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Morelos Mexico Euphorie du mois

State of Morelos, Mexico  -  A state of grace and elegance. An idyllic, mystical, historical and eclectic ambiance. Nestled in a mild climate, ideal and equable all year long. In the centre of Mexico, amidst magical mountains, the city of Cuernavaca and its surrounding villages are still the theatre of pre-Hispanic traditions, even after historical events initiated by famous figures, such as Hernan Cortès and Emiliano Zapata, that are often pictured in the monumental frescoes by Diego Rivera and always omnipresent in the State of Morelos.

Overrun by the tentacle-like roots of the amates and wrapped in bougainvilleas and rose trees, those with refined tastes have long selected this mythical environment to create a unique holiday destination. 

True treasure chests

Someone who has never travelled to Mexico or is only familiar with its beaches, as beautiful as they may be, will literally be subjugated by the natural, architectural, hospitable and gastronomic attributes of Cuernavaca, Teploztlan, Jiutepec, Amacuzac, Atlatlahuacan, Tlacotepec, Yecapixtla and Xochicalco, all a one-hour drive north from Mexico City.

Independent hotels in the region where we stayed are members of the exclusive Tesoros group. They also proudly display other internationally recognized logos for their gastronomy and responsible tourism.

Although all very different - in both traditional and contemporary styles - they offer the necessities plus extras in terms of amenities, services and catering. We were also surprised to find very affordable rates compared to the Canadian, American and European prices for equivalent quality and standards.

Vibrant experiences à la carte

The State of Morelos is undoubtedly an ideal destination for long winter stays, sophisticated marriages and honeymoons, a solitary trip or with someone dear to you. Fans of history, archaeology and architecture, those in search of a physical and mental retreat at a spa, as well as others who appreciate being guided through the route of the convents will get more than they bargained for.

And for those who absolutely and quite legitimately need annual injections of the “3 S’s”: sand, salt water and sun, beach destinations are never far. A combination of the best of the two worlds - one week in Morelos and one week at Acapulco or Puerto Vallarta - could be the answer.

A visit to Mexico City, upon arrival or before leaving, is also a must for its countless reputable museums and, most of all, to contradict all of the clichés – as unjust as they are worn out – imposed upon this metropolis.

In Tepoztlan: symbiosis with nature

The Posada del Tepozteco is a former diplomat’s house with 22 luxurious and comfortable rooms, each one with its own unique décor and specific design. Located on an exceptional site, from each room’s terrace, the pool or the restaurant, the Posada offers a panoramic view of the valley and its 16th Century convent, San Juan Bautista, which is on the UNESCO heritage list, as well as a view of a magical mountain and its pre-Columbian pyramid, where vestiges dating back to centuries BC were found.

Trekking, mountain bicycle riding, birding in the night with a biologist, golfing on one of the seven clubs located nearby, sweating in an Aztec steam bath supervised by an holistic medicine specialist, or learning to write poetry in one of the workshops offered by the “Under the Volcano” program are just a few activities offered.

Gastronomy occupies a huge place at Posada del Tepozteco: international stars of French and Mexican cuisine are invited to share their secrets with its Chef and cooks each year. Cooking courses are also offered to clients, aside from a famous mole (the famous Mexican chicken dish in a chocolate sauce) competition. It’s worth mentioning that French, English and Spanish are all spoken at the Posada.

Its guest book could arouse envy: Diego Rivera, Dolores Olmedo, Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie, the writer Juan Rulfo, the Grand Chief of the Crees in Canada Ted Moses and Tibetan monks who came to create a mandala, a testament to the sacred character of the site on which the Posada was built, have all signed in.

In contact with the universe

In Tepoztlan as well, the pure white, modern architecture of the spa-hotel Sitio Sagrado contrasts against the ambient green of the sacred mountains surrounding it.

Couples who stay there for a week or a weekend will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the design of the suites, all with different décor, some equipped with a Jacuzzi, and where a magnetic sound, inaudible to human ears, is conducive to a deeper sleep. The restaurant opens on the outside and the magnificent blue and white alcove beds scattered around the pool add to its exceptional charms.

