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“Deliciously relaxing!”

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La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation
Reviewed 11 December 2011

There are no words to fully describe how terrific my 4 days here were -- Ana and Robb go out of their way to craft a delicious and relaxing vacation, custom suited to their guests' needs. The location is calm and gorgeous with a spectacular view, each room is rustic yet elegant, and the kitchen -- breathtaking! Open-air, with a view of the valleys as one blends a mole sauce, it makes the lengthy and involved steps to Mexican cooking delightful. Taking advantage of the local community and produce, during the daily visits to markets (town, wholesale and famer's), we picked up lush and fresh vegetables and cheeses for use that day. Happily, I found that Ana effortlessly and seamlessly altered the menus and plans to suit my vegetarian needs.

I took the attached travel/security warning with a grain of ancho chile, washed down by a hibiscus aguafresca -- as a single woman, wandering around the charming cobblestone streets of Tepoztlan and its markets in the evenings, I felt comfortable and secure. Further, having constant access to, guidance from and even outings with Ana and Robb, I knew I was in good hands!

Room Tip: All the rooms are gorgeous -- for an adventure though, do try to spend a night at the nearby Tube Ho...
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  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled solo
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2  Thank pleasantchaos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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69 - 75 of 92 reviews

Reviewed 3 December 2011

From the moment you arrive, Robb and Ana welcome you as family and you are immediately immersed in true Mexico culture- a welcome change from some of the more "touristy" vacations in Mexico. The cooking classes were very hands on, and Ana is a fantastic teacher. Your level of culinary expertise doesn't matter- novice or expert- you will learn something new! I have been able to recreate the meals at home, much to the delight of my family and friends! The guest rooms are very nice, as are the common areas, and the views are amazing. There is a great balance of classes, excursions, and downtime, all of which adds up to a vacation which is relaxing, rejuvenating, and engaging. One of my favorite parts was visiting the markets-- my local grocery store will forever pale in comparison!

My husband and I had a fantastic time and can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Kiersten H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2011

My sister and I visited in November and we also went on the Living Social package deal, which was misrepresented. Living Social wanted to offer a resolution after we purchased, but by then we had also purchased airfare and taken the time off work. So we decided to go ahead - we love Mexico. The pros were that the accomodations are very lovely and Tepoztlan is a really wonderful town. Our ONE cooking class included in "the deal" was really fun, informative, and delicious. Ana is very personable. Our guide, Arturo, was great. The cons were that it was quite expensive. Breakfast at $15/day is way too much money. Our extra nights were $150 per night and didn't include anything other than the room, not even a cup of coffee in the morning. The guide, arranged by La Villa Bonita, was more than we have every spent on a guide in Mexico, about 4X more. We didn't have the magical experience that others have had, and yet we had a great time because we love Mexico and are comfortable doing things on our own. Robb was not there on the week we stayed and perhaps Ana was stretched a bit thin in managing everything with her kids, workers, life. FYI; We each spent about $2K for the week. Not quite the deal we thought we were buying.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank locahermanas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
fredabogado, Owner at La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation, responded to this reviewResponded 2 December 2011

At La Villa Bonita, we pride ourselves on the quality of the experience offered. We would rather offer a quality service with great people who are experts in their field than risk your experience with something cheap, unproven or unreliable.

Chef Ana is now in her 10th year of introducing guests to the joys of traditional Mexican cuisine and is considered to be one of the best teachers in the field. The LVB cooking experience runs from 8:30 am until about 4:00 pm. The day starts with a big breakfast spread from scratch with a different main dish every day, a trip to the farmer's market to select ingredients with Chef Ana, a hand's-on cooking session with Chef Ana of 3-4 hours of a variety of traditional dishes, and finishes with a wonderful lunch of the multiple dishes prepared with drink service served on the elevated terrace or open-air kitchen with view of the valley. Many of our guests are surprised at what the cooking experience entails, the picturesque setting and the variety of fabulous dishes that they prepare.

