Visiting The Land of Roses & Chocolate

Photo1The Vacation & Travel special section in this week’s newspaper caused me to reflect on my favorite places. Without a doubt, one of them is Mexico. It’s a trip I’ve made a half-dozen times. But rather than go to touristy places, such as Cancun, I’ve found my favorite spots are more obscure and laid-back places like Akumal and Tulum. It’s usually in these destinations that I come across wonderful discoveries.

My most recent trip to Mexico found me staying for 10 days, during which time I was fortunate enough to go on a tour of Uxmal, home to a number of impressive ancient Mayan ruins. And while I had already found a place to stay in nearby Merida, it was during my quest for a good restaurant that I came across Rosas & Xocolate, a wonderful boutique hotel and spa.

Owned by fellow Long Islander Carol Kolozs, this very pink, 17-room hotel is a 19th-century abandoned mansion that the former Woodmere resident remodeled in 2009. I found it while walking down Paseo de Montejo, what I later discovered was the main drag in Merida. With all of its horse-drawn carriages, it reminded me of an Old World boulevard. After going to the on-site restaurant where I had a wonderful meal that reminded me of Spain, I was introduced to Carol, who gave me a tour.

As I walked around the villa, I felt a vibe of exclusivity and refined taste combined with a sense of history, much like at our own Oheka Castle. But the bonus Rosas & Xocolate has is an on-site chocolate shop where the wares made on the premises are sold, 24 hours a day. When I was there, a group of Belgian chocolatiers was visiting. As for the homegrown chocolates, I had three samples that included dark and milk chocolate and, not surprisingly, they were all superb.

photo2I was told that Salvador Reys Rios, an award-winning architect, was hired to design the hotel, and whoever made the decision to go with a combination of vibrant burgundy, mustard yellow and brown tones along with the rich wood detailing, was brilliant. The whole time I was looking around, I felt a warm and inviting aura.

As great as Rosas & Xocolate is, I found Carol Kolozs to be just as wonderful. He’s led a very interesting life, and the fact that he’s living and operating his business in Merida is no surprise, seeing as he was born in Mexico City in 1946 to a Romanian mother and Czech father. Most recently, he’d been in garment industry, starting the Italian athletic brand Lotto in Mexico, a company he ran for 24 years before selling it. His decision to refurbish this hacienda also worked well with his love of old architecture and the arts.

The before and after photos of the hotel took my breath away, as I realized how much time and energy went into making this such a fabulous place.

Carol’s passion for the project comes across wherever you turn in Rosas & Xocolate. French doors, high ceilings, columns and sculptures are all part of the charm. I was amazed by pieces of art and even a dress made of hemp. Carol told me that one of his goals is to get the arts more involved in all of the hotels in Merida. If what he’s done with Rosas & Xocolate is any indication, I’m sure that realizing that dream isn’t too far off.

Angela Susan Anton is publisher of Anton Community Newspapers. Email: