Cradled by the turquoise waters off the Yucatán Peninsula, and colored by the verdant greenery of the surrounding Yum Balam Nature Reserve, the Mexican island of Holbox immediately feels like a departure from the crowds of nearby Cancún and Tulum. It takes a plane, a two-hour car ride, and then a ferry just to get here, but that’s part of the allure at family-owned hotel Punta Caliza—it's as much of a literal separation from the "scene" as it is a figurative one.
"Holbox is a small, pedestrian island surrounded by mangroves and sandy roads," Claudia Muñoz, a collaborator on the construction of the hotel, says.
Besides being secluded, the hotel also feels like a well-kept secret, as the Muñoz family built it for a lucky handful of visitors. There are only a dozen rooms on the property, which was thought of as a way to make this getaway feel like a family vacation.
"Before we even started thinking about Punta Caliza, our dream was to have a house with some rooms to rent where we could share stories and drinks with our guests," says Muñoz. "Having 12 rooms gives us the opportunity to meet all of our guests and create relationships with them. It also allows our guests to befriend each other. I love seeing them in town having dinner or dancing at the local bar."
And to further that homespun feel, the family relied on a construction ethos that valued local supplies and community-driven design. Each of the 12 guest rooms are connected by a swim-in, swim-out pool, and its own sky-colored water contrasts with the wooden details of the private spaces.
"We wanted the pool to be the center of the project," she continues. "We pictured people swimming before breakfast, or meeting their friends at the bar."
Most of the structures are made from Western red cedar, which was grown on the family's plantation, and their thatched roofs—known as palapas—are a nod to the traditional properties on the Mexican coast. The interiors are intentionally comfortable, yet minimalist. It's all the more reason to spend time relishing the outdoors.
"Before Punta Caliza, we had never built anything on an island. Here, the most basic things are a luxury, so we had to learn how to be creative with what we had," Muñoz says, noting that the hotel opened in December 2017 after nearly three years of construction. "There are many fun stories to tell. But the most satisfying part has been meeting all our guests."
Surely, guests will have plenty of stories to share upon their return home, too—if they decide not to keep this secret to themselves.
Related Reading: 7 Modern Hotels in Mexico You Have to Visit
Builder: Cuauhtemoc Munoz Caldera
Structural Engineer: Juan Aguirre
Civil Engineer: Cuauhtemoc Munoz Caldera
Landscape Design: Estudio Macias Peredo
Interior Design: Claudia Munoz Vargas
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