Bohemian paradise Holbox Ser Casasandra

In a region packed with modern all-inclusive resorts, I felt like I had gone back in time as I stepped off the ferry on Isla Holbox.

The only roads are dirt, and the only vehicles are golf carts. But there is a bohemian vibe that permeates this small island about two hours from Cancun, spelling pure luxury for those of us who prefer a more rustic, authentic destination.

There are no chain resorts here, just a small town center, lots of beach bars and restaurants and a sprinkling of mostly single- or two-story boutique properties.

I was with a small group being hosted at Ser Casasandra after three days of meetings at the annual International Luxury Travel Market North America, which is held at the exclusive Mayakoba resort on the Riviera Maya.

Holbox and Ser Casasandra were a pleasant ­– and relaxing — contrast.

Developed around an old house by Cuba native and music and art lover Sandra Perez, the lobby, bar and dining areas are in the central house, while two-story buildings that surround it hold the bulk of the guestrooms.

The entire property is decorated with antiques and artisan works from around the world handpicked by Perez, meaning no two rooms are the same.

Mine was a large first-floor suite just a few steps from the main house with cushioned, built-in bench seats that wrapped around the corner below the windows, creating a small living area.

Across from my king-size, mosquito net-draped four-poster bed were French doors that led to a small patio with a hammock that looked out on the beach.

My large bathroom held a clawfoot tub, a separate shower with a conch shell showerhead and a patterned ceramic sink.

The main house has a suite above the lobby, bar and indoor dining area. Outside is a pool with a separate covered area for eating and grilling as well as an outdoor yoga studio with complimentary classes.

Out front, with sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico, are more tables for open-air dinners and shows performed by Perez’s many musician friends.

Perez is the former wife of the famed Cuban musician Pablo Milanes, and she’s still closely tied to the Cuban music and art scenes.

She often hosts musical performances during dinner under the stars, which are a favorite for locals and guests. We were treated one night to a performance by Milanes’ daughter Haydee, who recorded an album with him.

Across the road is a beach with palapas, a beach bar and a few tables for lunch where we tasted local dishes and sipped mezcal-based drinks one afternoon.

You may not find the double-sink vanities and all the modern amenities and blemish-free rooms with refrigerator-like air conditioning common across Mexico and the Caribbean. But that is exactly the reason to go.

Rates start at $290 a night for a double, including breakfast. 

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