A Jewel in a City Full of Gems
Rancho Hotel el Atascadero has been family-run for over 60 years. Founded in 1956 by a former Army Pilot, Forunato Maycotte, the hotel has been operated and managed by the family ever since.
The hotel is located in the idyllic town of San Miguel de Allende, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Long considered a national treasure, the town has been featured in many travel magazines and periodicals as the most eligible destination in Mexico, and was recently awarded Travel + Leisure’s Best City in the World to Travel to.
San Miguel’s pleasant weather, quaint locale, and old colonial charm have combined to make this the most sought after refuge for travelers looking to go abroad. Hot springs in the outskirts of town, cobblestone streets, open-air markets, and churches that are several hundred years old all contribute to the local flavor in their own inimitable way. The most striking landmark in central Mexico, legendary architect Zeferino Gutierrez’s la Parroquia, stands tall in the center of town as a symbol of San Miguel de Allende’s uniqueness and timelessness.
A Brief History of El Atascadero
Long an oasis in beautiful central Mexico, El Atascadero has a long and storied background. This refurbished hacienda has been a silk farm, a convent, a ranch, and for 60 years has been considered one of Mexico’s most pleasant and famous hotels.
The hacienda dates back to the 1880s, when San Miguel was the center of the burgeoning Mexican silk industry. The site where the Atascadero now stands was commissioned as a silk factory, since its weather and lush terrain were ideal ground upon which to plant Moraceo trees, upon whose leaves the silk worms feasted.
This particular chapter of the hacienda’s history is commemorated by a magnificent mural on the hotel’s grounds, next to the chapel. It was painted in the 1960s by Miriam McKinnie, an American historian and researcher whose focus was the Mexican silk trade.
Following the decline of the silk trade, the hacienda changed ownership several times. It was most noticeably owned and operated as a ranch by Pepe Ortiz, a world-famous bullfighter of the early 20th century. An expat Spaniard, it was Ortiz who built upon the grounds the hotel’s iconic outdoor fronton court, a traditional Spanish sport that mixes the blinding speed of Jai Alai with the tactical strategy of racquetball.
In 1942, Felipe Cossio del Pomar purchased the hacienda from Ortiz, financing the transaction through the sale of two original Gauguins. What he initially envisioned as a university soon turned into a writer’s retreat, where well-known poets such as Pablo Neruda, Rafael Heliodoro Valle, Mario Talavera, Jesus Silvia Herzog, Gabriela Mistral and Eugenia Imaz would languish, philosophize, and, most importantly, write, inspired by the beauty of the grounds and the tranquility of the setting.
In his memoirs Felipe Cossio del Pomar wrote, about the days the poet [Pablo Neruda] stayed at El Atascadero: “Kneeling down at the bottom of the springs, he let the water run between his long fingers with the true delight of a poet. At the end of a tranquil afternoon he listened to singing of the esquila and zenzontle birds. He inhaled the pure air laden with the heavy aroma of sweet-smelling grasses. There was nothing melancholic about this exuberantly, healthy and vigorous mature man. […] During his stay with us at the ranch what I admired most about Neruda was that he was brimming with good health. Noticing our vegetable garden, he said to my wife: “Fill a bowl with lettuce, and I’ll prepare the dressing.”
After Cossio del Pomar’s departure in 1944, the hacienda changed ownership many times, and soon became a victim of neglect and disrepair.
It languished in this state until 1956, when Fortunato Maycotte, a former navy pilot, moved with his new family to San Miguel de Allende. Sensing a wonderful opportunity, he purchased the hacienda and had converted it into a hotel within two years, furnishing the first few rooms with furniture from his own home.
Over the years, Fortunato, along with his wife, Gloria, managed and operated the hotel, and it grew from its humble beginnings to the 51-room resort it is today. Gradually, the Atascadero flourished, and now sits atop the town as one of the oldest and most revered hotels in San Miguel de Allende.