Why We Recommend It:
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, four restaurants, a food truck, a beach bar (on a private beach), four outdoor pools, a wonderful jungle spa, and a 24-hour fitness center.
Holistic activities are a huge focus here but 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 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.
Those with a sensitivity to Bobo pretentiousness though should be warned that what would likely be called a private butler in other resorts is referred to here as a ‘Nomadic Guide’. And that’s just one example!
Rooms & Suites:
Accommodation is in the form of luxury suites of various sizes, spread across four fairly conventional-looking, five-story buildings.
These include the swim-up suites at ground level (obviously!) and the 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, and minibar.
The bathrooms also have rainfall showers, double vanity sinks, and a lovely range of organic, spa pampering products.
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 cuisine and an atmospheric, Asian-themed dining space. Mar de Olivo serves European, mainly Mediterranean, in an equally chic space.
Charly’s Vegan Tacos is open from 12 to 5 p.m. and does exactly what it says. The results are adventurous and delicious.
All food is of course all-included, and you can order anywhere on the property. So too all alcohol, except for some premium wines.
The most popular place to hang out after nightfall is the beach bar with 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, not hangovers.
Their Atlantis Jungle Spa is built around two natural cenotes: freshwater underground pools. It 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…..”