Destination: Mexico: Tulum
Casa de las Olas
Vibe: Green, laid-back, private.
At a Glance: The beautifully understated Casa de las Olas has just five suites and is an eco pioneer.
Review: Even the entrance to Casa de las Olas is understated. An (easy to miss) wooden sign with a carved, colorful wave on it (olas in Spanish) points left off Boca Paila, a few yards before the stone arch that leads into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. This southernmost location, removed from the rest of the palapa-style hotels further up the beach, assures an utterly private location. During my four-day stay, I hardly ever saw more than four people, including my husband and me, on the gorgeous white-sand beach. The five guest rooms all face the beach and turquoise sea, and you fall asleep and wake up with the sound of waves crashing up on its shore. Interiors are simple, with king-size, four-poster beds, cool, tiled floors and bathrooms with handcrafted, biodegradable products. All of the rooms have small kitchenettes (the property doesn’t have a restaurant), where guests can prepare basic breakfast, and essentials, like drinking water, coffee, sugar, oil, vinegar and wine are pre-stocked.
Even surrounded by Tulum’s eco-properties, Casa de las Olas takes environmental stewardship to another level. It is completely off the grid, powered entirely by solar panels; the expansive, lush property is irrigated with one hundred percent harvested rain- and stormwater; and the architecture of the buildings makes use of natural ventilation (there’s no air conditioning, though most of the year, Tulum has a refreshing breeze coming from the sea). Owner James Greenfield’s commitment to sustainable, green living can also be seen in the biodegradable bath products, the fact that all the furniture was made by local craftsmen using local materials and that food waste is collected and composted on a daily basis.
Reading through the guest book, you begin to see a pattern: “Don’t do anything without consulting Jimmy first,” says one entry. “If you come with an itinerary, throw it away and ask Jimmy,” says another. Indeed, the presence of James Greenfield is half the fun of staying at Olas. A born New Yorker, he left a fast-paced real estate life for this passion project in Tulum, and his enthusiasm for his new home is contagious. Jimmy’s the type of host who will whisk you away into town for the best breakfast tacos; appear with the key to a cenotes usually locked to the public; or invite you to share a freshly sliced pineapple at the communal table in front of his house, also on the property. Many hotels claim that they feel like staying at a local friend’s house—at Olas, this is actually true.
Depending on the type of travelers you are, the removed location will either be a huge bonus or a negative. It’s best to have a car when staying here to drive to dinners and explore the region. There are also bikes available, for lunches at such spots as Casa Violeta or Posada Margherita. I, for one, arrived at Casa de las Olas with a long mental to-explore list (yoga class, massage, Coba, kayaking, snorkeling). And as soon as I settled onto a lounger, shaded by a coconut tree, every point on that list dissipated. Understated, laid-back Olas allows you to truly unplug, and best of all, you can feel good about recharging in a low-impact place that celebrates its surrounding nature.
Who Should Stay: Laid-back nature lovers looking to unplug and feel truly removed.
- The wonderfully private location besides the Sian Ka’an Biosphere,
- The Oceanfront Master Suite with two king beds and a spacious terrace.
- Owner James Greenfield’s tips for dining, exploring and touring.
- The turquoise, on-property bikes available for guests.
Vibe: Simple, serene, beachside with pool.
Review: This eco property has simple, comfortable and clean rooms. Try to book the higher categories as they have stunning sea views. There’s a welcoming lobby and bar area, a saltwater swimming pool and in-room wifi. And if you’re not in the mood to grab a taxi to get around, the hotel has bicycles available to rent. For travelers planning on exploring the area, Las Ranitas is close to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.
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