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Reviewed 17 July 2012

It wasn’t a perfect trip. After two hot and humid days and nights, we were hit with a hurricane. Howling winds blew rain into our room. The ocean roared so loudly I had to wear earplugs. Four of us ended up in one damp bed. There was no hot water for at least 2 days (solar only works when the sun shines). The ocean was too choppy to swim in and the planned excursions were cancelled because the roads were flooded.

So, why the five stars? Because the baby turtles still hatched, storm or no storm, and needed to be released to the ocean. Because the food was still lovingly and scrumptiously prepared. Because the yoga classes were still killer, and the massage afterwards transcendent. Because all of the men on the property - staff and guests alike - worked together to re-install the very heavy umbrellas that broke in the storm. Because we got to watch two mother turtles lay their eggs in the beach at midnight on our last night. And because we felt more connected to Mother Earth and her critters - and to each other - than we do at home in our suburban jungle.

We’ve been back for a few weeks now, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on why this trip has made such a big impact on our family (3 boys - ages 11, 13 and 17). I think it’s because Playa Viva provides a sense of place that’s so hard to come by nowadays. When we went to Hawaii last year, we stayed in a two-bedroom condo with all the accouterments of home. Problem was, it was too much like home. We went to Costco for groceries and Walmart for sundries. The kids watched TV and played video games, I cooked and my husband barbecued. Same routine; different place. We could have been Anywhere, USA.

At Playa Viva, you feel a connection to the land and to the people. There’s an intimacy and authenticity you don't get with the big corporate resorts. The ethos of the resort resonated with our values. We felt cared for. We fully decompressed, and bonded with the staff and other guests. It was truly an escape. Best of all, I ate with abandon and didn’t gain a pound! Kudos to the owners, David and Sandra, for their vision, passion and execution, and many thanks to to the staff at Playa Viva for a magical, memorable experience.

No, it wasn’t a perfect trip. It was perfectly imperfect and I can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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8  Thank sym
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
leventhald, Owner at Playa Viva, responded to this reviewResponded 24 July 2012

Thank you for the wonderful review. Yes, we all lived through hurricane Charlotte and have great memories to share. Playa Viva is powered by solar for our energy and hot water (solar thermal for water and solar panels with battery storage for solar electric), Playa Viva does have a back-up generator that kicked on and stayed on until we had enough sun to generate solar power again. While other locations that are hooked up to the grid had to wait for the public utility (CFE) to reconnect them, Playa Viva had back up power immediately. Unfortunately back-up generator electricity did not translate to hot water until the sun came back out. However, we all eventually dried out, warmed up and got back to the routine of vacationing (rather than being battered by the elements). Thank you to all of our guests who took the brunt of the storm with us and came out the other end smiling. Adversity does make you appreciate what you have, when you have it. Thank you for your glowing review.

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Reviewed 15 July 2012

If you desire a truly unique, relaxing, luxurious resort experience, then visit Playa Viva. The remote location was magical. From the minute we arrived, it was the perfect blend of nature, comfort and personal attention. I think the staff outnumbered the guests most days that we were there and the service was impeccable. We stayed for 7 nights during the last week in June in a deluxe suite and adjacent studio with our children, ages 5 and 8. The architecture design detail was remarkable with all of the structures 'at one' with the beach and surrounding flora. Each communal meal was delicious and local with more than enough variety to suit our kids. Not to mention the seemingly never ending supply of fresh fruit (melt-in-your-mouth mangos!). Playa Viva sets the standard for lavish eco-tourism. We can't wait to return.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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Thank RhettCummings
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2012

Where to start when describing how much we loved Playa Viva? How about the fact that when we got home from our trip we named our new puppy Viva, in honor of the best vacation of our lives!
When we were searching for a place to spend our honeymoon, we had several important criteria. We wanted a relaxing and luxurious beach vacation in Mexico that was not exploitive of the local people or the land. Typical all-inclusive resorts leave us feeling guilty for the incredible waste and the poor pay and treatment of the local employees. Playa Viva was the ONLY resort in all of Mexico that met our criteria, and was still within a reasonable price range.
Playa Viva lives its values in every way, and in more ways than we expected. The food is ALL fresh, organic, local, and absolutely incredible. We could not stop eating!! The simple casitas were absolutely magical – open air, comfortable beds with turn-down service, walls that open entirely to the beach. It was like living in paradise. What's more, the nearby sea turtle preserve is amazing and the opportunity to release baby sea turtles is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Finally, the feeling of community is truly inspiring. We knew we’d have a community experience by eating meals with the other guests and interacting with the staff, but we didn’t know just how much we’d LOVE getting to know all the guests, David & Sandy, and the staff. This was truly hospitality at its finest. Our experience was so much better for the people we met, both the hosts and the INCREDIBLE people that work there.
We cannot recommend Playa Viva enough if you want to have a luxurious, relaxing and responsible vacation. Part of living your values does mean dealing with some bug bites but it’s 100% worth it to experience the beautiful land, magical accommodations, out of this world food, and of course, the basil margaritas!

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Veronica L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2012

My wife and I were desperately looking for a Christmas escape and not having much success. I normally do our travel booking, but with too much going on, I left it in her hands. PV turned up on her weekly Gilt Jetsetter email and she booked it. Skeptical as I often am, I turned to Trip Advisor to gauge consumer sentiment. I found the unanimous 5-star reviews very dubious. But now I know they're not...

From the moment we turned off the "highway" in Julachuca, I had a feeling we were headed somewhere special. Indeed it is. Everything about this place is paradise. Yet it's very simple and unassuming. By the end of our week, the staff felt like family. Believe everything you read about Johnny. He is essential to your time--from mixing drinks to fishing, local knowledge, tour guiding, etc, etc. He is the ultimate host.

Jaime is a brilliant Yoga instructor and fantastic masseuse. 6 straight days of Yoga with her was one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

Chef & his kitchen staff blew away my expectations of resort eating. We are the ultimate food snobs and could not get enough of the genius Franco-Hispanic cuisine put out at every meal. A chance encounter with a successful spear fisherman on the beach, turned into the freshest entree you can ever imagine. Interested in making mole? No problem, Olga ran an impromptu cooking class and made mind-blowing mole in 45min. Chef's night off resulted in a simple classic local meal presented by the cooking staff. You will not go hungry w/ a steady stream of food beginning with a 'pre-breakfast' and all-day self-serve beverages.

Accommodations are rustic while elegant. The architecture and craftsmanship are superb. However, do plan to be more or less outside for your entire stay. 5-star camping…?

The place runs impeccably, yet seemingly without effort. Days drift into perfect evenings spent sipping margaritas in hammocks and watching perfect sunsets and gazing at stars.

Excursions are hit or miss, but animal lovers will find the preserve quite special.The whale watching was an unexpected bonus. Beware the rip currents!

Big thumbs up.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank S S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 June 2012

One of our favorite places in the world. The perfect balance of gorgeous and deserted location (think 1.3 km of beach front just for you), fantastic design (the walls of your Eco casita open completely leaving you with the most amazing views of the Pacific), fantastic meals (one local chef and one French one so you get plenty of Mexican classics but you will get to enjoy a perfect tarte tatin for dessert :-) Can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: June 2012
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Thank valontheroad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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