Openings: The Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya

Images by Victor Elias Photography

Go back about a dozen years, and Tulum was on the lips of everyone “in the know,” the still not widely discovered, unspoiled destination on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that was suddenly a cognoscenti fave. In 2022, of course, that’s all changed – the absolutely gorgeous beach town is now hosting about 1.5 million visitors annually.

Still, until now, Tulum hotels were pretty much of the smaller, independent variety. But Hilton’s luxury brand Conrad has just thrown open the expensive doors on its spectacular new property there, and there is absolutely nothing small about the place. Indeed, the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya boasts 349 rooms, five pools and nine dining and imbibing destinations – so, essentially, you never need to leave the place, except to lay on the private beach that is just a short stroll away.

Despite the name, it’s technically eight miles north of Tulum itself, in a secluded area of the bay, in close proximity to a verdant tropical forest. Rooms eschew beachy cliches, with warm woods, stone and metal elements instead resulting in an elegant, understated chic. Each has a private balcony for taking in views of the lush surrounds, as well as a relaxation tub or plunge pool. Suites boast spa-style master bathrooms with soaking tubs and rainfall showers.

Options for eating and drinking are nearly head-spinning. The day starts with breakfast at Arbolea, offering American and international classics and a globally influenced buffet; there’s also Cafetal for coffee, juices and pastries; a trio of Chiringuitos for open-air, daytime snacking; plus Kengai for Izakaya style dining, Ukai for handcrafted sushi, Maratea for Mediterranean small plates, and Autor, for personalized culinary experiences courtesy of Chef Jersaí Miranda. For sips, Ultramar is a stylish, poolside cocktail bar, and Chaak Bar is the cooly-designed lobby lounge.

But most importantly in these times of conscious travel, sustainability is at the heart of the Conrad’s daily operations and ideology, with the hotel’s involvement in various rescue and relocation programs (including one for local sea turtles), as well as boasting a state of the art waste management systems and water quality monitoring efforts. Preservation also extends to the well-being of guests at the Conrad Spa Tulum, with outdoor pool and thermal facilities, as well as treatments inspired by traditional Mexican herbalism, sensory water rituals, and the Mayan Manteada ancient massage technique. And in a distinct case of “it was surely inevitable,” the hotel has its own in-house Shaman, who can be booked for purifying gratitude and sacred cenote ceremonies

Sure, this marks a definite change for Tulum hospitality, and likely indicates that similar size resorts are also in the works. But everything about the Conrad indicates sensitivity to and respect for the local culture and eco-system – so we can be hopeful of that having established the paradigm for all such projects moving forward.

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