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“Fantastico!”

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La Villa Bonita Culinary Vacation
Rochester, Minnesota
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Fantastico!”
Reviewed 22 October 2013

I stumbled on this with Jetsetter way back in April not long after returning from the Yucatan and had always wanted to see more of the 'authentic' side of Mexico away from the tourist spots and beaches as well as learn how to make real Mexican food and this fit it perfectly. We arrived and Robb was waiting for us and had a chance to meet some of the people we'd be with during our stay. We started our journey at 3 am so by the time we arrived we were exhausted but had a delicious margarita and fresh chips with guacamole and woke up immediately. This was followed by the chef's dinner and it didn't disappoint, it was so unique and tasty. The next three days Chef Ana took us to the markets, explained the culture and history of the area and of course taught us invaluable techniques when preparing Mexican food. The program says that what you will make us for lunch but there was so much food and by the time we sat down to eat I couldn't think of having more (except for maybe some more wine of course).

Tepoztlan: Beautiful unique city. There's no waterways but the closest I can describe it was like Venice, it was so quiet and relaxing, and just had that vibe. I loved walking around and just exploring the city. The people are so friendly and nice, by the third day we knew we were going to miss the place when we left. It's very hilly but not tiring to walk.

La Villa Bonita grounds: Beautiful as well! It's up on top of the hill so you can see the whole city. The rooms were great, each one was unique and the room service cleaned everyday. Wifi was excellent which was helpful since I needed to keep in touch with work while away. It's all very open with common areas to sit and chat after a day of cooking, playing with their dog Mojo, and if you want its easy to escape to your room and just relax and unwind. A lot of reviews said it was noisy at night but I never heard a thing.

The lessons: Excelente! I learned so much and when I returned I immediately put it to use. I can finally make tortillas and beans that are light years beyond anything available locally. There are recipes Chef Ana teaches at all levels from complex to the simple. I learned great techniques with each one.

Safety: I only bring this up because it seems to be on everyone's mind but there wasn't anytime I was there that I felt unsafe, it even felt ridiculous that I was even slightly worried before arriving.

Misc: Robb and Ana, along with everyone really were very helpful the whole time. I had lots of questions beyond cooking and they always had great insight and were helpful. The people who were with us were great and became friends quickly. It's amazing how much one week can change your perspective and what you can learn.

Things to do besides cook: We were on a slightly different package then the rest of the people with us so we had more downtime which was no problem. The church and monastery is beautiful and has a wonderful museum. If you are adventurous you can hike up 1.5 miles to the Tepozteco pyramid and see the most amazing view of the city. Cuernavaca is close by as well and heard you can get a cab ride for $5-$10. In the end we didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted so you won't be bored for sure.

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank Chebyrashka74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Michigan
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 October 2013

Ana Garcia was noted to us, prior to our week long culinary adventure as the "Rachel Ray of Mexico". Very appropriate in every way. Ana and staff are more than accomodating and eager to inform all who attend and actively participate in each section of each meal preparation and service. My wife has prepared a full three course dinner for her office staff to enjoy the fruits of our absolutely wonderful trip. The accomodations within the villa are great. The culinary "field trips" to the local markets are an education in and of themselves with all the benefits of Ana's expertise and knowledge. We found Ana very adaptable to both the ingredents available and those we actually came back with or without. If "food" is your thing, this must be a consideratrion for your next adventure or first, as was our case.

Stayed October 2013, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank chefizzix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Walnut Creek, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 October 2013

A great vacation get-away. The culinary experience was wonderful, unique, and an unforgettable experience. The accommodations were awesome, and blended perfectly with the Mexico get-away. Tepoztlian is a hidden secret south of Mexico City and accessible by taxi to many vacation spots in nearby cities. Ana Garcia is a chef using only natural organic ingredients, she is not the chef who uses canned products. I returned home knowing much more about the every day foods of Mexico, not the beans and rice food we normally think of as being Mexican Food. The classes are small and easy to get you hand selected group for a wonderful unforgettable vacation. The trip also works with a single, newlyweds, friends, husband and wife. This can also be a very romantic spot.

