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Punta Caliza

Isla Holbox, Mexico

Talk about keeping it in the family. This 12-room hotel on a thimble-sized island was born out of a collaboration between architect Claudia Muñoz, her brother, her parents and two of her former professors (both architects at Guadalajara’s Estudio Macías Peredo). The innovative design, inspired by a sunken Mayan ruin, was built around the breathtaking swimming pool. In some ways, Punta Caliza’s blueprint tore a page from textbooks on traditional Mexican architecture; the stucco-like finish on the walls, for example, was made using an ancient Mayan technique. At the same time, the aesthetic feels fresh and of the moment — the Instagram ideal. Construction took nearly four years, largely due to the island’s ban on heavy machinery, but the Muñozes powered through. Now we get to reap the benefits: a boutique port of call redefining the tropical escape.

Photography provided by Cesar Bejar

Getting There

Isla Holbox is part of the Yum Balam nature reserve off the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It’s accessible via air taxi from Cancún, Cozumel or Playa del Carmen, or you can hop a 25-minute ferry from the tiny town of Chiquilá (some 2.5 hours northwest of Cancún). The island is small — just 26 miles long and a mile wide — and doesn’t permit any vehicles, so visitors get around by foot, bicycle or golf cart. The vibe is serene and beachy.

Room to Book

No. 5 is the one you want, thanks to its unobstructed view of the property’s three-story watch tower. Like the other 11 rooms, it has a pitched grass roof, private plunge spa and direct access to the hotel’s Venetian-like communal swimming pool. Inside, the furnishings and textiles are all Mexican-made, handpicked by Muñoz to showcase regional talent.

Design Highlight

That pool, no question. It’s the heart of the hotel and the biggest draw for travelers, especially because Punta Caliza isn’t situated seaside. The red cedar used on the doors leading to the pool gives it a sweetly rustic look. Even more endearing: The wood was harvested from trees Muñoz’s father planted almost 30 years ago at their family farm in Tabasco.

Good to Know

The restaurant menu was designed by Daniel Bernal Vega, executive chef of Siento & Tantos in Sinaloa and head of the Mar de Cortés culinary collective. A different five-course meal is offered every weekend, plus the kitchen takes requests. The pool-ready cocktails, meanwhile, were conceived by the team at Licorería Limantour, one of Mexico City’s most respected bars. For straighter shooters, there’s always mezcal. Just ask the staff to put together a tasting that draws from its 50-plus-bottle collection.

Q+A with Claudia Muñoz

Co-Owner and General Director

Why did you choose architects Salvador Macías and Magui Peredo?

They were my professors at ITESO [Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Jalisco]. I admired their designs and work ethic. When we talked about the project together, we realized we share similar beliefs and dreams. We were really excited when they decided to participate in Punta Caliza.

Do you have a favorite space here?

I love the stairs that lead to the lookout tower. The game of light and shadow is beautiful and always changing. Sunrises and sunsets up there are also tranquil.

What are your top recommendations for Isla Holbox visitors?

Morning walks at Punta Mosquito, especially in the summer when you can see flamingos flying toward the sunrise and rays swimming alongside you. Swimming with whale sharks is another amazing experience! Definitely worth the early wake-up call.

What are your travel essentials?

A notebook, because I like to write down stories and places I like or just draw when life becomes dull. A camera, to capture moments and relive them years after. And a rain jacket, because you never know.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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