Escape to Tulum, Mexico

Sometimes there comes a need to escape from your everyday life and lose yourself on some deserted, tropical beach somewhere. I was cold-cocked with that very desire last week when I suddenly found myself extraordinarily burnt out.

And so, I turned to the computer late one night in search of a last minute trip. I wanted remote, all inclusive, and not too far away. Thanks to a Gadling post of a few weeks ago, I decided to look at Tulum, Mexico. I had never heard of this region before, but readers promised that a visit would be very rewarding. And, they were right (thanks!).

Tulum is about a 90 minute drive from the Cancun airport. This may sound dangerously close to rows of high-rise hotels and partying frat boys but this distance quickly puts the Spring Break horrors of Cancun far behind.

My final destination I settled upon was the cheesily named, Dreams Resort and Spa. Yes, the online brochure featured the quintessential attractive couple dressed in white and walking arm in arm along the beach as the sun was setting. But, I didn’t care. It promised 24-hours of all-you-can-eat food, an open bar, a beautiful beach, and two enormous pools. I was sold.

The resort pretty much delivered on all that it promised, although none of the guests were as attractive as that couple in the online brochure.

The resort is located directly on the beach and extends a couple of hundred yards back towards the main road. The beach itself is spectacular. Covered in white sand and coconut trees, this is where I spent the majority of my time. The only problem was that it was not a very easy place to swim. Too many rocks and coral made wading out almost impossible. Only a small section of the beach, which must have been cleared by underwater bulldozers or trained dolphins, was actually swimmable. It was very nice, however, with pleasant temperatures and a pretty blue color.

As promised, the resort was remote. One afternoon I walked for two miles along the beach in one direction and came across only two buildings, both under construction. The other direction, towards Cancun was also vacant for the first half mile. Then a series of very small hotels and private residences haphazardly lined the beach in a very unobstructive sort of way.

The resort itself is a tastefully constructed, two-story complex with a south-of-the-border, hacienda theme. My room was simple and clean with air-conditioning and a refrigerator stocked with free sodas and water. I had opted for the cheapest room and really shouldn’t have been surprised to find myself slightly disappointed. I was promised a king size bed but had to deal with two very small double beds instead. The room was also missing the DVD player promised online as well as a simple clock. Having packed very quickly for my trip, I did not bring either a clock or watch. Despite two requests from the front desk, I went clockless during my stay and had to call the front desk every morning to find out what time it was.

My biggest complaint about the room, however, was the bed sheets. They were not fitted and as a result, were never put on properly. This means I spent most of my nights with my feet scratching against the bare mattress instead of a bed sheet. Ugh!

And lastly, the mosquitoes were a slight bother as well. It seems there was always one wily bastard I couldn’t kill before going to sleep that rewarded my efforts by dive bombing my ears in the middle of the night.

The food, for the most part, was rather good. Dreams, being an “all-inclusive,” promised as much as you can eat, generous hours for their restaurants, and 24-hour room service. They did not disappoint.

I ate most of my meals at the sushi bar. The sushi was of surprisingly good quality. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it certainly was the most. Just one word of advice for the sushi chefs, however: proper rolls should NOT be lathered with Philadelphia cream cheese.

El Patio, the resort’s Mexican restaurant, had some very nice dishes, but not as many “Mexican” staples as I had hoped. World Café was sort of a buffet catch-all with a large variety of dishes covered in food-sweat so commonly found at buffets. The food ran the gamut from not-so-good to very tasty.

The resort also had three rather small restaurants featuring Asian, Italian and French food. These filled up quickly, required reservations, but were well worth it. The French restaurant (Bordeaux) was a special treat as children were prohibited from dining there.

Although I was only interested in eating, drinking, and lying in the beach, the surrounding area of Tulum has much to offer less comatose vacationers than I. I met one couple who took an enjoyable morning bike ride to the nearby Mayan ruins. The world famous cenotes, natural springs with outstanding snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities, are also nearby.

Overall, I would have to recommend Dreams. Sure, I hate the name and the sappy marketing concept behind it, but the resort did deliver on everything I was looking for in a peaceful, tropical escape. Muy bueno!