More about Esencia
Esencia, a hidden jewel in Mexico.
This hotel has to be one of the best hotels in the world, it has a beautiful location, a perfect beach, fabulous rooms, great food and the service is perfect, not stuffy just very nice people doing an excellent job to please you. It´s exclusive and very cool. The manager Ms. Abigail Rivera does a fantastic job keeping all these things together, everything was perfect, we loved it.
a most extraordinary experience
My husband and I just returned from a three night stay at Esencia. We are frequent visitors to the Mayan Riviera (this was our sixth trip), but this was our first time to stay at Esencia. As an employee of a major airline, with admitted "travel attention deficeit", I have had the pleasure of seeing much of the world and enjoying many of its finest resorts. Esencia ranks among the best, on a par with, for example, the Banyan Tree in Phuket or Glen Eagles in Scotland.
We stayed in the garden view accommodations, set back in the beautiful jungled grounds. Our quarters were generous of size, subtle, sensuous, private, quiet. State of the art electronics. Quality linens and towels. Private plunge pool w/padded lounges and outdoor shower. Huge bathroom area/with walk-in closet. Indoor shower with not one, but two, pizza-size shower heads. Peaceful, inviting, front terrace. Sublime bed and pillows. A refuge.
The spa was zen-like. We both enjoyed great massages and seaview yoga.
The food was truly extraordinary. We are picky eaters, but all of our special requests, at dinner and breakfast, were cheerfully accommodated - no, not accommodated, WELCOMED.
The beach - beautiful white sand and turquoise water, shaded, padded lounges, water/drinks delivered promptly lounge-side, without asking.
Many things about Esencia are special, but the service is truly the best we've experienced - anywhere. The staff are quick to smile, joke, and anticipate your needs. They genuinely seem to enjoy their paradise, and are proud to share it with you.
What might not otherwise be obvious is that Esencia is a real value. They don't nickel and dime you for everything, like so many resorts. We were welcomed with a cheese plate, fruit, and bottle of wine. Beer/cokes/juice in refrigerator are complimentary, as is bottled water, plentifully available everywhere. Coffee service is delivered each morning, left silently on your terrace. This is in addition to the breakfast included in the room rate...and no stale, fly-ridden, homogenous buffet this, but rather a gourmet presentation with an abundance of choices, ordered from the menu and delivered with a flourish. Wireless internet connection is available in the common areas for those who must "connect", again free.
If you enjoy the beauty of the Mayan Riviera, but abhor the all inclusive mega resorts, you must experience Esencia. You will return feeling pampered and appreciated... and looking forward to your next visit.
A Yucatan Oasis
Our visit to Hotel Esencia was extremely relaxing and the hotel is a gem on the Mayan Riviera which is otherwise full of large chain hotels. The grounds are well maintained and the hotel overall is in a pristine condition. The staff is very charming and makes a concerted effort to make your stay as comfortable as possible, although in the details there is still room for improvement of such things as attentiveness at the pool for drink and food orders and the fact that they ran out of white wine and cigars.
We booked a ocean view suite, Paraiso, which had a superb view and was our little Paradise. The hotel setting is lovely. Towels are changed constantly both in your room and by the pool. Molton Brown toiletries adorn the bathroom and the showers are wonderful with the pizza sized shower heads. The main house is decorated elegantly and very classic. The 2 pools are serene and the beach is a stones throw away with crystal clear water and a white sand beach.
The spa at Esencia (its own Mayan Palapa) seems to be overlooked by some because it is not really publicized when you arrive but we had 2 incredible massages and thought the spa was excellent. The services that we received were entirely calming and a wonderful experience.
What hte hotel Web site competely forgets to mention is that there are two divemasters available, Diego and Lucas, who provide excellent and professional services, to both beginners and advanced divers. The reef just in front of the hotel is very nice and cave and cavern divers will want to explore the exceptional diving possibilities in the Cenote caverns just five minutes form the hotel.
We can definitely recommend this hotel to anybody who is looking for a peacful and quiet vacation without the loud hordes found in Cancun.
