.

Our trip began at the Fairmont Mayakoba where we were picked up by our guide and driver. We headed out on a brand new highway to the first stop on our tour, Ek Balam. This is one of many archaeological sites, Mayan ruins, that you can visit throughout the Yucatan. It is known for it’s beautiful preserved plaster work. To have an English speaking guide who is also an archaeologist was absolutely invaluable. Thank you Julia!

Ek Balam

After a touring the ruins we went back to our van where were greeted by our driver with cold towels and water. Much needed after a couple of hours out in the sweltering September heat. Our next item on the itinerary was the privately owned Cenote Xchen. On our way we drove through small Mayan villages and the surrounding farmland. It was interesting to see the main crops (corn, beans, and squash) planted together symbiotically in the fields.


Cenote Xchen was a fun stop. We had the most amazing lunch cooked on site with fresh handmade tortillas. But not only was the food delicious (coconut ice cream for dessert!), the setting was spectacular. We had menu cards, cloth napkins, palm frond chargers, and real glassware. This was not your average picnic lunch.

Lunch at cenote Xchen

After lunch we went swimming in the cool cenote and it was truly an otherworldly experience! You walk down a tight spiral staircase and into an ethereal landscape. The water was refreshing and dark, punctuated by long vines descending from the ceiling. My camera did not do the experience justice.

Cenote Xchen

Our evening was spent at Hacienda San Jose Cholul, one of the Starwood Luxury Collection Haciendas. This former henequen plantation has been lovingly revised and restored and has all the amenities needed for a wonderful stay. I would especially recommend it for couples as it the setting is quite romantic. Hacienda San Jose Cholul is part of the Starwood Luxury Collection, and therefore as an exclusive member of their Starwood Luxury Privileges program I am able to offer my clients the following amenities:

  1. Upgrade on arrival if available

  2. Early check-in if available

  3. Daily full breakfast for two guests

  4. One 100 USD food and beverage credit per room, per stay (valid in the Hacienda restaurant only and excludes alcohol, taxes and gratuities)

  5. Late check-out if available [new_royalslider id=”26″]

The next morning we headed out for a visit to Izamal, one of Mexico’s Magical Towns. It is a beautiful town that is also known as the Yellow City as most of the buildings are painted a cheery goldenrod color.


Here we rode a buggy around town, visited the cathedral, toured the art museum, and shopped for jewelry at the must-visit La Flor de Cocoyol. Here they craft jewelry out of local plants, including henequen.

Art Museum in Izamal

Lunch was enjoyed leisurely at Casa de Madera. This is a spacious four bedroom luxury villa rental tucked away on a side street in the heart of Izamal. In addition to the usual amenities it also has a lily pond, small swimming pool, and comes with daily cooking staff. Speaking of which, the highlight for me was the fresh handmade tamale appetizer. Delicious!


Next we had a quick tour of Merida, the capital city of the Yucatan. This is another colonial Mexican city with great architecture and a large central square. We toured La Quinta Montes Molina, formerly a home and now a museum of fine European antiques and artifacts. An example of how nobility lived in Merida at the turn of the 20th Century.

After the tour we stopped for ice cream. I chose Elote, which is made from corn. If you like corn casserole, you will love elote ice cream!

Elote ice cream

That evening we were treated to a magical pre-columbian music and light show at Amphitheater Ochil. This was followed by a wonderful private dinner with traditional Mexican music and a tour of the museum at Hacienda Ochil.

Our night, although not much was left of it, was spent at another Starwood Luxury Collection Hacienda, Hacienda Temozon. It is another former henequen plantation that has been lovingly repurposed and brought back to life as a luxury hotel. They even have tennis! The Starwood Luxury Privileges amenities are as follows:

  1. Upgrade on arrival if available

  2. Early check-in if available

  3. Daily full breakfast for two guests

  4. One 100 food and beverage credit per room, per stay (valid in the Hacienda restaurant only and excludes alcohol, taxes and gratuities)

  5. Late check-out if available

Once again, thank you very much to everyone at Catherwood Travels! I had such a great time in the Yucatan and cannot wait for my next trip with you in April.

If you would like to see more photos of my trip, please visit my Flickr page. If you have questions or are interested in booking a stay in the Yucatan, or a day trip, please contact us.


About the Blogger
Erin Logsdon

Owner and Principal Travel Advisor

Erin is a third generation small business owner. The foundation of her travel agency is one of independence, integrity, and a client-first ethos. 

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