Papaya Playa Project
What We Love
- Close to downtown Tulum, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the seafront ruins
- Live DJ sets at the Beach Club and the monthly full-moon parties
- Locally-sourced Mayan and Mexican food at Papaya Restaurant
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Tulum
What To Know
- Free WiFi is available at the front desk and at the restaurant, though it’s spotty at best
- You’re practically in the jungle in a beachfront cabana, so expect to get friendly with the local flora and fauna
- This is an eco-resort, so electricity and water are scarce. Bring the provided flashlight for walking through the grounds at night
- Eco friendly
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
Papaya Playa offers new turf for going native in Tulum. Two hours south of the sprawling mega resorts in Cancún, low-key Tulum is the antithesis of its all-inclusive-loving cousin; it has become a haven for eco-conscious travelers and behind-the-scenes fashionistas with a taste for fresh ceviche, a heart for permaculture and a body for Downward Facing Dog. Papaya Playa is about 30 steps to Tulum’s gleaming 3,000-foot-long white sand beach, and serves as a jumping-off point for Tulum’s best sights, either by bike or car.
Bed and Bath
Papaya Playa encompasses 13 acres of jungle warmed by the Caribbean sun and cooled by the ocean breeze. The resort’s 80 cabanas are sprawled along the property’s 800-meter beach, all on the sea. A natural rocky ledge raises the oceanfront cabanas from the sand, offering in dramatic views of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. The beachfront faces directly east allowing incredible views of sunrise each morning and gentle breezes of an evening. Like most of the region’s eco-resorts, Papaya Playa has no-frills accommodation with limited resources, but you won’t miss the modern comforts here, especially when natural breezes substitute for air conditioning, torchlight complements the pathway nightlights, and a local wildlife choir relieves even the faithful iPod from duty.
In the breezy, multipurpose Papaya Club de Playa Beach Club and Restaurant, guests and locals mingle over international fare paired with cold beers and resident DJs. Once every full moon, house DJs and improv artists settle in for an all-night party.
In the Area
Some of the best undeveloped beaches in the region stretch south from Papaya Playa for about 30 miles into the pristine Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Rent a kayak or boat to explore the most remote corners of the coastline. Or head to the area’s mystical cenotes (underground limestone caverns), today used as unique swimming holes. The cliffside Mayan ruins just north of Tulum are gorgeous, but it’s also worth a daytrip inland to other famous ruins, including Chichén Itzá and Cobá. And no trip to Tulum is complete without ceviche at sunset: Follow the sandy roads three miles in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve for fresh ceviche, ziklipak (roasted pumpkin seeds) and sundowners from the kitchen at CESiaK, where the views of the Caribbean to the east and the sunset over the lagoon in the west steal the show.
How to Get There
I was excited to go to this place, from the photos, it seemed rustic but charming and environmental. It wasn’t an inexpensive place, the cabañas are around $450/night, casitas are around $950/night and casas are $6000/night, so i was expecting RUSTIC LUXURY with amazing service and although I used my Marriot BonVoy (formerly SPG) points, I would have planned to come back if the price equals the quality. Now i also reviewed the restaurant separately as it deserved an amazing review, i would have given the restaurant a 5 star if i wasn’t so disappointed with the rest of the property. I would be fair though and mention the good points as well.
The gate to enter is not easy to find, it isn’t marked well so if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to pass. You park your own car and the parking area doesn’t feel like your entering a resort in this price range but it was late, so i didn’t wanna judge it just yet. Check in was fairly smooth and we were escorted properly and at night, the place looks romantic. Everything closes at 11pm though, there’s no room service or ice machine or telephone to contact the reception which is open 24 hours if you bother to walk all the way there to ask for anything. They did bring a birthday plate for my husband which was nice after i mentioned at check in. Oh, don’t expect a welcome drink as customary in resorts of this price range, they don’t offer that, not a towel to freshen you up.
The next morning, we were leaving early and had breakfast. Breakfast was actually delicious as well. I asked to book a spa appointment and no one knows how to answer me... we left fir a full day of activity and got back late. Luckily the bar was just closing and we were able to ask for a bucket of ice so we can have our own drinks in our room’s outdoor area.
The next day is when all the disappointments truly surface as we stated in the resort all day.... First, I was excited that they offer aerial yoga and looking forward to the one time slot during my stay. While I’m waiting for that to start, I asked to make massage appointment for couples and again, no one seemed to know how to make that happen or even pointed to me where the spa is. Then they just nonchalantly told me that the aerial yoga is cancelled! So we decided, ok... let’s spend our day on the beach cabanas which were Complimentary for guests, so that’s great. But good luck in locating towels. When someone finally give you one, the beach beds were missing those triangular cushions to prop up your back... the beds were not well kept either, just looks dirty and disorganized. Service was good and friendly and drinks and food were good as usual. I do appreciate that the resort is trying to be environmental but we had to stare at workers removing the seaweed all day at the beach. Usually this were done early morning before guest enjoys the beach scenery and before it gets too hot for the workers. Not what you’d expect in a resort that charges top dollar. Later in the afternoon, we moved to another area of the beach where there’s another bar called Les Bains, it was next to the pool. Since the waves were pretty big and the beach was full of seaweeds, we decided to enjoy the pool. Now, i had to stare in disbelief, i didn’t see steps to go down the pool, of course i can jump in but i don’t know how deep it is and how do i get back up??? It was also supposed to be an infinity edge pool but the water level didn’t reach that high to over flow on the other side, the beds were dirty, there’s no towel service and done beds and cushions were in disarray. So we settled in the colorful sofas of Les Bains, it should be noted that if you need to use the facilities, you have to walk to the other side, luckily our room is just above the bar. There was a DJ playing on a very bohemian platform. If the place were well maintained... it would have been cool! Drinks were pricier at this bar and at the end, we discovered that it’s completely separate from the hotel so I had to run to our room to get my credit card. Luckily it’s just above it.
