Starting any business is difficult. But starting a business in travel has it’s own challenges. Each week, we like to sit down with creative people who are carving out their niche in the travel industry.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Mauricio and the team at Chaya BnB to hear about their experiences and inspirations.
How did you decide that starting a Boutique B&B was for you?
Well, I studied tourism and the time came to make my internships, so I tried to look around different kinds of hotels, brands, services and cities. I had the chance to work in big chains, small ones and also boutiques. I always wanted to work in a big company, but I realized that it’s better to work in a small business because you are a great asset to them, not just another one to be paid to do their job and make money for the owners. When I finished my career, I looked for a job and I ended up running as a General Manager at a Bed and Breakfast of 8 rooms in a Colonial House, in Coyocan Suburb of Mexico City. For 3 months I was running the place by myself with 2 cleaning ladies and 1 maintenance guy. This is when I realized that I was able to run a successful place by myself, but I just had to find a place to put it.
How did you determine that Barrio Alameda was the right place for you?
We weren´t expecting to find Barrio Alameda. One day a friend of mine told me that they had a place where they were interested to build something new, and that I should take a look at it. We got to see the place and were in love from the first moment – we knew it was the right place for this. My brother Luis had a perfect chance to rebuild the space and put his special touch as an architect. It was located on the best area of Mexico City and downtown, it had many touristic options around and public transportation accessible close by. It was a little bit small but perfect to start from scratch a new kind of business.
What inspired the design and vibe of the hotel?
As part of our generation we believe that we can always do better. In this case I knew from the first moment we were really lucky to find a colonial, old, forgotten, art deco building like this in the middle of one of the biggest parks of Mexico City. We knew we had the opportunity of giving life again to this place. The main idea of the project was to build an organic, sustainable, basic, minimalistic, open and enjoyable place. My brother tried to transform the place with the basic amenities for travelling without too much decorations, and instead focused on small details that will make your stay better. We never tried to be luxurious, we wanted for people to feel at home there. We had to take advantage of the beautiful place we were in and just put a little spark on it with a nice personalized service and communal areas for people to get to know each other.
Which travel experiences have you had that led you to opening Chaya B&B?
All of us three, the associates, love to travel. We had the opportunity to study out of our country and travel to different places. In all these travels we have been learning what is the most important areas for travelers and what you will need to have a better experience. We wanted to offer a place where you had the basic services for exchange of an accessible rate. We traveled also to hostels and we´ve learned that sharing with everyone is the best way to get to know a place, and the secrets you can find there. So we combined many of our experiences to try to cover the basic amenities you may need to have a great stay, plus a quality service or help any time of the day.
What advice would you give anyone thinking about opening their own hotel?
Fear will be always there, just learn how to control it or avoid it and go for it. In this case I will encourage them to do it, there are many ways of operating or running a hotel, you can manage to do it your way, but you will always have to fight and work hard for it to be a success. Nothing is easy in this life, and hospitality is one of the toughest areas of service as we do not rest any day of the year. It´s a great business but it takes a lot of time and effort to make it run.
What are some of the truly authentic experiences/areas you recommend in Mexico City?
Well, Mexico City is huge and it depends on the type of travelling you are up to. But there are many historical gems around the city and especially downtown area. You can find La Merced, a market hidden in the middle of the city that it’s 3 km big and you can find anything inside of it (not recommended without preparation). You can find many different suburbs around the city, old ones, trendies or just in the middle of renovation. You can get to know Condesa and Roma for a hip vibe, Polanco for high standards, and Coyoacan for old/modern colonial streets. Santa Maria la Riviera is an upcoming suburb with a lot of art exposure, Centro has many historical marks, and la Cuauhtemoc is developing with lots of food and art. And there are more…. Haha!
Try to get a walking tour or experience the suburbs that really transmits Mexican culture like cantinas to drink pulque, mezcal or any other typical beverage. Go to any kind of market, food market and watch around. Plaza Garibaldi where the mariachis are singing at the plaza where you can hire them or listen, with lots of good bars around. Check out Bondabu a friend of mine is just creating this kind of experiences, not commercial stuff.
What are a few hidden gems in Mexico that you recommend to fellow travellers?
Uffff a difficult one, there are so many I could never end! I really recommend Oaxaca, Chacagua, and Puerto Escondido. Merida, San Cristobal de las Casas, and San Miguel de Allende are great. Then there’s Xilitla, Bacalar, Majahual and Tepoztlan. The island of Janitzio is amazing for the day of the dead festival. Mexico is full of amazing places!