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“Paradise Found”
Review of Playa Sonrisa

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Playa Sonrisa
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Xcalak
Reviewed 29 March 2014

What a truly fantastic place! Great location, lovely guests, excellent food, perfect hosts, wonderful time. OK, we’re running out of superlatives...

Despite its remoteness, Xcalak was pretty easy to get to. We were traveling independently so didn’t have a rental car but still managed to get there without a hitch. Murph’s advice was spot on and from leaving Tulum (via bus and taxi) we were on the beach with our clothes off in less than three hours. Ah...freedom.

We stayed in La Selva, which is one of the first floor rooms with a huge terrace. It’s a really nice large hexagonal room with a good cross breeze and a view of the ocean. (A fan is provided but we didn’t end up using it most nights because of the breeze). And with so many lovely places on the grounds to relax we didn’t spend much time in the room. In the first few days we experimented with different locations – the end of the jetty (perfect for the late evening sun), the waterfront on the sunbeds (great tanning spot), a hammock for an afternoon snooze or – if we really wanted to get away, there was the upstairs terrace of Villa Sonrisa.

If you come looking for Disneyland you’ll be disappointed; the pace of life slows right down at Sonrisa. We spent our days relaxing, chatting, swimming, snorkelling, diving, eating great meals and having the occasional cold beer (or two). There was enough to keep us occupied when we wanted but we never felt pressure to keep busy.

Oh, and afternoon bocce was great fun; as was the post match cold beer in the ‘hot tub’. The hot tub, for the uninitiated, is relaxing in the balmy evening shallows of the Caribbean sea, shooting the breeze and forgetting all the cold weather and grief back home. If there was ever an antidote to the rat race, this was it.

We are both divers and have dived in Mexico and all over Central America. The local dive shop XTC is the best outfit we have come across so if you are a certified diver, or want to get certified, we highly recommend you do it with them. They are professional, friendly, their equipment is new and flawless and the diving off the coast is excellent.

A word about the food at Sonrisa...Superb. The highlight was on Valentines day when Murph and Cindy went all out to make it a really special evening (although I don’t think they were responsible for organising the sublime full moon that rose over the jetty). We had surf and turf - lobster doesn't come and fresher, or better, than that.

We can’t really rate this place highly enough. We booked for 8 nights and loved it so much we extended our stay twice and ended up staying for 11 nights. In fact, if we didn’t have other plans we’d probably still be there now!

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank TheFourthFloor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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24 - 30 of 85 reviews

Reviewed 22 March 2014

A wonderful place to get away from it all. The drive south was well worth it to reach this amazing place. So quiet and tranquil. We met some lovely people - great food and fantastic company every night. Murph and Cindy are perfect hosts. Really enjoyed kayaking out to the reef and snorkeling amongst the coral, but mainly enjoyed lazing on the beach. Drinking beer in the hot tub watching the sunset was a real treat.

Just watch out for those speed bumps on the journey down - they aren't always very well marked! If you want to stock up on any supplies there's a good supermarket on the right hand side of the road as you come through Tulum. And for the way back, if you need to fill up your hire car, the petrol station is just north of the airport turning on the 307, just after the 'Hotels' turnoff (so don't follow signs for the airport, there's no Pemex at the airport itself).

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Chris B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 February 2014

We have just begun to lose our sun glow acquired at Playa Sonrisa. We had returned to stay twice as long as last time. Perfect is the only way to describe it. The relaxed, no hurry, quiet comfort is why we return. Enjoying the clothing optional part is my favorite, uninhibited and the feel of the sunshine and warm breeze is perfect. Cindy continues to make the most delicious food! Visiting with Murph and Cindy is like re connecting with great friends. Meeting the other guest is like making new friends. The drive was easier as this was a return trip and we knew the roads better. Snorkeling just a ways away from the resort is terrific I could have spent hours in the water trying to look at all the different fish, coral, colorful sea fans and more. Easy kayaking in the double kayak or the single one just off the shore and above the turtle grass provides wonderful surprises, we came upon 4 different rays just gliding along. We did also have the opportunity to have dinner twice at the Leaky Palapa in town a place not to be missed. We were fortunate to catch a jam session at Toby's. Yes, we will return again and are looking forward to it already!

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Kathryn C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2014 via mobile

Had a wonderful time enjoying the peace and quiet of this place. Beautiful setting and delicious home cooked meals. First time at a clothing optional resort, and after a few days were comfortable with it. Really enjoyed Cindy and Murph along with the other guests.
You must go to the Leaky Palapa for some of the best meals you will ever have. Also enjoyed going to town for a night of live music and meeting other interesting folks. Some great snorkeling is right near the beach via cayaks. Definitely looking to return again! Thanks Cindy and Murphy for taking care of us!

Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
5  Thank Alfred D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 December 2013

We spent 5 lazy, luxurious, completely relaxed days at Playa sonrisa in November. Weather was great, no insects, no problems, a perfect stay. We were looking for no hassles, no fuss, just a relaxing time. We had been in Merida and Calakmul and the roads in this region were fine- just watch out for all the topes in this part of Mexico! Murph and Cindy were great and gracious hosts- making sure we had everything, making sure we were having a great time. And we did. We got up at dawn to go for a walk and take pictures, back to bed, up for breakfast- provided by Cindy! Swimming, snorkeling, walking down the beach- this made for busy days! Then late afternoon we would play bocce-and Murph knows the terrain very well- and then to the hottub for a drink! The hottub is a nice area free of turtle grass just off the beach that holds as many people as show up. Dinner at Playa Sonrisa was great- and we had time to shoot the breeze with Murph and Cindy and other guests.

