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This Lesser-Known Riviera Maya Resort Is Considered One Of The Best In The World

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Condé Nast magazine has released its Gold List of hotels for 2023, and it ranks this Riviera Maya hotel as one of the world’s best…but you may not have even heard of it yet.

Midway between the bustling city of Playa Del Carmen and the eccentric neighboring town of Tulum exists a secluded oasis, nestled into its own jungle estate and hidden discretely from view. 

chairs on the beach in the riviera maya

Most people traveling along the highway would never even know that they are missing out on some of the Riviera Maya’s most jaw-dropping beaches, never mind that one of the top-rated hotels in the world is also quietly tucked into a sandy cove here. However, all that will now likely change as this property gains popularity.

Pool of Hotel Esencia at sunset, riviera maya
Image Courtesy Of: Hotel Esencia

Condé Nast magazine has placed Riviera Maya Hotel Esencia on its list of best hotels in the world for 2023. From Vanity Fair to ‘Martha Stewart Weddings’, critics are gushing about Hotel Esencia.

The Maya call this area of Riviera Maya ‘Xpu-Ha,’ translating roughly to “stream of two waters,” and tranquil bubbling waters are rightfully showcased meandering through Hotel Esencia’s 52-acre property. Pools and natural features are hidden throughout the estate, all framed by the pristine white sand beaches and lush jungle. The property has abundant wildlife, including sea turtles that return each year to nest in the warm beach sand.

Hotel Esencia garden view overlooking pool and suite, riviera maya
Image Courtesy Of: Hotel Esencia

Hotel Esencia holds a five-star designation from the discerning Forbes Travel Group, and it is actually the only privately owned hotel in Mexico to currently hold this prestigious Forbes rating. The property also comes from some intriguing beginnings….originally built to be a secluded jungle mansion hideaway for an Italian Duchess. That changed when the estate was purchased by Hollywood producer Kevin Wendle in 2014, who then proceeded to transform it into one of the world’s most chic beach hideaways. 

Since 2015 it has become a sought-after destination for honeymooners. A host of famous guests have also discovered it, choosing the location for the shelter that Hotel Esencia provides from the hustle and bustle of busier Riviera Maya locations. Social media descriptions list it as a favorite hideaway spot.

@julestravelss What Mexico villa dreams are made of #tulum #hotelesencia #villa #luxuryhotel #fyp ♬ Time After Time – Paratone

The original mansion still remains the property’s centerpiece, around which idyllic footpaths wander to the 45 suites and 3 Villas on the estate. Hotel Esencia has created a tranquil oasis away from the typical sprawling all-inclusive options, and the focus on peace and tranquility is carried through the entire property. From shady private beach cabanas and yoga perches to swinging hammocks under the jungle canopy, it is obvious that you are on a very exclusive and very protected piece of the Riviera Maya. Even the small but tasteful health spa is divided up into individual private areas, surrounding the guests with nature and bubbling pools of water.

Hotel Esencia Spa room in the jungle, riviera maya
Image Courtesy Of: Hotel Esencia

Getting placed on the very exclusive 2023 Condé Nast list of best hotels in the world means that guests are going to rightfully have some pretty high standards, and the description of accommodations provided by Hotel Esencia reflects this.

The top pick is the perhaps pretentiously named ‘Presidential Bungalow’ just steps away from the beach. You can relax afterward in the bungalow’s private soaker tub.

The ‘Pool Villa’ includes a namesake pool of its own. Even some of the 47 smaller suites have their own private pools or solarium, and all of them feature a private terrace. Some of the most interesting rooms are in the Esencia Mansion itself. The mansion features a subterranean ‘Speak Easy’ and an adjacent cenote. Three restaurants, a beach bar, a poolside bar, a juice bar, and a coffee bar are all available for guest use. So it should be easy to spend your entire stay tucked into the posh resort and its surroundings.

Hotel Esencia hot tub overlooking the jungle
Image Courtesy Of: Hotel Esencia

Rates at Hotel Esencia do not come cheap, and with the glowing reviews posted online, they are not likely to feature any reduced prices. But if your goal is to pamper yourself in one of the world’s best hotels, then this is a good choice. Rooms at the very prestigious Hotel Esencia start at around $1000 per night on the hotel’s website, and you will need to contact the staff directly regarding prices for their most sought-after rooms.

The Hotel Esencia is located almost exactly halfway between the resort towns of Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. The website for Esencia does not mention airport transfer options, but it might be worth asking about that when you make your booking, as airport transfers can sometimes be challenging.

Hotel Esencia morning yoga class
Image Courtesy Of: Hotel Esencia

The hotel does include some free perks, such as complimentary water sports and equipment, free morning yoga classes, complimentary continental breakfasts, and an ‘included with your stay’ traditional afternoon tea. Reviews from Martha Stewart Weddings and Vanity Fair also mention a swag bag on arrival, with rotating gifts including personal Havaianas Sandals and beach bags. If a stay at Hotel Esencia eludes your budget, but you still want to explore the gorgeous beaches, then it is possible to do that by accessing Xpu Ha beach nearby. Or, if you want to pamper yourself but can’t get the dates you want, then this list of other top resorts in the area may be able to help. 

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