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“enjoyed the experience immensely!”

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La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation
Reviewed 2 September 2013

Learning from this expert chef was a treat I will not soon forget. Her 5 star welcome dinner was delicious and visually delightful. I would highly recommend this adventure to those who enjoy learning new things and meeting interesting people. Where else does the chef stay in the resort with you? Ana and Robb instantly make you feel at home in a very relaxing environment. The accomodations are beautiful. The side trips to the Cuernavaca market, the Robert Brady Museum, the mill, the Tepoztlan market, and the climb to the pyramid added to the flavor of the experience. The quality and value of this experience will be hard to beat.

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Kay G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 August 2013

My average rating is based on the fairly high prices of this hotel and thus high ingoing expectations relative to what I thought was actually an average experience. The prices (as listed below) were similar to what I would pay in the US (big city prices), so I expected more, especially since the cost basis in Tepoztlan is significantly lower and it isn't a huge tourist destination (I only saw a handful of other tourists while there) like Cancun or Cabo where I'd expect inflated prices. I have traveled all over the world, and prices generally reflect the local economy, and given this hotel's high pricing, I was expecting a 5 star experience. (I will caveat that our package included only a few activities, so prices below are a la carte prices. You may be able to get a better deal if you purchase a more inclusive package.)

- Accommodations: the hotel was nice - I would give it 3.5 stars. The bed was pretty comfortable, and the wifi was reliable and fast. A few minor complaints: the hot water doesn't last very long, the water heater makes a lot of noise which woke me up when other guests got up before me to shower, and there is no TV in the rooms. The pool area is decent but it really wasn't warm enough to make use of it.

- Location: Tepoztlan is a small city about 1.5 hours outside of Mexico City, and while it was charming, there wasn't much to do there. It only took a couple hours to fully explore. The convent and museum are pretty unimpressive relative to other places we've visited, and there wasn't much shopping to do. The hike to Tepotzeco Pyramid was nice to get some exercise (pretty steep hike ~45 min one way) and for the beautiful views, but the pyramid itself wasn't much to look at. Since the location is so limited, you'll need to be prepared for down time, or make sure you purchase an inclusive package to avoid the high a la carte prices for cooking everyday or day tours (see below for reviews on those). Definitely off the beaten path, so plan accordingly.

- Welcome dinner ($65/person + tax): while the food was great, the courses were small and came with inexpensive beer & wine. Given a comparable dinner at a restaurant in Tepoztlan is about $15-20 / person, I found this to be overpriced. I personally would skip this.

- Cooking class (a la carte $115/person + tax - I've taken many cooking classes, and this is on the very high end of what I would pay in the US): Ana is an engaging and friendly teacher, and she'll tailor the menu to what you're interested in making. The kitchen is a nice semi-outdoor space, and we spent about 3-4 hours prepping food, and then ended the day with a beautiful spread. There are no individual cooking stations and the teaching was loose and informal - the classes were more about participating in a fun group process and eating a delicious meal than learning technical skills. The market tour / shopping part wasn't that interesting... maybe just go the first time. Most of the dishes that we made were simple but delicious. For us, only one cooking class was included. After experiencing the class the first day, we decided the a la carte pricing was over-priced: we didn't make any really sophisticated dishes, ingredients were basic (no seafood, lots of staples like rice and beans), the wine/beer was inexpensive, and there were no individual cooking stations. Instead of adding on classes, you can just join for the eating portion, which was more reasonable at $30/person.

- Tour to Taxco & Xochicalco ($95/person+tax): Not sure why there were rave reviews about Arturo (the tour guide) in the other reviews, but I (and the other guests) didn't find him to be that great. He spent a lot of time on his cell phone, his commentary wasn't that interesting to me, and the lunch spot he took us to was not good (keep in mind lunch was not included). The Xochicalco pyramid tour was interesting and worthwhile, but Taxco wasn't worth the additional 2 hour round trip drive. We only had time for lunch, to explore the cathedral for 30 min, and visit a couple of overpriced silver stores. Tip: if you book directly through his tour company (Foro Tours) vs with La Villa Bonita, it's about half the cost (unfortunately, we didn't know that).

