Palmaïa, The House of AïA, is a very highly rated, 5 Star, wellness retreat in a private corner of Playacar Beach, Playa del Carmen.
It only opened its doors in late 2019 but, despite this woefully unlucky timing, it has quickly created a buzz on the Riviera Maya and beyond.
Eco-friendly vegan wellness might seem a tricky thing for an all-inclusive resort to pull off, and vice versa, but Palmaïa, The House of AïA has married the two to great effect.
It offers ‘holistic activities and healing experiences based on ancestral rituals and practices, promoting balance and reconnection between oneself and Nature,‘ something they summarize as ‘Progressive Wellness.’
Palmaïa has 314 guest rooms, so neither too big nor too small, four restaurants, a food truck, a beach bar (on its fully private beach), four outdoor pools, a wonderful jungle spa and a 24-hour fitness center.
Holistic activities are a huge focus here and the whole experience can be quite magical. More conventional resort activities are also available (and guests can also use the facilities of the larger Sandos Playacar Resort next door).
The food here is exceptional, and mainly, though not entirely, vegan. It has undoubtedly some of the best vegan food in the Riviera Maya, and remember again that it’s an all-inclusive.
Palmaïa attracts a well-heeled, hippie chic crowd – more Tulum than Cancun – and a mix of couples, families, groups of friends and single people.
You’ll find a much higher proportion of the latter here than in most resorts in Riviera Maya, and a higher proportion of younger people in general.
Those with a sensitive stomach for bobo pretentiousness though should be warned that what would be known as a private butler in most other resorts is referred to here as a ‘Nomadic Guide’.
Rooms & Suites:
Accommodation is in the form of luxury suites, spread across four fairly conventional-looking, five-story buildings, to sleep from one adult to a maximum of two adults and three kids.
These include on the swim-up suites at ground level (obviously!), and some stunning ocean-view master suites on the top floor.
All suites are spacious, stylish and well-appointed, Palmaïa is a luxury resort after all.
Standards include King or Queen size beds, balconies or terraces, sofas, large bathtubs sitting between the bed area and the bathroom, large cable TV, minibar
The bathrooms also have rainfall showers, double vanity sinks and a lovely range of organic, spa pampering products.
Take a look at your room options now – with prices, reviews and photos – at Expedia here or at Booking.com here.
Food, Facilities & Things to Do:
You have four restaurants, one cafe and six bars to choose from at Palmaïa, including two pool bars and one lively beach bar.
The excellent Lek Restaurant uses, to para-quote the resort, ‘hyperlocal ingredients to make haute Mexican cuisine.’ It has a more formal dining space than the equally excellent but more laid back, Su Casa.
Su Casa has a lovely open spot on the beach and serves a la carte international food, mostly vegan or vegetarian but with a number of meat and fish dishes too, and Mexican classics.
Ume serves Asian fusion, but mainly Thai. Again it has a strong focus on vegan and vegetarian and an atmospheric, Asian-themed dining space. Mar de Olivo then serves European, mainly Mediterranean, in an equally chic space.
Charly’s Vegan Tacos is open from 12 to 5pm and does exactly what it says. The results are adventurous and delicious, and the food throughout the resort is extremely good, and all of it organic.
All food is of course all included, and you can order it anywhere on property. So too all alcohol, except for some premium wines, and their cocktails are delicious.
The most popular place to hang out after nightfall is the beach bar where there is nightly entertainment: live music, dance shows and DJs, and a fire-pit to gather around.
There are certainly fun nights to be had at the resort but the main focus is of course on wellness and not hangovers.
Their Atlantis Jungle Spa is built around two natural cenotes: freshwater underground pools, has five private treatment ‘casitas’ dotted around the jungle and a traditional pre-Hispanic temezcal.
Yoga, drum circles, cleansing baths at the cenotes, guided meditations, sound bathing and various classes can be tried around the same space.
There is a fitness center a few steps away too with glass walls and a good selection of cardio equipment and weights.
More conventional resort activities are available in the Sandos Playacar Resort next door to which Palmaïa guests have full access (though Sandos guests don’t have access in the opposite direction): various water sports, tennis etc.
Palmaïa has a stunning private stretch of Playacar Beach all to itself. It’s around fifteen minutes by car from Playa del Carmen centro and the ferry dock for the 45 minute journey to Cozumel Island.
Though Cozumel has its own international airport, it would be quicker and easier to fly to Cancun Airport just an hour to the north.
Some Guest Reviews:
“Wow wow wow! Love and the brightest energy everywhere. It is the place to heal and feel peace, love, harmony and meet a lot of wonder. Just beautiful and unique. You will never find a place like Palmaïa twice on our planet. It is a priceless experience and I will always come back….”
“I loved the hotel and the whole experience! it’s an amazing place where you feel you’re in heaven… the hotel, the rooms, the beach, the facilities, the staff, the treatments and rituals, the food …. everything is amazing …. it’s like entering another dimension of beauty and wellness and smiley and friendly people who enjoy pampering u and who really enjoy what they do … and who truly enjoy that you’re enjoying!!! I wish I could stay longer in this paradise, but I’m sure I’ll be back one day…. the smile of all the staff and kindness I keep them with me…..”