Wonderful, but frustrating dining experience
We stayed at Esencia for five nights. The grounds, the cottages, pools, and beach are gorgeous. There is great snorkeling right off the beach. We loved our garden suite room: huge TV, amazing bed and pillows, sound system, separate shower room with planking floor, remote control shades, complimentary drinks and fruit bowl re-stocked daily. The high rates seemed worth it when we realized that they cleaned our room twice a day -- once in the morning, and then again while we were at dinner, which was nice since we had dragged in sand from the beach. The staff was really helpful and concerned, and one of the front desk people even brought me gatorade when I was sick and de-hydrated and laying in bed. My very minor complaints about the room are that It would have been nice if the room had a phonebook and if the hotel information packet was written more clearly. There were a few typos.
As much as we loved staying at Esencia, we wished we had a rental car so that we did not have to eat every meal on the property. We felt a little like dining hostages. There was only one other nice restuarant within walking distance of the hotel and it was super-expensive and horrible. Several other guests paid for cabs to take them to Playa del Carmen for meals, which is about 25 minutes away.
Breakfast at Esencia was included in our rate, so that was fine, but the lunch prices are outrageous -- for example, a hamburger was $20 and a ham sandwich was $15, and those were among the cheaper items on the lunch menu. Dinner was expensive as well, but more understandable and not so different from what one would find at a fancy restaurant in the U.S.
You cannot pay for meals or drinks at the time of service, you must charge them to your hotel account, and then you recieve a non-itemized statement of your charges every other day. This makes it nearly impossible to tell how much individual items cost if they are not listed in the menu. I asked the management on our last day if we could see itemized breakdowns of all our meals, which they gave us, and we then saw that we had been erroneously charged for three beers, small margaritas had been costing $14, and my shrimp dinner special was $37. The servers did not know the prices of drinks or specials when we asked. It was frustrating and we felt kind of taken advantage of. I was also charged for a spa treatment I never scheduled. I think this was due to the well-intentioned, but clumsy system of using one's name instead of room # to pay for services. The charge was promptly removed when I pointed it out.
The staff made a huge effort to provide good service, and most of the time it was excellent, but it was also somewhat disorganized. For example, we would often have 5 or 6 different people attending to us at one meal.
One of the other reviewers was correct in that the hotel is super quiet at night, and there is no place to hang out and have a drink in the evening or meet other people. In summary, I would say the hotel/accomodations were wonderful, the beach and pool were stunning, but the dining situation made us wish we had a rental car!
Great potential but terrible service
We were booked into esencia for a two week break. Arriving at the airport our preorgainsied transfer was lkate witha driver who spoke no English. On arriving at the resort we were met at the gate and escorted to the reception, a .5km walk by a porter who again made no conversation due to lack of english.
The resort is very relaxed with clean well eqipped rooms and a good pool and beach.
There was always a great breeze blowing off the sea and the food was a good standard. The Spa is well equipped offering a good range of treatments with well trained staff helping generate a relaxed atmosphere.
However we were left with no alternative than to check out after 8 nights as even after drawing the managements attention to the staffing issues little improvement was made. Examples are numerable but 45 minutes to get a glass of ornage juice and 2 slices of toast highlight the lack of orgnaisation. On 7 nights we failed to recieve two correct menus, after selecteing 8 bottles of wine, each out of stock, from the well advertised wine list we were finally forced to ask what wine they did offer.
If they could offer an improved service it has great potential but given our experience I would not recommend it as a vacation venue.
One of a Kind
Esencia was the most relaxing vacation we have ever taken. I can second the comments of many previous reviewers and add just a bit of my own.
First and foremost, the hotel is beautiful. The grounds are lush and pristine, the main house is a dream, the room was beautiful and so comfortable. The bed was incredibly comfortable and we had a wonderful night's sleep every night. The bathroom was perfect as described by others -- giant tub, great shower, etc. We did not use the plunge pool because it was not heated (although the weather was in the 80's and perfect, and the ocean water was warm, as was the heated pool, the plunge pool by the room was in the shade and therefore did not warm up that much). However, I can see that having the plunge pool and outdoor shower would be really nice in the summertime. The large screen TV and DVD player were great -- perfect for a relaxing movie in the evening after dinner, and the hotel has a reasonable selection of DVD's to choose from.
We enjoyed the service very much. Having tea and biscuits delivered every morning to the front porch was a nice touch. The wait staff was attentive at the restaurant. It was particularly nice to have lunch delivered to the beach every day, and to have drinks brought to us whenever we wanted. Towels are plentiful both in the room and all around the property, and you generally feel that the staff is there to take care of you and does a good job of it.
Seconding what another reviewer wrote, we really liked that fact that -- although the rooms are $400+/night, other than that the hotel did not nickel and dime. Nothing, other than lunch and dinner meals in the restaurant, cost anything. Drinks are stocked in the fringe in the room and are free. Drinks (water, coke, etc.) brought to you by the pool or beach are free. As far as we could tell they did not even charge for alcoholic beverages (mojitos) by the pool. Perhaps it was rolled into one of the meal charges, but if so whatever they charged was very reasonable because it was not noticeable. It was a pleasure to get the bill because there were not surprises on it and nothing appeared other than our meals & the 15% tax charged on the meals. Likewise, a nice laptop computer is available to borrow if you want to log in, and again there is of course no charge for this. No charge to borrow DVD's, etc. It is a laid back and relaxed atmosphere with staff who are genuine, sincere and want to please but are not "trying too hard" which you often see even at nice hotels. We had some nice conversations with the guest services folks in particular.
Although we did not get massages we did visit the spa and soak in a hot tub. Again, no charge -- as long as a hot tub was available and not being used by someone in connection with a massage, they were happy to accommodate us. The spa is beautiful and serene and soaking in the tub was relaxing.
The beach is gorgeous, the water is calm and beautiful, there are many fish that one can see snorkeling right in front of the hotel. The beach is not crowded except in one or two spots far from Esencia, where the larger hotels are (like CopaCabana). It was a pleasure to walk or jog the 2-mile stretch. Occasionally some of the sunbathers decide to flout the State no-topless rule, although most held to it (fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective).
Any criticisms we have were truly minor. One morning (of six) they forgot to bring the biscuits to our porch. No big deal, the restaurant was 10 meters away from our room. Another morning they brought coffee instead of tea -- same remedy. They could use a few more cable channels (maybe they need satellite service there). Once when we called for the car and then walked over to where the car was supposed to be, it had not yet been called. So we waited an extra 60 seconds -- no big deal. Bottom line, the service is about 95% of the way to perfect. The things noted in earlier reviews from the time when the hotel first opened have largely if not completely been remedied.
The food was pretty good, although not 5 star. Some of the dishes were a bit overdone with sauce (like the mushroom crepe appetizer). But that may well be the Mexican style, simply not familiar to the American diet. Overall we enjoyed the food (breakfast, which is plentiful and free, is particularly good) and they did not charge an arm and a leg, so the fact that it was not up to Four Seasons standards did not bother us.
I would highly recommend Esencia to anyone who likes a really nice experience and can afford the price.
Sublime beauty & relaxation...
My partner & I had been feeling mixed sentiments of excitement and trepidation as our holiday at Esencia drew near due to the inconsitency of reviews over the last year. I am happy to report that these two finicky and particular travelers were absolutely bowled over by the stupendous beauty, style and great taste this hotel exudes at every turn! The review from Houston dated March 30 perfectly captures much of the experience, so I will try to add my own impressions.
The physical beauty of the hotel (actually, I hesitate to use the word "hotel" as Esencia stilll feels like a private villa- which it was until the purchase from an Italian Duchess a few years ago) is breathtaking. The attention to detail and the TASTEFUL execution of this made our hearts skip. No Four Seasons/Ritz Carlton excess/"dolly-decorator" accessorization here! Our first impression (and one that remained) was that this fantasy land was straight from the pages of a european issue of Elle Decor or Maison & Jardin. If you do not appreciate a predominantly white minimalist aesthetic approach to design you may be left cold, but I have to say that the manner in which the house/grounds blend in with the white sand and the aquamarine sea will forever remain in my minds eye- available to call on, when I am stressing out in the "real world" and in need of quick sense memory escape.
We stayed in an upper garden suite and loved every detail that was put into the comfort and design. A few outstanding features...the 42" plasma with great Boston Acoustic sound system on which we enjoyed our own film festival after languid days at the beach...the absolutely heavenly bed (we literally awoke with the sensation we had been slumbering on a cloud) and high quality linens/pillows/robes by Paulina Moran....the electric shade control by the bed when one was ready to let some of the light in from that gorgeous vista....the topnotch airconditioning/fans and natural air ventilation should one not wish to use the a/c....the large bathroom with mounds of fresh smelling bath sheets, a separate wc and a shower room with two rain shower heads that was pure bliss (I might add here that upon taking our first shower upon arrival we noticed one of the heads was nto working correctly, but after a simple call to reception a kind worker was in our room literally moments later and all was corrected with amazing speed and efficency).....the roomy & comfortable terrace overlooking the central grounds...the ample closet space supllied with plenty of quality hangers....the ambient lighting of the room.
As far as the service...We will always remember the kind greeting/intorduction we received from Sonia & Federico. Friendly, informative, completely welcoming and professional while setting just the right tone for a stay in this very special environment. Carlos and his beaming "buenos dias! greeting" provided a perfect start to our day with coffee service delivered promptly at the requested time every morning while Alfonso and Jorge at breakfast and lunch were always available with more smiles,vibrant charm and wonderful suggestions that made these meals a true pleasure. Additionally, the staff in the main restaurant was equally exemplary, finding that perfect balance between great service and warm execution. (The Chef du Cusine had done an amazing job with his selection including an outstanding mole that will not be forgotten!)We really came to love the "houseparty" environment that was provided by allowing guests to leave a meal at any time without signing for anything. Every few days an update of our bill was placed discreetly in our room for examination and should one wish to get further details more frequently this was available without any issue whatsoever.
We did have a few spa treatments and found the environment/service wonderful and the greeting/spa information from Dahlia(a graceful beauty whose peaceful demeanor sets exactly the right tone for a restful spa experience) perfect.
I believe it is quite clear that we were VERY pleased with the personal attention to service on all levels. If anything was not as we wished or if there was any issue, it was dealt with quickly and with genuine kindness-not any sort of obsequious charm that is often evident in this caliber of deluxe lodging. We will remember the individuals at Esencia for years to come and will look forward to seeing them on future visits.
As far as the beach... it was right up there with our favorite beaches of all time. Beautiful sand, gin clear water in all of the shades of blue/green associated with a dreamy tropical setting, plenty of comfortable lounge chairs and well designed/ tasteful areas for shade along with two large pools when one was ready for that diversion. There are some rocky areas on the sand, but due to the water clarity these were relatively easy to spot and wade around.
This was a much anticipated trip and one will that we never forget. After the mixed reviews, I am very pleased to add my own and truly hope that future guests are able to have the same experience that we did. I do feel it is important to add that the hotel was very open and forthcoming about the previous reviews when they were brought up in conversation at the hotel and did acknolwedge that the opening months of the hotel were not as seamless as they hoped. I appreciated and enjoyed this type of honest open dialogue. I do believe that our experience as well as the other more recent reviews show that Esencia is well on the way to offering a magnificent/restful holiday to those in need of a special place in this beautiful corner of Mexico. I like to think that the Duchess would be proud of what has evolved from her once private retreat. Bravo to the current owner for sharing and having such a wonderful vision of a perfect beachside retreat.
A great relaxing getaway, maybe too far away for some
We spent the first two nights of our trip at Deseo on 5th avenue and then spent the last 4at Esencia. It's a beautiful serene place to relax. The food was excellent, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The room was gorgeous and had the most comfortable bed/pillows I've ever laid down upon. The beach is perfect and the shade structures are out of a romantic movie.
The grounds are lush and in perfect shape, the staff was very friendly and attentive to all our needs.
The bad things were bugs, I've never seen so many bugs *inside* a a night hotel room. Mostly tiny ants but the occasional bigger bug did wander in from time to time. I've stayed in worst places that didn't have the bug problem this place had. Our first coffee and biscuit continental breakfast was spoiled because the biscuits had TONS of ants on them. The flys were always around at breakfast, and on the beach after 5 watch out for mosquito's. Despite all of that i'd say it was a minor annoyance and I assumed it was because the area is so lush with jungle like grounds.
