Secret Luxury Spots In The Mayan Riviera and the Bohemian Beach Paradise Of Tulum, Mexico

Ancient Mayan Ruins of Tulum

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My first impressions of Tulum, Mexico were not promising. The multiple police checkpoints en-route and the rough deep pot holes lining the dirt roads were enough to jar my senses in this coastal town 80 miles southeast of Cancun. So much has been written about this scruffy beach escape from the New York fashion bloggers that I was already prepared for the onslaught of mosquitoes, while living with limited electricity and communing with the jungle creatures?and supermodels.

As my driver pulled off the weather worn roadway, a tall thatched structure loomed from the jungle trees, a tropical vision from the pages of Swiss Family Robinson. A mangrove jungle rising before the resort opening up to a sheer white limestone sandy beachfront fronting Soliman Bay revealing the refreshing Jashita Hotel. Outside the aroma of fresh flowers and fragrance woke me from my cranky stupor and I took a deep breath entering the open air lobby.? I was told with a smile that my room was upgraded to the Nefertiti Suite and my weary spirit was immediately lifted. You would be hard pressed not to immediately fall in love with this place as I entered the gorgeous lobby straight out of a design magazine and with margarita in hand quickly melted into the atmosphere.

Happy Hour at Jashita Hotel (photo credit Jim Dobson)

The understated but certainly luxurious boutique hotel is a far cry from what I had anticipated.? The owners, the Marchiorello family from Verona, Italy built the resort in 2010 after falling in love with the tranquil bay protected by a coral reef.?Enrico Marchiorello?s?handsome son Tommaso manages the hotel and is a frequent companion to the guests, whether it?s taking the private fishing boat out and cooking fresh fish or becoming a lifelong friend to many of the returning fans of the hotel.? His compassion towards making the guests feel at home contribute to the experience of modern luxury such as crisp linen sheets, flat screen televisions and perfect air conditioning. The Nefertiti Suite is just one of the beautiful rooms overlooking the water with massive terraces created for lounging on hammocks or viewing the spectacular jungle biosphere on one side or the glassy calm waters on the other. This is truly the most luxurious hotel in Tulum.

Tommaso Marchiorello, manager of Jashita Hotel (photo credit Jashita Hotel)

The Italians I come to discover are leaders of the pack of entrepreneurs who have created some of the best hotspots? in Tulum. Living La Dolce Vita from the wildly popular beachfront Hampton?s style Italian restaurant Posada Margherita owned by the charming and often shirtless Alessandro Carozzino to the former celebrity studded but now?fading Coqui Coqui Hotel owned by Italian designer Francesca Bonato. (The thatched roof jungle suites and South Beach cool Be Tulum Hotel has now become the hottest hotel in the area with neighboring Casa Magna Hotel boasting the best intimate beach).

The beach at Casa Magna (photo credit Jim Dobson)

There are luxurious adventures and opportunities to be had if one only looks a little bit deeper behind the veil of yoga retreats and pricey boutiques.? I discovered things rarely mentioned in the press that discerning visitors would appreciate.? Options are numerous ranging from a romantic private dinner in the magnificent Dos Ojos cenote or deep sea fishing at the fisherman?s village in Sian Ka?an. At the Yaan Wellness Energy Healing Spa located directly opposite the Be Tulum Hotel, owner Sebastian Sas and Dr. Bobby Klein have created what I consider one of the world?s best spas. My four hour luxury journey was something I will remember forever and at a price of over $700 something the average tourist will never experience.

Klein is an offbeat, graying former Southern California hippie who sprinkles his wisdom with four letter enthusiasm. Entering a space of peace and relaxation through energy transfer, I held a large crystal while he cradled by head and whispered Mayan channeling; emotional and psychological injuries were made clear and opened my heart to healing. My session with him was not only inspiring but allowed a window of thinking and hope for an amazing future to come. This is exactly what I needed for my week away from?a high stress job in Hollywood.

Dr. Bobby Klein of the Yaan Wellness Center

I headed into a stilted hut where I was greeted by a hearty Mayan woman healer who performed an Energetic Limpia ceremony on my naked and worn out body. First, warm copal smoke was transferred across my body to cleanse my energy field, and then a shelled egg was rubbed over the surface of my body ? to absorb disease and cleanse the physical being. With eyes covered during the entire experience, the smooth transition to an 80 minute four handed massage (where did she come from?) started with a deep abdominal massage centered on the dispersion of energy and realignment of organs proceeding to the whole body. I was stretched and put in vulnerable positions while enjoying the deep tissue massage, allowing my mind to be open to the ritual experience. I was so relaxed and comfortable that I was not at all concerned having my naked body placed into a copper bathtub where I was covered in hot water infused with Rue Basil, Rosemary and flowers.

Cesiak restaurant in Sian Ka'an (photo credit Jim Dobson)

My journey continued onwards to breathtaking Sian Ka?an, the natural biosphere reserve, which is still a secret in terms of luxury vacation.? It is surrounded by some of the most wild, beautiful nature (jaguars, boas, sea turtles) and home to exclusive, chic villas and real estate options. The villas of Sian Ka?an are often rented to celebrities and some of the wealthiest people in the world, where they like to hide?in absolute bliss and privacy.? Pamela Anderson even had a villa here for many years unheralded by the media. The beautiful Lithuanian Raminta Lilaite who is with Riviera Maya Property Consultantsarranges first class options for the rich and famous including VIP packages and new real estate villas for purchase. Ruta Uleviciute is a Partner in the company and is a former high-level jewelry consultant, who worked with Royal Jewelers and other top luxury brands in London, and moved to Tulum two years ago with her boyfriend, because they noticed the tendency of the wealthy to invest in luxury real estate.

Sian Ka'an biosphere and jungle (photo credit Jim Dobson)

I checked in for my Sian Ka?an lagoon adventure at the Cesiak beach front restaurant and met my private Mayan tribal guide Jorge, his multiple body?adornments reflecting his hanging for hours from his chest piercings as a transition to manhood. I was taken by small boat through a 1.5 million acre protected Unesco World Heritage site, the largest protected area in the state of Quintana Roo.? Our boat navigated through the Caapechen Lagoon where black vultures circled overhead. A magnificent enormous Great Blue Heron also greets me; they are known to devour a baby crocodile in one fell swoop.? I was treated to an afternoon of floating down the river with nothing but the current carrying me through winding jungle foliage, fresh water makes it safe and will not harm the biosphere. My leisurely float was met with the shrill chirping of an alien creature in the banks of the lagoon. I was quietly informed it was a baby crocodile calling for its mother. That quickly ended my blissful journey in the water. Once safely in the boat we came upon the mother crocodile slowly raising her head above the water. We are truly strangers in this vast paradise.

With Mayan tour guide Jorge at our jungle lagoon trip
I am grateful for an amazing time in Tulum, my love for the area is now cemented firmly in my soul. Friendships were forged; from eccentric and gorgeous Derek Klein who owns the popular Gitano bar along with the charming Brit James Gardner, the vibrant and loveable MaxDe Zambiasi who built a stunning four story luxury villa available to rent on Soliman Bay, the warm and embracing Ana Martin Vila who manages the luxury Be Tulum Hotel and wealth manager Canon Price with Beverly Advisors who guided me through a lot of hidden gems on my first visit.? Ciao Tulum, I will see you soon!

Canon Price (c) with Derek Klein (r), James Gardner and friends (photo credit Canon Price)