“Rustic-chic cabanas and a self-catering house for 6-10 on an unspoilt beach by the Caribbean Sea, near Tulum's Mayan ruins”
Zamas styles itself as 'rustic-chic, with no attempt to outshine the natural environment. To most people, this means back-to-basics camping without creature comforts, in the company of insects you'd rather never have met. In reality, Zamas offers laid-back and stylish accommodation swathed in bright primary colours.
The hotel rooms, some self-contained, others part of larger cabanas, have 1 or 2 kingsize or queensize beds and shower bathrooms; a few have additional single beds and sleep up to 6. Some of the newer Beachfront Rooms (built after Hurricane Wilma in 2005) are raised from the sand and set so close to the surf they’re almost tumbling into the sea (which drowns out the noise of the occasional car from the road behind). Families should go for the Garden Rooms, located in a quiet palm grove well away from the buzz of the restaurant. Some of these rooms are across the road from the beach (known as the 'jungle side'), as are the Top-Floor Ocean-View Rooms, where we stayed. The latter have huge verandas and hammocks - perfect for lazing around and gazing out to sea.
Larger groups can spread out in Casa Vallejo, a 4-bedroom house for 6-10. It has 3 double bedrooms and a twin (some with sea views), plus 3 bathrooms, a dining and lounge area and a full kitchen; further beds can be added to the loft. It’s been built since our last visit, but we like the look of its high ceilings and towering windows, its quirky furniture hewn from tree trunks, and its polished adobe walls daubed in vibrant shades of sky blue, jade green and terracotta. Best of all, it has a private garden with a T-shaped swimming pool, and guests get full access to the hotel’s facilities.
Both the house and the cabanas are remarkably airy - beds are cooled by fans placed inside the mosquito nets, and cold drinking water is freely supplied (you can refill bottles outside the restaurant). Tulum beach is ‘off the grid’, so water is solar-heated and electricity is wind-generated. This means you can't use high-voltage plug-ins like hairdryers, though you can charge phones, laptops and camera batteries.
Zamas’ Que Fresco! (‘How Fresh!’) restaurant, romantically set on the edge of the shore and surrounded by miniature palms, is renowned locally for serving divine food and biting margaritas. Folks come far for its traditional Mayan dishes (such as a whole freshly caught fish stuffed with local herbs, wrapped in palm leaves and baked in a clay oven) and mouth-watering seafood platters - shrimp with achiote or red snapper spiced with olive salsa. There are also wood-fired pizzas and vegetarian specials such as grilled enchiladas with tomatillo, avocado and pumpkin-seed sauce.
Breakfast can be healthy granola, yoghurt, tropical juice and fresh fruit salad, or a hot option such as omelette with cheese and chaya (Mayan spinach).
A couple of nights a week, the restaurant becomes a popular live music venue - we heard a great guitar trio, complete with a flamenco dancer. Staff are aware that there are families staying at Zamas, so the music doesn’t usually last beyond 10pm.
Guests staying in Casa Vallejo can eat in the restaurant or self-cater. The house has a vast dining table seating 10, plus a full kitchen with a large oven, a hob, a fridge-freezer, a blender, a coffee machine and all the bits and bobs you might need. You won't, however, find a dishwasher, toaster or microwave, as the wind-generated electricity supply isn't strong enough to power them. Basic supplies such as washing-up liquid, oil, salt and pepper are provided, and anything else can be picked up at one of the convenience stores nearby.
If you fancy eating out, there are other hotel restaurants further along the beach road - Posada Margarita does an amazing lobster fettucine for 2 to share.
Apart from lazing on the beach...
Children are welcome and those under 6 stay for free. All rooms have additional single beds (except the Small Beachfront Rooms), and some have 2 double beds. Casa Vallejo has 4 bedrooms (3 doubles and a twin), plus a loft room which can take 2 single beds. Zamas can provide baby cots on request, and the restaurant has highchairs. Note that all bathrooms have showers only.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Cots Available, Family Rooms
Babysitting can sometimes be arranged
Baby cots and highchairs are available
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking