04wongs....be certain to email the property and let them know in advance you are vegetarians (as we did) and they will be happy to adjust the recipes and menus for you. Do not be concerned about the level of "heat" involved in their dishes....you can make adjustments to accommodate yourown taste. Puebla is approximately 200km to Veracruz, theclosest location to a major body of water.....not really a day trip, if you want beach time.
04wongs....if your travel schedule allows, you might find this area of Mexico also of interest, I worked in this region for several months and really enjoyed the time I spent within digenous people. Here is a recent newspaper article with more information:
Discovering the peaceful Chiapas
Tour of Mexican region reveals churches, wildlife and grilled ants.
By Keven Ann Willey | The Dallas Morning News July 27, 2008
The Spanish were afraid of the jungle and never succeeded in conquering this region.
The Mayans developed a number system based on zero centuries before Arab scholars taught Europeans the same. The ruins of Palenque and Bonampak are some of the best-preserved and most dramatic in this part of the world.
Chiapas has a reputation for guerrilla rebellion, but that was more than a decade ago amid a fight for civil rights. The unrest never was anti-American, and the region is peaceful now.
The land is rich in resources: oil, uranium, fruit, coffee, cattle and fish. One water project on the GrijalvaRiver reportedly supplies nearly a third of Mexicos electricity. But Chiapas people are poor.
Seven tribes of indigenous people dwell here, many identifiable by their distinctive clothing. Some live in the jungle and subsist on small, primitive, bean-producing farms.
The perception is that travelers rough it, but Americanstandard accommodations, recognizable food and a dependable cup of coffee in the morning are common.
Faith is a creative blend of Catholicism and paganism.
Recently, my husband and I climbed ancient Mayan monuments, hiked in luscious green jungles where we ogled spider monkeys and a scarlet macaw, admired crocodiles lounging on the river banks and visited some of the best weavers and artisans in the region.
We enjoyed clean, comfortable accommodations everywhere we went, as well as delicious food, plenty of bottled water and warm and welcoming Chiapanecas.
With a good local guide, we learned about King Pakal of the 600-700 A.D. era, the unusual rule of at least three women in this patriarchal society, worship of jaguars, the reign of Sky Bird King Chuan Muan II and much more.
A highlight was experiencing a 17th century Catholic church in Chamula, one of the communities of indigenous people, this one in the mountains (about 7,000 feet elevation) just a 20-minute drive outside of San Cristobal.
From the outside, the church looks traditional. Inside, saints predictably line the walls. But a shaman took the blood pulse of a parishioner, and offerings were made of candles, CocaCola, moonshine and chickens.
The market offered dried fish, salted shrimp, caramelized fruit paste, all kinds of beans, corn, tamales, sweet potatoes, potatoes, mango, cabbage and live chickens for cooking, about $6 each.
Grilled ants were a delicacy. Crispy and salted, theyre sold in small plastic bags and eaten like peanuts. Theyre not bad, if you can forget what youre eating.
There were also embroidered blouses, leather belts, jewelry, dolls, baskets, figurines, blankets, shawls, bags and wool capes.
We visited ancient worship sites and glimpsed beautiful, exotic animals. The Temple of the Cross in Palenque is fabulous, better preserved than Chichen Itza. At Yaxchilan, accessible only by boat (about $5 per person, including the guide), visitors learn about Bird Jaguar, the last known ruler of this kingdom, still seen in faded murals with his big nose and thick thighs.
The flora is equally exotic: Hawaiian ginger, jobo (a member of the cashew family), mango, orange, avocado, almond, hibiscus and mahogany trees.
Our final day was reserved for a boat tour of SumideroCanyon.
Sharing a small power craft with about a half-dozen Israelis and a couple of Mexicans (Americans still account for less than 3 percent of Chiapas tourism), we cruised the GrijalvaRiver through the narrow canyon for two hours. At times, its walls reached three times the height of the EiffelTower.
We passed the Cave of Colors, where moss and minerals combine to tint the walls light green and pink. We passed Christmas Tree Falls with its unusual tree formation.
About 28 miles downriver, we came to a private eco-park and then to one of the largest water projects in the nation, which the local government contended supplies nearly onethird of Mexicos electricity.
On the way back, we paused to watch a couple of crocodiles sunning along the bank. One of them, about 40 years old, was called El Veterano.
We just spent a week at this great hotel. We had five days of cooking classes with Chef Alonso Hernandez and Isis Moreno Cosme, the hotels Public Relations Sub Manager who assisted as a translator. If you are interested in a fun and informational class on basic Mexican cooking, this is for you. It was hands on and we sat down and ate the food for lunch each day. You can arrange classes the three hour classes for one day to five days. We even went to the market on one days.
As stated in other reviews, this is a quaint boutique hotel in an 250-year-old building decorated with Colonial-era antiques. Thus some of the bathrooms can be a little small, but you can find that anywhere in the world where older buildings have been converted to hotels. What makes this one special is the staff. Everyone at the front desk and restaurant was extremely nice and helpful.
Isis Moreno Cosme was a valuable resource for information, helping with reservations and tours. Whether you are interested in cooking classes or not, there is much to do each day like taking a city tour, visiting a Talavera factory, visiting one the many museums (especially the Ampora Museum), or arranging a trip to the great pyramid at Cholula. All of this can be done through the hotel.
For us, this was a perfect trip. Puebla is a beautiful Mexican Colonial city not to be missed.