Let’s play a game: when you hear the words “Wellness” and “Mexico” what is the first destination that comes to mind? I’ll take a gamble your answer was Tulum.
As much as I do love Tulum, I have a favorite hidden secret locale that hosts all of the “belles natural” (natural beauty) but with far less “gente y tráfico” (people and traffic).
Bienvenidos a Playacar, Quintana Roo.
Playa what? Playacar: known for its high-end villas, all-inclusive resorts, luxury golf courses and oceanfront turquoise-adorned beaches. Playacar is also rich in culture, home to Mayan ruins and loads of water activities, like snorkeling, sunbathing and kayaking.
Playacar is just south of the greater known Playa del Carmen area (La Quinta ring a bell?). It’s about a 50-60 minute ride from Cancun International Airport, about 50 minutes north of downtown Tulum, and front-facing the island of Cozumel.
Where I Stayed in Playacar
Since I was traveling in January 2021, I was extra picky about the well-being and care level of the resort I chose. I had initially discovered Palmaïa, House of Aïa on Vacayou’s site, and followed up with some of my own research on the web about this upscale Burning Man-inspired conscious and well-being resort.
Its homepage states, “A paradise of eco-nuances and intangible delights cocooned between an undisturbed jungle and the glistening Caribbean Sea.” Yes! Booked, and I immediately started packing a passport, swimsuit and facemask (necessary for any travel these days).
5 Reasons I Chose Palmaia in Playacar Over a Tulum Resort
So, what had me choose this resort, Palmaïa, and Playacar over one of my other favorites in Tulum? Here are my top 5 reasons:
1. It’s Private
Playacar is mainly private villas and luxury resorts and activities. With a gated entrance, and long-trailing entrance road, it’s off the beaten path, to say, and doesn’t have all the main traffic you would experience in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and (now even) in Tulum.
For worse, or for worse, Tulum has become a bit too popular over the past few years, stripping a good portion of it from its “undiscovered” and natural vibes.
On the last visit there, unfortunately, I was disheartened to see the number of construction trucks, generators, and over-crowded traffic on the single main road that runs parallel to the beach.
The seclusion and privacy of Playacar have maintained that peace and tranquility (for now, don’t share this with your friends, ha!) one would be seeking for a well-being getaway. So, shh! Secret’s ours…for now.
2. You’re Oceanfront and In Nature—Not On It
Playacar is a smaller, rectangular stretch of land that is adjacent to the Riviera Mayan ocean.
The construction and layout of Palmaïa were specifically designed to be build IN nature, keeping much of its flora (plant-life), trees and landscape intact, with its walkways, building and ground navigation build around mother nature’s previously created construction.
Plus, when you’re dining in an open-air beachfront restaurant like at Su Casa at Palmaïa on some delicious and fresh plant-based meals, the food just tastes more vibrant eating in native habitat of the water, sand and palms in nature.
3. There’s No Greenwashing
Sustainable. Eco. Organic. They’re beautiful words, but marketers tend to over-use them for the worse in attempts to sell tourists and wellness seeking travelers to book, buy and stay. I used to work in advertising, trust me, there’s power in buzz words on the consumer mind.
In the travel resort sense, Greenwashing can be when a destination touts and appears to be eco-friendly and sustainable, but their practices don’t live it up to it, or to a certain level of ethical standards.
One example, if you’re claiming to be eco-conscious by reducing the linens services but offering plastic cups and straws poolside, I’d question that eco claim.
Doing my research on Palmaïa, or any resort that boasts an eco-title, I make it a point to look deeper than any resort’s homepage and self-proclaimed accolades to ensure certain measures and standards are actually enacted.
Similar to life and relationships, travel buzz words are easy, but authenticity comes from actions. Palmaïa, I found first-hand, lives up to that eco title.
4. Personal Health & Safety
I’ve traveled over 25 times to Mexico in the past four years. I can honestly share, not all of Mexico is safe. Just like any city in states too, New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles… every city or location can have its not-so-safe neighborhood.
Traveling to Cancun Airport from Miami (my home-base for the time being) is incredibly fast, just over an hour flight. Once you land, head directly to the “pit” outside customs and baggage claim to a shuttle, cab, private limo or bus to take you to your resort.
While there are plenty of off-site excursions to visit and see off property in the Riviera, I found that Palmaïa had any and all I needed on-site, meaning, I didn’t have to leave once I arrived.
This left me feeling very safe and secure, with plenty of wellness, fitness and food options to keep me plenty occupied during my stay.
5. Variety Of Well-Being Options On-Site
Speaking of wellness options, Palmaïa has a full fitness center that is cleaned regularly and reserved to prevent over-crowding, outdoor water activities, meditations, yoga classes, art workshops, and daily evening outdoor music events all within their 14-acre grounds.
All are included in your stay, and all within a healthy walking distance of their rightfully named “Health Trail” that parallels down the length of the resort and ocean.
Would I recommend Tulum? Absolutely. Would I prefer Playacar? 9 times out of 10, yes. Especially in today’s given circumstances to distance and avoid the crowds, and just to unwind aware from the noise and chaos.
In close, the question isn’t if I’d recommend Palmaïa, Playacar, but rather, when I’ll be back? Ojalá, muy pronto (hopefully, very soon!).
Have you heard of Playacar before? Tulum? After reading this piece, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would you be to book a trip to Playacar?