“Welcoming chic bolthole with an excellent Mexican-Cuban restaurant, artistic flair and stylish suites”
Ser CasaSandra is her passion project and it shows. Sandra's influence is evident in the carefully sourced Cuban antiques, the bespoke colonial-style furniture from Guadalajara, and 18 romantic guest rooms. Little details - lights made from conch shells, Mexican fabrics given a contemporary twist - contribute to the stylish and welcoming ambiance. Add the best restaurant on the island, vast double loungers, palapa daybeds and a pool, and you have the perfect formula for lusciously lazy days.
- Lots of fun activities included in the price: sunrise yoga lessons, crystal therapy lessons, kayak trips, evening entertainment
- The delicious seafood was some of the best we had in Mexico
- Charming staff provide warm service that makes you feel part of the family
- A stylish mix of rustic Mexican features (palapa thatched roofs, hand-embroidered cushions) and original artwork, some by Sandra herself
- Isla Holbox is a serene and romantic destination. Think blissful beach strolls, shells and sunsets
- The hotel will close for renovation from 23 September to 15 October 2018
- It’s expensive to stay, and the food isn’t cheap, but you get top-quality meals and there are lots of extras included in the price
- There's no internet in the rooms - only in the common areas - and no TVs (except in Villa Sueños)
- Rooms get pretty hot by the afternoon so we needed to use the air conditioning a lot
- Holbox does attract mozzies; make use of the complimentary insect repellent in your bathrooms
- The island is 3 hours from Cancún and you need to take a ferry. There's little nightlife and limited activities - a high for us!
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- 17 rooms, 1 villa
- Breakfast included, self catering, restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Closed: 23 Sep 2018 - 15 Oct 2018
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
Ser CasaSandra has grown gradually and organically since its opening in the early Noughties. Each of the rooms and suites is individually styled, but all showcase Sandra's excellent taste. Pillowcases are embroidered by hand and beds are often muslin-draped; all are extremely comfortable with 1000-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Mexican artworks adorn the crisp white walls; terracotta floors and air conditioning keep rooms cool and comfortable.
The main building houses most of the Superior Rooms, some of which share a lovely balcony that is festooned with bright hammocks. Over time, other 2-storey dwellings have been added. Nicely spaced apart, these are all white with palapa roofs and strong gnarled beams. One houses Garden Suites with private balconies, another holds 2 Ocean Suites with stunning views across the beach towards the setting sun.
There's a Master Suite, which has an additional sitting area, and can be connected to a Superior Standard room next door to create a proper family apartment. For yet more space, Villa Sueños has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, along with its own kitchen/dining room, making it a dream option for famililes.
Bathrooms feature hand-painted bowl sinks and conch shell shower heads. You get bathrobes, a hairdryer, organic CasaSandra-branded toiletries, incense and mosquito repellent.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Nespresso coffee machine
- Safe box
The restaurant, Ser Esencia, is the heart of the hotel, where time slips past as you gaze out to the ocean and chat to other guests. Head chef Robert Solis - one of Mexico's finest - is the brains behind the operation, and his cuisine is an invigorating blend of Cuban and Mexican flavours.
For breakfast there are jugs of iced juice, fruit salad, yoghurt, granola, cakes made for drenching with honey, and several variations of coffee and tea. The à la carte menu features eggs served many different ways - we liked leaping into the unknown with these, although we could have just asked the serving staff. 'Divorced eggs' turned out to be 2 fried eggs, each with a different hot sauce, one green, one red.
The lunch menu features a selection of light and fresh options, such as salads, tacos and ceviches: the local speciality. The choice for dinner is a little more limited, but the mains are all so tasty it really doesn't matter. There's lobster and carefully selected cuts of meat on offer, all cooked to perfection and beautifully arranged on the plate. Service was sometimes slow but always delightful, and we weren't in a hurry to go anywhere. Meals are accompanied by an eclectic range of music, often Cuban.
The poolside Blue Bar and beachfront Bar Mojito serve some of the most delicious cocktails we've ever tried; don't miss their famous mojitos, thought to be the best on the island.
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetarian menu
- Wake at sunrise for your free yoga lesson in the gardens (Wed-Sun only)
- If you're here from May to September, take a whale shark tour; this is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with these harmless gentle giants
- The mini fishing trip is excellent. You'll visit 3 islands, lunch on ceviche of fresh fish, and grill your catch of the day for a sumptuous dinner
- Take a Classic 3 Islands tour to visit Passion Island, Bird Island, and Yalahau Island - where you can swim in the fresh bubbling cenote (sink well) of Yalahau Spring
- Go riding along the blissful beach, or hire a bicycle (available 300m from the hotel) to explore the island
- Snorkelling is best on the other side of the island - you get taken around in a motor boat
- Back on the mainland, you can visit Nuevo Durango (a Mayan village) with a bilingual guide, discover Mayan culture, see the ceiba (the Mayans' sacred tree), visit an orchid sanctuary, or venture deep into the jungle to climb a 20m watchtower
- Ser CasaSandra also arranges day trips to the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá
- Back at the hotel, there's a whole host of evening entertainment, including beach cinema nights on Fridays, and Cuban music nights on Saturdays
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Kayaks to borrow
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
- Whale watching
Children are welcomed at CasaSandra. Sandra has a son herself, and the staff are very charming and helpful with little ones. Young children stay for free, kids aged between 6 and 12 are charged at reduced rates, while over 12s are charged at adult rates.
If your child requires lots of organised activities then Holbox may not be the place for him/her, but swimming, boat trips, birding, cycling, whale sharks, kayaking and splashing about in the pool will keep most amused. The heat and humidity can be very high in the summer, so consider travelling outside May to September.
Family friendly accommodation:
The Master Suite can be connected to a Superior Double room next door to create a proper family apartment. Villa Sueños is also a great option, as it has 2 bedrooms (double and twin) and 2 bathrooms, as well as its own kitchen. Cots and extra beds are available.
Babysitting is available by arrangement
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking