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A Local's Guide to Tulum, Mexico

Canadian Stéphanie Émond, co-owner of Balnea Spa, takes us to her favourite spots.

Stéphanie Émond

Photo: Jimmy Hamelin

During her first trip there 12 years ago, visiting a hotelier friend, Quebec-born Stéphanie Émond fell for Tulum’s half-gypsy, half-jet-set vibe and its rich culinary culture. The founder of Balnea Spa now organizes annual wellness trips to the Mexican town for her clients, with tours, yoga and massages all on the itinerary. “In Tulum, the beach and the sound of the waves remind me of breathing, and I relax immediately.”

Yäan Wellness Energy Healing Spa

Photo: Serge Barbeau

1. Yäan Wellness Energy Healing Spa

Argentine architect Sebastián Sas created this spa that’s all sleek lines and glass walls. The spa takes a traditional Mayan approach based on both spiritual and physical healing. And on the roof, it grows the rosemary, rue and basil used in the Sobada Maya massage, which works the abdomen in depth.

Carretera Tulum Boca Paila KM 10, 984-179-1530

2. Casa Jaguar Tulum

Located in the heart of the jungle, this romantic open-air restaurant is candlelit and surrounded by palm trees. Chef Emanuel Hernán Verastegui cooks updated takes on traditional Oaxacan dishes, and grills the daily catch on a wood-burning stove. I love the shrimp ceviche with lime and jicama – a local, slightly sweet root vegetable.

Carretera Tulum Boca Paila KM 7.5, 984-169-3084

Casa Malca

Photo: courtesy of Casa Malca

3. Casa Malca

Since this hotel – Pablo Escobar’s former guest house – is owned by prominent art dealer Lio Malca, who uses the space to exhibit his private collection, it sometimes feels like an art gallery. The suites come with ocean views and colourful paintings, including a Kenny Scharf in one of them. I often end the day on the DJ-equipped patio for a mezcal at sunset.

Carretera Tulum Boca Paila KM 9.5, 984-212-8283

Cenote Dos Ojos


4. Cenote Dos Ojos

Dos Ojos is my favourite cenote because of the light that filters through the water from openings in the limestone, turning everything blue. I get there by kayak and then go down into the caves to swim. The water – less salty than in the ocean – is incredibly silky, and you come out with such smooth skin.

Carretera 307 KM 118



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Thursday, October 6th 2016 21:11
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