It Feels Like You’re Sleeping in the Jungle at This Yoga-Centric Hotel in Tulum
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It Feels Like You’re Sleeping in the Jungle at This Yoga-Centric Hotel in Tulum

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By Alia Akkam
Jaque Studio’s eco-friendly "village" sits in the midst of a verdant tropical landscape.

Long enamored with the mystical aura of Tulum, Kendall Inman, a Dallas-based Ayurveda health counselor and yoga and meditation teacher, moved to Mexico to open a nourishing retreat center. With the help of local architecture and design firm Jaque Studio, that initial idea for an uplifting, solitary lodge sprouted into Jungle Keva Tulum, a boutique hotel in direct conversation with its lush backdrop.  

The five guest lodges range from around 500- to 600-square-feet.

Construction is abundant in Tulum, much of it sadly at cost to the environment, but Jesús G. Acosta, Jaque Studio’s founder, wanted to take a different, more thoughtful approach. 

"We built around the trees," he points out, preserving 70 percent of the site’s vegetation in the process. Additionally, considering the tropical weather, all areas, except the reception and maintenance room, were raised by almost three feet, which helps to combat flooding and insects.  

The yoga pavilion, with its slatted wood screens, is peacefully positioned over the pool.

Covered in greenery and organized by stone paths, the grounds are reminiscent of a jungle village. Making your way through the property, a social area is found at the end of a passageway, past the reception and lobby, with a dining room and yoga pavilion cantilevering over the pool. When it's time to get some rest or take a solitary break, guests can retreat to one of five different lodges.

Jaque Studio didn't want the pool area to be crowded with beach chairs reminiscent of a resort. Instead, there is this petite relaxation zone.

"It ends quietly," Acosta says of the layout, noting the allure of practicing yoga asanas over the water.

Guests take to the airy dining room to socialize.

Mexican materials, as many of them as possible sourced locally, were a priority for Jaque Studio. Acosta wanted a warm, natural palette that complemented the environs, and his search for materials "that aged with dignity and added character" led to chukum. This once-lost ancient craft embraced by the Mayans is a durable, waterproof stucco that incorporates resin from its namesake trees, indigenous to the Yucatán Peninsula.  

Most of the lodges feature a mezzanine, or "tapanco," containing a sleeping loft and meditation space.

The smallest of the lodges includes a private terrace and king-size bed wrapped in bamboo sheets.

Elsewhere, chukum is used for the hotel’s centerpiece infinity pool—flaunting turquoise water that echoes the Caribbean Sea—planted in the middle of the garden and elevated to avoid disturbing the trees. 

"Many pools are located at the front of a hotel but we put it in back so there is more privacy and you don’t feel observed. We didn’t want a busy place that’s lined with chairs," says Acosta. Instead, two sapote trees magically spring from the pool, adding a cocooning sense of intimacy.

A single-story lodge view from the yoga pavilion.

Inside the open-plan, double-height guest lodges, chukum also graces the striking square-shaped bed bases. Concrete floors undergo a technique where "we remove the top layer to see the different aggregates, the sand and the gravel, and it doesn’t have the usual gray color. Sand here is white," Acosta explains. "When people come into the room they think it’s marble." 

Furnishings are earthy and minimalist, including light bulbs that hang from dangling ropes. 

Relax on the private terrace, where beyond a wall of glass fringed hammocks face the tropical grounds.

Crowning the lodges are palapa-style roofs, crafted from the dry grass zacate, which provided Acosta another reason to delve "as deep as possible into the identity of the area." 

On the interior side, underneath the wood structure that holds the zacate in place, plywood modules were installed for structural consistency. Petate, a fabric woven by hand in neighboring Puebla from dry palm leaves, is glued to the modules to add an "elegant, contemporary" touch.

A hallmark of the indoor-outdoor bathrooms is chukum, a smooth stucco popularized by the Mayans.

The alfresco shower offers another opportunity to appreciate the landscape.

An indoor-outdoor bathroom, inspired by those Acosta encountered in Kerala, India, is another highlight. Chukum makes its way here, too, onto the walls and sink, accompanied by Mexican travertine marble with a slip-proof matted finish. Says Acosta, "Taking a shower while looking at the trees—it is a special connection to the surroundings." 

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Related Reading

 7 Modern Hotels in Mexico You Have to Visit 

A Look at the Design of Noma Mexico, Tulum’s Pop-Up Restaurant Inspired by Local History

A Lush Retreat With a Sheltered Rooftop Pool in Mexico City

Project Credits:

Architect of Record and Interior Design: Jaque Studio / @jaquestudio

Builder/General Contractor: Ceiba Immobiliara

Structural Engineer: HAL Ingenieria

Landscape Design: Entorno Taller de Paisaje

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