Hotel Esencia luxury boutique resort

The problem with publishing since 2007 like Luxury Latin America has is that hotels don’t stay stuck in time and we need to continually update old reviews. Sometimes the changes are minor, but beautiful Hotel Esencia between Playa del Carmen and Tulum is looking fresh and new after recent changes.

Esencia groundsEsencia has long been a haven for the wealthy and those seeking privacy. On a large plot of land that once served as the retreat of an Italian duchess, it’s on a gorgeous bay with plenty of forest keeping it sheltered from anything else. A world away from the big glitzy mega-resorts up and down this coast, this small hotel with personal service gets the great ocean views without the loud watersports and poolside activity leaders with a microphone.

A new owner willing to invest in improvements means a revitalized staff, improved public areas, and some of the best rooms in the region. The suites go from large to humongous and are tricked out with electronic touches that enhance and delight rather than getting in the way. Lower the blinds, turn up the air conditioning, and launch one of the custom playlists on the furnished iPod—all without moving from your bed. Suites and cool and white with well-places splashes of color, built-in sofas mixing with Dunbar furniture, soaking tubs, plunge pools, and outdoor lounging spaces.

Here’s a little tour of the suites and the grounds, with some background music from the band playing in the restaurant at dinner while I was there:

This is not an adults-only resort and there are two similar pools flanking the bay: one for adults, one for kids. Some of the units are suitable for larger groups too, with more than one bedroom.

There are things to do here, like practice yoga in the morning, hit the gym, get a massage, or take out a kayak to go paddling around. Most guests seem to be content though just letting their stress melt away. There’s a good Wi-Fi signal here if you need to get some work done, including surprisingly fast (for Mexico) speed in the rooms. But there’s also a sense that it’s better if you kept it there, with a note that you should leave your cell phone ringer off while in the public areas. Play a game of chess or backgammon over tea in the lounge room instead.

See our full review of Hotel Esencia on the Caribbean in Mexico.

See the best Riviera Maya luxury hotels.