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Reviewed 11 August 2012

I travelled to Yucatan this summer with my 3 kids and we made a stop at Casa Hamaca for a couple of nights. albeit the gusethouse is remote from the town center (but at a walking distance), it was a very enjoyable staying. Denis, the executive Director, is a very nice person who takes a great care of his guests and provides very good advice. The rooms are nicely decorated and the place is very quiet and surrounded by a tropical garden. The lttle swimming pool is also welcome in the summer period where you learn to know what sweating means ! Also the breakfast is very good with an assortment of fresh fruits and yoghurts as well as a special menu for the week-end with products Denis buys from the local market. (Frederic from London / Paris)

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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Thank Frederic B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DenisLarsen, Owner at Casa Hamaca Guesthouse, responded to this reviewResponded 12 August 2012

Hola and thank you for your kind words. We enjoyed your family. I take a small exception to your use of the word "remote" as to our location. We are located on the Parque San Juan, a small square bracketed by the same streets that bracket the main square and just 4 blocks away from the main square. My best wishes to the entire family and we hope to see you all again. Ciao,
Denis

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Reviewed 11 August 2012

My family of four spent four nights at Casa Hamaca in July. I relied on the recommendations of Tripadvisor reviewers as well as an interview with the Voelkels (authors of The Jaguar Stones trilogy – children’s fiction about the Maya) that I found on the web. The Voelkels have traveled extensively in Mexico with their children, visiting many Maya ruins; they recommend Casa Hamaca. After our stay, I can see why. It was not only exactly what I was looking for; it was more.

If you’re looking at staying in Valladolid, you’re probably aware you won’t find 4/5* hotels here. If that’s what you’re after, head to the Mayan Rivera where you’ll see one after another. What Valladolid has to offer is a glimpse into the life of the locals, many who are of Maya descent. Here is where you’ll find the civilization was not completely eradicated in the 9th century AD. They are alive and well in Valladolid! Casa Hamaca is located in a neighborhood, complete with a small park across the street. You hear neighborhood sounds, (such as roosters crowing and an occasional dog barking) like you would if you lived there. You will feel a part of the local scene, because you will BE a part of it.

My review will include more than just the accommodations of Casa Hamaca, because actually, when you stay here that’s what you get – more than the room. If you’re looking for “a nice room,” you probably have several options in Valladolid - though I’m not sure you’ll find them as comfortable and cool in the summer (Casa Hamaca has great A/C!). If you’re looking for a nice room that comes with unique opportunities to experience life in Valladolid, then…you’re looking for Casa Hamaca.

We arrived in the afternoon and immediately loved the lush garden and our huge room; big enough for the four of us: king, double futon & hammock (which my 23 yr old slept in). My son & hubby went swimming while my daughter and I walked 10 min. to the town square. We loved the “not too big, not too small” feel of the town where most local women wear huipiles. We stopped in the park to watch a vendor make “marquesitas” (sort of a Mexican crepe filled with your choice of a variety of things – like Nutella, or “Crema de Philladelphia” – see photo) right from his pushcart. We saw a wedding party prepare for a ceremony in the Cathedral of San Gervasio and bought a Mexican rice drink called, “Horchata” from a little store in the NW corner of the square.

Over the next four days, Denis (Casa Hamaca owner) helped us in planning activities, based on our interests. He was available morning, afternoon and evening as we came and went, checking with us to see how our day was going. While our time was well spent, it was inadequate for all I would have liked to do. You could easily spend 5 nights in Valladolid, due to its centralized location.

