It isn’t every day you meet a general manager who started his career as an economist, but that’s exactly the path Leonardo Morado has been on. In 1998, he started working in the hospitality industry and discovered his passion for service. He continued to develop his skills at companies such as The Ritz Carlton before eventually joining Chablé Hotels in 2020.
Being such a popular tourist destination, Mexico was especially hard-hit by the pandemic. However, the open-air design and its envious location in the jungle made his property, Chablé Yucatan, the ideal location to get away from it all.
“The Yucatan is considered to be the safest state in the confederation and Chablé is a property with generous green spaces,” shares Morado. “This, combined with the strict hygiene and security protocols, assures our guests that they are going to be able to enjoy all of the activities and experiences whilst they are being taking care of during their stay.”
Chablé Yucatan is a five-star luxury hotel that puts an emphasis on wellness, privacy, and nature. With just 40 casitas and a handful of villas, the ultra-luxury property tucks guests away into a sanctuary where they can unwind and focus on themselves.
In line with this, Chablé Yucatan has recently launched their Strength Programme to support guests in their health and wellbeing journey. The programme includes personalised fitness, yoga, and meditation sessions in enviable locations such as the Yucatan jungle and Maroma beach.
LLM writer Ina Yulo Stuve speaks with Morado about how he and his team are creating emotional connections with a bit of Mayan magic.
The concept of luxury, especially in recent years, has been so intrinsically tied to wellbeing. How do you celebrate this at Chablé Yucatan?
We do this through our mission, which is to generate wellness experiences for our guests, staff, and community. ‘Wellness’ means whatever makes you feel good and Chablé genuinely cares about offering a personalised service and giving every guest the wellness experience they are looking for. This is always done through the emotional connections our staff is able to create. On the other hand, our key pillar of providing a service from the heart, and our focus on wellness and sustainability represent the main core of how we celebrate this culture of service at Chablé Yucatán.
Are there any key learnings you picked up from the different countries you’ve lived in that you have put into action in your current role?
Yes, I acquired one of these key learnings during my stay in Asia, specifically Bali, where the pride and essence of the local community is presented to the guests as a valuable treasure that enriches each experience. Inspired by this, at Chablé we ensure our staff provides this fundamental element by transmitting the local culture from within. Chablé Yucatán conveys traditional and rooted experiences that serve as the differentiating factor that has positioned our brand as original and genuine.
How do you ensure that you’re bringing in the unique location and feeling of community to your guests’ experience?
At present, 80% of our staff are from the local communities surrounding the property. We make sure we involve them in the decision-making process of the experiences by giving them the opportunity to preserve their traditions whilst we present them to the guests. This is exemplified in the cooking techniques used in our traditional Mayan menu, where the local dish pib is cooked underground for 12 hours. As a result, this is one of the most enriching and engaging experiences according to guest feedback.
Mexico is a diverse country with unique features throughout its regions. In your opinion, what makes the Yucatan special?
The Yucatan is one of the states that conserves its Mayan and pre-Hispanic culture very well, which brings out an original quality that characterises this region. The focus on family values has allowed us to continue celebrating the traditions that make the Yucatan gastronomy and cultural richness unique.
The culinary offering at the hotel is quite extensive. What are some of the ‘must try’ dishes all guests need to try?
You can’t miss out on the cochinita, which has a very special preparation. At Ixi’im, our fine dining restaurant, you have to try the lechón, which is a traditional dish that is usually found on the streets of the city, but that our culinary team has transformed into a high-end version using local ingredients. Our other restaurant Ki’ol offers a variety of fish and seafood from local suppliers because we believe in responsible fishing.
If you had to plan a whole-day itinerary for guests staying at the hotel, what would be on the agenda?
When you open the doors of your casita in the morning, you will find a very special surprise waiting for you and I would invite you to open your eyes and enjoy the sound of the birds singing in the Mayan jungle. The first activity I would recommend is to relax whilst doing yoga at the cenote, located at the spa. An instructor will be waiting for you, as it is a daily activity offered for guests.
Then you can have breakfast at our restaurant Ki’ol, located at our main pool. After that, you can book the ‘Green Route’ experience, where one of our experts will show you the most magical spots at the property, while sharing with you some of the history of the Hacienda. At the end, he will guide you to the spa, where you can enjoy a variety of treatments or try the unique temazcal experience guided by our Ak’bal grandmother.
To recharge, you can have lunch at Ki’ol, where you will also be offered a cocktail menu. For the rest of the day, I suggest booking a tequila or wine tasting with our concierge team. At 5pm, you can’t miss ‘La Merienda’, also known as teatime, where you can try traditional drinks from the different states of Mexico accompanied by a snack. To end the evening, make a reservation at the private deck of the restaurant Ixi’im for a romantic dinner.
Could you name your favourite cities for history, food and culture?
Some of my favourite cities are Oaxaca, which has a great biodiversity, from beaches to mountains – this destination is perfect for all types of travellers and is also known for its mezcal. Puebla has a distinguished gastronomy, some of the dishes you can’t miss are mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas. Mexico City is a cultural paradise full of festivals, museums, history, and culinary events. Veracruz is well known for its carnival and traditional dances. Nayarit has amazing folklore and local fairs. Last but definitely not least, Yucatán, which is by far the state that has blown me away with its people, warmth, and traditions.