News & Reviews Caribbean & Mexico Mexico Review: Cuixmala, Mexico

Every fibre of my being wants to hate Cuixmala, and they’re not shy about giving reasons.  They’re extremely hostile to travel agents, and if my memory of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” serves correctly, regarding someone as scum is not the gold standard in relationship building.  They’re allergic to generosity, and some of the staff seemed to have graduated top of their class from the school of “How not to give a shit”.  While I usually champion properties managed by their owners, there is always the exception, and the weird and wonderful history of this property certainly has a lot of exceptions going for it.  Sometimes, you need a third party that understands things like managers and standards, and kindness is a good thing.  But there’s something magical and unique about Cuixmala.  So unique, that I found myself in a heated debate with my own brain over whether they deserved a hospitality award or a lesson in basic decency.

An offer he can’t refuse….a unicorn head in your bed.

Cuixmala is an absolutely absurd property.  It’s Mexico’s answer to Necker Island or the question, “What is it like to see a billionaire have a mid-life crisis?” I loved it—not to begin with, though.  My initial feeling was regret, like I’d just offered help to a friend move home, and they had the audacity to accept my faux offer.  I wondered how we would entertain ourselves for three nights in a place that seemed as though it had been designed purely as a hazard for kids.  Yet three days later, I was plotting to hide in the closets and live here forever.

Sprawling over 30,000 acres of lush, private land, it’s a sanctuary where wildlife roams freely.  Wildlife that includes crocodiles and zebras – two of nature’s notorious best buddies.  It’s so large they constantly advise you to hire a car to get around before you get there, only to arrive then and realise they weren’t bullshitting.  Just from the main gate to Casa Cuixmala is a 15-minute drive.

The property is split into three distinct areas: the villas, Casa Cuixmala, and the Castitas, which are around 15 minutes away from Casa Cuixmala.  The Casitas were originally where the staff were based, and now they’ve been upgraded to offer a self-sufficient area with a swimming pool, restaurant, and bar.  We’re all friends here, so let’s ignore these and never speak of them again – you’re better than that.

Originally, Cuixmala was crafted as an exclusive hideaway for the Goldsmith family, which, if you’re English, you will know…probably nothing.  Our education system ain’t what it used to be.  But if you’re English and over 40 and grew up hating Europe, Sir James Goldsmith might seem familiar to you.  The fact that they make this the headline of their website tells you there’s a teeny tiny bit of ego involved.

Casa Cuixmala, the original homestead boasting just four suites, is accompanied by seven bungalows.  It is an absolute joy to spend time in and feels very much like a home….because it was.  Perched on a cliff with the jungle and mountains at its back, it overlooks the ocean and a 3km stretch of beach that’s more for using your ears to listen to it than your body to touch it, courtesy of the high tides.  But fear not, a mere 35-minute car drive away and a $200 transfer, they will take you to Caleta Blanca, another private beach they own, with calm waters.  In fact, they own another beach that’s also another 35-minute drive away, but the property is so large we didn’t have time to see it.

The joy of a passion project like this lies in its unique personal touches—those details you’d never encounter in a place built for commercial value from day one.  A boutique tucked away in a former safe, a towering, absurdly large, elephant statue on the beach; suites with ceilings so high you could launch a drone (not that I erm did).  Casa Cuixmala revels in its extravagance, where even a comprehensive tour demands nearly two hours by car and, of course, a fee.

Facilities

The amount on offer here is so incredible, you could write a book on it.  Probably one of those crap coffee-table books that no one reads, but a published book nonetheless.  First of all, the design is, in places, so over the top and bizarre that it’s like a child was given free rein, a box of crayons, and told to go wild.  I loved it.  The entire house is so grand it’s like a modern-day castle.  Throughout the day, the light constantly changes how the property looks, and pockets of light appear and somehow make it even more beautiful.

The main house boasts the only TV on the property in a multi-coloured sofa area beside the eclectic boutique.  There is a library area, multiple indoor and outdoor dining options, and large, colourful sofas to watch the sunset and lounge around.  Reaching the pool requires navigating 100 steps.  The pool offers a lunch service complete with its distinct menu and a shaded area perfect for dining and lounging.  However, competition for the seven-shaded loungers can be fierce, alongside the availability of four deck chairs and six lay-flat beds.

For sports enthusiasts, Cuixmala doesn’t disappoint, offering basketball, football, tennis, a yoga pavilion and you can even ride horses along the beach.  This is the part of the review where I’d go in-depth into the gym and spa, but they have neither, so what I lost in muscle mass and relaxation I make up for with all this free time I have in not having to write about it.

