This hotel is fantastic and I will definitely be back. (My review is for a Tulum beach hotel, so it assumes that the reader has done her homework and knows that there are no high-rise buildings, no heavy electric use, no toilets that flush paper, etc… in this part of the country. Also, it assumes you already know that everything here is priced like you’re in NYC and the town is full of fashion industry types.)
My 9-yr-old son and I chose to visit Tulum at this time of year because it is turtle nesting season there and to see the nearby archaeological sites of Tulum and Coba. I’d previously stayed in Tulum at Dreams Resort and thought he’d love visiting the ruins and seeing the iguanas. I was able to find a room (Blanca Duna B) that was only $340 for three nights, which was considerably less than any of the other comparable places I could find, and the price included a breakfast as well as parking. Given the great price, I was a bit wary of what we might get. However, it was immediately clear when we approached the complex that I had made a great choice. The lush gardens were cool and inviting and surrounded the open air reception area and office that felt like a nature preserve office. (We later became friends with Mr. Juanito, the amazing gardener/groundskeeper, who we learned is an actual expert in Mayan plants and healing within his Mayan community.) Upon our arrival we were asked/told to sit down and relax by Ricardo and immediately presented with refreshments. I think he could tell we’d had a long, hot day of travel! We were also given branded beach tote bags that came in handy. The staff used wheel barrows to tote all of our luggage to our rooms and placed it inside for us. From what I’ve read in the comments about the more fashionable spots like Coqui Coqui, this is not something that all hotels offer. In fact, whenever they saw me struggling with something or looking confused, one of them would approach and offer help. The nice thing was that they managed to do this without being intrusive at all. We felt like we had tons of privacy. Compared to the other hotels we passed along the road to Nueva Vida, it was much more “in sync” with the natural environment. While it is modern and stylish, it is appropriately designed to fit within this beach jungle setting, with lots of exposed local woods, curving lines, colors that blend into the flora, and the quintessential palapa rooftops. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying to make a statement the way that Ana y Jose does with its imposing stone facade protruding out of the jungle. In Tulum, a hotel doesn’t need to make a statement. It just needs to offer comfort within the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, IMHO. After being checked in, we were taken to our room, where we were floored by how nice everything was. We had a spacious private balcony with two chairs and a table and the beds were completely covered (tops and all 4 sides) with gorgeous mosquito netting. There was a nice armoire with a working safe, a writing table, luggage tables, and places to hang our clothing and store our snorkel gear. The beds were very comfortable. I could easily imagine staying there for a week or more. There were large glass doors that provided a stunning jungle view. The bathroom was a complete 3-piece unit so that a person could use the toilet in total privacy while somebody bathed or used the cool alabaster vase vanity or the large mirror above it. Although we weren’t able to get the direct ocean breeze, they provided 4 fans that took care of the ventilation just fine. (Two are over the beds but within the netting so that you can have a direct breeze on you all night long.) I was amazed by how clean everything was given that we were essentially on the beach and the ocean air tends to corrode things like bath fixtures and paint.
The hotel is located on what is probably the absolute best part of the Tulum beach in terms of sand quality and peacefulness. Most importantly for us, the hotel participates in (I think it might be the lead) in the local effort to protect the turtle nesting areas. It does this by removing all beach furniture at night (the beach furniture is hands-down the best on the entire beach – swinging/hanging bed mattresses, full size beach mattresses, comfy wooden chairs, hammocks, you name it) and by turning off all white lights facing the water. This is because furniture can block turtles from finding their way to the nesting spots and the lights scare off the turtles. They also house two nesting sanctuaries on their property where you can observe them up close, and it’s the place where the scientists/volunteers release the baby turtles when they are ready to head to the ocean on their own. We had the incredibly good fortune of witnessing this our first night there. The volunteers let my son and the other children help, and the look of complete awe and wonder in their little faces will stay with me forever. It was truly a priceless moment. The security guards (there is very, very good security there so I felt completely safe wandering around the grounds at all hours alone) are super friendly and will alert you when a mama turtle comes on land to nest in the middle of the night if you ask them. The front desk staff even helped my son convert our regular flashlights into “turtle safe” ones by giving him some red film and duct tape to attach it. We sat out on turtle watch two nights till about midnight and spotted two turtles but they were scared off by tourists who approached them with white flashlights so they didn’t nest while we were there. During the day, there is a lifeguard present as well as a security guard, so we could swim without worry about our iPad or other stuff being stolen, which was really nice.
All of the staff go out of their way to help the guests enjoy themselves. Throughout our 3 nights I kept finding out about more and more things they had to offer. My only “complaint” would be that they have so much to offer that it’s probably impossible for them to explain all this at check-in (they probably did but I was too discombobulated after driving from Piste then climbing Coba earlier in the day that it went in one ear and out the other) that they should probably just print it out and hand it to the guests to review once they’ve got questions. For example, I decided to buy our snacks and lunch food at the grocery store once I realized that the cheaper non-sit-down restaurants all were driving distance away from the beachfront hotels, and ended up buying my own cooler without asking to just borrow one of theirs. They have things like bikes for rent on site, a self-serve espresso machine, extra bottles of water, an assortment of bug sprays, sunscreens, and skin treatments that everyone can help themselves to, and lots of other stuff. The restaurant affiliated with them, Casa Banana, serves delicious food and we had an outstanding dinner there our first night. But as yummy as it was, we weren’t in the mood for such an all-out meal three times a day, so we pretty much just had breakfast there from then on. The breakfast that comes with the room was technically continental, but it was quite filling. The other restaurants are a short walk from the NV reception area (like Hartwood), but take a flashlight to help make your way home along the dark but populated road at night.
Overall, this place offers a fantastic value. This is especially true if you opt for one of the lower priced rooms as I did, but I would still think it was worth the money even if I’d paid for the rooms with more space and direct water views. The friendly staff just can’t be beat. While we were hanging out on the beach, totally out of the blue Mr. Juanito was kind enough to bring over a fresh coconut for us to drink and then he demonstrated how to use a machete to cut it open and eat the meat from the inside. My son is still talking about how cool that was. We can’t wait to return! Note that kids are limited to only certain rooms. Since most people keep their doors open at least during the day, I'd recommend that those who don't want to hear babies crying or kids screeching should stay on the far side of the complex. I was fine with this since I had my own kiddo in tow, but if I were there on a romantic getaway sans my own child, I'd opt to skip any noise associated with other people's children. For other parents, I'd generally recommend that you avoid Tulum if you need things like TV or electronics to entertain your kids or if they won't sleep well without AC. This entire area is truly rustic in that sense but just about 25 minutes to the north you can find more American style hotels that offer the creature comforts that most families need to have an enjoyable vacation. Also, you should be aware that the overall vibe at Tulum is more adult oriented. This isn't a volleyball playing, jet ski sort of beach area. Also, you should be aware that you and your kids may encounter sunbathers without bikini tops or couples being couples. It's an accepting and tolerant sort of place, so expect to see same sex couples enjoying their romantic getaway in the same way that the hetero ones do. If you aren't up for that, then consider staying in Akumal or elsewhere.
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- Also Known As:
- Nueva Vida De Ramiro Hotel Tulum
- Nueva Vida De Ramiro Tulum