Equidistant between Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the exotic-sounding Xpu-Ha, the Hotel Esencia is set in the lush Yucatán forest that seamlessly melts into a romantic, totally secluded, talc white beach, fronting a ridiculously blue Caribbean sea.
It’s allegedly Riviera Maya’s last ‘untouched’ beach. To add to the fairytale, the land and cute whitewashed house on it was once owned by an Italian duchess. Keen to share it with like-minded dreamers (and to fund her whimsical purchases), she turned it into a hotel. In 2014, media mogul Kevin Wendle bought the property, captivated by the sense of exoticism and escapism it offered and it became the Hotel Esencia. He was also intent on blocking a mega-resort from taking over this stretch of pristine beach. So, he completed an extensive renovation, working with creative geniuses to create a 29-suite getaway.
Our jet-lag waned away as we were golf-carted through the lush jungle backdrop, having down-paced, checked-in and supped a refreshing herbal tea at reception. Along the way, we dodged sun-basking lizards, white peacocks and a handsome member of staff dressed head to toe in white, fussing over the placement of a basket of pillar box red umbrellas. The clean, white-washed terraces of the suites were accented with electric blue cushions. Canary yellow towels rested on white, wooden deckchairs. The detail in design thought that has gone into creating this resort starts to show, as does a love for primary colours.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Just 15 minutes from the Hotel Esencia is Rio Secreto, ‘the eighth wonder of the world’, a stunning underground river with thousands of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. It’s a must-do interruption to your rest-and-relax routine at the hotel.
Our snow-white suite at the Hotel Esencia was gorgeously appointed, with every detail almost molded into the walls and floor. A Mexican wool tapestry and designer mid-century modern furnishings in earthy tones completed the look. Outside, a plunge pool and gratuitous outdoor shower, completely open to the tropical paradise awaited. The encroaching jungle unfortunately meant that our soaks were never mosquito or leaf-free, but it was all part of the unique Yucatán experience, albeit with a generous helping of chic Malibu thrown in for good measure.
But the real magic is that the 12 acres of the resort are only shared out between what is at most 50 guests, which really gives the sense that we had this wonderland all to ourselves – be it the main house and its designer lounge and library, the beach, two pools, the waterfront eatery, the serene spa and believe it or not, even the very well equipped gym. We felt that we really got away from it all in just two days of staying here. If we were to ever own a small luxury hotel, the Hotel Esencia would definitely be our inspiration.