I really don’t know anything about the Casa Azul Hotel, except that they rescued a beautiful blue mansion that you might pass on your way to the Hyatt. These days, you may well just change your plans and circle around. Here’s a video that shows the transformation, and proprietor Raul Bobadilla explains the difficulties in renovating a building after it’s been designated a “historical monument.”
For my last visit, however, we chose a big chain with a panoramic view from the 17th floor. We had a lot of business to accomplish, and a business hotel seemed like a suitable option. It was, and it wasn’t.
For me, the Hyatt Regency was a love-hate affair. Spasso, its Italian restaurant, served what was easily our worst meal ever in Mérida — more precisely, our first bad meal! Our room on the 17th floor was drab but comfortable (I tried not to look too closely at the carpet) and I got the great view I was after.
I admit I’m corruptible. Paying to be on the “Club Level” was worth it because the lounge kept serving food and pouring good wine and liquor. Also, the ease of getting a taxi at any time was terrific during a week in which we had many appointments. I love staying at guesthouses, but this time around, the anonymity of a large hotel was comforting. And the Hyatt offers loyalty points that are also tied into Continental’s frequent flier plan. I’m a sucker for points.
While suffering through the day-long Internet outage and wondering is we should bolt, we toured Casa Lecanda on Calle 47, to the east of the Paseo de Montejo. Stefano, the general manager, was gracious enough to give us a grand tour. It was artfully stunning, and at night even more beautiful than the photos in Ambientes. The design is lush and inventive (Bruce and Mary describe it better than I can) with some rates comparable to what I was paying at the Hyatt. He told us they are planning “exclusive dinners,” and maybe a roof-top lounge. If I can get used to paying for drinks again, I’ll be there!
One night last May, the street was very still as we walked along 47, passing the then-unfinished Lecanda from across the street. Its front door was wide open, and I could just glimpse a chandelier, its soft light revealing some columns, and some palm fronts in silhouette. I thought I was getting a rare glimpse into a private home, not knowing that before the year ended I would be given a guided tour. Funny how that image stuck with me.
People are taking huge risks and sinking in major investment money, and unleashing their creativity, betting on the future of tourism in Mérida. They’re betting that there’s a market for high-end hospitality, and there appears to be a race to the top in both price point and style. If they can offer service to match the design, I think those bets will pay off.