The Riviera Maya region of Mexico is known for a certain type of resort that appeals to mass-market vacationers, but Anand Ecoaldea hotel is definitely not one of those. This small, eco-friendly jungle lodge is a long way from the beach and is a far cry from those huge mega-resorts.
To get to this hideaway in the jungle, you need to head inland from Puerto Morelos, south of the Cancun Airport, and turn on the GPS in order to find the gate that says “Madre Tierra.” Communicate with the hosts ahead of time so they’ll have that unlocked for you. Be sure to grab some groceries on the way though: there’s not much around in this area except a small town with convenience stores and the restaurant only serves breakfast.
Anand Eco Aldea is the kind of place that requires a dream and the vision to make it a reality. Located about 100 meters off the highway, it blends right into the jungle thanks to its construction from mostly natural materials and a minimal clearing of vegetation. Forest and lodge blend into each other with the liberal use of wood, bamboo, and reeds.
Yucatan Jungle Lodge Facilities
The place looks especially magical at dusk as the soft lights come on, with most of the fixtures made from some kind of woven basket. The sounds of the forest get louder and paths are lit up just enough for you to navigate where you’re going.
You have full use of the extensive covered outdoor kitchen with stove, oven, and parilla-style charcoal grill. This has enough pots, pans, plates, and silverware to feed a small army and most of the utensils you would need. So most guests figure out in advance what they’re going to make for dinner and prepare it here, leaving whatever they need to keep cold in the fridge or in coolers.
You can request a dinner prepared by the staff, however, if you don’t want to cook. It just needs to be set up in advance. Staffers will prepare breakfast in the morning, however, and in my case it was a typical affair of eggs, beans, tortillas, and fruit with some coffee. There’s a dining area that can seat eight or there are smaller sitting areas near the kitchen.
In that main indoor-outdoor public area there’s plenty to keep you occupied in a non-connected way, such as board games, cards, and books. (There is Wi-Fi, but it’s not all that fast and there are times it may cut out, so it’s best get the essential communication done before arrival.)
The “eco” part of the name here is real, with solar power gathered during the day (when there’s not much demand) and stored in batteries that release power at night. Toiletries are in refillable containers, drinking water is in pitchers not plastic, and much of the seating is wood, rattan, or woven cotton hammocks.
The one offering that required a lot of concrete was the inviting swimming pool, nestled in the plants but open enough to get some sun. It’s a welcome sight on a hot Yucatan day and there are several sitting areas around it.
There’s a yoga room on site if you have a group that’s interested in that and an indoor private dining room for events. There’s plenty to do nearby, especially if you like to explore cenotes. There are multiple ones in the area that you can go to for the day and swim and one that’s even open at night. You can also walk deeper into the jungle on a dirt road that passes the property and you’ll see plenty of birds if you go in the morning.
Room Choices at Anand Ecoaldea
This place is billed as a “petite eco lodge” because there are just three spaces to book. The other buildings are for staff, the owner, or public ones for everyone.
I stayed in the Premie Lodge, an inviting space with a queen bed, its own bathroom, a nice sitting area with two comfy chairs, and an outdoor balcony/terrace that’s also furnished. It comes with set-ups for tea and coffee and some local handicrafts that provide a sense of place.
The other two rooms are both two stories, with wood staircases going up to the second levels. The Shanti Lodge has a full living room and dining area on the first floor and then a bedroom with a balcony upstairs. Although it has a toilet inside, you have to walk a few steps to the shower area that’s a separate structure.
In the larger Shama Lodge, however, there’s a full bathroom and a sofa bed on the ground floor, so this one can sleep up to four if needed for two couples sharing or a family. Rates generally start a shade over $100 double (including taxes) in the low season and top out at about $160 for the Shama Lodge in busier months. Parking is included and there are no extra fees.
Editor Tim Leffel was hosted one night at Anand Ecoaldea jungle hotel for purposes of review. As always, all opinions are his own.