First settled by the Maya, the Hacienda was built by Spaniards sometime in the 17th century, using stones of the original Maya settlement. Through the centuries that followed, Hacienda Petac mirrored the history of the Yucatán, transforming from a small sugar cane and corn farm into a cattle ranch, and then into massive production of henequen during the “green gold” era. Hacienda Petac is one of the most extraordinary vacation experiences in the world, and will be your home during this exciting culinary adventure. This historic estate near Mérida, Yucatán offers five-star luxury exclusively for one group at a time. All suites have luxurious baths and traditional hacienda-style architecture. Each bedroom is spacious and elegant, with stunning high ceilings and tile floors. Robes, shower amenities, and daily laundry service are provided. With Yucatan’s bounty at your door, enjoy the sound of waterfalls and bird songs while lounging on the outdoor terraces. Your staff (24 in total) cleans and replenishes rooms throughout the day, slipping in at night to turn down your bed, return your laundry, dim the lights and adjust the air conditioning. Simply magical! website »
At Mérida-Rejon International Airport, you will be cordially greeted upon arrival by a government registered Yucatán guide who will transport you by van to Hacienda Petac. Along the half hour route he will translate the Maya names of the villages that you will pass through, and tell you a little about the area. At the entrance of the gates of Hacienda Petac, your driver will dim his lights so that the glow of the candlelit pathway will welcome you to your home for this glorious week of dining, cooking and exploring. Your round-trip transfers from the airport are included in your weeklong package, as are the welcome cocktails waiting for you upon your arrival.
A full-immersion culinary and cultural experience make up the ingredients of your cooking vacation to the Yucatán. This program is designed to introduce you to authentic Mayan cuisine, and allow you to experience the culture in a way that only locals enjoy. Not only is your round-trip transfer from the Mérida Airport included, but all of your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), all cooking classes (a total of 6), a mixology class, and all excursions are included in your package. You will enjoy excursions to view the Mayan Ruins in the ancient city of Uxmal, visit an underground lake (cenote), experience the markets of Mérida, dine on exquisite Yucatecan fare, and cook alongside the expert culinary staff of the magical Hacienda Petac.
Each day you will rise to share a leisurely breakfast in a garden within sight of one of the Hacienda’s original wells, now a beautiful swimming pool. Surrounded by Mayan stone, the garden welcomes you into the rich layers of history that the Hacienda reveals at every turn. During your first cooking class, you will learn to make Frijol con Puerco. This traditional Monday Yucatán staple is one of the most popular dishes on the Hacienda’s menu. You will learn to make succulent pork simmered in black beans, saving the wonderful broth to flavor a side dish of rice. You’ll also learn to make a tasty chiltomate (roasted red tomato sauce) to be added later along with other traditional condiments for a simply delicious lunch. While the pork simmers, you will enjoy an introduction to the wonderful world of tropical fruit drinks using coconuts, lime, hibiscus, pitaya and papaya to create a variety of licuados.
Late in the afternoon, after you have had your siesta, the expert culinary staff at the Hacienda will teach you how to create an array of Yucatán salsas and dips…as well as their own secret to creating the world’s finest guacamole. You will also be introduced to the distinctive flavors of the Maya with sik il pak: a dip made with ground, toasted calabash seeds mixed with chopped chives and mashed roasted red plum tomatoes. And for those that like it hot…you will whip up a roasted habanero sauce called chile k’ut. For the less adventurous, another Mayan treat called xnipek will be prepared. It is a very versatile salsa, perfect with fresh tortilla chips, or spooned over roasted chicken breasts, fish filets or a base for ceviche. Some of your creations will be served with botanas (snacks) and dinner this evening.