Things we did:

• VALLADOLID MARKET – Highly recommend this short side trip. Mornings are best. We went with Denis, (because it was a Sunday) and he gave us some insight as to what we were seeing, but you can certainly go on your own, as we did the next day. The people bring their newly slaughtered…um…how would you say it, “carcasses”? to the market in the morning and sell them. So the meat you’re buying is maybe four hours old. Live turkeys were being sold, too. It’s much bigger than you’d expect for a town the size of Valladolid. It’s a real eye-opening view into an every-day lifestyle so much different than your own probably is. You’ll see a friendly dog or two wandering the meat market aisle, probably looking for random scraps, and some rather shocking (for this city girl) animal parts on display. See photos if you’re brave. Very colorful, lively, and full of bargains. We bought chili powder and several jars of pure honey made in Valladolid. Did you know the Yucatan Penninsula was the world’s leading honey producer until about 30 yrs ago, (now, it’s China)? Across the street (out the door near the honey) is an awesome…

• TORTILLERIA - complete with a tortilla-making machine! (photo) Really neat seeing how tortillas are made with this contraption. It’s a tiny store so your view of the process is birds-eye. When we went back the next day, the machine was broken. Not sure how often that happens, but if its up and running when you’re there, buy some fresh tortillas!

• EK’BALAM Maya Ruins – Go! So worth it. Just go early, before it gets too hot. This site had only been opened to the public for about 10 yrs or so, and so far, as of July 2012, you can still climb all of the ruins here. Plenty of free parking, restroom avbl, no food for sale. It wasn’t crowded and we didn’t see guides, but didn’t feel we needed one either. (Have a guide book w/ you, or print info about Ek Balam ahead of time). Many great photo ops here (see photos). Just when you’ve worked up a good ruin-climbing sweat, you can visit:

• X’CANCHE Cenote – (Eesh-kon-CHAY) “Can” = snake, “Che” = stick (in Mayan). 30 min away. You’ll see why it’s named this. Located by Ek Balam, accessible by walking 1 mile into the jungle, or renting bikes (50 pesos) or being pushed in a push cart, which can be the best 70 pesos you’ll spend! Those guys work SO hard in the immense heat. We left a good tip, and it felt GOOD to do so. We also got two bikes and traded off for the return. The push carts were definitely nice. Path was quite rough to bike, but fun. We all used the rope swing (no charge, just tip the guy holding the rope) and my daughter repelled the cenote (50 pesos) which was easy (they lowered her more than she lowered herself). When you’re finished here, there is a hammock lounge area (see photos of rappelling, rope swing, hammocks, pushcart/bikes) Way cool. We fell into the hammock and tried out the famous Mexican siesta … which we think should be adopted in the U.S.

• CHICHEN ITZA – 40 min away. Huge, hot, educational. Try to arrive by 8:30. We used a guide, Willie – very, very good. You can request him – he always wears a red cap. (photo) Excellent English and good with kids; uses their names a lot which helps keep them from zoning out… He taught us some Mayan words, was patient while we practiced, and punctuated the tour with interesting stories. We paid 550MN (pesos) for 90 min. Just a note: I had read if you get there early you can get a “better deal on guides” because they will be finished with you before the tour buses arrive. What we learned is that there are 60+ authorized guides at CI, and nobody gets a second tour until everyone has had one. Willie actually left after us, since he’d be waiting a long time for another group. This makes sense actually, and also explains why they may not be willing to negotiate much lower than 600, which, with a tip, is what we ended up paying. Another family at Casa Hamaca said they’d paid 650. Your experience may vary, but just saying…We also had no vendors calling out to us to buy, which may be due to what Willie told us were ultimatums…they stop or they leave. It was a worthwhile trip, but we preferred Ek Balam.

• IK-KIL Cenote – Commercialized, and cool. Worth the $6US admission. A nice stop after Chichen (and the huge buffet at Best Western in Piste, near Chichen - $9US pp/ incl entertainment). You can jump or dive from a high platform. Both kids did it but my preference was to watch  Water was clean and like most cenotes, you get great photos!

