Billionaires. When they want a quiet place in the mountains, they find one, buy it and restore it. With their resources, they can create a dream retreat the rest of us could barely imagine. At the Hacienda De San Antonio you can live Sir James Goldsmith’s dreams of incredible ambiance, tranquility, luxury and sustainability.
The private retreat, turned posh resort, sits amid the mountains of central Mexico, just below an active volcano. Thirty acres of formal gardens surround the mission style buildings and natural spring waters flow from deep inside the volcano, down the mountain and through the property creating bubbling brooks, fountains and waterfalls. A 5000-acre nature reserve surrounds the complex ensuring privacy and tranquility.
The pale pink buildings adjoin forming a fort like environment and share a large exquisitely manicured courtyard. The arches can’t be ignored as you enter the front gate. Giant arches in an 1879 aqua duct blend into smaller arches in a building serving as the lobby. Staff members wait under one of them when new guests arrive, eager to greet. From any point a dozen arches are visible, adding depth to hallways, framing doors and letting the sunshine into covered walkways.
Twenty-five guest rooms are appointed with furniture made on the property. When your guests are US presidents, European prime ministers and world business leaders you design large lavish guest rooms, fly in five miles of fabric to make custom drapes and hand paint tiles for the bathrooms. Big wood burning fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting and ultra comfortable beds and bedding make the rooms over the top comfy.
Once the home of a thriving coffee plantation, the fertile lands are still producing crops.
In fact, 80-percent of the Hacienda’s needs are derived from surrounding lands. Biodynamic farming techniques are used to grow the purest fresh fruits, vegetables and coffee. Pork, beef and fowl are raised free range. Goats and cows are milked; their bounty used to create cheeses, butter, cream and yogurt. Essential oils are extracted from excess crops and garden trimmings and used to make natural soaps. The operation is not large, producing just enough to satisfy the needs of the resort.
Simply prepared, lavishly presented by the Cordon Blue-trained chef, farm fresh ingredients burst with flavor.
Horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and picnicking are some of the activities on the nature reserve. Clear, calm lakes reflect the mountains, trees and big blue sky. Picking fresh, biodynamic vegetables from the gardens and enjoying them on a ridge over- looking the reserve adds a nice touch to lunch. Wildlife abounds and sightings of javelina, deer and colorful birds are common; occasionally a cougar is spotted prowling along the bluffs.
The Hacienda’s intimacy makes it an ideal wedding destination. With just 25 guest rooms, buying out the whole resort is feasible. There are plenty of roof top patios, plush dining rooms and a luxurious pool area for pre/post parties and the kitchen crew is ready to serve world-class cuisine. About a hundred years ago during an excessively violent eruption of the volcano, the lava came pouring down the mountain towards the plantation. The owner prayed the flow would stop before it wiped out his home and business, promising to build a chapel if the flow ceased. The chapel is beautifully restored and filled with Catholic artifacts. Seating for twenty is perfect for a small destination wedding. Bigger crowds can gather at the amphitheater or various locations in the gardens.
When at the Hacienda de San Antonio, you live like Sir James. It’s not uncommon to be one of just a few guests on property, and the large staff is waiting, wanting to serve. Customizing meals, escorting guests around the property, serving drinks and turning down beds. Your wants and needs are their desires. Here, you live like a billionaire.
Story & Photo: Tom Flynn