The spiritual journey of temazcal has to be experienced: a steam bath in a pre-Hispanic earthenware hut with a shaman practicing a traditional ritual for the healing of the body and the soul through contact with the spirits and a return to one’s mother’s womb: a true rebirth in the darkness, accompanied with scents of mint and eucalyptus.

The spa, with its installations and treatments, offers another true original holistic experience in its “Grotto of Senses.” In a steam bath, under the starry sky on which laser beams reproduce the universe, we are entitled to a full massage, from head to toe, after having made our way through the grotto in three baths with different temperatures.

The owner of the Sitio Sagrada is a biologist, and thus we can be confident that the care, the facilities and the management of the spa and hotel are completely eco-responsible.

What else at Tepoztlan? Immersion in tradition

Visit the famous convent museum and admire the huge mural at the entrance that each year displays a different historical scene composed of beans of many forms and colors. It’s stunning!

Enjoy, smell and taste the various products covering the dozens of market stalls: all sorts of mushrooms, blue and white tortillas cooked in front of you, and big pieces of crispy pork skin to enjoy as a snack or to add to your salad or soup.

The area is perfect for a picnic with nopales (cactus leaves) and cheese at the very end of the road or at the summit of the Santa Barbara Mountain. You can’t miss the many stalls of multi-coloured roses on the side of the highway. Stop and buy at least a dozen, which goes for less than $1.

Visit the Oaxtepec Botanical Garden that dates back to the 15th century and claims to be the first and the biggest in the occidental world, leaving Paris and Florence behind. Walk the streets of the small village of Tlayacapan to look at its 30 churches and chapels… not bad for 10,000 residents! One is dedicated to the child Jesus and installed in a different private house every year. Believers are invited to enter, ask favours and bring offerings.

Before leaving, do you dare take an excursion to the Popocatepetl volcano? 

Atlatlahuacan, the proud one

Immediately after his election less than two years ago, Mayor Alfredo Reyes Benitez clearly announced his development priority: tourism. Concrete results have rapidly appeared.

Residents of Atlatlahuacan have every reason to be proud of their mayor and of their small city: a history museum just opened its doors, the main square, completely redone, proudly displays a beautiful gazebo and urban furniture among the most modern in America, a magnificent fountain which lights up the weekend nights with a sound and light show and a large alley that leads to a fabulous pink monastery, are only a few examples of recent accomplishments.

If you are lucky, you can even attend a Gregorian song concert: a magical experience!

Hacienda de Cortès in Jiutepec

Be warned that you will be left in awe! No wonder the film Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was filmed here.

Since 1975, this domain, a historical monument laid out in the vestiges of a sugar cane company created by Cortès in the 16th century, has offered 23 large split level suites. Two of the larger ones pay homage to the Shah of Iran, who stayed there for a month and to Zapata, Mexico’s emblematic figure. The owner’s daughter Yolanda Gonzalez-Ulloa conceived the interesting interior design.

What seduces one even more here, including a couple-to-be with their bridal party, is the open restaurant wrapped in 200 year old amates and surrounded by a pool with columns worthy of Spanish Kings, a vast courtyard able to accommodate 400 guests where a spectacular cascade is nothing less than the original water supply system. Banquets can also be served indoors in a vast gallery furnished with vintage furniture and horse carriages.

The grandiose outdoor alleys, corridors and arches contribute to a fairytale décor for all types of stays. The menu and the service at the restaurant are impeccable and the spa, with its sophisticated equipment, is most tempting. In brief, the attention to detail and to perfection applies to everything you see and experience at Hacienda de Cortès.

Cuernavaca, the sophisticated one

The Relais & Châteaux Las Mananitas, an establishment celebrating its 56th anniversary this year, is certainly a value with its rooms, cuisine, décor and spa.

