Habitas started with a single hotel in the popular resort town of Tulum on Mexico’s Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula (south of Cancun) in 2016. Since then, the group has rapidly expanded to globally with properties open in New York’s Hudson Valley, Namibia, Saudi Arabia (two), Morocco, a second location in the Yucatan, and has several more openings under construction, including another location in Morocco, Bhutan, Costa Rica and Los Cabos, Mexico.
But the big news is San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Mexico, famous for its baroque and neoclassical architecture, with a historic center full of 17 well-preserved.th and 18th century buildings. A thriving arts culture has helped make it a popular expat community, and that’s where the new Habitas will open in a few days, just in time for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The complex is only ten minutes from the historic center, but located in a natural area, with transport service included in the price of the rooms.
The Habitas brand has quickly developed a loyal following, particularly among Millennials, and is often described as a “disruptor” that is “shaking up” or “changing the paradigm” in the hospitality industry. But that wasn’t the goal, according to founder Oliver Ripley, a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist (and also founder of the investment company Ocean Group) who simply created his hotels in the image that he personally wanted a hotel to be. , more communal and communal. social. That’s why Habitas calls all of its properties “Houses” instead of “Resorts,” even though the accommodations are almost exclusively in self-contained units, not a main house design.
The company’s line is that “Habitas’ mission is to change people’s lives by creating deeper human connections and to have a lasting impact on local communities through education, employment and the creation of micro-economies sustainable”.
From a guest perspective, this means that each Habitas home encourages guests to socialize with each other through both the physical design of “social architecture” and the programming of activities. The former focuses heavily on communal spaces, quite the opposite of recent trends in luxury accommodation that have been moving towards greater privacy and isolation from other travellers. This ethos extends to communal dining spaces, activities such as group yoga classes and a HR approach to staffing with locals who are encouraged to be authentic, share information and tell stories, rather than ‘a trained uniform service approach, which can border on robotics at certain levels of luxury travel.
Extensive programming is an important part of the Habitats model, and all “Houses” offer guests complimentary daily programming focused on six pillars: Arts & Culture, Wellness, Adventure, Learning, Food & Beverage, and Music. For Habitas San Miguel de Allende, this will include yoga classes, holotropic breathing and sound baths, live music sessions, painting classes, visits to local artisan workshops and learning the textile art of macramé. Optional local activities not included of note are hot air balloon rides, horse riding and mountain biking.
In San Miguel, other key features include a “beach club,” although it is far from any coastline. The original Tulum location has one, and this one pays homage to that, with a sandy beach in a freshwater lagoon and natural hot springs as well. In keeping with the spirit of the brand, the Casa’s main restaurant is called Comunidad, a farm-to-table cuisine focused on locally grown ingredients and wood-fired cooking techniques inspired by the local indigenous Otomi culture , with both Mexican and international menus. kitchen A second restaurant will open at the beach club in spring 2023, and a Habitas spa, including a Temazcal, a traditional sweat lodge, is also slated to open in the first quarter of 2023. San Miguel has also become a very popular location for destination weddings, and the property has an indoor/outdoor event center, La Troje, for these as well as corporate retreats.
“We are thrilled to open our third property in Mexico, particularly in the historic city of San Miguel de Allende, a culturally rich destination that closely aligns with our Habitats ethos,” said CEO and Co-Founder Oliver Ripley . “Habitas San Miguel is the perfect intersection of nature and culture, an experience that syncs with the creative pulse of San Miguel de Allende, and its vibrant art, cuisine, music and cinema.”
Survey after survey, leisure travelers today say that environmental and sustainable practices play an increasing role in their travel decisions, and another key part of the Habitas model is both environmental sustainability and local community support. The brand is committed to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2023, and they have their own factory in Mexico where new homes are built modularly using sustainable materials and methods while minimizing impact on sites where the tourist complexes are located. . This also allows for most accommodations to be in self-contained units, and at San Miguel, there are 60 self-contained cottages, all with king-size beds, walk-in showers, air conditioning, outdoor terraces and exclusively organic services from the Quintana Roo region of the Yucatan . where Habitas has its design factory in Merida.
The brand also has an extensive waste management program to maximize recycling and composting, issues carbon offsets and has no single-use plastic, an unusual feat for the environment, and as such has been awarded the Oceanic Champion Badge. Habitas RISE is the company’s philanthropic arm, a global impact initiative focused on empowering local communities, cultures and conservation efforts. This manifests itself in a number of ways, creating economic and educational opportunities for locals, building micro-economies, creating jobs and working closely with communities to address social and environmental issues. In San Miguel the big problem is the depletion of water from the Laja River.
I haven’t personally stayed at a Habitats property, but like almost everyone in the hospitality industry, I’ve been watching closely as the brand’s original approach continues to resonate and attract new customers. He has also been extremely smart in picking emerging spots. I recently wrote here about how little Bhutan is suddenly the “next big thing” on the world stage of leisure travel, Morocco is also on the rise, and all those places in Mexico, Los Cabos, the Yucatan and San Miguel are already popular and growing. But while Bhutan, Morocco and the rest of Mexico are seeing many new openings, San Miguel de Allende in particular has been in need of more upscale lodging options, and this seems like a case of the perfect place at the perfect time.