• CASA DE LOS VENADOS – Pretty incredible tour of a huge home in Valladolid. 10AM daily for 60-90 min (ours was 1 hr). Very interesting collection of folk art (yes, even my 12 yr old was interested – for the most part). An American Ex-CEO retired with a huge bonus and bought the house in Valladolid, fixed it up (understatement) and now offers tours for a “donation” of $5US. Google it; there’s plenty of photos out there, then decide if it’s something you want to do. Keep in mind though, that going at 10AM means you’re not using that golden morning time to visit the ruins before the heat and crowds. It’s a good activity for your “chill” day, tour the house in the am and cenote-hop (Zaci is walking distance away) in the pm.

• MAYAN VILLAGE FOOD DELIVERY – Remember when I said CH provides unique opportunities? This was one. We gave Denis $50USD to buy groceries, then delivered them to a villager who lives in a nearby Mayan village (where his wonderful chef, Gabina lives). Of everything we did in two Mexican states in two weeks, (incl diving Cozumel), I think this memory will last the longest, this experience the most educational. The man was ever-so-kind and gracious, rushing to find seating in his humble hut for us as we arrived with the food. See my son’s face in the photo for a “picture speaks 1,000 words” image. We stayed for about 10 minutes while Gabby facilitated the conversation between Mayan and English. Please, if this interests you, ask Denis about it!

• DZITNUP Cenotes – 10 min away. There are two here: X’keken and Samula, each with a separate entrance fee. We only saw X’keken. It was underground and lit with lights. Crowded with a tour, but still, definitely worth seeing. Stalactites & stalagmites abound. Wear non-slippery shoes for the descent/ascent. Lots of shopping and food/beverage vendors as you enter/exit. One of those “Wow” places. You’ll get great photos (see X’keken photo).

• DESTILERIA ARTESANAL DE AGAVE – 10 min away. Check with Denis before heading out here if you want a tour in English – since in THREE visits here, we never timed it right. We got a tour in “mostly” English from one of the guides who did her best – which was actually very good. Between her English and our Spanish, we did fine. But apparently there are English guides who work very limited hours. This was an AWESOME experience! They lend you hats for the photo after the tasting. It’s all free (because they know you’ll want to buy some of that great tequila in the gift shop!).

• BOUGHT HAMMOCKS FROM THE PRISON – I know it sounds funny, but Denis will tell you about it; the prisoners make great hammocks. I think they have the time. We paid $50US per single-sized hammock. Had to wash and re-wash in the tub when we got home to remove the smell (?) after taking them out of the plastic bag they’d been in for a week, but they’re hanging in the kids’ rooms now and look and feel wonderful. Reminds us of Casa Hamaca.

Things we would have done with more time:

• Taught English and learned Spanish in the little English Library on Casa Hamaca’s property.

• Visit Rio Largatos and take a boat ride to see the flamingos.

• Drive to Cuzama and take the donkey-drawn rail car to the three cenotes. This is about 1.45 hrs from Valladolid, so we were going to do it on the way to Merida, but plans changed. Next time…

• Visit Coba ruins – 1 hr away. This is what I most regret missing. Just ran out of time.



This was a l-o-n-g review and I know it was about more than Casa Hamaca – but it’s all things we did while staying there, with Denis’ help. As a host, he is the best. Our second day, the a/c started leaking. He moved us to two separate rooms right away and it was fixed the next day. We decided we actually liked the new rooms (this city girl wakes up with the rooster’s crow, unlike the rest of my family) because they were very quiet, so Denis let us remain there at no extra charge. So we actually occupied three rooms at CH, and all were just lovely. Huge, clean, artsy, cool and comfy.

As for restaurants, we ate at a few while in Valladolid and Denis can help you with that, as he did us. Some (Las Campanas, Conatos) we liked more than others (Taberna de los Frailes). I’ll try to review those soon.

Hopefully you’ve seen just how much you can do in a day while staying in Valladolid. I highly recommend Casa Hamaca not just for the accommodations and location, but for the unique experiences Denis has created for his guests. Take advantage of them!


