For sale: A hotel of your own, or a Mérida mansion

The Trinidad Galeria's art-filled lobby on Calle 62, Mérida.

The Trinidad Galeria’s art-filled lobby on Calle 62, Mérida. Photo/Imagine Mérida

For a million US dollars, give or take, you can grab yourself a hotel in the Centro.

There are so many for sale. Take a look at the real estate websites, filter for either commercial properties or their highest price range, and see for yourself:

The quirky Trinidad Hotel on Calle 60 is for sale ($3.18M). There are 30 rooms, plus parking. And if you don’t want to break up the set, the smaller Trinidad Galeria, on Calle 62 and much closer to the main square, is also on the block ($1.49M) with 18 rooms and 15 baths. The fabulous artwork inside is probably not included. I assume it’s from the late Manolo Rivera’s private collection.

On Calle 59, Hotel Villa Maria’s price has been reduced to either $990,000 or $850,000, depending on which real estate website you visit. There are 11 “junior and master suites,” and sumptuous interiors that have been featured in at least one book that tells you how to style your hacienda. Their website is still up, but Villa Maria been closed for years, although I noticed construction workers there last November. I know a lot of locals miss their terrific restaurant, and from the photos and old reviews that are still online, I think I missed the boat.

Down the street toward the zoo, beautiful Casa de Las Columnas, which I have to admit I’ve never heard of, is offered ($1.1M) with 11 rooms and parking.

Hotel MediaMundo in Santa Lucia. Photo: TripAdvisor

Hotel MediaMundo in Santa Lucia. Photo: TripAdvisor

These buildings all started out as large private homes, and who knows, maybe that’s what they will be again. That’s how Hotel MedioMundo on Calle 55 is being presented. Its listing doesn’t mention its service as a hotel. It’s a grand colonial mansion with 12 beds, 12 baths, in the heart of the Centro. (For $1.1M with possible owner financing.)

Of course, there’s the giant pink hotel, still vacant and offered not for sale but for rent (MN$300,000) , opposite Hotel Casa del Balam on Calle 60. An empty high rise built over another grand mansion, with so much development swirling around it in an increasingly dynamic Parque Santa Lucia a half-block away, gives me pause. Another high rise, the Hotel Montejo Palace down on the Paseo, ranking 78 out of 86 Mérida hotels on TripAdvisor, is offered to “investors with vision” and $7M. Eight stories and 90 rooms, plus a restaurant, cafeteria, and offices. A white elephant, or just in need of that vision thing?

This is just a theory, but maybe the high rises are attracting mainly bus tours and business guests. Think about who comes to Merida to visit. Adventure tourists/romantics or people on business. A lot of these high rises are not charming enough to captivate adventure tourists or romantics, and often not efficient or comfortable enough to satisfy someone in town for business. I’ve stayed at one of those high rises twice and although it has many conveniences, like a taxi at the ready, neither time has it gone as smoothly as a visit to a boutique or a guesthouse. My most recent experience: A long, tedious check in, brown tap water and spotty wifi. From a corporate-owned hotel tower! And the tourists are discovering guesthouses or small, boutique hotels. Is it possible that we have a David and Goliath story here? Is that what’s shutting down the bigger players?

High society side note: If you’re going to own a mansion, you’re simply ruining everything by throwing that word around. It’s just gauche to refer to your own home as a mansion. Those to the manor born will also tell you, with upmost discretion, that it’s also gauche to use words like “gauche,” so I’m automatically expelled from that social strata because I just used the word. Classy people don’t say “classy,” so by all means don’t say it’s a “classy mansion.” Creating a distraction by disparaging some “gauche casita” next door won’t solve anything. The word “fabulous” will always be in fashion and acceptable in all situations.

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Comments

  1. Peter Hobday says:

    Chain hotels and restaurants don’t really work in Merida. But the family places work really well. Merida is about family and social integration – if there is no shampoo in your hotel you can actually walk to a family store and buy it. That is novel trip for many, believe it or not.
    Because for many Americans, walking to the store can be a problem. ‘What! No car??’ But not for those who live here in Merida.
    You could also rent a house for very few dollars. And have everything.

    • It’s a little upside down that a guest house has shampoo and a hotel doesn’t. If I had known ahead of time I would have packed it, but I didn’t even notice it until early in the morning when it was too late to socially integrate with a store. We did rent a house once, and it was a wonderful experience. It did give us that feeling of belonging to the city.

  2. Very witty post, especially that bit at the end. And what’s with hotels that provide soap but no shampoo? I’m staying in one now, and I can’t help but wonder. Don’t they want women and gay men to ever come back?

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Valladolid, Yucatán
    Which can be done in one day. But I’m still here.

    • Well, then there are those of us with stylishly shaved heads who really don’t care about shampoo! LOL

      • They they should provide razors to keep our heads trim! But really, it’s a wonderful place and I’m sure it has earned its top spot on TripAdvisor. A great location, unbeatable. I just like a smaller, more off-the-beaten-path locale.

    • They provided free mezcal in the lobby, and no shampoo. And at guesthouses, breakfast is usually such a nice chance to meet other people. Practically every morning at Casa del Maya or Villa Verde is a social hour. I really didn’t intend to dump on Luz, however. It’s a nice place, just not for us.

  3. Very interesting post, Lee. I’ve been inside Hotel Trinidad, and it definitely is “quirky”. I just read on Trip Advisor that the big pink hotel (it used to be the Hotel Misión) is going to be a Holiday Inn Express. While I was in Mérida over the winter, at night there were big trucks parked in front being loaded with debris from the inside. Appears that the inside was being completely gutted for renovation. It will be good to have that building in the very heart of the city being put to use again after years of abandonment.

    You are so right about the small hotels versus the big high rises. My particular favorite, Luz en Yucatán, is probably my favorite hotel in the whole world (well, at least of the places I’ve visited). I wouldn’t dream of staying at one of the big chains when the city is full of charming small places.
    Saludos,
    Bill

    • I heard that about the Holiday Inn express too. I’m a little disappointed that something with a little more cache can’t go into such a historic property. Double Tree didn’t last long, either…it’s called something else now. We stayed at Luz once, and I wasn’t too thrilled. I think I’m the only one. I think it’s because Tom, the owner, wasn’t there the week we were there, and we didn’t get that personal attention that other people have enjoyed. It was loud and there were so many steps, up and down, to get to our room. And no shampoo! They lent me a large bottle of Prell for the week!

      • You must have had the bad luck of having a rowdy bunch when you were at Luz. I’ve always found it to be very quiet.
        Yeah, it’s not a luxury place providing grooming products. But I do appreciate the fact that you have a “garrafón” of water. Most places give you a couple little bottles, and some charge you more for extra water.
        Yes, there are a lot of steps, but I look on it as training for pyramid climbing. LOL My favorite rooms are the ones on the ground floor by the pool, but they are booked up quickly. The first time I stayed there, back in 2006, we were in the penthouse suite. There was a narrow spiral staircase leading up there (that has since been changed). It was loads of fun trying to get the suitcases up there!

        • My room was pretty terrific because it had its own patio with a hammock, but it was also really loud. We were there during the Juanes concert and it was if we were being serenaded in the room. All the outdoor space was a mixed bag. One fellow tourist just sat outside emptying vodka bottles while his wife saw the sights. Another time by the pool, a drunken couple just stared at us and smiled listening to our conversation. So yes, it was a little strange.