What We Love
- Laid-back barefoot-but-sophisticated atmosphere
- Snorkel over a shipwreck 60 feet offshore
- Located near Tulum's Mayan monuments
- READ MORE: 72 Hours in Tulum
What To Know
- No air conditioning, but cool sea breezes and ceiling fans keep rooms cool
- Beachfront Rooms are a petite 161 square feet; no phones or TVs
- Beach is rocky in parts and not easily swimmable
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
The coastline of the Mayan Riviera stretches south from the resortland of Cancun to the lavish couple-friendly resorts along Playa del Carmen and on to Tulum, a former truckstop town with a relaxed pace all its own. Zamas Tulum was an abandoned coconut plantation until it was bought by a Californian couple in 1993; the story goes that blueprints were drawn in the sand for the local builders to follow. This laid-back spirit persists today and lures east coasters, and the odd celeb, for a no-frills dose of vitamin D and a swing in the colorful, low-slung hammocks.
Bed & Bath
The 20 guestrooms are all unique in layout and shape, and positioned far enough apart to feel private. For families and groups, there are larger suites housed in the two-story buildings. Inside, the rooms are simply dressed in an appropriately beachy style: mosquito nets over the beds and bright Mexican colors splashed everywhere. Tiled bathrooms have all the mod cons and beach or grounds views, but hot water can be temperamental and you won’t get your power shower here.
The resort’s restaurant, ¡Que Fresco!, is justly celebrated and lives up to its name with fresh seafood delivered right to the resort’s beach. Guests from other resorts travel potholed miles to dine on the restaurant’s lobster quesadillas and wood-fired pizzas, which they wash down with fierce margaritas. Although the resort prefers its guests to be off the grid, WiFi is available in the common areas. Zamas fronts a small and somewhat rocky beach with excellent snorkeling (including a shipwreck) just offshore. You won’t find the usual resort suspect – no sea kayaks, no parasailing, no scuba; instead the emphasis is placed on reading books in the multitude of hammocks or playing backgammon under the palm trees.
How to Get There
I was here recently for a yoga retreat. This is not an American style hotel. Essentially the rooms are huts by the ocean and some are partially open to the elements. There is air conditioning but it runs only from 6 pm tp 6 am. Hot water is spotty at best. Expect to share your space with lizards, insects and the occasional iguana. You will be given two only bottles of water, but there are free refills in the public areas of the hotel. The rooms have sliding doors with padlocks and you will carry your key with you on your wrist. If you don’t like nature this is not the place for you. You will be going barefoot on the premises and there are bird baths in front of each room to rinse your feet. Sheets and towels are changed every three days. You cannot use a hair dryer as apparently this will fry the electrical system.
Location is beautiful and there are plenty of hammocks and beach loungers for relaxing. Roberto, the owner, is frequently on the premises to answer questions and chat with guests. The rest of the staff have limited English, but are very nice and try to be helpful.
The best thing about this place is the food. Fresh, healthy and beautifully presented. Each meal comes with freshly made juice. Many vegan options and chicken, fish and eggs for non vegans.
Now that I know what to expect, I would return, but probably not with my family.
I went to Shambala for a yoga retreat and it was exactly what I needed! Roberto and his staff were always ready to help with a kind smile. The food was unbelievably good. Breakfast was same daily, lunch was vegetarian with a salad and a warm dish, and dinner never failed to impress with a delicious dessert. The way it was presented was candy for our eyes. I brought snacks just in case and only needed one of them. Our Casa was small but wasn’t uncomfortable. The open air bathroom kept us close to nature. The turn down service made me feel like a was a VIP. There wasn’t a lot of space for bags so packing light was helpful. I can’t wait for my next trip here!
Tulum beach is one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Shambala is beautiful too, but it still need improvement..they have been working on it for over 20 years. The lighting in the rooms is poor, no lite over the bath vanity, and no bedside lamps for reading. trouble regulating the hot & cold water in the shower. The staff is excellent and the food well done.