The estate is also home to a turtle release area, stables for horse riding activities, zebras for realising what having too much money does to your mind, and the opportunity for a lagoon tour featuring crocodiles.  That’s just a sample of the activities on offer here.

Their other beach, Caleta Blanca, is a secluded spot with a restaurant, a massage treatment room, and a serene enclosed area complete with loungers, snorkels, kayaks, and paddleboards. It is absolutely beautiful and worth the long car journey.

Some properties try to appeal to families and do a terrible job, and you blame the property.  But here, it’s just not kid-friendly, and that’s fine.  I’ll summarise: don’t bring your young kids.

Room

Right off the bat, you’re greeted with a stack of waivers that would rival a short novel, including one confirming you will not use their brand in any commercial photography.  Totally normal.  Then I had to write down my credit card details because, apparently, we’re living in the Flintstones era.

As for the room setup, they ticked all the boxes except for anything that might ward off hunger or provide a touch of generosity, rendering the spacious room surprisingly bare.  The complimentary cookies come in a jar so heavy it might require a forklift to move, yet mysteriously contained only five cookies.  The absence of blackout curtains was another quirk; their solution hinted at something so elaborate it would require a woodshed and a lumberjack.  I decided to suck it up.  But what I couldn’t swallow was them charging extra for a bed in the room.  It’s an absurd policy in that they’re saying it’s not the number of people, it’s the number of beds, so if our 3-year-old wanted to sleep on the floor, it was free.

The room, though—what a room it was.  I have never slept anywhere like it.  The closest I can think of is Umaid Bhawan Palace, but even that isn’t really a fair comparison.  Opting for a two-bedroom bungalow would have been the more practical choice, but choosing the Master Suite instead, I avoided a lifetime of regret.  The bungalows offer nothing special and pale in comparison to the grandeur of the Master Suite, which was magnificent, vast, splendid and every other synonym you might find on Thesaurus.com.

It’s not just the size, but how unique it is, although the size definitely plays a factor.  Isabelle’s bed was so far away that I was not sure I would have been considered to have legal custody of her.

It was like staying in a church, but the mosquitos were the only thing inappropriately touching you.  It’s never a good sign when there’s mosquito cream visible in the bathroom – the little shits are definitely around in the evenings.  At night, you could hear the crashing waves down on the beach, and with the acoustics, everything sounded like it was in 4D.  Especially when my children screamed.

The suite boasted expansive, walk-in wardrobes in a separate area, ensuring our luggage was neatly tucked away.  These wardrobes were bigger than the suites we’ve encountered in other resorts.  The bathroom matched this grandiosity, with a shower that ambitiously aimed to convert the room into a mini lake and a bathtub so vast that all of us sat in it and looked like Hobbits in a regular-sized bath.  I swear, it was so large and solid that you could have just added a roof and turned that into a submarine and been waving at the Titanic in no time.  Stepping outside, we were greeted by a spacious balcony featuring a jacuzzi that offered unobstructed views of the sunset; although its all-day sun exposure meant it was so blistering hot, it was probably close to bubbling anyway.

Surprisingly, it had modernised in some places; they had plugs beside the bed, simple light switches that almost made sense and reliable WiFi.  Getting all that sunlight means it’s gonna get hot, yet somehow the twin-powered air con does an epic job.  Don’t leave the doors open, and don’t go outside – that’s my motto in life.  There was no Toto, but for once, I forgive them, as it would have detracted from the insanity of everything else.  There’s also no TV, as the entertainment is just walking around shouting “WTF” at the lunacy of the place.

With our room being the master suite within Casa Cuixmala, it felt like everywhere else was an extension of our home.  Which is what it was initially intended for.  We often left our door open and walked around in socks as we darted between my living areas.  There is so much space here, and I found the design and facilities so elegant and unique.  I could almost envisage a future where I would like other people and want to spend time with them and invite them to this property.

Of course, the minibar was charged for, and they’d have charged for taking a piss if they could.

Food

While they never seem to pay attention to preferences or bother to ask about allergies, they make up for it with some excellent dining options and exceptional food.  There are also no kid’s menus here, as this place is as kid-friendly as a sleepover at Neverland Ranch.

Dining options are plentiful, with the beach club, Casa, Casitas, and their private beach each offering distinct menus that range from comfort food like pizza and pasta to local delicacies.  The menus look quite limited at times, but the quality more than makes up for it.  Our first lunch was chicken topped with pineapple, which had a sauce that made my face feel like it was burning, but I couldn’t stop eating it.

