The Yucatan has always been famous for its beautiful beaches and turquoise waters. Tulum, for example, has completely blown up in the past few years as a yoga-filled sanctuary for stressed out city-dwellers, but that influx of tourists has also tarnished some of that gorgeous Mexican authenticity. It's still one of my favorite places in the world but I'm always looking out for places that are more off the beaten path and can still bring that sense of peace and calm that health-minded vacationers, like myself, crave.
Valladolid is one of those cities that feels like a diamond in the rough. It's a quick 1 hr and 45 minute drive from Cancun airport and about an hour west of Tulum and is filled with the charms of a small colonial city. It's full of talented artisans making hand-made items that still have so much authenticity. Upon first inspection I would have never thought of it as a healthy city, per se, but as I spent a few days there and dug a little deeper, there are a few special places that calmed my mind and fed my spirit.
Sleeping in a Hidden Sanctuary for the Senses
Coqui Coqui Valladolid Residence & Spa is the place to stay in Valladolid if you're looking for serenity, privacy and rejuvenation. There's only one room in the hotel so it's basically like stepping into a hacienda from 1600s and having it all to yourself. It sits above their famous Perfumeria so the scents of Tabaco, coconut and Mayan flowers fill the senses and calm any nerves still left over from home. There's a giant clawfoot tub in the middle of the bedroom and a plunge pool right outside the door on a private terrace to sink into full relaxation mode. Too relaxed? Right below the bedroom by the courtyard is a small cafe that sells cacao bars made without sugar or dairy and instead filled with superfood spices like cardamom, rose & lemongrass and fresh mint. I had these in my bag with me while we explored the city and the surrounding ruins. The slight jolt from the cacao beans gave me the energy I needed without having a sugar crash. If that's not convincing enough, there's also a gorgeous spa that uses local ingredients in an open air garden setting.
A Hidden Vegan Gem
There are delicious restaurants in Valladolid (I loved Casa Italia!) but for something a little healthier I LOVED Yerbabuena. It's directly across from the most gorgeous Convent in town and has a menu that rivals the best vegan spots in big cities like LA or New York but with tons of Mexican charm and influence. The golden milk was my absolute favorite. Their recipe included milk of choice (almond, coconut or whole), local honey, coconut oil and turmeric. The Yucatan is known for having incredibly fresh exotic fruit like papaya and mamey so I went with the fresh fruit and homemade granola bowl. They infuse local fruits and ingredients for unique fresh juices and tonics. It's really an incredible place with an incredible setting!
A Town Cenote
A lot of people come here just to swim in the cenote. There are tons of these across the Yucatan but it's rare to have one right in the center of a city. The Mayans have always considered these swimming holes sacred so plunging in them gives reprieve from the heat and mineral benefits of where the fresh water meets the sea.
Most people just stop off in Valladolid on the way to Chichen Itza but I absolutely loved basing myself in town at the residence and exploring from there. My mind, body and spirit felt filled with beautiful Yucatan inspiration and also was pampered with staying in a sanctuary and watching the stars from our own little patio. I'm already plotting a trip back just for the cacao bars and the tubs!