The other big problem is after 7 the place is desolate. Not even a casual bar for guests to chat or have a cocktail. This was disappointing as we had to take 45 dollars worth of taxi's to get to and from any kind of nightlife. The hotel is also so far from other restaurants that eating "out" comes with a taxi type surcharge which would have been more frustrating had the food not been so good. It's also very expensive so I guess it's not much of a savings to eat in.
The other guests were mostly older, pregnant, or with little kids. Not exactly the speed we were expecting, but we simply went downtown for fun after dark.
The spa was also a bit annoying as there is no way to enjoy the tub, steam, or serene sitting area with your spouse unless they are same sex. This was particularly annoying because there is no jacuzzi available anywhere else, and the only way to jacuzzi together is to pay for a couple jacuzzi, yet same sex couples were able to enjoy this feature without charge obviously. Also if you expect Jacuzzis to be more than 60 degrees forget it. The tubs are "ambient" and aren't warm like we're used to.
There is also no exercise equipment of any kind which was a bit of a bummer since I ate so many tortillas it would have been nice to hit a stationary bike.
It was an expensive vacation that we enjoyed but I dont think we would return as it was just too low key, no energy at night, and no common spa areas made it a deal breaker.
YES, but not yet, actually...maybe..but the nicest stuff I ever met
I’m just back from a 2 weeks stay in the Esencia and as the decision to go there came from reading Tripadviser, I think I should share my experience here.
I’m 56, European, business owner, and traveled my whole life. Since 15 years my business goes very well and I can effort to go to luxury places without comparing the prices.
Two comments to start:
- I never ever saw such a nice and sincerely friendly stuff like in the Esencia, this was something outstanding!!!
- It was the first time since so many years that I openly complained about the prices for the services and the food. They where in no relation. I hate to pay 5$+service for an espresso, but if I have to then I do expect the very best espresso from the Caribbean! It was not.
There was a review from a British person here which summarized it: nice, could be sooo good, but you are always frustrated because it is not yet there. This is an excellent summery for my feelings here too.
I totally agree with everybody who prized the location, the beauty and elegance of the rooms, but why do have to happen then so stupid mistakes like the following examples:
- indeed you get in the morning at 7am a café, milk and some croissants in front of your apartment. Unfortunately nobody considers that if they leave the cup with the milk open, then in 30 seconds there is an invasion of ants swimming in the milk. And yes ants like also the croissants, so guess where those who survived the milk will be now? (In the upstairs rooms there are the birds who felt to be invited for breakfast)
- to settle a communication misunderstanding with our travel agency, the Hotel management offered us to stay the second week in the Tower-room. Outstanding beautiful 360-degree view, (and yes the remote controllers are still tricky to learn). We where so happy, unpacked our bags and organized all our belongings like putting the laptop on a table under the window, ecc. Well a couple of hours later it rained and guess what we found once we turned back later in our room? The floor was covered by water, my computer was reflecting interesting colors and when I quickly wanted to take out the connector (placed under the window) from the outlet I got a nice electrical shock. Was it a sudden to the management unknown lick of some material weakness? Not at all, to our big surprise the windows where to small for the space in the wall. So on both sides of each window you find an empty space of 6-8mm along the whole window side. Well it was raining for 4 days.
If they would have told us before I would have accepted in any case the room, because we could fix it with towels. The room would still be luxury, but the fact that they didn’t warn us takes the luxury away and gives you the feeling of frustration (btw, the laptop survived)
true, you can ask for anything and they will (once they understood) give you really the feeling that they are happy to fulfill your needs. They just don’t have that kind of false acting you can find in four-season-type-of-places.
But, i.e., I’m extremely allergic to wheat flower and I got used to remind the waiters each time to control if there is flower inside the meal. After 10 days of presence, where really everybody had heard it at least 5 times, I ordered a hamburger and forgot to advise the waiter. Well I got the hamburger on the bred. This is not luxury, this is superficiality which can be life-threading!
