If you ask an avid traveler whether they prefer the high-touristy destinations or the ones off the map, they’ll usually choose the latter. It’s exciting to visit a place that is untouched, especially if you really want your vacation to be an actual break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Sitting off the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the 26-mile-long Holbox Island is one such destination.
Resting on this virgin island is Casa Las Tortugas (House of Turtles), a boutique hotel with 21 eco-friendly suites. Since opening in 2003, it has since gone through renovations in 2011, and today is known for its great staff, attention to detail and excellent service. In 2013, it received a Travelers’ Choice Award by TripAdvisor and is consistently highly-rated on the review site.
Among its most loyal guests are many creative types such as artists and designers, as well as eco-conscious travelers. Casa Las Tortugas features a bohemian chic atmosphere as conceived by Italian architect Gianni Golinelli and his wife Greta (also the property’s owners). The family-run hotel is now helmed by the couple’s daughter Francesca Golinelli and her husband Patrick Wiering.
The 21 suites and beach bungalows were all designed to be green-friendly and feature carefully-sourced antiques and local artisan-made colonial furniture. Casa Las Tortuga’s bathrooms all come with stonewall showers, hand-painted bowl sinks and ecological toiletries and mosquito repellent. Each room also comes with complimentary beach bags holding colorful beach towels for guest's use. In the newer of the property, the pool-view rooms with exclusive spa amenities are great for honeymooners.
Mandarina, the hotel’s signature restaurant, sits on the main beachfront palapa’s ground floor viewing out onto the ocean. The open-air Mediterranean eatery is decorated by local artwork and colorful candles, providing a chic setting in the daytime and romantic atmosphere at night. Mandarina serves organic locally-sourced cuisine prepared daily including homemade breads, pastas croissants, cakes and jams. Fresh fish is purchased daily from fishermen, and fruits and vegetables are brought to the property twice a week; all this making for very healthy dining experiences.
When not lounging in one of the restaurant’s waterfront sofas, you can usually find guests at the pool or exploring the outdoors through Casa Las Tortugas’ wide range of activities. Whether you’re interested in stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, whale shark tours or horseback riding, anything you choose is right outside your door.
Inside the beachfront pavilion, guests can participate in yoga, daily meditation classes or healing sessions. It’s also the home of Agua Spa which offers holistic treatments through the use of organic products and 4,000-year-old Mesoamerican traditions of the Yucatan.
Casa Las Tortugas may make you feel a world away. Although complimentary Wi-Fi is available, we have a feeling that being completely disconnected on this untouched island is just what you had in mind.
Rates begin at around USD $155 a night on weekdays.