Visiting CASA MALCA in Tulum on the Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Webster Dictionary describes the word “Magic” as “The art of producing illusions by sleight of hand, mesmerized, dazzled, in a state of awe”.
There is no name and no number indicating one has arrived at Casa Malca. It was difficult to find the gate because it was constructed of bamboo and vegetation to blend with the natural habitat. Approaching the end of the narrow road lined with eco hotels and bars, I thought I was lost, when the GPS announced “you have arrived”, I stopped the car and parked it safely on the side of the narrow road. There was a guard at the gate and he gave me permission to enter the property.
Walking slowly, taking in the beauty of the natural jungle setting with dappled sunlight peeping though the towering trees, I approached the entrance of the main building where the magic heightened . It was an Alice in Wonderland experience and I questioned if it was real.
To add to the fantasy, chairs were suspended in the air on chains. The building was three floors high, with an entire wall covered in strips of bark that encased the front door. This was beyond anyone’s imagination, except perhaps the owner, Lio Malca, a New York City Gallerist and Art Dealer who created the interiors and produced the art program that is so essential to the design, using artwork from his own personal collection,
The door was slightly open and I went inside. “Inside” revealed a cube of space to match the outside height of the building, with a skylight at the top to let in the natural light. Rich purple velvet curtains were hung from the top and against this a three seater antique sofa was suspended high up in the air..
The walls had original artwork and there was a quirky KAWS sculpture, as if to greet the guests when they arrived. Yes, I was Alice in Wonderland because this was not real, it was magical. The house that is now an hotel, was purchased by Lio Malca when he was searching for a holiday home in Tulum and “rescued” it from nearly twenty years of being abandoned and exposed to the ravages of the jungle climate. Using local craftsmen and local materials, the original home was totally refurbished and renovated to be Mr. Malca’s own private, personal holiday home. When it came to the furnishings, the fabrics used were pesticide free organic cotton and rayon made from Bamboo. There were eight bedrooms en suite , and soon enough there was a steady stream of friends and business associates coming to enjoy his hospitality in Tulum. .
Having successfully completed the first refurbishment, Mr .Malca decided turn his home in an eco-friendly sustainable boutique hotel. The original home became the main building of the new hotel with the eight bedrooms en suite, the reception area, restaurants and bar. Altogether with additions there are now a total of forty-one rooms, that have spilled over into new buildings that were added on, and correspond with the original architecture.
The ambiance of the hotel feels like one is visiting someone’s private home, a little eccentric, decorated with casual abandon, but at the same time, it is a style of decoration that is bold and original, using neon colors in the furnishings. Integrated into the design is a selection of artwork from Lio Malca’s private collection, displayed both inside and in the surrounding “jungle” It has the effect of a living breathing gallery. The artwork required careful selection because of the climate and only specific artwork could withstand the heat and humidity.. The “Gallery” is also rotated regularly, so that if you return you are likely to see different artwork.
There are three restaurants:
PHILOSOPHY, with a sea view, serving sustainable fresh fish and local organic produce, Mexican Food with a European twist
THE BBQ MARKET GRILL serving cuts of meat or the catch of the day prepared on an open grill.n.
This leads to…
THE BAR cocooned in wall paper imprinted with Keith Haring’s iconic black and white figures is both quirky and surprising.
The bedrooms, with polished concrete floors and hand-made Oriental rugs scattered on the floor, feature floor to ceiling velvet drapes in shades of chartreuse and royal blue. The beds are made up with the finest Egyptian cotton bed linens and each one has its own original art collection. Large windows capture the views, which are either ocean or jungle and hammocks for relaxing are everywhere. The ultimate room is “the Malca Suite” with a roof top terrace and spectacular views. Service is flawless and friendly. No room service, but there is bottled water and a Nespresso coffee machine in each room.
There are two swimming pools, one is outdoors with a view of the ocean and the second one indoors immediately underneath.
This quote found on the Casa Malca Website sums it up best of all:
“WE ARE ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE. CASA MALCA IS FAR MORE THAN JUST GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL. IT IS ABOUT RECONNECTING WITH YOUR SENSES.”
Tulum, located in the Yucatan, is close to several historic and archaeological sites nearby and for those who can tear themselves away from this idyllic haven, visits can be made to the 13th Century Ruins of Tulum, Xcaret, Sian Ka’an Biosphere and the Grand Cenote. It is also close to excellent snorkeling and diving on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that is rich in fish species and corals.
Room Rates: From $500 and up. Please check rates.
Address: Km 9.5 Carretera Tulum – Boca Paila
Tulum 77780, Mexico
Phone number: +52 1 984 167 7154