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.
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.