If you want to get away from cold winter temps and experience nature, head to Tulum, Mexico!
You can catch many airlines to Cancun’s airport — including Jet Blue and American. From New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport to Cancun, the trip will take about four hours.
At the airport, you can choose from several car rental agencies: Hertz, Budget and National among them. A five-day Hertz car rental costs $105, before taxes.
To get to Tulum, you drive about 135 kilometers south via Carretera (Highway) 307 along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The drive takes an hour and 15 minutes. Signs clearly mark the way. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in a foreign country, you could take a van service from the airport that drops you off at Tulum’s hotels.
We arrived at the centrally-located Piedra Escondida on the Carretera Boca Paila, a hotel with four, two-story thatched roof buildings that house guests in eight beachfront rooms. The hotel’s name means “hidden stone” in Spanish but it should mean “hidden gem”.
Each of Piedra Escondida’s four residential buildings (or thatched-roof palapas) has an upstairs and a downstairs room, starting at around $230 US per night. Each room has a porch with two chairs and a hammock where you can sit and look at the beach and listen to the waves. Rooms are spacious with white walls decorated with art and tile floors. Some have seating areas en suite.
Piedra Escondida is referred to as an “eco-friendly” hotel. Efforts are made to save electricity: There are no television sets, landline phones or mini-bars in the rooms. A housekeeper’s note says sheets are changed alternating days to save water. (If you want linens changed daily, leave the cleaning card on your sheets letting staff know you’d like them changed). The air conditioner is available for use from 9PM -5 or 6am. While there, temperatures hovered in the 70s and 80s. Room #1 on the top floor had windows on three sides –providing cross ventilation. The overhead bathroom shower spouts salt water. A multi-lingual sign in the bathroom asks you to dispose of toilet paper (papel higienico) in the waste basket rather than flushing it.
Of note: the authentic Mexican décor. A sink basin is surrounded by a countertop decorated with hand-painted Mexican Talavera tiles.
You don’t have to give up all modern-day comforts. There is wifi. However, the wi-fi connection was spotty at times on my laptop. Don’t worry about bringing electrical converters from the U.S. for IPhones or Ipads. They use they same system as the U.S. Mosquito netting hanging around the bed provides some protection in case there are mosquitoes (I didn’t see any). The hotel provides you with artesanal, organic toiletries: oatmeal soap, coconut body lotion and honey shampoo and conditioner.
Beach-lovers will be in paradise! You walk out of your room and you have fine, white sand between your toes and you can wade in crystal clear blue Caribbean waters. Rock formations bookend the beach creating a natural barrier and providing you with an intimacy and exclusive beach experience shared with hotel occupants.
Made-to-order breakfast is included at the on-site restaurant. Among menu choices: Huevos Rancheros (sunny side up eggs served on a crispy tortilla smothered in tomato sauce), an omelette (served with a choice of ham, cheese, mushrooms, tomato and/or onion), Huevos a la Mexicana(scrambled eggs with tomato, onion and chiles) and the Piedra Escondida (a plate full of fresh, seasonal fruit). You can also get crepes, waffles or oatmeal with fruit. A garnish of refried beans is de rigeur. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee are included. (Though lunch and dinner are not included, you could also eat those meals at the restaurant if you don’t want to venture out).
An added plus: the hotel’s proximity to just about everything. It’s right across the street from various eateries: Mateo’s Grille and LaCreperie, among others. The go-to restaurant of the moment, Hartwood, is about 2 miles away. Nearby, the Maya Tulum Spa and Resort offers $15-yoga classes. Within a block, you can pick up a latte or smoothie at Tunich Jungle Cabanas and Restaurant. You can listen to live music at Puro Corazon.
And if you look closely under the sunglasses, you might even recognize some celebrities: Jared Leto, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon all reportedly count Tulum among their favorite laid-back vacation resort towns. Maybe one day you will too!
That’s the Lowdown!
Please leave a comment and check out this post to see some great food pics from Mexico: