One thing that everybody can agree on is that Mexico warmly welcomes visitors. Friendly to a fault, Mexicans are the hosts every visitor dreams of having. It’s no wonder the country is booming as a destination. And it comes as no surprise that many visitors have not only decided to stay, but to open their own establishments to accommodate people from all over the world.
For Elisa and Guillaume, owners of Casa Galopina, this place is not just a hotel: “It’s a home. A family project. And as such, we give it the care it deserves and the care our visitors deserve,” says Elisa, in a nutshell. Galopina is the fruit of a life shared, of the sum of two melded but also individual personalities. “We’ve put our heart, sweat and passion for what we do into Galopina. It’s an open window through which Guillaume and I can express our passions. For him, it’s nature, trees, the orchard… For me, design, cooking… And for both of us, it’s the encounter with new cultures and adventures through our guests.”
In fact, just locating Casa Galopina on a map brings a thrill. Located within the Ring of Cenotes State Reserve, close to Mérida, in the state of Yucatán, there is not much human activity in the surrounding area. This is evident because Casa Galopina is set on seven hectares of land where the nearest neighbour is a kilometre away. “The setting embraces Galopina, and does so very well. It’s the ideal covering and space in which the house and nature are a perfect match. The nature reserve plays a crucial role. We can see birds of different colours in the mornings, and listen to the crickets and see the starry sky at night.”
At Galopina, guests who are more given to hedonistic pleasures can relax beside the pool with a book from the library, while accompanying a beer or cocktail with some guacamole or hummus from the honesty bar. The more intrepid, however, can take advantage of the fact that Yucatán is one of the world’s leading honey producers and take in the customs of the area by tending to the bees. “Bees play a very important part in preserving our environment.
Their care is a non-profit activity that our guests are welcome to join if they wish. There are days when you only need to see that everything is in order and no other insects have invaded. While honey is gathered on other days, although this only happens three times a year. We use honey in the food. We try to sweeten everything with our honey, from salad dressings to cakes, pastries, sauces… We also sell it, so that our guests can take home a souvenir of their sweet stay at Galopina,” says Elisa.
The house is filled with countless personal items with which Elisa and Guillaume have managed to connect with those who visit them. Nothing has been chosen at random. “Each room at Galopina provides a direct view of the wild native vegetation. Every room is different; the décor pieces were made by artisans, with others by Guillaume and others by me,” Elisa explains. She confesses that design is one of her passions.
For the structural details, Guillaume and Elisa were assisted by the architecture firm TACO. “We wanted to create something worthy of Yucatán, so it was obvious to work with a team from the region. The design was a joint effort because Galopina is our personal project. The idea already existed and TACO perfectly captured what we had in mind. We are passionate about the project, so we wanted to be involved from conception to completion.” While Mexico is known for its deep relationship with the land, Yucatán is perhaps one of the areas where this pride can be felt most strongly. And this attachment to tradition is what Elisa and Guillaume wanted to imprint on Galopina: “Yucatán has a huge influence on the house.
Having designed it together with the Yucatecan firm TACO was a great success because the stamp they put on their work sets them apart and forms part of the representative – and promising – architecture of the region. The design shows the Yucatecan influence in the materials used, in the methodology behind the application of the design elements, in the products and in the skilled craftsmanship that went into the raising of walls, laying of floors and attaching our ceilings. Galopina is 100 per cent Yucatecan, and we are very proud of and satisfied with the result we’ve achieved.”