Just a decade ago Tulum, Mexico was a remote village, however tourism to this quaint historical site has spiked, and this once-quiet locale is a hotspot for, well, being quiet. For those who want to see the area as it once was, the new, exclusive Mukan resort in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere is like stepping through time.
The nine-room boutique property is the only hotel in the biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact it and a smattering of houses, are the only sign of civilization on this stretch of the peninsula.
The journey to Mukan sets the tone to leave civilization behind. Guests are whisked from Tulum to the property on a 45-minute boat ride that winds through thick mangrove forests. Once there, you’ll be escorted to your room either in the main villa or a beachside bungalow to begin your luxury castaway experience.
Not only is the Mukan location remote, but the intimacy of the property means that guests rarely see other travelers. Mukan plays on this privacy in many ways throughout your stay. There are no set menus for dinner. Instead, your preferences are noted before and during your stay, and Chef Jacob Gonzalez crafts a four-course culinary adventure to your specifications daily. While a personal menu is cool, what sets the experience apart is that you don’t have to dine in the main restaurant, Ko’oben. You can opt for a private table on the beach, have lunch in a poolside cabana, or have breakfast served in your bungalow.
Dishes are crafted with ingredients from the garden on-site and from those supplied by local fisherman and farmers. Whatever you do, don’t miss trying one of the chef’s flavorful soups, or allowing Luis, the charismatic server, to bring you a drink or dish you didn’t even know you wanted until it arrives.
Don’t miss a pampering experience at Hunabku Spa, where natural treatments incorporating local ingredients are positively indulgent. Echoing the privacy and flexibility of the restaurant, the spa will come to you just about anywhere. Enjoy a massage on the dock off the lagoon or beachside. Just remember to book at least two days in advance.
Mukan also offers a rotating group of wellness instructors offering yoga and meditation every morning and night.
Days at Mukan are indulgently lazy. While your wifi connection is strong, your time is better spent connecting to your surroundings, swaying in a hammock, curled up in a poolside cabana, or walking along the pristine beach. The patched-roof hotel bar doubles as a cigar bar with imported cigars and specialty cocktails. For guests seeking a bit more adventure, Mukan offers paddleboards, kayaks, bikes, and snorkeling equipment.
Besides relaxation, the attraction of Mukan is the chance to experience the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. It is one of Mexico’s largest protected areas and boasts lush green and mangrove forests, pristine wetlands, and the Yucatan’s famous cenotes. The biosphere is home to animals ranging from the mighty jaguar to migratory birds and marine turtles. Because most of the area is water and mangrove forest, the best tour the hotel offers is the Sea & Lagoon Excursion. The three-hour tour takes you on a local boat to explore the mangrove channels and view dolphins, turtles, rays, and birds before donning snorkeling gear to see the sea life up close and personal.
Inspired by the natural beauty of the area, Mukan is a study in sustainable travel. It took the American owner nearly a decade to even get the required permissions to build Mukan. On the property, solar panels and wind turbines create power and a water purification system conserves water. Landscaping is kept to a minimum; there aren’t even paved pathways on the property.
If your perception of Mexico is a standard all-inclusive hotel, let Mukan reshape your image of this beautifully diverse country.