The other thing that bothered me is that they made us wear this bracelet to indicate that we are hotel guests and yet all the different servers still ask us if we are guests??? It’s like they aren’t trained properly to notice details like the bracelet they made us wear. The nice this is the bracelet is also a souvenir as it is one of those braided ones with beads. In my experience with resorts at this price range, they know you by name and try to offer a very personal experience. Here, they keep on asking you if you’re a guests. There were also trash around and just a lot of areas unkept and in disarray. Really disappointing.
Our room was a cabaña and it cute and charming, there’s AC and the bed netting were pretty clever and romantic. Shower works, I was hoping to get upgraded but as a reward room, I didn’t demand it.
What was even more disappointing is that next door is Azulik which isn’t a fat concept with PPP and we chance upon it driving at night passing our resort and it has such a statement from the street that it caught our eye and researched it. The price were competitive with PPP but a whole different level of upkeep and design. We had dinner there and it was spectacular. But made us think why PPP isn’t even trying, at least with upkeep and personal service.
I wouldn’t recommend this place and would actually say that their rates is not even near what you’d experience. I really don’t understand what your paying for with that high rate.
We stayed here for two nights and stayed in a ‘Bungalow superior with jungle view’. The room seemed nice at first until the sun went down and the creepy crawlies came out. Cockroaches (big and small), lots of little millipedes crawling around, and earwigs. I mean, I get it’s the jungle and bugs happen, but this was way beyond. The whole bungalow was poorly constructed with gaping holes throughout for things to get in. Honestly I’m surprised we didn’t see a rat or a mouse. Stay away, farfar away!
**THIS REVIEW IS FOR OUR WEDDING AT PPP
We had our wedding at casa palapa in November 2018, the whole experience dealing with the wedding team and property manager at this hotel is a complete nightmare. We had stayed at ppp twice in 2018 in preparation of the wedding, the loud music, parties, construction and slow service didn’t bother us much and I gave one star to the beautiful villa and the hotel’s guest services and butlers at the villa, who are extremely attentive and made our stay.
Someone in the review said this hotel is criminal, I couldn’t have agreed more. Upon check in for our wedding week, they moved all the rooms that we blocked due to construction without informing us before our arrival and asked us to pay all the rooms balance in full and tried to charge us $2500 USD more, they didn’t allow us to order lunch after an exhausting trip to get to Tulum upon arrival and demanded us paying the balance with $2500 overcharge, it took TWO hours to explain and do the math in front of them to make them understand and admit their calculation was wrong.
Two days before our wedding, we discovered that casa palapa’s roof was complete covered with black trash bags.. yes, GIANT, black contractor’s bags covered our wedding venue- felt like we are paying A LOT of money to have a wedding in the dumpster, and again, no one had told us.
We did our Friday night welcome dinner at ppp, and paid for a 3-hour open bar. After the first hour, our guests were told the alcohol is cut off and they need to pay for their drinks- completely embarrassing and unprofessional.
At check out, there were at least 10 receipts that were wrong(ie. breakfast was included but we got charged for most mornings, unrecognized charges from beach club who charged our room without our signatures..), we were told they need to change and remove those charges in the system and they don’t have time to do it at the moment and needed us to pay full amount first in order to check out and they will give us refund after removing those extra charges in the system as they needed to go back to front desk and our airport transport was waiting at casa palapa for us, we asked if they can send us the correct bill in email so we can catch our flights, they wouldn’t allow us to leave without paying the overcharge bill. In order not to miss our flight, we were forced to pay extra $13000 Peso. We have been in contact with them in regards to the refund ever since.. but they have not been responding..— again, complete nightmare.
All in all, Casa papaya is a beautiful venue, and PPP is a beautiful property, however, the horrible and scandalous service ruined the whole experience. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to have weddings or events here unless they hire a more professional team. We had a local planner and even our local planner couldn’t get them to take care of their mistakes.
Great to relax, enjoy the sun, sea and positive vibes of Papaya. Great variety of classic and trendy foods, drinks and cocktails. DJs provide good music. Thank you to Anastasia for taking good care of me. Will come back.
We’re having a great time here at PPP. We just enjoyed our first full dinner and it was delicious. To top it off, our waiter, Israel, was very kind, attentive, and gave us some very thoughtful recommendations for our time in Tulum.
Also thanks go out to Javier for taking good care of us and our accommodations. Can’t wait to see these guys again tomorrow.
Gracias Israel y Javi.