Breakfast, which they also bill for and is not included (because, of course not), is not expensive.  At Hotel Esencia, breakfast (which was free, but they made you sign for it anyway) was getting close to $300, whereas here, it was $70 and five times as good.  Breakfast has a great bread basket with lovely carrot bread delivered; everything else is a la carte.  French toast is phenomenal—it’s like a cake.

Dessert time unveils the property’s quirkiness, with offerings never written down and recited from memory with the accuracy of a weather forecast.  If you’re parched and in pursuit of bottled water, brace yourself for a pitch on the merits of tap water—followed, in my case, by a swift and memorable introduction to “el shits”.  But this food was totally worth it.

Service

Cuixmala is one of the least generous properties I’ve ever stayed and is capable of making Scrooge look like the patron saint of generosity.  The problem with being in someone’s home is that you don’t feel you can complain.  When did you last stay around a mate’s house and start criticising the speed at which he tidied up?

Yet, it’s not all misery; there are staff members here who genuinely excel at their jobs.  However, who you interact with at the front desk can wildly swing your experience from one day to the next, given their daily rotation system communicated through WhatsApp.

There are signs of kindness, though.  Eduardo would carry our one-year-old around, giving us a brief moment to chew our food rather than have to eat like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.  Housekeeping was highly efficient, often entering our room moments after we left for breakfast or dinner, including at 7 am on our final day – nowhere else was this efficient on our trip.  The relief of no bill chasing at all – in fact, no bills at all.  On some nights, we received turndown gifts for children and adults, and they even restocked that cookie jar, taking it up an astronomical ten cookies.  They had children’s toys by the beach and children’s car seats for all the car transportation, proving they’re not a cabal of child-eating cannibals.  When we departed, the concierge came to say goodbye as he had been off for a few days.  We asked for some fruit and sandwiches for the car journey, and they made an absolute meat feast of pure disgust that went down a treat.

But….

Make sure you have downloaded Google Translate, as you will need it to communicate with some of the frontline staff.  While housekeeping diligently kept the rooms spotless, other areas of the property were neglected for hours.  The concierge desk operates on its own mysterious schedule, seemingly closing whenever randomness strikes.  And it always felt like staff were hanging around, looking for how to entertain themselves.  You feel like you are bothering them, so then you stop asking, and your expectations hit the point where no one approaches you to see if you want anything, and you consider it acceptable.

Lucie had a shoe stolen by a coati and their response was to victim blame.  This is a serious crime, guys.  I demand CSI (Coati Scene Investigators?), justice and a minimum 10-year sentence.

The service fee is optional and presented at checkout.  We did tip, but only a few deserved it.

The Good

  • Food

The Bad

  • Service
  • No gym

The Luxurious

  • Setting
  • The scale of the property
  • Activities
  • Uniqueness
  • Room

Rating

Good

Conclusion

Cuixmala is like a high-maintenance, batshit cray friend who makes you question your life choices, yet you can’t help but hang out with them for the sheer drama and unpredictability.  God knows what else I’ll discover in those endless documents I signed.

Since going here, I have yet to recommend it to any clients, as it’s so particular it’s only for a very, very specific type of person—someone on the sadomasochistic level that I am.  Being a personal playground for its owners carries a certain allure, yet also a cautionary note, given the tales of how they have treated previous managers and private events that sideline guests.

Cuixmala’s paradox lies in its pricing versus its exclusivity.  With Casitas starting at just over $700 a night, it’s juxtaposed against seemingly arbitrary non-enforced restrictions like beach access at Casa Cuixmala.  Stay, but feel second class.  It’s basically like inviting the peasants in to watch you eat your dinner so they feel warm while they starve.  It’s such a bizarre policy that I cannot imagine anyone else even thinking it, let alone implementing it.  Soon enough, they’ll copy Wendy’s and introduce surge pricing for your dinner.

However, I fell in love with Cuixmala.  It’s tantalisingly close to greatness and wouldn’t take much to get there.  You feel lucky to be here, as if they’ve handpicked you.  I was in awe of the natural beauty, the activities, the design, elegance, and uniqueness.  It feels exclusive, especially when you’re tucked away in the original home or one of their four villas.  Seeing the whole property and how much is on offer is impressive.  It’s a place where you can do lots or absolutely nothing.  My regret is not having the time to try out their sister property, Hacienda de San Antonio, as apparently it’s even better.

This is a passion project, but the passions seem to focus on the owner’s enjoyment of it more than the customers.  If they had a mentality shift, Cuixmala could be one of the world’s best.

In Summary

  • Kids Friendly

    N/A - it’s a death trap.

  • Best room

    Casa La Playa is a four-bedroom, beach front villa that starts from $7,000 per night

Master Suite starts from $3,000 per night

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 26th Mar '24

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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