Room Tip: There are only 6 rooms, some have king beds, and ours had twin bed because I met long time friend, I...
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank rslarve
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Occoquan, Virginia
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 16 October 2013

My friends can tell you that if I could switch lives with one person on this earth, it would be Anthony Bourdain. I love to travel, taste foods from around the world, learn about different cultures, and work on my humble culinary skills. Going on a culinary vacation seemed like the package that contained all those ingredients.

When I discovered La Villa Bonita during my research, I thought it was too good to be true, but the reviews were accurate; it is as good as everyone says. When I arrived at the hotel with my friend Renee, Ana and Mojo (their sweet Golden Retriever) escorted us to our rooms - we were immediately wowed with their adobe-chic beauty – white adobe walls with dark wood trim and windows that opened to a view of the surrounding mountains only obstructed by a leaning vine of a blooming bougainvillea.

About 20 minutes later Ana called us up to the open air kitchen and dining area where she made us an amazing welcome margarita! Just what we needed after a day of travel.

Guests began to arrive and we did the meet and greet before being served a 5-star meal from soup to dessert.

The days that followed included walks to the market in the center of Tepoztlan where Ana taught us about the various fresh foods we used to prepare our meals. We would return to the villa and spend the day preparing meals that included, chile nogada, tamales, adobo, and mole. We socialized and enjoyed a glass of Mexican wine (or two) as we wrapped tamales, peeled walnuts (yes!), and roasted chiles – I learned so much and ate so much. When we were done we were always surprised by the table setting on the rooftop - I didn't think the view could get better!

We also had free time, always taking the time to walk off our meal with a little walk into town or stopping off at a nearby restaurant bar for a nightcap. During our free days we had a menu of options. Renee and I took a taxi into Cuernavaca (10 to 15 dollars) where we toured the Cathedral, did a little – no - a lot of shopping, and enjoyed the restaurants.

For our last night in Tepoztlan, we went out to a salsa club recommended by Ana. “El Telon” is a beautiful restaurant and club where we could dance off the days calories.

Now I am home and have this wonderful memory and reminders throughout my house - a sarape folded over my chair, glass jars of Mexican vanilla beans soaking in vodka, and my tortilla press that seems to keep saying "Come on Tracy, give me a try, you can do it!"

Thank you Ana, Rob, Mari, Lady, Blanca, Miguel, and your families for making our vacation something extra special.

Room Tip: We had the end room and I could not have been happier! The views were beautiful.
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  • Stayed October 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank TracyKaye2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Possendorf
1 review
Reviewed 9 October 2013

In the beginning we didn't really know what to expect...in the end it was the best time in Mexico we could have had...

La Villa Bonita, located in this cute town Tepoztlan, is a wonderful and cosy place to stay.
With only a few rooms it's a small but even more beautiful hotel with a familiar atmosphere. The rooms are very comfortable and always clean.

Thanks to Ana, a brilliant cook and caring hostess, we had an awesome and unforgettable time!! The cooking classes were really interesting since we learned how to cook real mexican food, like Mole, filled chilis, chilequilas and lots of other delicious plates.

Besides the cooking we also visited some markets in Tepoztlan and Cuernavaca where we learned a lot about (for me) unknown fruit, vegetables, beans and other typical regional food. In the end we gained the knowledge of how to buy the right ingredients and how to cook super nice meals.

For the sportive people: there's also the possibility to do repelling through waterfalls, which is a great experience or to climb the mountain to the pyramide, from where you've got a breathtaking view.

During the week with Ana and her lovely family I felt like home since everyone was so welcoming and super friendly.

Thanks again for this awesome time in La Villa Bonita!!! :)

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Maria P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Level 1 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 28 September 2013

My friends in Brooklyn must think Ana and Rob have me on retainer due to the number of people I have recommended La Villa Bonita to in the past few weeks. Talk about a culinary adventure!! Staying at La Villa Bonita was like spending a week with your favorite friends who happen to be great in the kitchen and have a full staff who catered to your every need. I went in thinking I was going to learn a few Mexican dishes to add to my extensive food repertoire but got that and so much more. Tepoztlan is just simply lovely. I can see why it's considered a "magical" town because there is simply no other way to describe it. The rooms at La Bonita are delightful and tranquil. The kitchen space and rooftop deck are.....you need to see these for yourself. But my two favorite experiences - "hanging out" with Ana and the food. I normally hate breakfast food but I looked forward to breakfast every morning and lunch. Going to the different markets was probably my favorite experience by far - all the fresh food, the colors, the people, the wonderful smells. My brother who hates shopping throughly enjoyed it. And Ana - amazing hostess, knowledgeable chef/tour guide and great teacher. In summary, I had a good time!!