To satisfy all of our senses in between the warm welcome, the constant attention and the expert care, are some very pleasant and well thought-out details: onyx walls, the glittering ceramic swimming pool, the cool chlorophyll drink served in a champagne flute in the Jacuzzi, the fruit tea offered in the library…

Add to this list a superb terrace, a menu as eclectic as it is delicious, the winning frozen chocolate cake dessert and a most enviable wine cellar with its own tequila and wines, reds, whites and rosés, privately imported from Uruguay and France by Las Mananitas.

And we haven’t said anything yet about the art collection, which is worth more than 8 million dollars.

Homage to the Woman

The Hosteria Las Quintas merits an honourable mention for its garden overflowing with hundreds of different plants and flowers that hail from all over the world, including a 360-year old tree.

Moreover, this garden changes color according to the seasons and is inhabited by dozens of sculptures by Victor Hugo Castaneda that represent woman and her beauty, fullness and role on earth.

When the director of the hotel welcomes you, he immediately takes you into the intimate wings of the kitchen. This says it all! He also takes enormous pleasure from organizing events centered on food, such as “Everybody is a Chef,” during which guests compete in the creation of a soup, salad or main course. The menu here is international and quite surprising for Mexico: Chinese, Japanese and Peruvian dishes are all created. However, the morning breakfast buffet is traditional Mexican and made with fresh and delicious local ingredients.

At Las Quintas, different types of rooms and suites, casitas and pavilions can be chosen. In brief, this is a Hosteria full of original ideas and charming initiatives.

Epicurus disciple with artistic passion

The Robert Brady Foundation House and Museum in Cuernavaca is also surprising, bringing a smile to your lips and a dream to your mind. First, for the character himself who was the penultimate “bon vivant”: artist, jet setter, wine and food lover, always dressed in glittering djellabahs with his 6’3” stature. He rubbed elbows and hosted Josephine Baker and other extravagant personalities of the world. Mostly, he curated a collection of works of art and decorative objects of great taste and great value during his trips to the five continents.

Born in the United States, he lived in Venice for five years before moving to this house in Cuernavaca, which was kept intact after his death. It’s a must-see! It is possible to rent the house and its beautiful garden for social events.

In the front seat

In the heart of Cuernavaca there lies a true triangle of beauty: the Cortès Palace for history, the main square for its fiesta and the Casa Hidalgo for the food and the view.

The Cortès Palace witnessed some of the main pages from Mexico’s history: it housed the Mexican government at the end of the 19th Century until 1969, some masterpiece frescoes from the renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera can be found on its walls and it is now a museum that can be visited and should be on everyone’s “not to be missed” list.

Just in front of the museum, the main square is the ideal place to observe second hand booksellers, watch and take part in the big feasts celebrating September, the New Year and the February Carnival with fireworks attended by a noisy and joyous crowd.

Another point of view that is quieter is the beautiful Casa Hidalgo. On its huge terrace where trendy parasols provide a bit of repose, at the balcony tables or inside in the modern lounge, we are fascinated by the show and by the divine tastes of the refined regional cuisine. For example, there is la trenza (braid) made of different fish and the bowl of mamey sapote, a local fruit puree.

Magisterial!

The Hacienda San Gabriel de Las Palmas in Amacuzac almost gives us an idea of Paradise as soon as we see its large royal alley of palm trees and its vast lawns where you can get lost, including in your dreams, as long as you are not brought back to reality by a newly wed couple landing with the help of a parachute in front of their 2,000 guests or by the silent weekly parade of noble modern riders.

The site itself has surprises at every turn, step and in its small mysterious and romantic corners. Here a dungeon, there a water cascade, there also a monastery, elsewhere a large room with a table that could seat lords of the Middle Ages. And - we almost missed it - a room dedicated to tequila, where tastings and demonstrations of entrancing cocktails are organized.

The 20 suites of all dimensions and styles, bathrooms included, tempt one to move each night for the pleasure of discovery. The presidential, taking up two stories, even has a private swimming pool where you can swim outside…

Other large rooms showcase works of art, antiques, rich furniture and objects collected from trips around the world.

This hacienda, the biggest sugar factory of Central America until 1810, was also a stopover for merchants coming back from China with textiles, grains, rugs and other rare commodities. It was bought many years ago by a wealthy Mexican jeweller. His son, now the Chairperson, transformed it into a luxury hotel in the 90s.

