Palmaïa The House of Aïa is a hotel like no other. Centered on various holistic practices and plant-based cuisine, we are at one with nature. In a landscape that’s “Instagrammable” to perfection, we quickly forget urban stress to enjoy this heavenly place. White-sand beaches, turquoise-blue oceans and tropical plants galore make our dreams come true. We had the chance to test this hotel, located 40 minutes from Cancun, and recommend it to you. Read Alexandrine’s story below.
Palmaïa, all-inclusive well-being
I was impressed by the hotel’s strong identity. The very heart of The House of Aïa ‘s project is undeniably holistic well-being, with a great deal of open-mindedness and joie de vivre. Aïa is the energy within us that connects us to nature and the universe.
To remind us of this, a majestic wooden statue stands enthroned in a large cenote (natural water-filled abyss), right in front of the beach, with a Burning Man feel. The concept is very particular: we’re not talking about a butler, but a “Nomad Guide”, or a yoga teacher, but an Architect of Life. The atmosphere is relaxed, and there’s music played by a different DJ every day. Soft electro sounds mixed with ethnic tones fit surprisingly well with the resort’s “barefoot luxury” spirit.
The entire Palmaïa team is dressed in long, light, casual clothes. Far from the 5-star cliché, there’s a pleasant closeness to the smiling staff.
Luxury takes on a whole new dimension at this resort, with its unique Gifting Lifestyle concept. Absolutely all hotel guests can participate in holistic activities at no extra charge. Likewise, meals and room service are included, regardless of the dishes you choose. Only spa treatments and private holistic sessions are available at extra cost. I found this unique, because Palmaïa succeeded in giving me the feeling that only my current mood matters. To differentiate ourselves from the big all-inclusive structures, we speak of “gifting lifestyle” and not “all-inclusive”.
My arrival at Palmaïa The House of Aïa
Off-center from the tourist center of Playa del Carmen, you have to take a cab to get to the resort. After passing through a large arch, I arrived at the reception. Everyone greets me by making the lotus mudra with their hands, a very significant gesture. This mudra, which helps us to open up to the divine, is directly linked to the heart chakra, reminding us of unconditional love.
As soon as I arrive at the counter, I’m generously greeted with a delicious tamarind cocktail and the Architects of Life activity program. Every day, five to six holistic sessions lasting around an hour are scheduled. No need to reserve your place. Everyone can spontaneously choose to join the session, which is much appreciated.
As the use of disposable bottles is incompatible with Aïa’s values, I was delighted to receive a pretty Palmaia isothermal bottle at check-in. Respect for nature is central to the concept of The House of Aïa. Our products are natural, vegan and biodegradable. You’ll find them not only in your room, but also in the many bathrooms scattered around the resort. You can take a few drops of natural mosquito repellent and after-sun lotion at any time, which is not superfluous under the Mexican sun… Likewise, no drinks with chemical sweeteners or other soft drinks in the minibar. Only local kombucha, organic coconut water, natural fruit juices and sparkling water. Then, on the architectural side, the terraces and common infrastructures were built around the vegetation, without unnecessarily destroying the trees in this idyllic setting.
After receiving my pretty key bracelet, my Nomad Guide took me to my room in an electric golfette. It was also he and his team who sent me a message on Whatsapp with the week’s program of activities. I loved the simplicity of communication and the close relationship with the Nomad Guides team. To request room service or for any other question, simply send them a message, and in just a few minutes you’ll hear the doorbell ring.
The pleasure of holistic well-being from an early age
With a huge pool designed just for kids, tasty, healthy menus, and above all a large area entirely dedicated to them, the youngest guests love this hotel as much as their parents. Espace Awen offers a different program every day, based on manual, creative and original activities. They can learn to cook, dance, observe wild animals… The only thing they’re not allowed to do is use electronic devices. During their stay, they leave their phones and computers behind to get out into nature and make friends with other holidaymakers. What a great idea!
I was able to visit the Family Suites, specially designed for families. They consist of a room with single bunk beds, decorated with drawings on the walls. A bathroom is also available for children.
