The Zamas boutique resort in Mexico is all about laid back, off-the-grid escapism.
I love Mexico’s Riviera Maya, or Mayan Rivera, whichever you prefer. This part of the Yucatan Peninsula, south of tacky Cancun, is very easy to get to and has everything you could want in a vacation destination, including some things you will find no place else on earth – endless beaches, ancient Mayan ruins (entire cities!), and incredible watersports with world class fishing
, world class diving and the world’s second largest coral reef. There are the unique freshwater cenotes inland, jungle adventures, eco adventures, a collection of great golf courses, and a slate of truly unique interactive theme parks. The towns, from Playa del Carmen to smaller oceanfront villages, are charming, and all over the region is great food, great drink, and a plethora of lodging options.
But there is even more to do in the summer, including some activities you simply cannot experience at any other time. Considering how beautiful the region is in winter, and how hot it is in summer, few people think of it as summer destination. They should, and the folks at the unique Zamas resort in Tulum are out to change some minds
First, a word about Zamas. In a region full of big luxury hotels, and even bigger less luxurious all-inclusive beach resorts, Zamas is truly one-of-a-kind. Just down the road from the most photographed ruins in Mexico, the seaside Mayan temple at Tulum, and the charming town of Tulum itself, Zamas is a boutique resort built around laid back minimalism – with the exception of its gourmet cuisine, which is totally maxed out. Coming up on its 20th birthday, the resort has managed to walk the fine line between upscale hip and authentic, more of an escape than an indulgence, building a very loyal following along the way. It is also extremely family friendly, yet caters equally to couples on romantic getaways. An insidery boutique resort, Zamas is the kind of place you are more likely to hear about from an in-the-know friend than the travel media – despite rave reviews in the NY Times, Washington Post, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler and many more.
The Que Fresco restaurant at Zamas is renowned as one of the best in eastern Mexico, using the freshest local products for dishes like seafood tacos.
The resort’s authenticity can be seen in its strong commitment to supporting the local community and its colorful blend of rustic-chic design reflecting the regional culture. It features local architecture, with thatch roofs, tropical woods, stucco and colorful mosaic tiles. Locally hand woven hammocks and Mexican blankets decorate the interiors. To the greatest extent possible, both employees and products come very locally, much from Tulum itself. Zamas is largely off the grid, powered by its own solar and wind generating facilities with a diesel generator for back-up. There are no phones, no computers, no televisions, and WiFi is in common areas only. This “tech-free” design aesthetic is not for everyone, but many guests like it, and it is done purposefully, to encourage beach time, exploration, adventure, and reconnection rather than Word With Friends. It’s a simple, small resort with all lodging in open-air thatch roof huts, a sandy beach, one of the best restaurants in Eastern Mexico, and little else. Many guests come mainly for Que Fresco and chef Laura Rodriguez, who utilizes ultra-fresh ingredients like local Red Snapper and grouper seasoned with traditional Mayan and Caribbean flavors.
Snorkeling with Whale Sharks, the world’s largest fish, is a bucket list item you can experince in the Riviera Maya. Photo: Wikipedia
What’s so great about summer here? Besides being off season with less visitors and lower prices, there are two very specific reasons to visit: turtle nesting and hatching, which can be experienced from May to October, including swims with the turtles, and whale shark viewing/swimming, which occurs mainly from July to September. Besides these unique natural experiences, you enjoy better deals on everything from food to lodging to flights. How much better? You could stay at Zamas with a family of four for a week, including breakfast and dinner daily, for under $2000.
The largest fish on earth, Whale sharks are not whales but rather sharks, though they live on plankton and are the only member of their unique genus. Their lifespans are about 70 years and they can reach more than 40 feet in length and 20 tons in weight. They are docile and swimming with them is a popular bucket list item for divers and snorkelers, which you can do in only a handful of places around the world, including the Riviera Maya. Swimming with the graceful sea turtles is nothing to sneeze at either.
The resort has specific value-packed packages for these natural wonders. The Mayan Adventure & Whale Shark Excursion (July-September) package includes 5-nights accommodations in an Ocean View room, breakfast daily, a beach picnic, and three guided excursions: swimming with the whale sharks, a Mayan ruins and cenote trek, and an underground river and cavern exploration, all for $1875 for two, tax included (additional guests up to a total of 5 for $600 each). The Mayan Adventure & Turtle Conservation and Education Tour (June-October) package includes 5-nights accommodations in an Ocean View room, breakfast daily, a beach picnic, and four guided excursions: a night trek to obverse Sea Turtle nesting, a beach swim with the turtles, a Mayan ruins and cenote trek, and an underground river and cavern exploration, also for $1775 for two, tax included ($550 for additional guests).
- Grupo Vidanta Announces Sea Turtle Conservation Event at Riviera Maya (prnewswire.com)
- Things to Do In the Riviera Maya – Archeological Tours (your-story.org)