Riviera Maya, Mexico
What it is
The whitewashed oceanside getaway of an Italian duchess turned 41-room boutique hotel.
What it isn't
A massive megaresort. This hotel feels like home...if home is a photo shoot–worthy slice of oceanfront nirvana.
What we think
If you don’t currently have any friends who own leafy 50-acre estates perched on turquoise Riviera Mayan shores, you do now. Checking in to Hotel Esencia is like slipping into an alternate reality, too pretty to be believed. There’s a palapa-roofed spa set beside a cenote; guest rooms pre-stocked with Havaiana flip-flops, Molton Brown amenities and Casa Dragones tequila (the better to enjoy by your private waterfront pool). iPod minis sit loaded with music to kick off the party. But unlike at any friend’s house, it’s impossible to overstay your welcome here; the staff treat you with the same kid gloves that they would have used with the Duchess, the property’s former owner. “Sure, you can have a cold-pressed watermelon juice sprinkled with bee pollen.”
You're here because
You can no longer stomach all-inclusive or run-of-the-mill resorts, not least because you always return home feeling worse than when you left. This place is something truly special.
In the hushed reprieve of temple-like spa, you’re experiencing something akin to transcendence: the Lime Ritual, which combines ancient Mayan massage with the fruit you know mostly from its role in the margarita. It’s even more delicious as it works out your kinks.
An unspoiled, private corner of beach in the Riviera Maya, slung between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Sea turtles know this particular stretch of sand as the perfect place to create their nests. Local drivers know it's an easy 50-minute trip from the Cancún airport.
The Pool Restaurant - Farm to table cuisine
The Garden Restaurant - Farm to table cuisine
We have kayaks, snorkel equipment, paddle boards, boogie boards, a hobie cat, beach toys and there are cenotes and echo parks near the hotel.