Environmentally responsible travel to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula can be achieved without sacrificing any of the luxuries typically associated with a visit to the region. Many of Mexico’s Eco-friendly hotels and resorts combine luxury and environmental sustainability for a comfortable and exceptional stay.
Balamku Inn on the Beach – Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
Situated just south of Mahahual on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Balamku offers visitors a tranquil stay in beach front cabanas with opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving at the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve as well as kayaking, fishing and visiting some of the lesser-known Maya archaeological sites. There are a total of 10 rooms, all with private terraces overlooking the Caribbean. The eco-friendly property utilizes electricity produced by solar and wind power and composting toilets.
National Geographic selected Balamku for their Mexico Traveler Stay List, and the hotel has been nominated for the World Travel Awards Mexico and Central America Leading Green Hotel in 2009 and 2010. Balamku is recommended by i stay green, Green Traveler Guides and Eco Hotels of the World among others. High season rates begin at $85 for single occupancy and $90 for double occupancy.
Hotel Eco Paraiso – Celestún, Yucatán
Located at the Celestún Biological Reserve, the Hotel Eco Paraiso offers guests lodging in spacious and attractive bungalows overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel is situated on three miles of secluded beaches. Tours to the Celestún Biosphere Reserve as well as the Yucatán’s impressive Mayan archaeological sites and cenotes (sink holes) are offered.
This eco-friendly property adheres to the strictest of ecological standards in construction and operations. Hotel Eco Paraiso is the 2010 recipient of the Colibri Ecotourism Award and a member of both the International Ecotourism Society and Sustainable Travel International. High season rates begin at $270 for a junior suite.
Genesis Eco-Retreat – Ek’ Balam, Yucatán
Located just 300 meters from Ek’ Balam archaeological site, the Genesis Eco-Retreat offers guests a unique local experience in a traditional Mayan village on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The hotel has a pool, temascal steam bath and on-site restaurant that prepares simple vegetarian meals using fresh local ingredients. Guests can borrow mountain bikes to visit nearby traditional villages, Mayan ruins, nature reserves and cenotes.
Four weeks out of the year Genesis Eco-Retreat offers a unique Working Retreat for Artists and Writers during which the hotel provides guests with perfect space to facilitate creative expression. Recommended by Lonely Planet, the Genesis Eco-Retreat is one of the more rustic lodgings on the list. High season rates begin at MX$488 ($40) for double occupancy.
Hacienda Chichén Resort – Chichén Itzá, Yucatán
Situated within the Chichén Itzá archaeological site, the Hacienda Chichén Resort is a boutique eco-friendly resort and holistic spa. The hotel works to promote sustainable tourism and conserve Maya traditions throughout the Yucatán region. Guests can participate in eco-tours, cultural workshops, local festivals and traditional Mayan rituals and ceremonies.
Named Mexico’s Best Green Jungle Resort and Eco-Spa Wellness Destination, the Hacienda Chichén Resort has been selected by National Geographic for their Traveler Stay List, recommended by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the World’s Best Eco-Spas and praised by the Yucatán Adventure Eco-Cultural Travel Guide. High season rates begin at $165 for single or double occupancy. Special offers and promotions are available on the Hacienda Chichén Resort website.
Hacienda Tres Rios – Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
Located along the Riviera Maya just 10km south of Playa del Carmen, Hacienda Tres Rios is a luxury resort, spa and nature park with a focus on sustainable tourism. More information about the hotel’s sustainable tourism initiatives is available here. A variety of tours and recreational activities are offered to guests including guided eco-park tours.
Hacienda Tres Rios was awarded a 2010 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Award and the hotel is accredited by The World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, the Rainforest Alliance, the Green Globe and Sustainable Travel International. Visit the Hacienda Tres Rios website for rates, special offers and promotions.
Hotel El Rey del Caribe – Cancún, Quintana Roo
Located in the center of downtown Cancun, Hotel El Rey del Caribe is a tranquil oasis set in the midst of the city. The hotel separates inorganic waste, composts, employs solar collectors and cisterns, utilizes solar powered hot water heaters and clothes dryers, employs rain water recovery systems and has composting toilets.
Hotel El Rey del Caribe is Rainforest Alliance certified and recommended by Adventure Guide to the Yucatán and by Lonely Planet, Fodor’s and Frommer’s guidebooks. Rates begin at $55/$65 for single/ double occupancy.
Posada Margherita – Tulum, Quintana Roo
Posada Margherita is a hotel and Italian restaurant located along the beach in Tulum. The hotels runs entirely on solar and wind power and the on-site restaurant uses only the finest organic ingredients. In addition to enjoying the beaches and exploring the surrounding nature reserves, archaeological sites and other attractions, guests can learn the sport of kite boarding from IKO certified kite boarding instructors. Rates for the hotel’s eight beach-front guest rooms begin at MX$1300 ($104).
Rancho Encantado – Laguna Bacalar, Quintana Roo
Situated on the shores of Lake Bacalar, Rancho Encantado’s secluded natural setting is an attractive destination for the eco-minded traveler seeking escape from the large, over-developed northern areas of the Yucatán Peninsula. The hotel has twelve private cottages overlooking the lake. Guests can visit the on-site spa, tour archaeological sites, eco-parks and biosphere reserves as well as partake in a variety of outdoor recreational activities. The property hosts retreats, workshops and conferences. Rates begin at $65 for single or double occupancy and include breakfast service.
Río Bec Dreams – Chicanná, Campeche
Situated on 50 hectares of jungle in the heart of the Río Bec archaeological area, Río Bec Dreams offers rustic yet comfortable cabanas and jungalows constructed of natural materials. The hotel’s close proximity to many of the region’s lesser-visited archaeological sites is one of its main attractions. Wildlife tours to the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve are also offered.
The hotel is recommended by Lonely Planet as one of the best accommodation options in the Río Bec area. Eco-friendly facilities at Río Bec Dreams include composting toilets, rainwater collection devices and solar power. Rates begin at MX$800 ($64) for rooms with en suite facilities.
Villas Ecotoucan – Laguna Bacalar, Quintana Roo
The Villas Ecotoucan Ecological Resort is located on the shores of Lake Bacalar and surrounded by tropical gardens and jungle. The hotel offers lodging in five comfortable and spacious stone cabins made from natural materials with thatched roofs. There are a variety of activities and guided tours on offer including kayaking, mountain biking, birdwatching and jungle canopy tours.
Villas Ecotoucan depends entirely on solar energy to power their property and employs rainwater collection devices. The hotel operates a small gift shop in which local artisans pay no commission or fees to display and sell their handicrafts at a fair price of their choosing to hotel guests. Rates begin at $50 for double occupancy and include breakfast service.
Villas Delfines – Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo
Hotel Villas Delfines is located on Isla Holbox, a small island situated northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. Isla Holbox is reached by ferry from Chiquilá and the crossing takes around 25 minutes. There are 20 bungalows surrounded by gardens in a quiet and tranquil setting.
The eco-friendly hotel employs solar powered water heaters and composting toilets. Guests at Villas Delfines can borrow bicycles to explore the island, swim with whale sharks, spot flamingos, kayak and fish. Tours to the mainland are offered for guests wishing to visit the Yucatán Peninsula’s archaeological sites and attractions. Rates begin at $90 for single or double occupancy.