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I’ve stayed at this sublime escape three times over the past decade and am always delighted to find it has retained its standards for refined luxury and simplicity. Built as a vacation hideaway for an Italian duchess in 1988, the Mediterranean-style white guesthouse and villa opened as a hotel in 2006.

The original rooms were designed in an elegantly simple style, with niches and arches in white stucco walls, large bathrooms with slatted wood floors in the showers (divine Moulton Brown toiletries), remote-controlled shades, recessed lighting, and a few pieces of driftwood and fruit for decoration. Over the years, the property has been enlarged to include thatch-roofed two-story villas edging gardens and a broad lawn. The new rooms are nearly identical to the old, though all rooms now have modern touches including TVs and loaded iPods. Some villas have private plunge pools and full kitchens (perfect for families); the best are on the second floor with balconies buried in trees where tropical birds flit about in early morning. 

The food, echoing regional Yucatecan recipes and ingredients along with classic continental fare, is superb. The small spa is deceptively rustic, with slated wood walls and small dressing and relaxation areas. What it lacks in fancy accouterments it more than makes up for with exceptionally skilled therapists. Yoga classes are held in an outdoor pavilion close to the beach, where comfy beach beds await sunbathers. Two pools have ample sun decks; one is designated for adults only.  There’s an eight-day minimum stay during holidays and an optional meal plan.