TIPS: Chac, the rain god, showed up daily around 2pm. Bring a rain jacket (the thinner the better in the summer) and wear clothing that dries fast. Hats/sunglasses/sunscreen (biodegradeable)/and BUG SPRAY are essential. Also, with all the cenotes, if you have a waterproof camera of some sort, you will probably be glad. Snorkel gear comes in handy too. We didn’t use our fins ‘til we reached the coast. Driving a rental car in the Yucatan and QR states was FINE, no problems at all, though we stayed off the road at night.


Also, if a trip to the Yucatan is on your agenda this December, I think Casa Hamaca is having a "Last Supper" to commemorate the "end of the world" according to the Maya calendar, just in case you're interested :)

Enjoy EXPERIENCING Valladolid from Casa Hamaca!

  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled with family
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3  Thank luv2flyplaces
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DenisLarsen, Owner at Casa Hamaca Guesthouse, responded to this reviewResponded 12 August 2012

Thank you for your kind words. Your review conveys the essence of how we attempt to give our guests the best possible experience. You add "color" to a bare-bones description of Casa Hamaca and of Valladolid. We enjoyed your visit and hope to see you again in the future. Best wishes.
Denis

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Reviewed 1 July 2012

The entrance to the guesthouse did not give us any hint of what we would find inside the property. Once we walked past the carpark, we found a lush tropical garden with a swimming pool. The rooms were big and clean, with even a hammock if you prefer to sleep in one.

The key to the entire experience was Denis. He was a wealth of information and very helpful, telling us where to go for shopping and food. But the star of the visit was yet to come. As the price of the stay was for bed and breakfast, we didn't expect that breakfast was in a small local store in the local market. We had a wonderful time eating local fare and chatting with the owner, his wife and teenage son. It gave us the chance to interact with the locals. After breakfast, Denis took us round the market and a tortilla making shop for a tour. It was a wonderful experience to be able to see a facet of local life and also to understand what Denis and some of the expats are doing to help the local community - like setting up a library to encourage the locals to read.

Denis - thanks for the wonderful experience.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Boon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 3 July 2012

Thank for the nice review. I enjoyed meeting the two of you and hope you will have the opportunity for a return visit. I would like to clarify that breakfast in the market is only on Sunday. All other days of the week our staff prepares breakfast either in the palapa or in the dining hall. Our normal breakfast is yoghurt, granola, sweet rolls, a fresh fruit plate plus coffee and tea and fresh juice. Then the cook makes a egg dish of some kind; often huevos ranchero, chiliquiles, huevos motuleño or some interesting local dish. Safe travels. Denis

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Reviewed 26 June 2012

Denis and his staff were excellent. They assisted us with loads of information about the town, the ruins and how to efficiently get around to see it all in a short period of time. The rooms are large and clean and there's a pool to cool down during the hot days. Breakfast was a highlight and on our last day the staff made us the most beautiful lunch on a last minute request by us. Denis will also give you great tips on restaurants. If you want to see the ruins (like Chichen Itza), do it from Valladolid, instead of Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, the bus trips are shorter and the town is well worth the visit. Needless to say Casa Hamaca is where to stay, whether you're a single, couple or family. Breakfast time you get to chat to Denis and the other guests if you wish, it's a great communal atmosphere. Thanks to Denis and all his staff!

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank NIFT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2012

My first impression was excellent as I walked up a foliage embraced path to the welcoming expanse of a beautiful patio. I was greeted by Denis, my host, who remained a ready resource throughout my stay. I even stayed one extra night because it was so wonderful. There was a carafe of coffee prepared by 6:30 each morning and a wonderful breakfast was prepared whenever you desired. Breakfast contained fresh fruit, yogurt w/ granola, pan dulces, juice and huevbos rancheros (or any style you request). it is walking distance to the city sight of Merida without being too close and noisy. There is a small church and park in front of the guesthouse. In the morning/evening you can enjoy the sounds of the many types of birds that are also enjoying the grounds of the Casa Hamaca.

Room Tip: I don't know what the other rooms were like, but the tree suite is large and comfortable.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled solo
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1  Thank Kathy76117
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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