Hacienda El Carmen

Hacienda El Carmen is located just under forty miles to the west of Guadalajara, about a one-hour drive away, and about sixty miles to the east of Puerto Vallarta and the beaches of the Costalegre. It is in the charming old colonial town of Ahualulco del Mercado. There once were numerous seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jalisco haciendas scattered across the landscapes outside of Guadalajara. Many of them were destroyed and their wealthy owners, who controlled the majority of the property in the country, were killed in the Mexican Revolution of 1910. But many haciendas still remain, and several have been converted into historic luxury hotels.

Haciendas in Mexico provide wonderful accommodations as well as offer an authentic taste of the colonial history of the country. The Hacienda El Carmen was built in 1722, and as the Santa María de Miraflores, was deeded to the order of barefoot Carmelita nuns in 1728. These nuns renamed the property Hacienda El Carmen, and they prospered on the 100,000 acres—prospered enough, in fact, to found the beautiful eighteenth-century baroque convent and church of El Carmen in Guadalajara. After it was sold in 1837, the hacienda passed from owner to owner until it was purchased by the current owners in 1961. It became one of the Jalisco haciendas converted into a luxury hotel and spa in 2001.

Guachimontones Ruins
Guachimontones Ruins

There are eight notable Jalisco haciendas primarily located in small towns outside of Guadalajara, and Hacienda El Carmen is the largest of them. It was once one of the most important haciendas in Mexico and is set on 400 acres in the midst of its own sugar cane plantation. There are 26 rooms, all of which are suites, and modern amenities such as televisions and the property's business center have been camouflaged to help the hacienda retain its historic charm. The hotel provides transportation to Guadalajara during the day, and tours are also offered into the town and to nearby Tequila, the center of blue agave cactus cultivation where the majority of the world's tequila is distilled. Hacienda El Carmen is located in the heart of the territory of the pre-Columbian Teuchitlan people, and the hotel also offers tours to Teuchitlan to visit the interesting archaeological museum and the ruins of the Guachimontones pyramids. While not as extensive as the better-known ruins at Teotihuacan near Mexico City, this is a fascinating site. There are also full-day guided tours of Guadalajara, including lunch and time for shopping, and there is fishing on the property.

In addition to its 26 suites, all of which have fireplaces and hot tubs, Hacienda El Carmen boasts a gourmet restaurant, courtyard bar, wine cellar, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and workout room. There is a lovely old chapel, and the former granary has been converted into a full-service spa. Colorful peacocks roam the historic colonnaded courtyards and beautiful manicured lawns. Other things to do here include using the jogging track, playing a round on the six-hole golf course, and horseback riding. There is also table tennis and a billiards room. This is one of the haciendas in Mexico that caters for special events, conferences, and workshops—banquets can be catered for more than 200 people. While this is a bit out of the way, the Hacienda El Carmen is an excellent alternative to Guadalajara hotels, and it is even possible to book Mexico tours that travel across the country and stay in different haciendas.

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