It's snowing outside! It's cold and windy and where I want to be is Isla Holbox and more specifically Palapas del Sol. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the sultry breeze on my face, taste Estella's amazing food and enjoy one of Martin's great mojito's. Is it possible to feel homesick for a place where you've only spent two weeks?
My wife and I had the most amazing stay over the Xmas and New year holidays. Neither of us had visited Mexico before and I was tasked with finding somewhere to chill out and relax, somewhere that was off the beaten track and we found it at Palapas del Sol.
This is not a 5 star hotel, I'm not even sure that you can call it a hotel. On the website Adriana describes it as a 'hotelito' and although I'm not quite sure what that means, I like it. Think of Palapas del Sol as a B&B and I think that you are half way there. The rooms in their freestanding blocks are truly comfortable, with huge bed, idiosyncratic furnishings, a couple of hammocks and an ensuite. Meals are taken communally on the terrace in front of Estella's kitchen. Palapas del Sol is the home of the amazing staff team that give this place it's life blood. Samuel quietly and competently makes sure that the place is working smoothly. Estella rules the kitchen. Martin is the main speaker of English and among other things makes the meanest cocktails and his wife Cecilia ensures that your room is kept in exquisite condition. As with any family home you can expect children to be running around and the two little boys are, as all little boys should be, true scamps.
Isla Holbox feels remote, you've made the effort to get here and so be prepared for the odd thing to go wrong. One night the entire island had intermittent power cuts, another evening the wind was so strong that guests ate in the kitchen. whilst on another, my wife and I didn't have any hot water in our room but as soon as we mentioned this to Samuel and Martin they dropped everything and within 30 minutes it was fixed.
Palapas del Sol does have its quirks. One of the main ones is that nothing is priced. You are encouraged to help yourself to beer and soft drinks in the kitchen and if Martin isn't around to mix yourself a drink at the bar. All you do is then make sure you mark it on your sheet on the kitchen wall. Estella tempts you with amazing home cooked food. But you never (unless you ask of course) know 'how much'. We weren't too worried by this, we saw the prices in town and felt that if Palapas del Sol was anywhere close the end bill would be fine. Strangely we saw other departing guests smile as they paid their bills. We too were very pleased when we got the bill. I'm not going to spoil any surprises but it was very good value compared to town.
The other thing to work out is the question of what to have for breakfast. I must admit that my Spanish is virtually non existent and there is no menu. But basically breakfast is a bowl of amazingly tasty fruit, a glass of juice, tea or coffee and eggs. Not just any eggs I hasten to add. But Estella's Huevas Rancheros (crispy tortilla, beans, fried egg, salsa) or Huevas Mexicana (scrambled eggs with vegetables). You can ask for Pan Tostados (toast) or, if you end up like me, tortillas. If you dare ask for Chile you'll get a small bowl of freshly chopped habanero chile in lemon juice, works great with the Huevos Mexican and the Empanadas and the Tacos and the......
I am a self confessed foodie and you've probably worked out that I am a fan of Estella's food. Lunches and dinners are based around seafood, meat is served only very occasionally. Fish Empanadas, fish Tacos, guacamole, salad, ceviche and more are all available. For a more substantial meal Martin & Samuel will grill freshly caught fish and its fun deciding with them what type of fish you fancy before they go to the market to buy.
I need to tell you about how we were spoiled on New Year's Eve. A communal dinner of Lobster and Champagne, dessert and coffee. Followed by a bonfire on the beach complete with marshmallows to toast in the glowing embers and the surprise of watching fireworks down the beach. An amazing memory cherish.
Here are a few of my top tips if you decide to stay at Palapas del Sol...
Leave your hang-ups at home, chill, relax and enjoy the warmth and hospitality that this place offers.
The watch tower can only be accessed through one room, if this is important to you ask for the 1st floor red room.
Expect biting insects around dusk. There is a basket of miscellaneous insect repellents (and sun cream) that you can make use of. We found that Johnson's Baby Mosquito Repellent worked best for us.
Be respectful, this is home to Samuel et al.
If you want to be rewarded by one of the most beautiful smiles that this world has to offer then take your empty meal plates into the kitchen and Estella might just reward you.
Everyone says that Estella's cooking is the best food on the island. After eating in several Isla Holbox restaurants and enjoying some good food in the process, I can gladly confirm that this is true!
We watched a lot of guests come and go, some only staying one or two nights. To truly appreciate Palapas del Sol you need to stay longer than that.
And a couple of more general points...
Book ahead, over the holidays there were nights when every bed on the island was taken.
Isla Holbox is mainly a cash economy. The two ATM's aren't reliable and the bureau de change will limit the amount of cash that you can exchange. So bring plenty of Mexican Peso.
I should also add that although we never met Adriana, the emails that we exchanged before and after our holiday were immensely helpful in organising our stay and set the scene perfectly for our arrival.
On a final note, I just want to share my wife's description of our holiday at Palapas del Sol.
I need say no more.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Casa Palapas del Sol is an ocean front beach hotel intimate and quiet with 16 rooms. All rooms have air-conditioning, private entrances, bathrooms and balconies or terraces with hammocks and seating area. A relaxed beach retreat for barefoot island living. Authentic and genuine Mayan hosts with the intention to make you feel at home At Palapas del Sol and in the restaurant the freshest local ingredients available on the island are used to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. A beach front pool, beach palapas with hammocks and king size beach beds invite you to enjoy this so privileged spot. We happily assist our guests with transfers, tours, spa and beauty services, romantic dinners on the beach, honeymoon suite available. ... more less
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- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Priceline and Agoda so you can book your Hotel Casa Palapas del Sol reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.