I would like to know what those people, who wrote that the food in this hotel was good, where eating here. I think in 2 weeks there was only one time where I can say the food was good, for the other days it was just average. If I understood well the chef is from Chile, so even far away from the local tradition (infact the fajitas I ate the last day was more then ridicules). It’s all a kind of mix-up of strange experiments, too complex in the sauces, covering always the original tastes from the meat or fish. The Mexican tradition is very rich in cooking excellent meat, whereas the fish came in more with the tourists as far as I know. Anyway, the second week we started to go to Carmen and eat there, it tasted better.
Last time on food:
With my wife a home we usually spend every months about 3000.-Euro in restaurants, so we are used to pay for good food. I feel personally offended by the prices this Hotel asked for the food they offered.
- well for diving they asked 130.-$ each if you are in group, 1 immersion – in Carmen (PADI) you pay 70.-US$ for 2 (!) immersions and the price drops quickly even further if you do more immersions.
- massage- deep tissue 115.-$/50min. Very professional, nice place the new SPA, but again I felt not to pay for the massage but to participate in a found-raising party ( At the Canyon Ranch in Tucson, which is the top and considered as extremely expensive I used to pay about 70.-US$)
By the way: did I mention that I never saw such nice and personally present people like everybody who works in Esencia?
- would I come back again? In 2-3 years yes. I think the new Manager Mrs. Abigail (she is in charge only since 2 months) will manage it to bring this place to the luxury level it deserves.
- Would I suggest it to a friend today? Yes, absolutely. Its like going to a family-meeting where you like everybody, but unfortunately the wife is bad in cooking. You still go there for the family feeling but try to find a discret arrangement to eat somewhere else.
- A suggestment to the owners of the Hotel: give the management a higher budget for fixing the problems; don’t expect to get a faster ROI from asking almost 40.-US$ for a glass of Tequila, even if it is a very good one. (Yes, to be honest they had also a cheaper Tequila for 15.-US$ a glass)
With my review I hope to help the managment, even if it is very critical. This place is very interesting and deserves success, but if we don't point our fingers to the real problems then.....
Chasse's new Mexico page
"Mi Patria Querida"
La ciudad de México, antigua Tenochtitlan, una de las ciudades más grandes del mundo, no sólo por sus millones de habitantes, su extensión geográfica y su pujanza comercial, también por su riqueza de tradiciones y cultura; ha sido escenario desde su fundación por los Aztecas, provenientes de Aztlán ( Región Nor-occidental del País);su conquista efectuada en forma cruenta por soldados hispanos y de modo amable por Misioneros bondadosos ambos ayudados por aborígenes contrarios a los dominantes Aztecas.-La fundación de una Nación Independiente,dos ridículos Imperios.- Experimentos de República, una prolongada Dictadura, mala en sí pero mejor que simulaciones posteriores. Una dolorosa guerra intestina. Alti-bajos de gobiernos caudillistas y una larga cadena de malos gobiernos "revolucionarios" de los que es mejor no expresar su esencia ya que " la ropa sucia se lava en casa"
Band of coatis (Dec 2009)
Band of coatis (Dec 2008)
Kukulcán pyramid ( El Castillo )
walk the walk
What does it cost to go to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen.
What types of transportation is there i.e. ferry, public boats, private boats,
What is there to do there. I am with 2 teenagers. Is it mainly a sun, sand, surf and snorkel destination. What part of the island is the best.
Can you rent transportation and explore on your own?
We will be spending a full day there so any tips on a place to eat would be great too.
Just got back ourselves.
Cost 110 pesos one way per person for ferry. Sit on the top deck but in the covered area. It can get a bit bumpy on the 40 minute trip.
What to do? We liked Chankanaab Park for snorkel/swim with dolphins/scuba/change rooms/restaurants/etc. Clean and safe for families. Ten bucks USD by taxi from the ferry terminal. Lots of shopping in Cozumel. Walk a few blocks away from the main street for best buys and views.
You can rent vehicles or scooters. Be very careful if you do due to hectic traffic and road conditions.
Great place to eat is called the Sonora Grill about a 5 minute walk from the ferry terminal. Purified water, great food, clean, reasonable price.
Email me if you would like more info, have a great time.