The best spot on the coast
Set right on the edge of the jungle, the resort is well stocked with tropical plants, and you can spot monkeys leaping from branch to branch and iguanas basking in the sun. The setting is absolutely heavenly, directly on a long white sand beach in front of a magnificent turquoise-blue ocean. The House of Aïa has settled in nicely at the end of Playa del Carmen’s hotel peninsula, and has certainly unearthed the best spot on the coast. To the right, all you see is wilderness, lush vegetation and the Caribbean Sea as far as the eye can see. You feel very privileged to be in contact with this abundant nature, far from the tourist hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen.
The resort is vast, with a wide variety of spaces scattered around the estate: a paddling hut, a restaurant opening onto the beach, a cosy open-air bar, a gym surrounded by tropical vegetation, with plenty of deckchairs. Although everything is within easy walking distance, bicycles (for adults and children) are available throughout the resort.
The House of Aïa suites
Although the exterior architecture isn’t what I expected, the interior of the accommodation is totally in keeping with Palmaia’s design.
Spacious, with wood elements and a few touches of turquoise, the suites are magnificent. I stayed in an Ocean Front Suite whose open-plan bathroom had two showers. Some suites have a large bathtub opening onto the bed area.
Like all accommodations, my suite had a cozy little lounge area, right next to a large bay window opening onto an ocean-facing balcony. The vivid color of the water is reflected in every corner of the suite, beckoning you to revel in the scenery over and over again.
The five buildings in which the suites are located all feature gigantic pools of varying depths, surrounded by attractive vegetation and with direct access to the bar. Some suites even have a terrace on the water’s edge, giving them direct access to the pool.
A wide range of holistic wellness activities
Holistic activities come to life on the Ritual Deck, which is actually a wooden platform immersed in palm trees. The entire resort is very quiet, and this area is particularly quiet. During the various sessions, we’re lulled by the sound of palm leaves in the wind, birdsong and the movement of distant waves. As a traveler and yoga enthusiast, I’ve done many sun salutations in wonderful places, but the view of the palm trees as you lie down for savasana is one of my favorites. Not only is the setting pleasant, but the speakers are passionate about what they do, making the experience exceptional.
The Architects of Life activities are grouped into three categories: those linked to consciousness (meditation, mantras, art classes…), those linked to movement (tai chi, ancestral dance, qi gong…) and rituals (Tibetan bowls, cocoa ceremony, transmutation ritual). I found the variety of activities very interesting. For example, I was able to take part in a “Circle Soul Reading” where a shaman channeled my soul to help me move forward in the difficulties I face in my life. I also loved the Gong Bath. With a background in kinesiology, dowsing and chakra harmonization, I became very interested in Palmaïa’s holistic offerings.
Our trainers are experts in their fields, and adapt to the level of experience of each participant. The atmosphere is peaceful and very friendly. Although private sessions are available, I also appreciated the feeling of equality between all guests. During my stay, several celebrities chose The House of Aïa for their wellness vacations. They joined in the same activities as the other guests and me. There’s a great sense of harmony among both the team and the guests, which I think is a great asset.
During my stay, I chose to take part in yoga classes (vinyasa and Partner Yoga). Yoga is usually the first session of the day, at 8 o’clock, which I think is great. I usually do yoga on an empty stomach or at least some generous time before or afetr any meals, which is recommended by many athletes and specialists. I also took part in the pranayama session, which totally won me over! Indeed, I’ve always found it difficult to coordinate my body and breathing properly when practicing pranayama. But Walter’s explanations were so precise and yet so simple that I surprised myself.
In my opinion, the activities of the Architects of Life are one of the major assets of The House of Aia. They are planned over a week, with five or six different activities each day. Most of them take place in the mornings, and are scheduled so that you can take part in all of them. Although the program was already quite full, I must admit that I would have liked to have even more activities planned for the afternoon. Instead, I took advantage of the pools and the exceptionally beautiful sea.
Healing your energy centers at Atlantis Spa
One of a kind, the Atlantis Spa consists of several small huts dotted between trees and cenotes. These little “sacred wells” were created naturally, and most of them are linked by underground caves. It is said that swimming in the cenotes helps to purify oneself. At least, that’s what I was advised to do before enjoying a spa treatment. I can’t hide the fact that the water is very cool, in contrast to the 30°C outside… An exceptional moment that I loved!
