JOURNEYS

Experience Tulum’s Mayan Culture

Gran Cenote, one of many underground pools found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula

Gran Cenote, one of many underground pools found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula

Travel comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a wedding party with friends, a summer vacation with the kids, a high-style romantic adventure with a loved one, or something else entirely, Hilton has the resort to meet your needs, set in some of the most beautiful locations on earth.

One such place, Tulum, has gorgeous landscapes exceeded only by its historical import. As one of the last cities built and occupied by the ancient Mayans, the city stands as an important testament to one of the world’s great cultures on the Caribbean coast of the Riviera Maya. As one of the newest additions to the region and Hilton’s portfolio, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya reflects this history like few others, thanks to its bold design and exacting attention to detail.

As the resort’s Managing Director Santiago Rivera describes, noting its location eight miles north of Tulum, “the hotel is designed to give guests a deep connection with Tulum’s distinctive landscape and to honor its cultural traditions. Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is a natural sanctuary located on a secluded bay that feels like a private beach.”

Beyond its hypnotic coast, guests can partake in a ceremonial plunge with the spiritual guidance of the resort’s resident shaman or cool off in one of the resort’s five stylish pools. Local, rustic design features abound from the moment one arrives at the Conrad, giving Tulum’s many hyper-chic boutiques and galleries a run for their money.

Like its Mediterranean namesake, the Riviera Maya attracts the world’s best designers and hosts its most inventive chefs. The Conrad alone is home to 11 restaurants, featuring local and global cocktails and cuisine, and more culinary attractions await further afield.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHT

Sian Ka’an Biosphere

Many lifetimes have been spent cataloging wildlife and exploring magical ruins of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and with such a person as your guide, there’s a lot you can learn in a day. Navigating the ancient Mayan canals from the safety of a shaded boat, you’ll spot ruins, sinkholes, and the flora and fauna that define the region, accompanied by snorkeling the second-largest reef in the world.
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TRIP DESIGNER

Hilton Resorts

Taking Hilton’s world-famous hospitality to a whole new level in terms of style and convenience, Hilton Resorts has properties spanning the globe, each offering its own kind of extraordinary experience. Whether you’re looking for family fun, a grand escapade, or something in between, Hilton Resorts will exceed your expectations.
The Conrad’s wood-clad entrance sets the tone

The Conrad’s wood-clad entrance sets the tone

Hilton

Day 1A Grand Start on the Riviera Maya

All guests arriving at the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya will feel like royalty when walking through the towering wooden doors carved by local craftspeople. Having breezed through the timeless, wood-and-marble lobby, consider an introductory visit to one of the resort’s three seaside, open-air chiringuitos (beach bars) for an artisanal cocktail and some ocean-fresh ceviche.

Once settled, check in with your concierge for the day’s events. For those looking to unwind, Rivera recommends that guests “surrender into a deep sense of tranquility and enjoy our secluded cenote-inspired signature spa, Conrad Spa Tulum, a wellness refuge nestled within lush mangroves.” The spa offers 16 treatment rooms, hydromassage therapy, wet areas and a beauty salon with services, as Rivera explains, “inspired by the Mayan gods and traditional Mexican herbalism, which are guided by our very own in-house shaman and expert healer to ensure a deep connection to nature.”

A visit to the resort’s poolside lounge, Ultramar, raises the bar further with Mayan-inspired specialties like tuna tiradito—a sort of Mexican ceviche—with peanut and matcha sauce, slow-roasted suckling pig tacos with the zesty sauce called xni-pec, and goat cheesecake with chocolate ganache and raspberry gelée.

A catamaran charts Tulum’s calm waters

A catamaran charts Tulum’s calm waters

Hilton

Day 2Explore Tulum

Following a night’s rest in your guest room and a calming dip in its balcony relaxation tub, you’ll want to venture out to discover the ever-evolving city of Tulum. After breakfast in bed or an organic juice at Cafétal, your concierge will help you arrange a magical catamaran cruise, affording you a rarified view of the Tulum coast and its many Mayan ruins, with a light lunch included.

Once you’re back on dry land, head downtown for some of the continent’s vanguard in designer shopping, whether for colorful, handmade designer goods from Kaahal Home or hyper-local folk art at Casa Hernandez. From there, kick back with a mezcal tasting in the charming gardens of Encanto Cantina, followed by an avant-garde dinner inspired by the ancients at Elixyr.

Pure calm in the Conrad Spa Tulum

Pure calm in the Conrad Spa Tulum

Hilton

Day 3Relax at the Spa

There’s something special afoot morning and night at the Conrad, and early risers will be rewarded with poolside yoga or immersive jungle tours with hotel staff, countered with breakfast buffet at Arbolea for fresh global cuisine housed in a sleek marble space.

A bit later, ground yourself with a welcome from the resort’s resident shaman, who will treat you to a sacred healing ritual featuring copal cleansing and guided meditation, one of many holistic treatments available at the Conrad Spa Tulum. After you’ve emerged refreshed and ready to take on the day, the staff can walk you through any of several workshops focused on sustainability and spirituality, from garden-building to astrology readings of the Mayan calendar.

Keep things healthy with a light, unforgettable dinner at the hotel’s Izakaya-inspired Kengai, with next-level poke bowls and pan-Asian entrees centered around the freshest fish in Tulum, followed by a nightcap at the hotel’s Chaak Bar.

Kengai

Kengai

Day 4Aquatic Tulum Adventures

For all the tranquility to be found in Tulum, there’s also plenty to get your heart racing, and Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya will see to it that you have all you need to stay in shape. In addition to the property’s five pools, guests can rent paddle boards and kayaks to navigate the sparkling Caribbean. Options abound to keep you feeling your best, including an ongoing menu of classes in the fitness center and treatments in the spa.

Less than an hour south of the hotel, there’s a different kind of excitement going on at Tulum Beach. Along the main drag, you’ll find a bounty of boutiques specializing in locally made attire, including the “jungle-chic” style of Caravanaand the bright whimsical couture at KM33. While here, be sure to grab dinner at Hartwood for an experience like no other, with zero-mile, distinctively Mayan cuisine cooked on an open fire in a space that’s entirely off the grid. (Pro tip: book a reservation, available up to a month in advance, to avoid long lines.)

Going for a swim in Sian Ka’an

Going for a swim in Sian Ka’an

Unsplash/Gabriel Barranco

Day 5Tulum’s Natural Wonders

Following a late breakfast at Arbolea, your concierge can help you secure passage into the jungle for a can’t-miss plunge into Cenote Dos Ojos, one of the many freshwater-fed limestone sinkholes found throughout the Yucatan, long worshiped by Mayans as gateways to the underworld. Dos Ojos is known for its prime snorkeling fed by amongst the world’s longest network of aquatic caves, which can also be explored by scuba.

A bit of advance planning can secure you with a particularly intimate, jungle-to-table tasting experience at Probadita, followed by birdwatching, snorkeling, and fishing in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO Heritage Site protecting untold plant, marine, and animal life.

Upon your return to the Conrad, Rivera suggests dinner at the resort’s flagship restaurant. “For guests looking for an upscale gastronomic experience on the property, we always recommend the Corn Journey at our international dining option, Autor.” This immersive, five-course meal features corn-based bites and spirits, inspired by ancient Mexican cuisine, that he says, “provides a visually appealing gastronomic experience that never fails to please our guests.”

Elegance under the moonlight at the Conrad’s Full Moon Party.

Elegance under the moonlight at the Conrad’s Full Moon Party.

Day 6Travel Deeper in Tulum

Starting out early, your concierge can recommend an expert-led, sustainable tour focused specifically around the Muyil Archeological Site on the coastal limit of Sian Ka’an, helping provide some crucial context to Tulum’s rich Mayan heritage. If you’ve forgotten your towel for the requisite sun-worshiping on neighboring Paradise Beach, you can shop here in the so-called Zona Hotelera. While here, be sure to visit SFER IK, one of the Yucatan’s two living art centers, housed in oddly organic, nest-like spheres built using local wood and Mayan building techniques.

With a relatively early return to the Conrad, delight in sommelier-led wine and tequila tastings onsite, followed by a singular sushi feast at Ukai, where sustainably-caught fish and seafood pairs with surprising local flavors and a vast wine list. Alternatively, Rivera offers insider info to make your last night in Mexico truly exceptional. “For our guests that are lucky enough to stay with us during a full moon,” he says, “we always recommend our Full Moon Party, a monthly multisensory experience based on the Mayan belief that the full moon is one of the greatest influences of living beings.” The event includes a four-course dinner, inspired by the story of two Mayan gods and set in the lush Tulum jungle, followed by a live fire show. “It is undoubtedly one of our most popular events for guests on our property!”

Serious refreshment at the Conrad Tulum Spa Bar and plunge pool

Serious refreshment at the Conrad Tulum Spa Bar and plunge pool

Hilton

Day 7A Relaxing Last Day

To cap off your travels, drop by the Conrad Tulum Spa for a revitalizing cold water plunge, an herbal treatment, and a light bite in the Spa Bar. Don’t forget to visit the spa’s boutique before you leave, where you can find handmade kaftans, the Indigenous Wixáritari healing stones, and a wide range of locally produced tinctures and therapeutics to help you bring a little bit of Tulum home with you.

For an entirely different experience with a more understated, “eco-chic” aesthetic and family-friendly convenience, the neighboring Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort offers access to the Conrad Tulum Spa, 13 all-you-can-enjoy bars and restaurants, a Family Zone with its own kids-only pool, plus the ability to upgrade to Hilton’s Enclave Club which includes access to a private pool among many other exclusive benefits. Elsewhere on the Peninsula, the Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club, Curio Collection by Hilton offers more signature style and comfort in the snorkeling hotspot of Belize, while the Waldorf Astoria Cancún promises timeless elegance and first-class service within easy access to the city.