Hotel Esencia


Boho beach chic – with an aristocratic edge

Describe the vibe: Barefoot luxury of the highest order. The former holiday home of an Italian duchess, this boutique bolthole on Xpu-Ha Beach in Tulum is one of Riviera Maya’s most private and intimate stays. Purchased in 2014 by Hollywood producer Kevin Wendle, it’s been transformed into a chic beachside retreat, where guests are given Havaianas sandals upon check-in, and most people wear swimsuits from dawn to dusk. Far from the overdevelopment of Playa del Carmen, this remote beach bolthole is a world unto its own.

Give me the lowdown: The 50-acre estate is dotted with 51 whitewashed guest rooms and suites, and three villas, all in the hacienda style and with private terraces; some have private pools. Airy, spacious and effortlessly chic, they look straight out of Architect’s Digest with pearly white walls and stylised furnishings. All have access to that ivory sand beach, with its palm-leaf-covered cabanas, as well as two heated pools. In 2022, the Esencia Mansion opened: a four-bed property with three private swimming pools and a 360-rooftop terrace. It’s the kind of hotel that has a private heli pad.

Tell me about the turtles: Between March and October, sea turtles lay their eggs on the hotel beach and guests are encouraged to help guide hatchlings to the water, with support from trained staff. Outside of playing parent to sea life, other activities on offer include complimentary water sports, tennis and sunrise yoga sessions. Then, there’s the spa, which takes inspiration from Maya healing rituals to provide a menu of detoxifying wellness treatments, including therapies from skincare brand Tata Harper, phytotherapy and access to an on-site temazcal (a traditional Maya steam house).

More conservation in action: The hotel is involved in protection efforts along the coast, including guarding coastal dunes (and the animals that live in them) and encouraging the preservation of native plant and animal species.

What am I eating? Hot coffee and tea are delivered to guest rooms each morning, alongside a basket of pastries. There’s also an on-site café equipped with a juice bar. Three further restaurants open for lunch and dinner: Monaco transplant Beef Bar serves cuts of the world’s best beef; at Taiyo, you can try an intimate omakase experience; Mistura provides a sea-to-table experience on the beach, using indigenous Yucatan ingredients and Mediterranean cooking techniques to plate chipotle-rubbed seabass, king crab fettuccine and sautéed lobster tail tostadas.

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