Over the past few years, the Riviera Maya’s reputation as a foodie destination has grown like the cream of coconut milk. A slew of fine dining properties, aided by celebrity Mexican chefs, lure travelers heading south from Cancun to stop just short of Tulum. The latest entrant to cement that status: The House of La Playa, the 63-suite offshoot of the Xcaret Arte hotel. Small, intimate, and striking in its sympathetic design of concrete, wood, and glass, the property vies with the entire Yucatán coast for best new hotel of the year focused on food, if not design.
La Casa de La Playa’s attention to exquisite levels of detail extends to the spacious villas, all with ocean views, steam showers, volcanic stone hydromassage tubs and plunge pools through which hammocks made from hand are hanging lazy. Inside each room, a wall-mounted orb aquarium, a mini-conservation unit, houses local translucent jellyfish pulsating in brilliant blue water like circulating stars. These touches already set this upscale property apart from its competitive set. However, it was the extra details that put La Casa de La Playa in the running for best new hotel in the area.
Starting with a trio of 24-hour tasting rooms dedicated to showcasing the country’s culinary arts.
A Mexican chocolate bar, Chocolateria, offers almost all forms of cocoa, hot cocoa, truffles filled with shiny raspberry or passion fruit, dark and milk chocolate barks, popsicles and of course churros , welcomes passers-by at any time of the day.
The mezcal and tequila bar, Bodega Mezcaleria, stocked with the country’s artisan labels, stays open to sip cups of sustainable coconut while straddling a saddle seat, whether it’s midday or midnight.
A temperature-controlled concrete and glass wine cellar and bar called Cava, run by local sommelier and educator Pável Martínez Aguilera, offers six-flight tastings of the country’s most elusive labels, which guests can take for free at the swimming pool or their balcony.
Of course, it’s the restaurants that truly establish the caliber of this all-inclusive, from the 8-course dinners at Estero, a concept devised by Virgilio Martinez of famed Central de Lima, to lunch at Tuch de Luna by the world’s most celebrated female chef. from Mexico, Martha. Ortiz, or dine at Lumbre, a delicious ode to northern cuisine by Daniel and Patricio Rivera-Rio.
Once you’ve eaten through the food at La Casa de La Playa, you can walk through a stone tunnel, one with some serious ancient Mayan vibes, to Xcaret Arte, surrounded by lagoon, for dinner in one of 9 concept restaurants at the flick of a water-resistant wristband. Guests of La Playa de La Casa can also dine alongside the Río Azul cenote in Xcaret Park, lit by floating candles and accompanied by a live guitarist, in a setting worthy of The Bachelor’s most romantic meals.
When they’re not gorging on fancy tacos and handmade tequila, guests swim above the beach in an elevated architectural concrete pool. At the end of the lane, a peek-a-boo glass bubble showcases the powerful waves crashing against the rocks below as a reminder of the thrilling aerial position.
For a small property, there is plenty to do. Head to the gym’s fitness center, a center packed with new Technogym equipment and spacious enough to put some New York City studios to shame.
Opt for a Mayan massage at Muluk Spa, after which therapists draw back the curtains to reveal Caribbean cotton candy blue.
Every moment, every angle of La Casa de La Playa, from service to design, is perfectly orchestrated to showcase the bond between humanity and nature. And for the ultimate demonstration of that relationship, guests at La Casa de La Playa have privileged access to Xcaret’s famous natural parks with a guide leading them past jungle ziplines, underwater river rides and amphibious mountain bike trails.
This Mexican jungle retreat may be small, but it’s packed with ideas. I can’t wait to taste and experience what they dream up next.
Rates vary by season, but average $1500 per night for 2 adults. Book here.