The owners and staff of Playa Viva (whose name means “Living Beach”) promise guests “guilt-free luxury” at this beachfront eco-resort where the dividing line between the indoors and the outdoors is hard to distinguish. Common areas such as a kitchen, dining room, and yoga deck are built on platforms under thatched roofs and have open walls or, in some cases, no walls at all. Like the common spaces, the bungalow-style casitas allow guests to be one with their surroundings, with retractable walls dissolving boundaries between the indoors and outdoors. Almost all of the building supplies were sourced locally, as were design elements such as bathroom fixtures and towels and sheets. Solar energy provides both lights and hot water on the property. Eco-consciousness doesn't signify deprivation, though; the casitas are comfortable, with relaxing hammocks in addition to beds draped with gauzy mosquito netting. Room rates include meals and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as transfers to and from the airport.
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Playa Viva is 30 minutes from Zihuatanejo, which is about as big and bustling as the towns around the property get. The hotel itself sits in the village of Juluchucha, population 500. The owners of Playa Viva have worked hard to establish ties of friendship with local residents, and they committed to hiring at least 50 percent of the construction team from within the community. Although some members of the community have been testing the waters of entrepreneurship with the arrival of more tourism, there aren't many businesses or attractions in the village, and for most visitors to Playa Viva, that's just fine. For guests who want to explore a bit farther afield, Playa Viva staff recommends an excursion to an off-the-grid family farm where organic coffee and cacao are cultivated. Most excursions include a homemade lunch and a visit to a 30-foot waterfall, where participants can take a dip.
Need to Know
Rooms: 8 rooms, 3 suites; from $199. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: 1 p.m. Dining options: Playa Viva has an on-site restaurant where fresh, farm-to-table ingredients, many grown organically on Playa Viva's own property, are featured in Mexican soups, salads, and tortilla-based dishes. The hotel's cooking staff happily accommodates guests with special dietary needs. Spa and gym details: The hotel has a spa that offers massages, facials, and manicures and pedicures. There is no gym on-site, but yoga classes are held daily.
Who it's for: Eco-conscious travelers. Our favorite rooms: At 800-plus square feet, the “Casita Privada” is the largest of the bungalows and is ideal for a family, thanks to its king bed and a separate trundle bed. It also has a private terrace and feels secluded from the other casitas. Turtle time: At the on-site turtle sanctuary, guests are invited to watch turtles being shepherded to the sea.