Tequila Tasting ($45/person+tax): Robb does a good job explaining the different tequilas and we got to try a large variety, but you won't get your money's worth unless you really booze it up. Robb admitted the nicest bottle of tequila we tried was only ~$30.

Owners (Ana & Robb): both of them (and their 3 adorable boys and helpful staff) were very friendly and nice people, so I wish I could have loved this trip more than I did. My advice to them: lower the a la carte prices significantly (by half) and make it clear to your guests what's included vs not included throughout the week. I did take the time to read the PDF they sent us in advance with pricing and package inclusions (and referred to it several times during our trip), but I still don't think everything was 100% clear. I don't think they were intentionally trying to confuse anyone, but we were not 100% clear on everything, and since some of us were quoted different prices / packages, they could have done a better job clarifying things as it can be awkward to ask every time and in front of the group. This package review is simple and could be done on arrival; if combined with an overview of the schedule for the week and a tour of the lush grounds, you'd have a well-rounded orientation for the guests.

Overall, I didn't have any bad experiences to report, but I was expecting more.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Delilah_SF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Robb A, Owner at La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation, responded to this reviewResponded 2 September 2013

We are sorry that it appears you did not enjoy your stay with us. This was not the right package for you. Please know that we strive for fair pricing so that we can maintain high quality and also pay our staff a good living wage. We take great pride in that fact and our guests do as well, knowing that they are directly contributing to the well-being of our community with their visit.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 August 2013

We purchased a five-night package to La Villa Bonita (LVB) from Jetsetter. The package included one market trip, cooking class and lunch, breakfast daily and transport from Mexico City airport. We were surprised to find that we were the only guests at the time of our visit. We enjoy quiet, as well as our own company, but would have also enjoyed meeting and interacting with other guests. In hindsight, we would have invited friends to join us, to create a more convivial environment. The market trip and class with Chef Ana was a highlight of the trip. She is an easygoing host, personable, knowledgable, and generous with her insight. The mole we prepared was delicious! The hotel is a converted home, with six rooms forming a semi-circle, all facing views of the valley. Ana and her family live on the premises as well, in a different building. Our bed was comfortable and had both firm and soft pillows. The valley does offer a fair amount of noise: roosters, dogs, and church services on the loudspeaker. We enjoyed magnificent thunderstorms in the evenings, as July is a rainy month. Service in the hotel is on par with a casual B&B. We like to make ourselves at home, so this attribute suited us. Housekeeping was mostly excellent but with basic oversights, both in our bathroom and in the public areas. I can only imagine this was due to the fact we were the only two guests, as it would make sense to cut back on staff. There's also a bit of deferred maintenance on the property, small things like water damaged ceilings and moldy fixtures and doorknobs. Not a huge deal but detracts from the overall loveliness. We had a bit of an issue arranging our transport. Please be advised that the time schedule requested by LVB is subject to change, so be sure to confirm plans rather than relying on the information provided. The problem was resolved, but the communication with Robb, Ana's husband and the business manager, was less than hospitable. However, it was an enjoyable trip overall - a bit expensive for Mexico, but, then, how do you price a unique experience?

Room Tip: Room 1 is an end room, large and with many windows. Other rooms looked smaller.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank ojerio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Robb A, Owner at La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation, responded to this reviewResponded 2 August 2013

First of all thank you for your comments. While we do not have many weeks with just two guests, it can occasionally happen since we are the only culinary vacation in Mexico giving classes year-round for well over a decade. The experience is definitely more fun organizing your own group or with the opportunity to meet other guests. If you would like to assure that you are joining us on a week with other guests, please give us a call or send us an email and we can give you a range of suggested dates.

Since we are in the rainy season, while enjoyable for our guests with lush vegetation and a comfortable temperate climate, it takes a toll on our house as it rains every night. While it is not an excuse, things happen quickly. Our maintenance staff missed the paint defects and they have been corrected. Please let us offer our apologies. Had we known in the moment, we would have fixed it immediately.

We are happy to accommodate or correct anything to make sure that our guest's experience is a great one. We take pride in making our guests feel at home. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay more enjoyable and we will take care of it right away.

We are sorry about the confusion surrounding our airport pickup. Included in all packages is pickup at the Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport. We do not include hotel pickup because of the unpredictable nature of Mexico City traffic and our commitment to be at the airport to receive and deliver personally each guest. As a courtesy in this instance, we arranged pickup at your hotel after leaving other guests at the airport but we weren't informed about your desire to take advantage of touristic endeavors in Mexico City until it was too late to make other arrangements. If you have special requests please let us know in advance and we will try to be as flexible as possible so you can enjoy both Mexico City and Tepoztlan.

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Reviewed 22 July 2013

If you are looking to cook and eat the best authentic Mexican food you ever had then Chef Ana's kitchen in Tepoztlan, Mexico is the place for you! After visiting the Tepoztlan, and Cuernavaca markets for the day's meal you will start to learn how to make such Mexican staples as homemade tortillas and salsas. Begin cooking chicken mole and chili relleno early in the week, move on to three types of tamales, pork, chicken, and strawberry, and finish up with pozole on Friday. Chef Ana is very flexible and will prepare food to what the guest desire. The best food I ever had in my life! In my opinion Chef Ana could be one of the best chefs in Mexico. Great amenities, very nice room, comfortable bed. Wonderful staff! The people in Tepoztlan in are very friendly and always greet you with a smile. The surrounding area is very beautiful with forest/semi jungle, cliffs, waterfalls, mountains and a pyramid on the top.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank pepto8090
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 July 2013

My comments below are macro only.

Robb, Ana, their children, employees AND dog, (Mojo) provided a simple, quaint, warm, friendly, wholesome interactive EXPERIENCE focused upon culture, cooking, eating, family, mingling and relaxing. A home away from home.

The 5 day, inclusive option worked well for us. However, I understand others may have been underwhelmed with the a la carte introductory internet promotion as well as with the Taxco tourist visit.

Robb and Ana were very approachable, sincere and well liked by all guests. They were great hosts! I would certainly reciprocate the same hospitality IF the opportunity arose.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank miko b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 June 2013

Rarely do you find a product that lives up to all of its accolades, this one does. After returning from La Villa Bonita and reading through some of the detailed reviews I realize how very accurate they are. My 5 day visit there couldn't have been better. SURPRISES...how beautiful the view was from the terrace above the open kitchen, and how rich of a cultural experience this is.
REGRETS.....not staying longer and not buying a couple of the gorgeous cazuelas in the markets of Cuernavaca. My best to Ana and Robb and the kids.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank doubleDDenver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2013

Tepoztlan, La Villa Bonita and it's Family and Staff are AMAZING.
Ana and Rob don't spare a single thing in making sure that you get the best of the best in their unique and breathtaking location.
Chef Ana's market tours and cooking lessons were informative & involving... the hard copy information and recipes I received as apart of the cooking school feel like family gold and since returning home have become my 'Bible' in the kitchen.
Staying at La villa bonita was the very best gift I ever gave to myself, every moment spent taking in the view, navigating a local market, tasting Chef Ana's specialties, and even the lovely time spent with the family, Staff and other Guests really was truly special.


also; no trick photography in the marketing images, the whole place is even better in real life.

Thanks Ana, Rob and the three boys.
Hope to see you again.

Kristal Smith
Australia

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank Chile_Chiquitita
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 51 Speciality Lodging in Tepoztlan
Price Range: £125 - £249 (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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