Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in one of the world’s best homes? That’s what our YouTube series The Villa Life is all about—a peek inside some of the most incredible properties in our collection. On our venture to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, we caught up with the owners and staff at three of the area’s finest: Hacienda Caracol, Casa Ixchel, and Mukan. As you’ll learn, these Tulum-area vacation rentals are much more than just a place to rest your head. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch every episode of The Villa Life, and read on for even more details of our Tulum trip.
The charming Mexican city of Tulum combines rich history with great food, splendid beaches, and luxurious accommodations on a stretch of Riviera Maya’s coast that also includes jungles and cenotes to explore. Plus, Tulum’s famous oceanside ruins don’t just provide a glimpse into centuries past; they impress with incredible sea views and a beach. Zipline, watersports, and archaeological tours are all great area attractions, and as you’ll see, some of the island’s homes are a sight to behold just in themselves.
On a recent trip, The Villa Life host Michael Rassy explored a quiet property on Soliman Bay, a regal estate neighboring the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, and a secluded ennead of resort-style casitas. Beyond stunning decor and design, each property—Hacienda Caracol, Casa Ixchel, and Mukan respectively—offers a an array of amenities and activities that elevate guests’ vacation experiences. For instance, Hacienda Caracol’s swimming pool has a built-in seating area that’s a great place to hang out and cool off. Casa Ixchel provides four bicycles for guests to use at their leisure. And Mukan boasts its own in-home cigar bar where aficionados can congregate.
From a relaxing in-villa massage to exploring ancient Tulum and finding serenity on the water, Rassy’s visit was rich in both action and relaxation. The destination was up to the challenge. According to Rassy, it’s the like-minded people that are attracted to this coastal beach town that make it the perfect spot for R&R. “Tulum is a community of people all there for the same reason: To relax and recharge,” he says. On The Villa Life, Rassy gives the audience an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of some of the world’s most exquisite vacation homes. Here’s what makes these Mexican homes shine.
Hacienda Caracol, Tulum
10 bedrooms, 10.5 bathrooms, sleeps 24
“The approach to the home takes you down narrow streets up to the villa’s front gate. It never reveals the true size of the home—it’s only once you open the front door and stare up at the high ceiling that you have that ‘wow’ moment.”
—The Villa Life host Michael Rassy
Group Getaways: Hacienda Caracol is a classic Mexican estate infused with Italian-style design and local Mayan decor. Guests love the home’s high ceilings and expansive layout and the floor plan that flows easily from the inside out. Caracol encourages al fresco living, be it with a cool morning shower outdoors, a relaxing afternoon by the pool, or a casual dinner on the deck at sundown cooked and served by villa staff.
Daily meal service and housekeeping makes this the perfect vacation home to host a large group. Not only does it sleep 24, but a crew of this size can also all can fit in the pool at the same time or hang out together on the expansive rooftop terrace. But there’s also plenty of privacy: Each of the main house’s eight bedrooms has its own bathroom and balcony access, plus the separate guest house has two more rooms, each with their own bathrooms and terrace access. With the private beach just steps away, you have the luxury of enjoying the ocean without fighting for space. Exploring the area? Hop in the car and take advantage of amazing golf and nightlife nearby.
Can’t-Miss Activity: Holistic Massage
One hallmark of any great vacation is relaxing with a luxurious rubdown. At Hacienda Caracol, appointments can be set up upon request through your Luxury Retreats Concierge. Recharge your body with a treatment common to Tulum: holistic massage with incense and crystal stones to open your chakras.
And the villa’s own natural soundtrack helps to build the mood. “With soft sound of waves and the light breeze whistling over the water in the background, plus the scent of the incense, this massage is total bliss,” recounts Rassy.
Casa Ixchel, Tulum
6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, sleeps 12
“The home is open concept, so when you venture up the walkway toward the entrance you can see right through to the beach with the ocean in the distance. Everything about Casa Ixchel just flows.”
—The Villa Life host Michael Rassy
Serenity Now: The last home before the entrance to the Sian Kaan Reserve, Casa Ixchel enjoys the peaceful serenity of the Mayan jungle region, but is still close to the happening town of Tulum. A full staff personalizes your daily meals, picks up groceries, cooks, and serves for you, so life is as simple and easy-going as possible. Along those same lines, the villa’s minimalist decor promotes a calming experience, and its comfortable, convenient spaces invite plenty of indoor-outdoor living. It’s hard to beat Ixchel’s private beach access with tables, a bar area, and hammocks. If you appreciate serenity and nature, this is the place to come to refresh your minds and body. It’s a home that encourages you to disconnect from the outside world in order to connect with one another.
Can’t-Miss Activity: Cenote swim
Any visit to Tulum should be punctuated with a visit to one of its many cenotes. These underwater sinkholes are older than the Mayans, who revered them as sacred, and are especially prevalent in and near Tulum.
At Sac Tuunich cenote, if you can arrange for a private tour, you’ll be greeted by a Mayan shaman who will perform a ritual and blessing before inviting you to enter the water. “When you enter a cenote, you feel like Indiana Jones,” says Rassy. “But some are so calm and quiet, and the water is so refreshing.”
Mukan, Sian Kaan
10 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, sleeps 20
“It’s so secluded you have to take a 90-minute boat ride to get there, but when you do, you’re rewarded with your own all-inclusive resort. It’s the ultimate private getaway.”
—The Villa Life host Michael Rassy
Casita, casita: Mukan is a secluded, resort-style collection of bungalows situated along the oceanfront on the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It’s a spot tucked away from any tourist attractions, and for that matter, most of civilization. Whether you stay in the private garden bungalow or the master beachfront suite, it really feels like you and your guests are in your own private paradise.
Mukan’s bungalows are great for families looking to get away from it all, but still want the amenities of a luxury resort. An on-site concierge can handle any request, daily housekeeping ensures things remain tidy, and the on-site chef can cook according to a predetermined meal plan or upon request. Lounge on the rooftop terrace in the plunge pool, or stretch out on the massage table set up at the end of the dock—either are the the perfect places to experience total relaxation.
Can’t-Miss Activity: Kayaking in the Caribbean
Mukan is beachfront to Sol Caribe beach and provides kayaks so you can do some of your own exploring. Just as Mukan’s collection of casitas offers ultimate serenity, so too does the Caribbean Sea, a stretch of which is essentially yours.
“When you’re out on the water, you feel like you have the ocean all to yourself,” says Rassy. With more than 200 meters of beach, mangroves and jungle, and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere in close proximity, beautiful surroundings await.