Mérida is a beautiful city called the Paris of North America for its elegant architecture and broad boulevard, called Paseo Montejo. As you drive to the principal square for a walking tour of downtown, you will pass mansions erected during the booming “Green Gold” henequen era when Mérida had more millionaires per capita than anywhere in the world. Your walking tour begins at the main plaza, home to the oldest cathedral in the Americas. The tree lined plaza also holds the Yucatán Governor’s palace where murals by the artist Castro Pacheco depict the history of Mérida and pay homage to the struggles of the Maya. Mérida, claimed by Spanish conquistadors in the 1540’s was built on top of the centuries old Maya city of T’ho. On the south side of the square is found the home of Francisco Montejo, the first conquistador who governed Yucatán. The walk of downtown continues to Mérida’s vibrant market scene where you will peruse the aisles of colorful stalls to purchase spices and chiles that will be used later in the cooking, including achiote, xcatic, guajillo and a type of local bean called espelon. You will also see some interesting, but uncommon, fresh fruits used locally in drinks and sorbets. Leaving the market, you will return to the square for a tasting of Sorbeteria Colon where Mérida’s best sorbets have been made for more than 100 years. And, before heading back to the hacienda, you’ll visit a local chocolate shop using Belgian techniques with Yucatán chocolate.
After relaxing at the Hacienda, you will enjoy a lunch of panuchos. Once you have tasted these Yucatecan treats you’re going to want Rosaura to show you how they are made. Panuchos originated in a barrio of Mérida called Santiago more than a hundred years ago. It was a “to go” meal offered to travelers by a vendor named Don Chucho. They were first known as “pan” (bread) which morphed into pan from Chucho’s…which further morphed into “panuchos.” These delectable “fast food” treats take all morning to prepare, but Rosaura will provide you with the short version. All steps in creating this dish will be demonstrated, and you’ll be given the recipe to take back home. Panuchos will be followed by a cooking class featuring tortilla soup, a Mexico favorite, and Poc Chuc, a Yucatán original, of marinated and grilled pork cutlet.
Your journey will include a fascinating tour of Uxmal, a world heritage site that is considered one of the most important ancient Mayan cities of the classical period. During your 2-hour tour, a specialist in Mayan culture will guide you through the history, beliefs and architectural phases of this once thriving city of worship and commerce. You will learn why Uxmal is called “thrice built” and why the population of 25,000 rose to prominence, built massive structures to honor the gods…and then abandoned their city and its ceremonial grounds. After a gourmet picnic lunch, your Yucatán tour continues with a stop at an underground lake known as a cenote. It is believed that the cenotes are sinkholes left by the asteroid which hit the earth near Chicxulub on the north of Yucatán about 65.5 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs. Descending 30 feet below the surface, you can swim in the remarkably clear water, or just marvel at its clarity. After returning from this incredible day exploring the history of the Maya, you will help in the preparation of quail in tamarind sauce. In keeping with the Hacienda’s Slow Food philosophy, these little treats are sourced from a local, organic quail farm. You will assist with marinating the small birds with homemade sweet-tart tamarind and chile sauce then roasting them over a wood charcoal fire.
During your exciting and adventurous culinary excursion, you will appreciate one day just to relax and take advantage of the scenery, or numerous activities available at the Hacienda. Walk the paths of the 250 acre Hacienda Petac to see what’s growing in the gardens and orchards, soak in the Jacuzzi, work out in the gym, grab a game of pool or ping-pong, or gather in the game room for cards or chess. You can also schedule a soothing treatment in the Hacienda’s private spa (additional charges apply). Why not try a Mayan massage or an aloe vera facial…or possibly a manicure and pedicure? Or, if you would like to see more of the region, the Hacienda staff would be happy to make suggestions for a day trip, and arrange for a driver and guide (additional charges apply). Finally, if you would still like to take more of the Hacienda experience back home with you, the staff will offer a workshop on creating some of the table designs you enjoyed during your stay. As your farewell dinner is slowly cooking underground, a live performance by Los Tres Yucatecos will complete your special week in the Yucatán.
Just came back from Hacienda Petac. Wonderful, the entire experience was great. Loved this trip!
Lisa D. – December 2015
Dear Chris, A visit to Hacienda Petac is the vacation of a lifetime. An architectural gem in a lush manicured landscape with all the amenities in impeccable order. The delightful manager Coleen and her gracious staff create a relaxing and beautiful experience. All meals are freshly and festively prepared and presented. It is a delicious and healthful cuisine. The cooking experience is a very worthwhile bonus and was great fun for our whole group. The included excursions were also exceptional as the guides are scholars and gentlemen who speak English like native speakers. Thank You for being a part of what was our best trip ever!
Susan and Jakob – February, 2014