At one stage in my life I organized conferences, high profile ones with lots of media coverage. To do this successfully you have to be a bit of a freak about the details. So when I checked into Hotel Casa Encantada I knew immediately that the owner was someone who really cared about the small stuff too.
Hotel Casa Encantada is in the small town of Patzcuaro on the southeastern shore of a lake by the same name. It is perhaps best known for Semana Santa, Day of the Dead, when tourists flock there. It’s in the state of Michoacán, one hour from Morelia.
Everything at this B&B is arranged with the guest in mind. What if the power fails? There’s a flashlight, attached to the door where you can easily find it. Chilly at night? Aside from wool blankets and a down comforter, each room has a gas heater with instructions and warnings so that you don’t asphyxiate yourself when you turn it on. That’s not all. There are fanciful feet warmers that you pop into the microwave (and each room has a microwave) before jumping into bed.
Taps are labeled “hot” and “cold”. Each room has a big container of drinking water, excellent reading lights, king size bed, windows that open, and fast WiFi.
To top it off, she’s a gardener and an excellent one at that. And a painter, sculptor and art collector, in fact a self-described hippie-artist. I loved how she decorated the common areas and bedrooms and I ran around taking photos of the many Mexican touches she’d incorporated into the décor with plans to replicate her ideas at home
Who is this woman? She’s Victoria Ryan, born in Australia to a Mexican father and American mother and raised in the United States. She moved to Patzcuaro in the 1990s and spent almost two years renovating the property, which was a bit of a challenge because she knew no Spanish. She told me a translator would come in twice a week to help her communicate with the tradespeople.
She soon found that she wanted company so opened the property up to fellow artists for a minimum two-week stay but no one came. So she bought the property behind hers and turned the whole space into a B&B offering various bedroom options.
I stayed there for a week. The price included a tasty breakfast served in a charming dining room. The location is perfect, just a few feet from the zócalo where families gather each evening for music and fireworks. Patzcuaro is a colonial town with a strong indigenous presence.
Victoria’s staff is exceptional, courteous and professional, as was the guide she recommended—Jaime Hernández Balderas—who took me on a one-day tour of the area. It was a great place just to hang out.
By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses™ 2015