royal palms, Vista Hermosa

Magestic royal palms line the main walkway at the Hacienda.
Photo by James Horn

Visitors to the state of Morelos have the choice of  numerous colonial-epoch haciendas, mostly former sugar estates, now open to the public as resort hotels. Many others cater only to special events, while still others are mostly ruins but open to visitors. Among those that provide a quiet hotel retreat with some luxurious amenities, the most popular are Hacienda Cocoyoc (the subject of a previous blog post), San Gabriel de las Palmas, Ex-Hacienda de Cortés in Cuernavaca, San Antonio el Puente, Ex-Hacienda Santa Cruz Vista Alegre, and Hacienda San José Vista Hermosa, the subject of this essay.

The hacienda is located 22 miles south of Cuernavaca, the state capital, and just over a mile from the shores of Lake Tequesquitengo in Puente de Ixtla. San José Vista Hermosa was founded by conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1529 on lands he received from King Charles V of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire as a reward for his conquest of Mexico. It was just one of several haciendas established by Cortés for raising cattle and cultivating rice, corn, and sugar cane. The state of Morelos was one of the largest exporters of sugar in subsequent centuries and the hacienda was one of the prosperous contributors to that economy.

 gladiolas vista hermosa

The ancient fountain is filled with gladiolas.
Photo by James Horn

The descendants of Cortés occupied the hacienda with some infighting until 1761 when it was sold, beginning a long series of private owners lasting until the Mexican Revolution of 1910 when Emiliano Zapata sacked it and subsequent battles left it in ruins. Later grants by the State of Morelos and the federal government attempted to create a tourist zone in the area with only modest success, but in 1947 the hacienda opened as a deluxe hotel. Other tourist attractions developed around the nearby lake, mostly aquatic sports and a small number of hotels. Currently the lake is being rescued ecologically and hotels and water sports have multiplied.

aqueduct pool vista hermosa

The 17th century aqueduct graces the swimming pool.
Photo by James Horn

 pool, vista hermosa

A partial view of the large swimming pool.


It makes for a long day-trip from Mexico City, but an easy 30 to 40-minute drive from Cuernavaca for a pleasant lunch.

 restaurant vista hermosa

The back part of the restaurant has good lighting. Friends enjoying lunch are Jane Hanrahan, Cuernavaca, Maureen & Douglas Floen, Montreal, Canada. Photo by James Horn


The restaurant is a bit gloomy and would be more attractive with better lighting, but one section in the back gets outside light. You can request ahead to have a table mounted outdoors with a  view of the pool if there are none already set. Over the years the menu and service have had their ups and downs but a recent visit on a weekday in January 2014 was a pleasant surprise. The menu offerings were quite extensive and varied, the portions generous, the presentations attractive, and the service adequate if not inspiring.

Reservations are not necessary but expect crowds on a weekend, particularly a puente (holiday weekend).   Lunch is served from 1:30 PM.  Double rooms start at $150 US.


Take highway 95 (Autopista del Sol) south from Cuernavaca toward Acapulco to the first caseta (toll barrier) Alpuyeca-Tequesquitengo. Follow the signs to Teques watching out for the excessive number of huge topes (speed bumps) that attack your car’s undercarriage. After about six miles there is a PEMEX station on the right and shortly thereafter an OXXO store on the left where the highway bifurcates. Bear to the right and follow the signs to San José another five miles until a sign on the right directs you to the hacienda. Assuming you are driving in daylight, don’t be frightened by the desolate road bordered by impoverished housing and dilapidated automobiles. Within a half mile you will find the gates to of the hacienda where you will need to present identification. Save your lunch receipt to avoid a parking fee. 

Hacienda San José Vista Hermosa, Km 7, Carretera Alpuyeca-Tequesquitengo, Puente de Ixtla, Morelos. Tel. (734) 342 9040.  Reservations in the US/Canada: 800 090 9040.

For more information on day trips in the State of Morelos, see James J. Horn, Cuernavaca, A Guide for Students & Tourists, available as an e-book at


  1. It is good to see your photo of Jane, Doug and Maureen enjoying the beautiful setting at Hacienda San José Vista Hermosa. Hola! to all from Madrid, Spain. – Mike and Florence

  2. It looks really lovely and is a hacienda Ive never visited. The folks having lunch outside do look very pleased! Susan ****************************** Susan Ansara 4471 Superstition Drive Las Cruces, NM 88011 Phone: 575-521-1121 (H) 575-649-8786 (C) e-mail: *******************************

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