San Gabriel de Las Palmas offers an activity program on site as well as nearby: cultural, botanical, wine and architectural visits and even a caviar and champagne picnic with a butler on the beach of a close-by river…

Enchanting Gaïa

From the pool that can be seen wherever you are sitting in the restaurant, named after the mother goddess Gaïa whose likeness was created in the pool by Diego Rivera in 1956, the goddess touches our taste buds with the complicity of Chef Fernanda Aramburo. In the background is another breathtaking view of the Cuernavaca Cathedral, especially if you are eating on the balcony!

The menu offers dozens of original plates, starting with the salmon on couscous with apricot sauce – a happy marriage of sweet and salty - ending with a trio of appealing desserts, such as the Volcano, a small cone that releases hot melted chocolate lava when you break open its crispy crust.

The wine bar and the cigar room with their elegant and modern décor are ideal for an after dinner chat.

It’s worth mentioning that the owners, father and son, both fans of culture and humanitarians, give 5% of any bill to a foundation devoted to the construction of cultural infrastructure for the kids of Morelos.

The spa experience per excellence

Mision Del Sol is a domain dedicated to going back to one’s roots and recharging batteries. As soon as you set foot on the property this is clear. In the lobby there is no counter separating the guests from the hosts. We were offered a refreshing elixir with flower petals and coconut and invited to relax in comfortable seats while waiting for the bellhop to take us to our suite, one of the 40 suites and villas on the property.

What a surprise! High quality natural materials, precious woods, warm coloured fabrics. Not a trace of plastic, not even the small bottles of shampoo, sealed in delicate glass with a cork cap. A two-shower head for two people saves time and allows for a most agreeable moment. It’s a real cocoon of music and aromas!

In the spa, every care is attended to: from the most known to the rarest, such as thinning vibrating massages, head massages to reduce stress, quartz massages to re-equilibrate energy, a Liminik lamp for a better electromagnetic energy environment to favour sleep and to eliminate migraines or a Kirlian camera to detect the unequal flux of energy and apply the appropriate remedy.

Then at the summit there is the Janzu session, which consists of being carried in the arms of a specialist into an aquatic rainbow immersion to experience a return to your mother’s uterus: it’s a rich moment of surrender and profound emotion!

We also experienced the best reflexology session after a break in the whirlpool bath surrounded by bougainvillea petals and a comfortable Mexican style daybed. Even the dressing room design with a “confident” in its centre, providing discretion while allowing for conversation, is unique.

In the evening in the yoga pavilion, meditation and tai-chi sessions are on our program followed by the performances of singers, musicians and poets in the open-air theater.

Finally, the vegetarian menu of the Mision del Sol restaurant would make many traditional restaurants envious. Shh! It is so good, even the meat-eaters won’t notice…

Traditional Mexican cuisine is served in a vegetarian version, such as the famous Chiles en Nogada (a green pepper stuffed with tofu and almond with a creamy sauce and pomegranate). Quite a treat, proudly displaying the colors of the Mexican flag!

Learning that the Dalai-Lama spent some time here did not come as a surprise.

Blue, blue, love is blue

Do you remember this song? The boutique hotel La Casa Azul is in such a blue atmosphere that we discover an unconditional love for the art and crafts from all the regions of Mexico. Each of the 25 rooms and suites are named, furnished, decorated and dressed in high quality handmade local products, most of the time made to measure, sometimes in natural shades, sometimes in vibrant colors. Michoacán, Guanajuato, Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla, Chihuahua, and other states are represented.

Worth noting is the big screen TV that is hidden behind a work of art. A great idea that should be stolen by other hoteliers around the world!

Located in the heart of Cuernavaca, La Casa Azul welcomes locals as well as tourists to its suites, bar and restaurant, especially on Thursdays from 11PM to 1AM for the musical Bohemian Night event. This is the occasion to treat yourself to a Sangrita, as nice to look at as it is nice to savour: in front of you, you will find three lovely glasses, one filled with tequila, the other tomato juice with spiced onion and lime juice in the third. The whole menu reflects the establishment’s attention to quality.

A special and very affordable price of $85 per night is offered for long stays, including breakfast, taxes and Wi-Fi. A real deal for such a lovely haven in the heart of the city! Thanks to the director general, a woman of French origin, to have thought of it!

Women in solidarity for equitable coffee

A useful and interesting detour to the village of Tlacotepec allows us to meet Lucia Arenas Abundez and Rosaria Martinez Arenas, who are part of a group of six single-mothers who decided to take their financial situation into their own hands and produce organic coffee. They offered us their delicious nectar with homemade cookies. Of course, they also sell their product in different sized bags. A good opportunity to treat yourself and to spoil their children at the same time!

Other sites to visit, dishes to taste, objects to exchange, events to look for

The archaeological museum and the Xichicalco pyramids are indeed important historical sites, where guides are true experts in archaeology.

On Sunday, we mingle with Mexicans who come from two neighbouring states at the huge market of Tlacotepec to participate in an exchange: bring some products that can be bought at the grocery store and are rare for the country-dweller, such as mayonnaise, pasta and cooking oil, and you will be able to exchange them for handicrafts, cactus leaves, tamales (corn leaves filled with fruit paste), etc.

Close by, Sinora Josephina’s boutique opens its doors for a real tasting experience: a dozen homemade eaux de vie await you. If you can’t find the boutique, just ask; everyone knows La Sinora Josephina!

Become a Cecina addict! No it’s not a drug, nor a dance… it is a thin, salted slice of beef served in a warm tortilla with cream and pimento. Absolutely divine! Where can you find this simple but finger-licking good dish? At the El Conquistador restaurant in the village of Yecapixtla. Take the opportunity to visit the huge convent, just across the street, keeping in mind that many legendary Spanish missions started their conquests of the entire country of Mexico from there.

In February and March, carnivals and parades of the chinelos are filled with dancing characters representing the peaceful and joyous revenge of the Nahualt Indians against the Spanish conquistadors, dressed in costumes and masks of different colors depending on the region of Morelos they come from.

In summary, whichever part of the State of Morelos you visit, you will undoubtedly run out of superlatives to describe it both during your stay as well as after you return home!

Sylvie Berthiaume

English version: Christiane Théberge


This trip, except for the airfare, was provided by the independent hotels of the Tesoros group and Kifer, a tour operator of the State of Morelos and DMS the tour operator at Mexico City.

www.visitmexico.com/en-ca/home

www.hotelhaciendadecortes.com.mx/english/historia.php

www.posadadeltepozteco.com.mx/v2/en/index-2.html

www.casahidalgo.com

www.hotelcasaazul.com.mx/english/index.html

www.haciendasangabriel.com/english/index1.html

www.lasmananitas.com.mx/index.php?lang=en

www.hosterialasquintas.com.mx

www.misiondelsol.com.mx/english/

www.gaiarest.com.mx

 

 

Posada del Tepozteco


Posada del Tepozteco


Posada del Tepozteco


Sitio Sagrado


Sitio Sagrado


Sitio Sagrado

Temazcal


Stalls of roses along the road


Atlatlahuacan's gazebo


Hacienda de Cortès - Restaurant


Hacienda de Cortès - Pool


Hacienda de Cortès - Suite


Las Mananitas


Las Mananitas- Onyx wall


Las Mananitas - Garden


Hosteria Las Quintas


Hosteria Las Quintas - sculpture

Robert Brady's house and museum

Casa Hidalgo


Hacienda San Gabriel de Las Palmas 


Hacienda San Gabriel de Las Palmas


Hacienda San Gabriel de Las Palmas


Fresco by Diego Rivera - Gaïa restaurant


Gaïa restaurant


Gaïa restaurant- Wine bar

Mision del Sol

Mision del Sol - Room


Mision del Sol - Garden

Chiles en Nogada


Casa Azul

 Xochicalco pyramid 

 Chinelo hat

 

 

 

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