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Tulum is known for its boutique hotels and boho lifestyle — so where does a Conrad Hilton fit in?

Jan. 20, 2022
5 min read
large room with wooden doors, couches and chairs, hanging rope art
Tulum is known for its boutique hotels and boho lifestyle — so where does a Conrad Hilton fit in?
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Hilton has been making waves on the shores of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with the addition of a handful of new resorts in some of the area's most popular destinations. Now, one of the most luxurious properties in the bunch, The Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya, is officially open.

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Not too long ago, this sleepy town less than two hours south of Cancun was a quiet place few tourists knew about. Once associated with yoga retreats and wellness experiences, Tulum has more recently transformed into a haven of hyper-chic boutique hotels and Airbnbs, Instagram-obsessed influencers and the trendy set who tend to reject mainstream anything for bespoke everything.

That pivot toward luxury travelers is becoming even more apparent with the opening of the new Conrad Tulum Rivera Maya.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Located 8 miles outside of Tulum, the 349-room resort overlooks a secluded bay amid a tropical forest. Big on design, the property draws inspiration from the nature surrounding it, featuring calming earth tones, beautiful natural stone and stunning wooden elements like large doors engraved by local artists (in true Tulum fashion).

Each room has its own balcony with a relaxation tub for two or a plunge pool, plus floor-to-ceiling windows, a spa-inspired bathroom, a 65-inch TV and a design that reflects the bohemian nature of Tulum in a very sophisticated way.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Home to 11 different bars and restaurants, this Conrad outpost offers no shortage of international flavors. At Ukai, sustainable sushi is front and center, while Kengai serves up an izakaya-inspired menu. The Mediterranean restaurant, Maratea, is bound to attract a crowd of influencers to its eye-catching tables, some of which look as if they're sitting inside tall baskets hanging from the ceiling. The hotel's lobby bar, Chaak Bar, is another can't-miss spot, as it serves craft cocktails in a luxurious setting inspired by Mexican cenotes and the Mayan god of rain.

Feeling a bit more in tune with Tulum's reputation as a place to go for a spiritual cleanse, the resort's spa hosts a gratitude ceremony led by an in-house shaman and healer. It also offers a variety of other treatments and rituals designed to help guests on their "journey to complete well-being."

Cash rates at the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya start at $645, plus taxes and fees, and reward nights require at least 90,000 Hilton Honors points a night.

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(Photo courtesy of Hilton)

While Hilton may be one of the first big-league companies to bring one of its highest-end luxury brands to Tulum, other noteworthy points hotels have a presence in the area.

Papaya Playa Project, part of Marriott's Design Hotels portfolio, is a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy option that really leans into the barefoot, shabby-chic nature of Tulum. It claims to "exude healthy creativity" with community "jam sessions," beachside bungalows and breathing workshops. While it's certainly a nice hotel, it offers a form of luxury that's more for the soul than the experience you'd likely have down the street at the Conrad. There's also a Category 5 Aloft in Tulum, but this Marriott property is rather unassuming.

Similarly, IHG invites guests to enjoy a "bohemian jungle retreat" at the Kimpton Aluna Resort Tulum. Open since 2020, the hotel offers everything you may expect to find at a nature resort, including rooftop yoga, locally sourced food and a laid-back jungle vibe.

Despite the presence of these other brand-name properties, the Conrad manages to feel like a true outlier.

While Tulum is a place you have to visit for yourself to decide if it's for you, its ever-evolving identity makes it a destination that could (in theory) appeal to anyone. For some, it's a place to reconnect with nature and find yourself. For others, it's a destination you visit to see and be seen. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which version of Tulum is more prevalent and authentic.

Related: 13 of TPG’s favorite points hotels on the beach in Mexico

I'll be curious to see if Hilton's presence in the area — both with the Conrad and the adjacent Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive resort, an upscale take on an all-inclusive property slated to open this summer — changes the landscape. Will travelers give up their treehouses and nature retreats for sustainable uni and salmon roe at a five-star resort with a five-star price tag? Or, will the reverse happen, prompting a shift back to the rustic-chic wellness outposts more commonly associated with Tulum?

Only time will tell how Tulum will play out — or if it's already played out. But for now, it's a place getting a new type of recognition, whether that includes beachside yoga or not.

Featured image by Victor Elias/Victor Elias Photography
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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740-850
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023