Oh and don't bother bringing snacks - you won't need it. I am still trying to get rid of the 3 pounds I gained.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank BeeLovely22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dothan, Alabama
Level 5 Contributor
77 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 September 2013

I can not say enough about Ana's hospitable nature. She met us at the airport, helped load all the luggage for 6 guests, drove us home, settled us in, and a few minutes later had appetizers and a full course meal ready for us. She continued to amaze us throughout the week teaching, cooking, shopping, & managing staff, plus taking care of her 3 sons and husband. All of this without skipping a beat with gluten free & vegetarian requests! Menus were tailored to the requests of her students with organization and expertise. She was always well prepared and her kitchen is set up beautifully. We had a 5 day online special which included, transportation to and from the airport, the welcome dinner, 1 cooking class with lunch, breakfast daily and market. We added on a couple of tours, extra days, an extra class, an evening meal and Tequilla tasting. Any requests for special snacks, eggs for breakfast along w/ the wonderful fruits, yogurt, granola, biscuits, tortillas, fresh jams, and so much more was met w/ a very pleasant "of course we can". The rooftop dining was exquisite with views beyond belief. The trips to market were real experiences. I was not totally happy with the arranged tour w/ the group although the pyramids were very interesting, we did not really understand the distances
involved nor what a charming town Taxco was going to be. We were herded several miles beyond town to some silver market where we were served Tequilla and got a bit of pressure to buy silver. This was on an empty stomach, very late in the afternoon. No offer of "Banos" for hours before the Tacky silver store stop. We were then dropped off at a terrible American restaurant (not the one Ana recommended) and were very disappointed. Our guide then took us thru the very beautiful, old church where mass was being held and proceeded to hold a lecture during mass. I think the entire group was a bit uncomfortable with this and would have much preferred to have explored the wonderful little shops in this cobblestoned winding, hillside town oozing w/ charm. We were given 15 minutes to explore before a very long 1.5 hr. ride back to Tepoztlan. Just a bit of explanation of the itinerary and inquiry as to what the guests might prefer would have made this a much better experience. This guide's brother, Arturo, was our guide for just the 2 of us the next day for a trip to Cuernavaca. He was excellent. Ana had given us (& him) options for what he should show us. We were able to choose which of those items we wanted, plus he threw in some other interesting sites and allowed us to check out the Language university for potential future trips. He dropped us off at the end of the day for "lunch" about 4 Pm at La Mananitas upon Ana's recommendation. A wonderful experience which I will review under restaurants. We took a Taxi back to LVB for $250 pesos, which I think was about $100 too much, but we did go the scenic route thru the country side and saw a side we had not seen before and it was lovely w/ the sun setting on the mountains. The Brady Museum was a highlight, also. So was the "Spencer Church" with its very artistic wall. The market was a good one where we bought some of the wonderful clay cooking pots. With 7 days, we had time to explore, cook, eat, relax, tour, shop & absorb every minute of our surroundings. Easily could have spent more days.
The other guests (6 of us total) were a delight and we have all exchanged photos & made new friends. Still
am in awe of how Ana manages to accomplish so much and remain so cheerful. She obviously enjoys all of her roles, & especially her children. Our room (#2) was perfect. Yes we had sounds at night, the roosters in the morning, the water heater and water pump making sounds, but we were so tired and the mountain air so wonderful that it really did not bother us. Did not miss a TV as we had wonderful WiFi connection. I highly recommend this vacation experience, but as warned above, just be very clear as to what is included in your package. It is spelled out in your packet, but no mention is made after that unless YOU ask. Very safe & comfortable. Out door kitchen was amazing.

Room Tip: Rooms 1 & 2 both have nice windows and seem larger, but there did not appear to be bad rooms an...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank GypsyMoo
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

Property: 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 #2 of 45 Speciality Lodging in Tepoztlan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
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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