Mexico’s Hotel Esencia: A Luxurious Breath Of Fresh Air
On perhaps the most pristine stretch of beach in all of Mexico, midway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, sits Hotel Esencia. From its resplendent fifty-acre estate, the property’s thirty-eight suites and three villas delight guests from every corner of the globe. It’s secluded yet accessible, uber-modern yet brimming with mentions of yesteryear. So what is it that keeps Hotel Esencia’s guests returning time and again?
Hotel Esencia has a variety of room types to choose from, most of which are a bright white finished with touches of dark timber. Jungle Suites have plunge pools (some indoor, some outdoor) and large dining terraces, while Beach Suites practically hug the sea. Guests looking for ultimate privacy will appreciate the Yum-Ha Private Villa, a three-bedroom affair set on a 15-acre property next to the main hotel. Yum-Ha accommodates up to nine people across three levels, and comes with its own private butler, private chef and full-size swimming pool.
If you had to describe Hotel Esencia in a single word, “lush” wouldn’t be a bad choice. Everywhere you look, plants are staring back at you, from the exotic outdoor gardens to those in the rooms themselves. Of course, design is taken just as seriously; the hotel’s common areas are adorned with interior pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Serge Mouille and Pierre Jeanneret. With a creative mix of pristine white walls, dark wooden terraces and washed concrete around the pools, every material has been hand-selected to ensure guests feel right at home.
There are several places to eat at Hotel Esencia. Mistura, the beachside palapa overseen by the Athens-trained chef Dimitris Katrivesis, serves Japanese-Peruvian fusion dishes with a Mediterranean flair; ceviche and ramen are both on the menu. The Pool Restaurant serves Latin American favorites—Yucatecan lime soup, smashed plantains, grilled jumbo shrimp—made from ingredients sourced from across Mexico and beyond, while The Garden Restaurant, open Saturdays and for special occasions, offers worldly cuisine with elegance and style. The Beach Bar churns out cold-pressed juices and smoothies in the morning, transitioning to creative cocktails in the afternoon and when the sun goes down.
The attention to detail at Hotel Esencia makes every stay a special one. Coffee and pastries are delivered to guest rooms each morning, while afternoon tea is served in the common areas. Sunrise yoga brings in the day with enviable tranquility. The spa at Hotel Esencia overlooks the property’s cenote and tailors customized treatments using local ocean and jungle ingredients. Pranayama, meditation and yoga nidra are offered as well. Though the hotel is close to both Tulum and Playa del Carmen, it’s set on Xpu Ha, the idyllic bay where sea turtles nest year after year.
In many ways, Hotel Esencia can be compared to Casa Malca, another five-star beach escape just down the coast. Its art collection boasts pieces by Warhol, Picasso and Santier, rivaling Casa Malca’s rotating selection that includes statues by Jeff Koons and paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Both properties have alluring histories: Hotel Esencia was once the mansion of an Italian duchess, while Casa Malca was the Mexican hideaway of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Yet Casa Malca is clandestinely tucked away amongst the Yucatán jungle canopy, while Hotel Esencia sits like a shining pearl on one of Mexico’s finest white-sand beaches. In a region dominated by big-box resorts, Hotel Esencia is a breath of fresh air.
Hotel Esencia sits halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The best way to get there is to fly to Cancún International Airport (CUN) and drive one hour south along the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Direct flights to Cancún are available from European cities like London, Frankfurt, Madrid and Rome, as well as most major North, South and Central American cities.