Shaggy-chic Cabañas Copal, Tulum Yucatan
In a world full of resorts dedicated to fine wine and fine dining, a stay at Cabañas Copal, the palm-thatched, Caribbean inn and spa in Tulum, Mexico is like fine camping.
Breezy. Moonlit. Shaggy-chic. Five minutes from the grandeur of the Tulum ruins, Cabañas Copal wraps the adventure, romance, and mystery of the Maya Yucatan in candle light and mosquito netting and presents it amidst kayaks, toucans, and a magnificent sea.
Designed like a terraced garden, the 47 cabañas are bunched in little groves that have sea views, or are snuggled into the forest; and, while they’re called “eco-rustic” (all cabañas are without electricity), the spacious beds, tiled showers, adequate hot water, and gobs of mosquito netting in most of the Hobbit-y huts is simple, but nothing like primitive. For the minimalist, though, there are two sand-floored abodes without baths served instead by the tidy bathrooms down the path and the communal showers for a pleasant sluice under the coconut palms.
So well laid out is Cabañas Copal, the winding paths make the little nooks seem at once secluded and well attended. Palmetto glades hide pillowed hammocks for two, and, Look! there among the hibiscuses, lo and behold, you come upon, just in time, your Coronas clinking, two beach chairs perfectly placed for reading your Peterson’s guide, gazing at the Windex-blue sea, or, bare legs entwined, at each other.
The path from reception and the vegetation-walled restaurant noodles past the spa which offers a body loving pamper fest of yoga, wraps of mud, aloe, or chocolate, a variety of therapeutic massages – some at seaside - aroma and crystal therapy, and traditional Mexican temezcal steam baths. Each service is performed by skilled masseuses and Maya shamans dedicated to their craft.
Cabañas Copal is a spa, after all, and the things-to-do menu balances the yin of lying in corpse pose under your sun hat all day with the action-packed yang of biking to the ruins or into town, snorkeling the cove, or kayaking the mangrove lagoons of the Si’an Ka’an Bioreserve (http://www.ecotravelmexico.com/visitorscenter.htm). Si'an Ka'an, the knock-you-ecologist-socks-off bioreserve is just down the road by taxi or hotel van, and crammed with wildlife like spider monkeys and 350 species of migratory and native birds, with tours led by knowledgeable, passionate guides.
Cabañas Copal is one of three “sister” resorts strung along the beach. The restaurant, spa, rental, and transportation services of all three are available to spa guests. Each sister has her own well-honed, vertically integrated personality. Next door there is the vivacious Azulik: “Adult” says the brochure and you can’t see inside their gates; then there is, Zahra, dowdy but serviceable, with a nice little cove and electricity til 11 pm. By comparison, Cabañas Copal is the coltish sister: as tangy a surprise as a fresh-off-the-tree mango.
Undoubtedly, even Paradise has logistical glitches. Although the paths are dreamily candle lined at night, it’s easier to avoid garroting yourself with a hammock or mashing an anole if you’ve remembered to bring a flashlight; and, in the morning as the sun comes thundering up, it may take a while for shower water to arrive, but, hey, relax, you’re only a few slow-motion, hair-swinging lopes from the Caribbean Ocean. The water’ll come. Everything’s fine at Cabañas Copal.
High season rates: Sea view casitas for two with bath from $75 to $150; Sea view for four $85; Garden view $60; Sand floor and shared bath in the palms $35.