Arturo, our tour guide, is a former history professor who speaks multiple languages and is incredibly well-versed on many topics. Anyone who has ever taken his tour knows that he is no ordinary tour guide, but an encyclopedia of history, anthropology, architecture and general Mexican culture all wrapped up in a great sense of humor. His tour is an optional addition and while is it not the cheapest tour on the market, I can tell you from experience that it is the best.

Our Living Social package is a flexible introductory package intended to give guests an opportunity to sample one of the best hand's-on cooking classes at a fraction of the normal price. As with any purchase, it is very important to read carefully your package details prior to purchase and ask as many questions as possible to fully understand what you are getting. We are very happy to answer any and all questions by phone or by email. We offer a variety of packages of different budget and interest levels. We are very happy to have potential guests contact us and respond to as many questions as they have. We would be happy to find the package that fits your needs.

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Reviewed 29 November 2011

I returned this past Saturday from a visit to La Villa Bonita booked for myself and my adult daughter through Living Social. I found the details to be clearly spelled out in the special Living Social/LVB page that was linked to in our confirmation email, and prices listed for all offerings beyond the one cooking class day that was included in the package. We knew up front that this package included fewer cooking days than the regular 5- and 7-day packages, unless we wanted to add days for a fee, also spelled out up front. With the additions (pretty much all that were offered), we ended up spending about double what the LS package cost (bringing the cost up to about what a package of this size is listed for on the LVB website), but could have spent much less if we wanted to. I liked the flexibility of this approach; most of the guests did choose to add two more days of cooking lessons. Although the "big breakfast" was definitely more expensive than what might be available in town, it was indeed "big", and held us well until the meal we were cooking in class was ready mid-afternoon. The cooking classes were very informative, but also informal in that all participants got plenty of hands-on experience with all the dishes, and on more than one occasion we broke out the big juicer and made margaritas as we cooked! A manual was provided which included recipes for most of the dishes we cooked, except for the ones specially requested of Chef Ana for our third day of class by some of the guests, due to our own interest in salsas and traditional masa preparation. She tailored that class to our request without any hesitation, helping us make stacks of the freshest tortillas we had ever tasted, and at least 4 salsas! We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our fellow travelers, Chef Ana, her husband Robb, and their friends and family who came and went during the week but were never intrusive. My daughter took only one of the additional cooking classes, and on her "free" day hung out at the lovely heated pool on the hotel property, fixed herself a light lunch from items she found in the kitchen and I was glad to see her unwind from a very stressful job in this place that felt like home after a very short time. The two of us took a tour on one day, to Cuernavaca, Taxco and the pyramids of Xochicalco, led by an excellent guide who was recommended by LVB. The first part of the week coincided with a Mexican holiday that everyone in the small town of Tepoztlan celebrated with gusto, so some of the early arrivals for the week got to observe the party in the town square complete with costumed revelers, live bands and lots of LOUD fireworks that continued to be set off for the next couple of days, reverberating off the hillsides and rousing all the local dogs and roosters to join in. Between the feeling of being family at La Villa Bonita while we learned to prepare authentic Mexican dishes (no TexMex here!), the beauty of the setting, and the charm of this "pueblo magico" (one of 40 magic places, so named by the government because of their historical significance, natural beauty and cultural riches), this vacation was everything my daughter and I expected, and one of the best we've ever taken.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled with family
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2  Thank leahjean4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 November 2011

My mom wanted to do a special mother / daughter vacation together and this was the perfect fit. We both like exploring new places, eating new foods, and experiencing other cultures. So we absolutely loved Chef Anna's culinary resort. This vacation met and exceeded our expectations. We found Anna and Rob to be great hosts, all prices to be reasonable, and our trip was awesome. Everyone at work today told me I looked happy and refreshed before I even told them where I'd spent my Thanksgiving holiday. Oh and I shouldn't neglect to mention that even though we were in Central Mexico, we were still treated to an amazing (and HUGE) traditional Thanksgiving dinner (that we didn't have to cook!) - for only $35. I would definitely recommend this resort. It's not the 4 Seasons; our room was not extravagant, but it was completely comfortable, which we expected. And the view from Chef Anna's kitchen and dining room rivaled some of the nicer hotels I've been to. It was a very serene experience. I'm sure my mom will write a detailed rave review about all of the dishes she learned how to cook - I only participated in a couple classes (sleeping by the pool is an essential part of a vacation for me), but I can't wait to eat the meals we (read: she) will prepare from Ana's recipes.

