“Have you infiltrated Cara Delevingne’s inner circle and forgotten to tell me???” was the unexpected reply to my Instagram story.
In a post-massage, post-two glasses of rosé at lunch haze, I wracked my brain wondering why my friend would think I was mates with one of the world’s most in-demand model/actress/It girls. I’m not exactly known for my A-list connections.
She soon directed me to a photo of Cara and her squad at Chable Resort & Spa, which is where I happened to be at that exact moment, and had just been shamelessly showing off to my (admittedly much fewer) Instagram followers.
Cara’s visit to Chable as part of her #sexico 25th birthday extravaganza around Mexico (don’t pretend you weren’t following along at home) resulted in global coverage of Chable. But the A-list approval isn’t the only reason the relatively new resort – it opened last year – is drawing a fashionable, zen-seeking crowd that can’t resist ‘gramming the aesthetically pleasing property. Since its opening, Chable has been showered in accolades: Conde Nast Traveler named it the best hotel in eastern Mexico, and it won the 2017 Prix Versailles, an award given annually by UNESCO and the International Union of Architects to the world’s best designed new hotel.
Chable is just outside the Spanish colonial city of Merida, one-hour by air or a three-hour drive from Cancun. It’s a little off the beaten path, but that’s the point. As Cancun, Tulum and Playa Del Carmen get busier every year, those looking for more tranquil ~vibes~ in the region are going inland, swapping the beach for pools and cenotés (those photogenic natural swimming holes) in the peaceful Yucatan jungle.
Chable is built on a former hacienda or agricultural estate, and still retains some original stone archways and walls that have been carefully restored, giving the place an authentic and historic feel for a modern resort. The property is huge and meandering, so it’s never hard to find a spot to soak up some solitude, like one of the large teardrop-shaped pod chairs that hang from the boughs of banyan trees.
The 40 villas (38 casitas, plus the Presidential and Royal villas, the latter being where Cara and her girl gang lived it up) are designed to make you feel immersed in nature. Each is surrounded by verdant greenery and has its own leaf-fringed pool with a hammock and covered seating area, where staff leave hot coffee and Mexican pastries in the morning.
The light-filled, minimally decorated villas feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, which makes you feel as though you’re levitating in the jungle. In the limestone bathroom, the double shower has glass doors that open on to another timber and glass outdoor shower, so you can rinse to the song of more than 400 bird species.
But the spa is undoubtedly the piece de resistance at Chable, where the individual treatment cabins face onto a cenote. This is no basic bitch spa – the treatments are, as the kids, say, woke. The menu is inspired by ancient shaman healing techniques, and broken up into three ‘journeys’ based on your needs – flow, balance or inspire.
An example of how Chable take their spa treatments next-level is the The Fountain’s Flow package, which begins with a welcome ritual on the banks of the cenote and a session in a flotation therapy tank before a full body scrub and massage.
I chose a Deep Tissue Massage, which melted away the ache I carry in my shoulders constantly thanks to a desk-bound lifestyle and some garden-variety anxiety. Afterwards, I was led to a seat on the treatment room’s private balcony overlooking the cenote, where I sipped an herbal drink of cacao and chamomile and listened to the trickle of water, birdsong and the breeze rustling the leaves.
There’s a daily activities list at Chable, including things like meditation, yoga or a tour of the chef’s garden (they grow a significant amount of their own produce, and organically to boot) with Executive Chef Luis Ronzon, but my main pastime when I wasn’t splayed out on a masseuse’s table or sun lounge was, of course, eating.
Chable’s culinary offering is overseen by Jorge Vallejo, the chef behind Quintonil in Mexico City which is on the San Pellegrino World’s Top 50 Best Restaurants list, but Ronzon manages the day-to-day running of the three on-site restaurants.
The extensive, varied menus at Chable allow you to be as indulgent or healthy as you please. Breakfast at poolside restaurant Ki’ol might be avocado toast and cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork cooked with achiote paste and served with freshly made tortillas) washed down with a green smoothie and coffee. Ki’ol is also where you’re most likely to have lunch, where a typical meal might be a traditional duck and bean stew with pickled onions, radishes, coriander and chilli, or a fish of the day (Chable is a one-hour drive from the Gulf of Mexico) served with chaya, a local variety of spinach, and jicama, a local vegetable best described as a savoury apple.
Ix’im, Chable’s fine-dining restaurant has made its mark on the local culinary scene, luring visitors staying 25 minutes away in Merida. The tiled, low-lit dining room features a floor-to-ceiling window looking onto trees lit with lanterns, and t’s also lined with glass cabinets displaying the world’s largest tequila bottle collection – 3,000 at last count, with some more than 100 years old.
At Ix’im, Ronzon gets to showcase the modern Mexican cuisine he mastered as a chef in Mexico City. Deer tartare with ‘recado rojo’ (a traditional spice blend) vinaigrette, sour orange, habanero chili and pumpkin seed, or roasted cauliflower with kohlrabi purée and chili sauce, were just a couple of well-balanced dishes.
Departing Chable after a few days, feeling the kind of deep relaxation it normally takes me a good week on holidays to achieve, I thought of Cara and hoped she felt the same. Between modelling, movie promotion, writing books and taking down the patriarchy, the woman’s got a seriously jam-packed schedule these days.
In late 2017 Chable announced plans for a second resort opening in August 2018, this one on the coast just 35 minutes south of Cancun. With a more convenient location for many, there’s no doubt about it: Chable’s going to be blowing up our Instagram feeds this year.
Book a stay at Chable Resort & Spa with Small Luxury Hotels of the World via https://www.slh.com/hotels/chable-spa-and-resort/ or call 1 800 219 010.