The atmosphere is very laid back- do what you want- no fuss. However due to distance you should have a c ar to get there- which gives you the greatest options- ie go into town for dinner. But after dinner we spent the evenings on the dock lying on the beach chairs trying to count the billions of stars that you can see. Night or Day the dock was where we spent our time. There are palapas to keep the sun off in the day- and we loved it here.

This location is for people- especially couples- who want to relax, not be distracted by noise and glitter- to hang out naked, or not, on a great wide beach. We will be back and we thank other posters for their honest reviews!

Room Tip: Only 6 rooms, so you cannot go wrong, but in the cabana, we left the curtains open all night and had...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank calowie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2013

We liked this place a lot. It is the opposite of a noisy, opulent, shiny, all-inclusive, in-your-face resort.

Playa Sonrisa was very comfortable and no-pressure. We had never been to a clothing-optional resort, though we have spontaneously picked spots to be privately nude together on beaches on St. Bart's and in the south of France, remote islands of Georgian Bay, mountain trails close to Banff, etc. It really is "optional", and for the most part my partner chose to keep her kaftan on when others were around.

The food prepared here is very good, and reasonably priced, and you really should get into Xcalak to try the Leaky Palapa.

It is a truly lovely setting, and Murph and Cindy are terrific, low key hosts. It's a really long way from just about everything, and you better enjoy one or several of reading, diving, snorkeling and swim among beautiful reefs, kayaking, or fishing because, frankly, there is little else to do.

But for those seeking solitude and sun, and particularly for those who want to try taking off their clothes under a soothing and nourishing sun without concern of being ogled or photographed or hustled or having their intentions misunderstood, this is the spot.

At this small resort we also found ourselves with an interesting and diverse group of 3 or 4 couples with whom we ate most nights and shared stories. (I see Katie's review below and echo her thoughts.) All-in-all a pleasant experience.

In the interest of full disclosure: be advised that when you are walking the beach away from the groomed resort you will encounter copious garbage that has been washed ashore. Also, we did run into biting insects (rare for January, I was told, perhaps because it rained, which was also rare) so you might want to play it safe and bring a repellent with DEET.

But despite those negatives this a wonderful place to get away from it all and relax.
Thank you, Cindy & Murph.

Room Tip: We stayed in a beach bungalow. Lovely to be able to step right out on the sand. Saw all the other ro...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank Northwaters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 February 2013

Playa Sonrisa is a wonderful tropcal retreat and just the place for us to spend several days chilling during our otherwise hectic tour of the Yucatan peninsular. We had a beachfront villa which was spacious, comfortable and with a view to die for. Our fellow guests were delightful and our hosts, Playa Sonrisa's owners Murph and Cindy, were genuinely welcoming and helpful - thoroughly nice people.

Being so far "off the grid" we were pleased at the quality of the food available in Xcalak, both at Playa Sonrisa and in other local establishments, Breakfasts (included) were very nice with freshly-baked baked bread and muffins plus fruits, coffee and juice. We dined at the hotel twice and both meals were delicious and good value for this quality of cuisine. In the town of Xcalak, Toby's restaurant was a bit indifferent but the Leaky Palapa lived up to its excellent billing. Almost all the restaurants in the area close for a few days a week, including Playa Sonrisa, but Murph and Cindy are happy to give recommendations and arrange bookings so you won't starve.

The beach is of fine sand with lots of mature palm trees for shade and plenty of loungers. It's kept very clean by the Playa Sonrisa team - washed up debris is a real problem all along this coast. There is a very nice walk northwards along the beach with plenty of marine life to be seen. This area of the coast does have turtle grass close inshore but there are some small clear patches for (shallow) swimming. The snorkelling off the dock is excellent but the best marine life is seen in the coral garden a few hundred yards offshore, accessed via kayaks which can be rented for about M$50 per week.

We loved Playa Sonrisa but it won't suit everyone and those wanting 24 hour room service and the like would be much better served by the myriad of big resort hotels around Cancun. I'd advise everyone to look at Playa Sonrisa's website before going - this will give you a very good idea of what to expect but here are a few of the main issues to consder:

You are 5 or 6 miles from Xcalak, the nearest town, and the road from it is unmade and a bit bumpy but negotiable in a regular car - you don't need a 4x4. There is no mains electricity or mains water which means that everyone has to play their part in conserving both these commodities. You can charge phones and laptops (satellite wifi avaialable) but hairdryers are a no-no. No mobile signals here or for 40 km either!

Guests also need to be sensible about water usage (rainwater collection and tanker delivery are the only sources) but again, it's no hardship. And yes, the resort is clothing optional so you'll see naked people but no-one is obliged to strip off if they don't want to. Playa Sonrisa is a genuine naturist resort which means its safe and you won't be gawped at or subjected to others' libertine behaviour. All guests are clothed at mealtimes.

Driving back to Cancun to catch the flight to the UK we passed a seemingly endless succession of huge rersort hotels where I'm sure you can shower all day long and plug in as many appliances as you want but none of them could give you an experience like Playa Sonrisa. It genuinely is an "away from it all" location - something very special.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank Leo T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Playa Sonrisa

Address: Caribbean Costa Maya | 7 km (4 mi) North of Xcalak on the camino costero (beach road), Xcalak, Mexico
Region: Mexico > Yucatan Peninsula > Quintana Roo > Costa Maya > Xcalak
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Hotels in Xcalak
Price Range: £57 - £125 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Also Known As:
Playa Sonrisa Xcalak, Mexico - Costa Maya
Playa Sonrisa Hotel Xcalak

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