Photography and Text
By Ann Conway and John Do
La Joya Hotel San Cristobal
San Cristobal de Las Casas
Chiapas – Mexico
La Joya Hotel San Cristóbal
Discovering A Jewel – Chapter One
La Joya Hotel is an elegant home for travelers. Only two blocks from the center of San Cristobal de Las Casas, it is close enough to explore this magical town and far enough away to enjoy the serenity of the patios and beautifully appointed suites. Each of the five rooms boasts fine linens, original art, and bouquets of fresh flowers. Ann Conway and John Do created this oasis in Chiapas, Mexico, after traveling the world. They chose San Cristobal for its perfect combination of natural beauty and cultural riches. www.lajoyahotelsancristobal.com
There’s no name on the wall. Nothing to indicate that there is something hidden behind it. Silver numbers and a silver logo above two dark heavily carved doors suggest something, but not a whisper that there’s a secret garden within, Brunett’s walled oasis of flowers and trees, a place to escape the energy of the streets and allow the quiet to seep in and find relief. A gentle “Whew.”
La Joya Hotel began as a stretch of grass, seen through two small holes that supported chains on the doors to keep intruders out. On the wall it said “Se Vende,” and the two holes in the door allowed the future owners to peer in and dream that this property could be theirs. They saw a view to the hills surrounding San Cristobal de Las Casas. They saw that there was nothing to tear down, allowing them the freedom to create. And so they did. Idea by idea. Piece by piece. A bed and breakfast on the first level and their home on the second.
Decades of design magazines offered ideas that took on their own lives and became only distant cousins to the originals. Like painters, the owners started with broad brush strokes, outlining the forms. Then finer details, colors, textures, and the freedom to erase along the way.
They collected from countries where they lived, antique stores, and open markets in Mexico. In Puebla they found a Virgin with a stone cape embroidered with crescent moon, flowers, and stars. She’s the Virgin of Zapopan who wards off storms and lightening. The Virgin sits atop trickles of water cascading into an emerald espejo de agua. She creates and guards their tranquility.
Two twentieth century lanterns hang like sentinels on either side of the Virgin. Though originally designed for gas as they hung in a hacienda in Tlaxcala, they are now fashioned to cradle candles that flicker reflected stars at night.
The garden explodes with the seasons. Red and pink impatience thrive in the winter. Red, white and variegated amaryllis burst into bloom in the spring. Pink and blue hydrangeas and blue and white agapanthus celebrate the summer. Azalea trees flower year round.
La Joya Hotel, the jewel, waits for the curious to discover its secrets.