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
8 rentals in:
Meson San Sebastian is around the corner from the Ermita Park and 2 blocks from San Sebastian church and Park. The local market has fresh produce and juices in the morning and a night it's a lively spot where the neighbors gather for soap de lima and tamales. It is a 10 minute walk along the beautiful camino real de Campeche…
Orangerie's central location and romantic decoration make it ideal for exploring Merida's historic center. It is also within walking distance to Paseo de Montejo with it´s wide shaded sidewalks, handsome mansions, trendy bars and restaurants. You'll be two blocks from the park and market in the shadows of Santa Ana church.…
1 guest review
100% of guests would stay again
Left on Feb 21, 2013 for a stay in January 2013
We know Merida very well and this was our second stay at Orangerie de Santa ana. This time it was just my wife and yours truly. Last summer we had a our teenage daughter and college-aged son there too. Both stays were perfect. Easy time getting keys. Location can't be beat, as everything was within an easy walk, including the charming Centro and outdoor big band music at the Park of Santiago… See more
Beauty and the Beast, North Carolina
Salvadore Reyes Rios designed and furnished this luxurious private home with many of the same features he applied when renovating the Hacienda Petac and Starwood’s Hacienda San Jose Cholul . His work is very prominently featured in the book CASA YUCATAN as well as LIVING IN MEXICO. Casa Azul de Santiago is one of his…
4 guest reviews
100% of guests would stay again
Left on Mar 14, 2014 for a stay in February 2014
Merida has been on my mind for years, but it was an article in the NY Times Magazine last year that featured Urbano Rentals properties in Merida that motivated me to plan a trip, as pronto as possible. Casa azul was the place for me, traveling with dear friend Emilie. The luxe simplicity promised by the photos was spot on in reality. Subtle, elegant, comfortable, artful, practical--the ideal home… See more
LifeArtistAha, Austin, Texas
The nearby chapel of Candelaria lends its’ name to our newest three bedroom home designed by Josue Ramos. El Portico is surrounded by two massive Ceiba trees, that are sacred to the Mayans. The shady central courtyard with its’ gurgling fountain creates a cool respite from sun drenched city. In the 18th century Portico…
This early colonial house is in one of Merida´s oldest quarters next to the Hermitage of the Safe Journey. It is a delightful one bedroom home half a block from the church, park and botanical garden. The nearby garden is open to the public from sunrise to sunset and is a favorite oasis of shade and water to the local birds.…
3 guest reviews
100% of guests would stay again
Left on Mar 22, 2014 for a stay in March 2014
John Powell, since his arrival to Merida, has encounter this old houses lost in time and has giving them a second chance in to our era allowing us an unique experience.
Zarebska, Mexico City
After completing the boutique hotels Rosas y Xocolate in Merida and Casa Grande in Morelia the design team Reyes Rios + Larrain designed the Mayazul houses for a young couple and their children from Mexico City. Mayazul and Mayazul II are independent houses that adjoin and can be rented together with 5 bedrooms or separately.…
PRIVATE LUXURY BEACH VILLA NEAR TULUM Our 3-bedrooms luxury villa in the Sian Kaan reserve was designed by famous Italian architects De Carlo Gualla. Enjoy the complete privacy of your own tropical jungle of two acres. You’ll have the Caribbean sea at your front and a tranquil lagoon at your back. The property is completely…
Award winning architect Salvador Reyes recently designed this cutting edge villa on the site of a Mayan platform. This hacienda is a two hundred acre private estate four kilometers from the nearest village and 30 minutes from Merida and Izamal. This luxurious home has stunning views of rolling lawns and lush orchards. The…