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Where to Stay Along the Way, and How to Get There
We weren’t sure what to expect as we
wheeled into Hacienda Mariposa’s entrance, greeted by German Shepherds. Of
course, we’d visited the website,
but we knew how deceptive some sites can be. Rounding the bend past the
nursery, the property came into full view, and sure enough, the website was
deceptively understated. What lay before us was awesome.
Hacienda Mariposa bills itself as a
“bed-and-breakfast,” which spells to us one of those quaint hostelries run
by someone’s Aunt Edith or two gay guys. We were wrong. We were also wrong
in our preliminary assessment of eco-hotels as YMCAs for the backpacking
crowd. Hacienda Mariposa proved that luxury and ecology aren’t mutually
“It’s a new way of life,”
announced proprietor René Ocaña, as he led us through the dining room and
parlor, dismissing my plea about dataports. “You can live without being
online,” he insisted, conceding that a connection was available in case of
As soon as I entered the kitchen, being
a sort of nosy type, I knew he was on to something. This was no ordinary hotel
kitchen. This kitchen was straight from the pages of Architectural Digest,
equipped with autentico Mexican cooking paraphernalia from metates
to a stone water filter. While Hacienda Mariposas does feature gourmet meals
served as properly by candlelight as Amy Vanderbilt might dictate, guests are
free to eat, watch the staff cook, or even pitch in this kitchen that would
make the staff of Fine Cooking drool enviously. And the kitchen will
cook up anything a guest’s heart may desire, given notice, from vegan to chiles
en nogada out of season. I’m willing to bet that the staff could conjure
up chipotle tofu if asked.
Guest rooms, ranging in price from $85
to $150US, feature fireplaces as well as portable Italian electric heaters,
plush down comforters, Ritz Carlton quality bathrooms, and the kind of
amenities guests are apt to stockpile as souvenirs – especially the pumice
stone wrapped in beribboned cellophane.
Included in the room rates are full
breakfasts and afternoon refreshments. If a guest is particularly enamored of
the homemade zarzamora (blackberry) jam, the inn will send a jarful
home. Even more enticing was Hacienda Mariposa’s willingness to take care of
guests’ children, providing special activities, a children’s meal, and
babysitting! Anything and everything is available for the inn’s guests,
ranging from tours to nearby villages, contact with artisans, horseback riding
– even a jaunt to the volcano Paricutin and butterfly sanctuaries. And for
the true couch potatoes, an ample library beckoned.
California touches are evident, from
the extensive wine cellar to the quiet sense of natural elegance, including an
adamant no-smoking policy. “If you must smoke, we will accommodate you by
driving you in one of our red Suburbans, along with an ashtray, to the road
outside of the property, allow you to smoke, and then bring you back,” the
innkeeper told us after a great deal of prodding.
Ocaña, who started out as an
anthropologist, studied at the California Culinary Academy, and now plies his
off-hours as private fiduciary in Santa Rosa, California, has turned a simple
hillside in the rolling hills between Patzcuaro and Santa Clara de Cobre into
an experience of a lifetime in only two short years. His creation will rival
the Villa Montaña and Las Mañanitas, my favorite lux inns in all of Mexico.
For reservations: Tel (800) 573-2386,
fax (707) 575-1166 in the U.S. From Mexico: (434) 24-728. firstname.lastname@example.org
Carr. Patzcuaro-Santa Clara de Cobre Km. 3. Transportation to and from
Morelia’s international airport is included in the room rate with a 4-night
From Morelia, take the
highway to Patzcuaro. Instead of turning at the exit marked “Patzcuaro,”
go on to the Lazaro Cardenas/Uruapan turnoff. From there, take the exit marked
“Tacambaro/Ario de Rosales.” A small sign will indicate that this leads to
Santa Clara de Cobre. Stay on the main road through Opopeo. Santa Clara is about
14 km. from Patzcuaro.
SANTA CLARA DE COBRE
Santa Clara’s hotels, both facing the
downtown plaza are clean, adequate and have private baths.
Portal Allende No.
144. Tel. (434) 300-40. Rates range from $80 to $300 pesos/night, cash only.
Hotel (& Restaurant) Real de Cobre.
Portal Hidalgo No. 19. Tel (434) 302-05. Rates range from $80 to $250
pesos/night, cash only. Fourteen rooms.
From Patzcuaro, head toward the muelle
(dock), and follow the signage to Tocuaro and Erongaricuaro, where you’ll pass
through the villages of Huecorio, San Pedro, Tócuaro, Arocutín, San Francisco
Uricho, rimmed by the lake, before reaching Erongaricuaro, some 14 km. down the
pike. Just outside of Arocutín is Restaurant
Campestre Alemán, serving up trout grown right on the premises along with
German food amid strains of classical and German pop music. Open daily from noon
to 7:30 p.m.
There are no hotels in Erongaricuaro.
From Erongaricuaro, a scenic paved road
leads around the lake, all the way back to Quiroga. From there it’s two-lane
winding blacktop to Morelia. The better and safer option is to head south to
Tzintzuntzan and then on to the divided highway.
Daily flights from LAX, SFO and ORD lead
to MLM, Morelia’s international airport, as do commuter flights from GDL and