Once the headquarters for the Carnegie Institute’s Chichén Itzá expedition, the Hacienda Chichén Resort (Zona Hotelera, Carr. Mérida-Valladolid Km. 120, tel. 999/920-8407, toll-free U.S. tel. 877/631-4006, www.haciendachichen.com, US$160 s/d with a/c, US$170–225 suite) now is a tranquil hotel set in a lush tropical garden. A beautiful setting, most of the rooms are in the original cottages used by the archaeologists—very cool to stay where they once lived but not-so-cool to have to look at cinder block walls and to deal with the musty smell that pervades some of the older units. The decor is simple—tile floors, exposed beam ceilings, wood furnishings—but the rooms are quite comfortable. Be sure to wander the grounds with an eye for the narrow-gauge railroad tracks that were used to transport artifacts from Chichén Itzá and the original hacienda chapel. A pool, full-service spa (9 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–10 p.m. daily), and a fine dining room also are nice finds.
The Hotel and Bungalows Mayaland (Zona Hotelera, Carr. Mérida-Valladolid Km. 120, tel. 985/851-0100, www.mayaland.com, US$150–370 s/d) is literally at the entrance to Chichén Itzá—guests and non-guests alike must pass through the resort and by two of its gift shops to get to the ticket booth. The grounds are gorgeous: 100 acres of tamed tropical jungle filled with birds, plus three restaurants and four pools. Tour groups stop here for meals and shopping, and their sudden loud presence can be a turnoff for paying guests; however, you can avoid the crush by asking the reception desk what time the buses will arrive. Definitely take advantage of being so close to the ruins by getting there right at opening time. Rooms and bungalows are pleasant if somewhat dated, including stained-glass windows, hardwood furniture, and terraces. Suites have whirlpool tubs and, in some, a view of Chichén Itzá’s Observatory. If you really want to splurge, ask about the Pavarotti Suite, a luxurious suite that was expressly built for the corpulent tenor when he sang in concert at Chichén Itzá. The restaurants here are pricey and so-so at best; better to take your appetite to Hacienda Chichén, a five-minute walk away.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition