“A gorgeous, modern Mayan palace, just 10 minutes' drive from the ancient ruins of Palenque”
Imagine if the Medicis gave the Mayans decorating tips: walls are a burnt apricot, offset by terracotta stone floors and oxblood wood furniture. Beds are baroque, dressed in Egyptian cotton, on podiums and piled high with embroidered silk cushions stacked against varnished headboards. Include marbled sinks, ceramic sculptures, pewter mirrors… we loved the Italianate opulence of the suites.
That doesn’t mean they aren't comfortable. Inside our sumptuous Deluxe Suite we lounged on gold-satin sofas grouped around crimson flowers on a lustrous redwood table; outside on our porch we were lulled by birdsong while rocking on wicker chairs. Above us were the 2 Junior Suites with slightly larger balconies, the whole thatched-roof structure surrounded by succulent foliage. At the back of the giant palapa that houses the restaurant and reception were 2 more Deluxe Suites - good for families as they either have two double beds apiece or an extra one can be added, and an indoor sitting area.
Between these two buildings sits the Presidential Suite: a coral-coloured bungalow with square pillars supporting a pyramid roof of magnificent Mayan sculptures. Its bed is an elevated 4-poster bed draped with white muslin; its covered veranda cool with sleek cane furniture, textured wall art and tropical plants.
Since our visit, a Queen Suite has also been added - we're yet to personally view it, the private plunge pool sounds perfect for lazy afternoons.
All the suites have air conditioning and ceiling fans - there are screens on the back-facing and side windows, but mosquitoes are kept firmly at bay with the snug-shutting wooden louvres. Bathrooms are big, with tiled shower rooms and Botanics toiletries; mini-fridges are stocked with complimentary (except for Junior Suites) wine and beer; the WiFi is falter-free and there is an iPod docking station in the Presidential Suite. A Mayan queen wouldn’t find fault.
Breakfast at Quinta Chanabnal might be fresh fruit with honey and a mango lassi or it could be motuleno - eggs, cheese, ham and plantain in a creamy pea sauce with chillies. Whether you like a light or filling start to your day, served in your room or in the dining room, the hotel is accommodating. It will even prepare breakfast as early as 6am, for those guests who want to visit the Palenque ruins in the cooler morning hours.
On the road to the ruins is the hippy hangout of El Panchan, a tree-canopied collection of cabanas and cafes - a good lunch stop here is Don Mucho, especially for the wood-fired pizzas. If you are skipping the sun temples and sun worshipping by the hotel’s pool instead, simple lunches such as chicken club sandwiches and liquidas (fruit juice and milk) will be brought to you by smiley waiters.
Those same waiters will be quietly hovering amongst the candle-lit tables at dinner, perhaps pouring you a glass of Mexican Cabernet before your starter of sopa azteca arrives. The menu features traditional dishes of the Tabasco and Chiapas region and is printed in English, Spanish and Mayan. Me yik' ot jo' ox is Mayan for lamb in annatto (saffron) sauce - delicious in any language. Evening meals are heavy on the meat front (marinated rabbit, beef tongue in chipotle gravy) but there is seafood (fish wrapped in banana leaves or shrimp with coconut) and vegetarians can be catered for - it’s helpful to let Elizabeth know if you are one.
One healthy aspect of Quinta Chanabnal is their water - it comes from an underground spring and is safe to drink, unlike most of Mexico’s. Bottled water is also available and is complimentary.
Children of all ages are welcome and all rooms can fit extra beds or baby cots, cots are free of charge.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
One Deluxe Suite in the main building is suitable for families as it has 2 double beds (as does one of the Junior Suites) and an indoor sitting area, but the Junior, Queen and Deluxe Suites can take additional people, either on rollaway beds or in an extra kingsized bed which can be placed in the room (if not already there)
Kids should be supervised but they are allowed to climb on the mini-pyramids and wander around the jungle grounds. There are cascading waterfalls and wading pools to play in by the lagoon, which has lots of wild birdlife.
Keep kids supervised at all times of course beside the lagoon and cascading pools - these are tropical grounds with spiny plants, insects, reptiles or small mammals.