As a note - if you have food allergies or difficulty walking, Ana and Rob will accomodate you as best as possible. Their resort is on a hill, and you walk to the Tepoztlan market on one of the class days (which was an awesome experience). Cabs are available though if this will be difficult. And if you're a vegetarian or have certain food allergies, Ana will prepare (or help you prepare) separate dishes.

  • Stayed: November 2011
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1  Thank debmcintosh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2011

For one with little interest in cooking who became a forced substitute for my wife's friend, who had to cancel her trip late in the day, I was planning to just hang back and try to enjoy what I could of whatever I encountered. What a miscalculation that was for what I encountered was a pleasure I am unable to adequately describe! You don't just meet chef Ana, you quickly find that you have known and loved her for years! She speaks her mind and doesn't even realize that you are not family! Before I knew it I was busy doing things in the kitchen I didn't know were done. Every thing was done from scratch.Peeling wallnets, for example - not shelling them, but peeling them to illiminate the bitterness. Not that I ever will, but I can now make a tortilla from schratch. Robb, the other half of the team, was equeally congenial and helpful in every way.He went to great length to make sure we were informed and comforatible.The staff was friendly and efficient and our room was clean and comfortable. I would recommend this experence to family and friends!
Jim

Room Tip: All rooms face the valley
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  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank coyoteugly53
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2011

I also took the Living Social package and I was there at the same time as the person who reviewed below. First of all, when you book any trip, you should do your homework and find out what is included, what is not, where the place is located in relation to restaurants etc. The person who wrote the review below bombarded all of us all from the outset with her many, many food allergies prompting us to wonder why you take a culinary vacation in Mexico and can't eat the food?? Villa Bonita is gorgeous and far exceeded our expectations. The views are wonderful, you cook in an open air kitchen overlooking the mountains and eat on a rooftop terrace. The food was fantastic and authentic, but the kitchen is in Mexico, not Whole Foods. The classes were relaxed, a LOT of fun, and the food delicious. I think we all had a great time, made friends, and, to be honest, we avoided the complainer who made sure everyone knew she was unhappy. Tepoztlan is a lovely village off the beaten track and foreign tourists. Anna made us very welcome, her family are lovely, and I learned a lot. Listen to the other reviews, this is a magical, wonderful place, but not for finicky humorless types.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank TXTravel-chick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation

Address: Prolongacion Aniceto Villamar # 150 | Col. Tierra Blanca, Tepoztlan 62520, Mexico (Formerly La Villa Bonita Culinary Hotel)
Region: Mexico > Central Mexico and Gulf Coast > Morelos > Tepoztlan
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 50 Speciality Lodging in Tepoztlan
Price Range: £131 - £262 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation 3*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chef Ana Garcia invites you join her in a unique culinary experience created for true food lovers. Chef Ana's 6 bedroom boutique culinary home boasts an enormous open air kitchen with a spectacular view, pool carved out of a volcanic rock, and an organic citrus and vegetable garden. Enjoy a gourmet chef's table with Chef Ana made from local ingredients or try your own hand at cooking traditional Mexican delicacies with our famous culinary vacation packages or build your own package. Make tortillas from scratch, build a mole with your own hands, enjoy the best tamales you have ever had on our elevated terrace. Don't stay in a regular hotel - have a culinary adventure at La Villa Bonita. ... more   less 
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