photo by Tim Street Porter in the Ermtia - John Powell

John Powell

Conde Nast Traveler UK / August 2014

"Mérida is a destination to live in rather than visit, even if that's just for a few days. It is behind these closed doors that the secret life of the city takes place. The key to this domain lies with John Powell of Urbano Rentals and his restored houses. Rent one and, if you are lucky, you may become part of his world. Having modelled in a previous life in New York and been a button maker for Hervé Léger in Paris, he came to the Yucatán dreaming of converting one of the many fading haciendas, previously the sisal farms, into a hotel. But the city itself took hold of him. Days with Powell will unfold in a joyfully authentic ride through local life.

The houses Powell and his partner Josh Ramos design are original and fantastically comfortable. Ermita, a pretty hideaway in the low-key neighbourhood of the same name, with an iron four-poster bed and chalky paints in stony colours, is home to their collections: decorative Oaxacan bowls in one glass cabinet, ghoulishly beautiful ceramic skull sculptures, antique cloth animal toys on the bedroom shelf. At centrally located L'Orangerie, the colours are soft blues and pinks, with two terraces and an arcaded colonnade. Their grandest, El Pórtico, is peppermint and pink, with a cool stone pool, views of the cathedral from the roof, and room after room with stunning Marseille tiling.
At the very least Powell will come and spend an hour or two with you at the start of your trip, providing a detailed guide to the city."

New York Times TMagazine Feb. 2013

It was the potential of that last-frontier aspect, gloriously abandoned ruins and haciendas for a song, that lured the expat John Prentice Powell to relocate full time. It was also “the Mayans themselves, who smile even when there’s nothing to smile about,” he says. A model from Texas by way of Paris and New York, who in his post-mannequin life made custom buttons for Sonia Rykiel and Hermès, he says local real estate prices nearly tripled from 2000 to 2008. (After a dip during the global recession, sales have recently spiked again.) Over the past decade, Powell has renovated a dozen houses in the city, which he rents out to visitors. He also has an inside track to some of the finest haciendas outside of town. He’s the town’s social conduit, and if he likes you, he might bring you to a late-night Mayan soiree. At the very least, he’ll let you know where there’s a Mescal tasting.

We have 12 years of experience renting private homes and estates in Merida and the Yucatan. On our website you can find links to who were are and articles featuring our properties in Travel+Leisure, The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, American Express Departures, Air Canada's Enroute and the LA Times. Our blog has links to most point of interest and our reviews and recommendations on restaurants in Merida and around the peninsula.


Reviewed by Real Travelers

Owner Details

Listed on FlipKey since

January 2013

Office located in:

New York, NY, United States

Languages spoken:


Useful links:

Company website


Combined for all 8 properties

8 reviews

Very Good

Rentals on FlipKey

8 rentals in:

  • Merida (6)
  • Acanceh (1)
  • Tulum (1)
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