Love staying in a design hotel on a gorgeous beach?
I do as well – and recently did so – at the Papaya Playa Project Hotel (PPP) – a renovated, cabana style hotel on the beach in Tulum, Mexico. The PPP was renovated and opened in December 2011 as a result of a change of ownership (Design Hotels). It’s advertised as a “temporary hotel” and as a “project in the making” but I believe it’s just a marketing gimmick. In any event, the hotel looked great on the website and thus, I decided to make a reservation for a three day visit in March 2012. Here is my review:
I arrived at the hotel on a sunny, sultry afternoon. While waiting to check in, I noticed a large collection of blue piñata like dolls hanging from the ceiling of the reception area. A cheery, young woman from Canada welcomed me and gave me the rundown on the hotel. She then escorted me to my cabana.
My cabana (#24) was located just feet from Caribbean sea. I heard it was rustic and sure enough it was! The cabana was a simple concrete structure in the round with a thatched, wooden conical roof. Keeping with the simplicity of a cabana, there was no electricity except for one high energy bulb hanging from a conical shaped lamp shade near the bed (thus I had to charge my Macbook at the front desk). As for the bathroom, it was small with an open shower format with one lamp and organic shampoo. The cabana was just what I expected. I totally enjoyed sleeping under the mosquito netting while listening to the surf and feeling the ocean breeze through the windows.
Like most people who go to Tulum, I go to this region south of Cancun because of the beach. It’s gorgeous, clean and sparsely populated. The beach at the Papaya Playa Hotel is no different. I enjoyed sunning on the beach and strolling in the surf. On both days, I woke up early to watch the sun rise over ocean. The beach is low key, but I did see some people playing volleyball and learning how to kiteboard (there is a kiteboarding school on the beach). Most people, however, were sunning or talking to friends or lovers while having a drink at an appropriately located bar. For this of you who enjoy sunbathing in the nude, you can do at the southern end of the beach.
FOOD AND DRINK
In addition to getting a cold Superior (Mexican beer) at the bar, one can eat very well at the Papaya Playa. The hotel has a restaurant (Katerholzig) and a raw food bar (42 Degrees Raw). The latter is a very unusual concept in hotels but it is sure to take off. The “bar” specializes in vegetable and fruit juices as well as salads and sweets. I enjoyed the “Rawsagna” (zucchini, sundered tomato pesto, tomatoes in a nut sauce) so much that I had it on two occasions. Try it and the “Corazon” drink (tomatoes, celery, carrots, cucumber and lime).
Kater Holzig, the restaurant, serves ups delicious dishes. Once evening I had grilled jumbo prawns from Campeche Bay (tasty). In the morning they serve standard breakfast items such as fruit salad, yogurt and toast, etc.
Other than relaxing on the beach, there is not much else to do at the PPP. There is a small spa on the premises. I got an excellent massage from Carlos – one of the massage therapists on staff. Best of all, it was right on the ocean. If you are a yogi or yogini, you can take a yoga class in an outdoor theatre in the mornings.
The bar serves up the usual cocktails, beers and wines and is very popular not only with hotel guests but with the locals. It’s right on the beach. Thus, you can sip your mojito while chatting with your friends and listening to the sound of ocean waves (as well as some well spinned music). On the weekends, the hotel hosts parties which attract hundreds of people.
The Papaya Playa Project is a unique hotel that is well designed and low key. Room rates are quite reasonable (but higher than other cabana style hotels in the area). A one bedroom cabana with bath can be reserved for $100. It’s not for everyone but if you like boutique hotels, you will be happy here. Also, if you love excellent, innovative cuisine this is the place to be in Tulum.