The treatment cabins, which are actually huts hidden in the lush vegetation, are joined by small stone paths. The adventure leading up to it is already very pleasant. But before heading for his hut, you have to pass through the spa’s reception area and discover a hidden message. Mine was “Sometimes bad choices bring you to the right places”. Either way, right or wrong, I had no doubt I was in the right place.
Featuring an all-glass front overlooking nature, the treatment cabins are original. As we pass through the wooden door, the magic happens: incense perfumes the room, candles light up the little alcoves on the walls, and a few rays of sunlight dance towards us. One-on-one with the jungle, the massage with natural oils and herbs can begin. Time seemed to stand still…
The spa offers treatments with a strong focus on holistic healing, drawing on ancestral practices. All treatments are based on the energy centers. For example, to care for your heart, your 4th chakra, we offer a Phyto Sensations massage based on reflexology, acupressure and Ayurvedic techniques. The most popular treatment is the union treatment to activate intuition and the third eye. It plays on temperature contrast and the intensity of the pressure rhythm.
In addition to individual treatments, several traditional rituals can be organized in small groups, such as Temazcal, a Mayan ceremony very popular in Mexico.
Bluffing vegetarian cuisine
It’s great to see plant-based cuisine at the top of the list! Indeed, all dishes here are vegan first and can be adapted with meat and fish of choice for those who wish. As a vegetarian, I found it very enjoyable. For once, plant-based cuisine is taking over. Reading the menus has already satisfied me, but that’s nothing compared to their flavors. I was blown away by the variety of dishes, everything is 100% plant-based. Whether it’s the pastries and “butter” at breakfast, the various “cheeses” or the desserts, everything is vegan and homemade! The textures are wonderfully crafted, the flavors on a whole new level and the aesthetics very appetizing. I’m convinced that a few days in Palmaia could change the clichés about vegan cooking, and even turn fervent carnivores into fans of plant-based gastronomy.
The hotel has a greenhouse where aromatic plants and fruit and vegetables are grown. In addition, the chefs source from local and organic producers. The products are fresh and chosen according to the season. Nature’s cycle is respected, which is very important not only for the environment, but also in terms of energy for the body. The chef, a specialist in plant-based cuisine, and his second-in-command, an expert in nutrition, make a great team. Their two areas of expertise combine perfectly to create gourmet menus that are balanced and rich in nutrients.
For dinner, there’s a choice of four restaurants covering flavors from all over the world: Ume for Asian cuisine, Mar de Olivo for Italian gastronomy, LEK for Mexican chili and finally the main Su Casa restaurant serving international cuisine. I tested Mar de Olivo and LEK, two restaurants with totally different atmospheres. One is a light, pure white, while the other transports us into a subdued atmosphere.
The Su Casa restaurant is a charming place. Slightly overlooking the beach, just a few meters from the turquoise waters, this is where breakfast and lunch are served in front of a breathtaking view…
For breakfast, I chose a slice of sourdough bread with avocado, which I found filling and delicious. I also got to try some vegan pancakes with almond milk and chia seeds. All in all, everything was very fine and beautifully presented. On the lunch menu, most dishes are pastas, pizzas and hamburgers. Although everything is made with healthier ingredients than the original versions, I would have preferred something lighter like the dishes on the dinner menus, which I found exquisite. Even so, I really appreciated the talent behind all the dishes I tasted. Special mention for the burger, whose steak, made mostly of marinated mushrooms, really surprised me. Its texture and taste have been so well crafted that it begs the question… By far, one of the best vegan copies I’ve ever eaten.
Finally, a word about service and staff. The extreme friendliness of the staff makes for a very pleasant atmosphere. Special mention for the speed of the service and the small attentions of the team.
The House of Aïa’s design ambiance against a turquoise-blue backdrop is very seductive. The Architects of Life wellness activities are led by real enthusiasts, making for a high-quality experience. And let’s not forget the Atlantis Spa, immersed in tropical vegetation, and the plant-based cuisine, absolutely out of this world. It’s hard to go back to the city after such a restful, rejuvenating stay in paradise…Luxe Wellness Club
Take advantage of our expertise in wellness breaks and contact us for a personalized quote for Palmaïa The House of Aïa.
Rates : From around 430 euros per night in low season, all inclusive.
Call us for the USA on +1 (646) 980 6652 or for the UK on +44 20 4577 3258