It was our second visit to Tulum, and this time, we were a little bit wiser about the eco-hotel situation.
Tulum is a gorgeous location, and the resorts are beautiful. But there’s a dark side. We knew that 80% of Tulum resorts lack proper sewage treatment, and many self-described eco-resorts are complete greenwash, especially Amansala, which has been accused of dumping sewage straight into the mangroves.
We also knew that since we were coming during the party season, which lasts from December 26th to about January 19th, many resorts host nightly electronic music parties. That can make it hard to get any sleep.
We knew that you have to pay an enormous amount to be on the beach, as opposed to the town. Rooms can run $500 a night up to $1,600! But our favorite breakfast cafe is actually located in town, the only ATMs and credit card machines that work are in town, and if we wanted to go to the beach, we could always ride our bikes there.
Luckily, last year when I wrote a post that went viral talking about the environmental problems in Tulum, the owner of an eco-hotel reached out to praise my work, and told me about his boutique hotel, Prana Boutique Hotel. I liked what I heard about their eco-initiatives, and I loved that he was honest about Tulum’s infrastructure problems. I felt like I could trust him and his hotel.
So this time, as soon as we knew we were coming back, I reached out to see if they had an open room. They did!*
The Location: Prana is located on the outskirts of town, on the way to the beach. It’s one block to walk to the road going to the beach, where – if you’re borrowing one of their complimentary bikes – you can get on the bike path to the beach, or – if it’s at night – you can hail a taxi to take you to the beach area for dinner or a party. It’s two blocks from one of our favorite eco-friendly cafes, Co. ConAmor, and a 10 minute walk from Del Cielo, our favorite breakfast spot. With high walls surrounding the green, leafy space, it was perfectly tranquil and peaceful there, more peaceful than the beach, or the rest of town!
The Vibe: When we arrived, the owner Karim was at the front desk. Originally from Italy, he’s a friendly, relaxed, and warm-hearted guy who speaks fluent Spanish and English. Whenever he saw us around, he would pause to shoot the shit with us. We ended up really liking him a lot, personally! The rest of the Mexican staff was very helpful and kind as well.
We stowed our stuff in the office until our Lotus Tent was ready for us (we got there in the morning), and took in our peaceful surroundings: an enclosed green courtyard with a bar, a pool, an open-air restaurant, multiple hammocks, a fire pit, and a sunken, covered sitting area that was perfect for hanging out or working.
A couple friendly and cute local dogs were playing in the grass, and later the resident kitten, Nikita, wandered through looking for some love. In the morning, we took a small yoga class in the covered yoga area for $13 per person. It was just us and one other person, so we got a lot of personalized adjustments, and the Mexican yoga teacher started teaching in English, until I told her I wanted to learn Spanish and she switched. Nikita did her shavasana on a cushion in the front of the class the entire time. (If we had stayed longer, we could have done a temazcal ceremony, a traditional pre-Hispanic steam bath treatment involving local aromatic herbs. Next time!) In terms of the crowd, the other people staying there were couples in their early to mid-thirties, who, while not unfriendly, all seemed content to relax and keep to themselves in their own little romantic world.
The Accommodations: Prana has six rooms with king-sized beds and one suite, but we stayed in one of the two more affordable Lotus Tents. They’re glamping at its finest, with a comfortable queen bed, a love seat, side tables, woven mats, and electric lights and outlets. Best of all, they both open onto private bathrooms with a shower that has hot water. We thought it was beautiful and romantic, and the only drawback as far as we could see was the additional effort of unzipping and ducking into the tent. If you’re worried about the noise coming through the tent walls, the hotel grounds are quiet all the time, so we weren’t woken up at all.
The Wifi was as good as any place in Tulum, and after I got an enormous Oaxacan-style mezcal cocktail from the bar with a metal straw, I plunked myself down to work for six hours, and I got a lot done.
The Eco-friendly Initiatives: Inside our room, we found cards telling us about how important it is to be cognizant of our impact, use less water, etc, since the infrastructure in Tulum is so weak. They’ll only wash the towels and sheets every third day to save water, which is fine by us. (I tend to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign up on my hotel rooms anyway because I’ve grown to dislike the waste of someone cleaning our room every day.) The hotel gives away used glass bottles so that locals can use them as decoration for wall constructions to let light through. They don’t use any plastic bottles, and use metal reusable straws. They provide glass bottles in the rooms with water, which are cleaned and refilled every day. Their shampoos and body washes are from Ixchel, a local organic producer, and they re-use the plastic shampoo containers with new labels until they are not presentable anymore. Their wastewater filtration system uses three filters and then passes that water along to irrigate the plants in the hotel’s garden. They provide booklets in every room with recommendations on what to do and what not to do in Tulum and the Riviera Maya. (One such recommendation is to avoid parks that let you swim with the dolphins!) They have a new organic Mayan bee honey hive. And if you fall in love with a local stray dog (there was a passel of puppies hanging out across the street from us) they’ll take care of the vaccinations so you can adopt it and take it home!
Overall: We really enjoyed our stay at Prana Boutique Hotel, felt well taken care of, and we’re going to make it our first choice when we come back. It’s perfect for couples who want a romantic, peaceful, luxurious, and sustainable Tulum experience.
*Prana Tulum gave us a small discount in appreciation of my including them in my Tulum post last year. Everything in this post is heartfelt and true, however!