Tulum has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time now. It is well known for its spectacular coastline, beautiful beaches, cenotes and most notably their Mayan ruins, which are some of the best preserved coastal Mayan sites. Tulum has become a mecca for eco tourism, as it provides the idyllic setting for yoga retreats, sustainable and farm-to-table restaurants, and travelers who seek a quieter space to unwind. So naturally, when I was invited to spend a long weekend there to celebrate a close friend’s birthday, I of course jumped at the opportunity– my ticket was soon booked and my bags packed!
Not one to skimp on luxury digs while traveling, I discovered a fantastic gem of a hotel called Ana y Jose Charming hotel & Spa. It was perfectly situated on the bustling stretch of hotels, boutiques and restaurants that dotted the white sand coastline of the Riviera Maya.
A 5 star hotel, Ana y Jose is family owned and operated and is comprised of 14 bungalows on the ocean, most of which include an ocean view. Several of the bungalows are set right on the ocean with private dipping pools, sun decks, hammocks and reserved cabana beds on the beach, The hotel has all the luxurious amenities one would expect from a 5 star hotel including a gorgeous infinity pool, oceanfront dining, concierge services, beach and poolside lounge, and a fantastic spa. For those who insist on not completely unplugging, Ana y Jose affords all the modern day amenities such as wifi, in the most bohemian luxury setting (except for a TV in the rooms, which practically went unnoticed). After all, you don’t come to a gorgeous place like Tulum to stay in doors and watch TV.
Breakfast is included in your stay and it was a perfect start to our day. The menus consist of local Mayan fare, delectable seafood, ceviches and a plethora of local fruits and fresh green juices. I genuinely looked forward to waking up every morning to have breakfast on the ocean in the company of good friends. Our alarm clock each morning was the fantastic sing song music of the birds, which was not the loud, annoying kind, but the sort of ambience you’d expect to hear on a soothing recording at a spa. The ocean waves and the sounds of the birds and other wildlife, all within our modern day thatched roof bungalow (fully equipped with wifi and AC) was a great reprieve from the heat after a long day of exploration. It is an understatement to say it was my kind of heaven.
The Ana y Jose spa, set on the white sand beach, offers a myriad of treatments- all of which incorporate local mayan rituals with plants, mayan mud, chaya leaf wraps– even chocolate! All the natural beauty products are made locally.
We rented bikes for the hotel and explored the stretch of road that is otherwise known as Tulum’s main town. A small rain flurry that came through afforded us to discover a fantastic little spot called Posada Margherita, where we sought shelter. The restaurant, set on the beach, was absolutely delightful and offered fresh local seafood, and modern cocktails with fresh squeezed juices. With its vintage decor and quant, cozy feel, it also offered us some great opps. Overall the staff and service was delightful.
Two of my favorite means were at a restaurant called Gitano. The venue caters to live music by fantastic local musicians, has an outdoor lounge for after dinner drinks and the dinner tables are under chandeliers hung from trees.. it was absolutely magical.
The birthday dinner was held at Restaurare, a vegan restaurant with local Mexican fare. Set outside in a dimly little garden, I don’t know if I have had a better vegan meal! Our groups of 9 was a mix of people, most of whom were not even vegetarians, so the see them all genuinely surprised and enjoying an innovative vegan meal was quite a treat for the birthday boy. A few of my favorite dishes were the tacos pibil, their ceviche, mole and arugula salad. It was absolutely memorable- so much so, that we insisted on doing on last stop for take out prior to our departure back to NYC. Although the tacos were best enjoyed in Restaurare’s garden setting, they were equally delicious in our shuttle back to the airport.
On one of our final days in Tulum, we were soaking in the last rays of sun for the day at our lovely hotel and we were interrupted by a bit of commotion near the hotel pool as a small group gathered. It looked as though it was a ceremony, a wedding perhaps? It turned out to be the owners of the hotel and they were doing a blessing which they graciously shared in part with the guests present. As they blessed the hotel with a little water and hibiscus, they expressed a deep gratitude for the creation of the wonderful hotel and in building their dream. They left us with a thought of encouragement:
“No matter what, remember that chasing and building your dreams is difficult. You’ll be encouraged to quit more times than you are cheered on. However, the Divine puts a dream in your soul for a specific reason. You must absolutely never give up on yourself. Ever.”
And that, my friends, was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend in Tulum. One check off the bucket list, but I certainly left with so much more.1