I love Mexico and the Caribbean. Since I first visited Playa del Carmen and Tulum in 1994, I have returned over 2 dozen times. The turquoise waters and white sand beaches collide with casual vibes and verdant jungle canopies. It’s the best of Mexico and the Caribbean all wrapped into one.
So, I when woke up the other day I realized I have the opportunity (and permission) to fulfill my fantasy career lifestyle: by breaking the boundaries of my city apartment and working remotely on a Caribbean beach—for a longer than normal period of time (work vacation). It took me 6 months of quarantine to realize it, but I have finally understood the blessings of becoming a digital nomad in times of limited travel: so I can settle in somewhere and stay a while.
What are work-aways? Work vacations or, workations?
Normally, I find work-life balance by spending a week or two on vacation time or finding an excuse to get away and work, but remote work is easier when the expectations are less time sensitive. In today’s always-online world it’s difficult to stay connected and hold phone calls and video calls from places that carry spotty internet or low bandwidth, which make work vacations in paradise next-to-impossible.
That’s until Alex Ferri created an exclusive, new kind of beach enclave in an attempt to share the best of the Tulum-style tropics with a more sophisticated and demanding traveler. Palmaïa, The House of AïA—Mexico’s premiere, sustainable wellness retreat—only has luxury, oceanfront suites on arguably the most pristine piece of coastline in the Riviera Maya. He has essentially taken the special vibes, laid back atmosphere, and natural textures that have made the area famous and combined them with high-end service, attention to detail, and genuine taste. To do so he has used a magnetic combination of architecture, interior design, nature, sustainability, exceptional cuisine, wellness, and fiber-optic internet speeds. Palmaïa doesn’t feel like any other luxury hotel in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum, it feels like a home, or office, away from home, it’s like a break from work while still getting work done and being productive.
This makes it possible to work without skipping a beat. For professionals like me—who want to be somewhere better than their apartment back home, while staying on video calls 4–8 hours a day—it’s the perfect solution for full-time, paid-time work, while establishing some freedom and balance to one’s work hours. Especially now that Palmaïa is offering a monthly work-away price, I feel like I’ve found a corner of heaven for the fall and winter.
For perspective, I live in San Francisco and receive the best Gigabit speeds available by the most reliable service in the city. The connection at Palmaïa has been faster and more reliable. Plus, the time zone here skips between Central and Eastern, depending on the time of year, because Mexico doesn’t follow daylight savings. This has made my calls easy to follow and keeps me a step ahead of colleagues back in California, Oregon, or Washington. But, the best part is I am literally a 2-minute walk to the water, so I can take a 5-minute swim between calls or jump straight into one of the infinity pools from the edge of my private terrace to clear my head.
What’s nice about working remotely at Palmaïa?
If I’m hungry, room service is 24-hours a day and with the all-inclusive rate I don’t pay extra for premium drinks either. The main restaurant has an enormous outdoor patio that leads onto the sand. I usually like to have breakfast there reviewing emails. Sometimes, I chat with other guests seated at socially-distant tables. Though, honestly, the off-shore breeze is so constant that I feel extremely comfortable. Almost the entire beach resort is outdoors, making it the perfect place to both chill and get stuff done.
The beach itself is huge. The owner built the property touching as little of the natural mangroves as possible. It’s decorated with beach beds that gather around the natural rock formations and there is a covered, Ibiza-style beach club that plays live DJ sets sometimes mixed-in with acoustic instruments.
Back in the suite, the air conditioning is individualized so the air you breathe remains your own and there are ceiling fans for those who prefer to feel the natural breeze just off the water. The natural wooden closets with custom cabinetry shelter the Nespresso machine which has helped me more than once on late-night work sessions. There are built-in Bluetooth speakers too, so I can play tunes off my phone while I tap away on the computer without disturbing my calls.
The bed is, well, one of the most comfortable I’ve ever had. Also, being a new resort, it’s likely I’m one of the first to ever sleep in it. I can literally sun gaze from my bed at dawn when the sun cracks the horizon over the sea and Cozumel. Unless I pull the black-out curtains, in which case I’m prone to sleeping until noon on weekends.
The maid service is called with the touch of a green, LED button inside the door, or can be refused in advance by switching it red. And the laundry is included, which is just a bonus!
What are other benefits are there to being at Palmaïa, The House of AïA?
When you put together the exquisite craftsmanship in every detail, the ocean front terraces and views from every suite, beach front lounges, cocktails, deep fusion beats, fiber-optic connections, Soho-style Atlas Club for co-working, and much more—it’s really hard to beat! But that’s not the best part, believe it or not. Palmaïa place offers the Architect’s of Life, a Waldorf-Inspired Children’s program, and probably the best food at any resort on the planet.
The Architects of Life program helps me stay on track with yoga, meditation practices, sound healings and much more. The classes are included in the stay and are given on a beautiful wooden deck nestled among the mangroves, with trees soaring all around. It’s basically like being part of a super-chill wellness club run by Shamans and personal growth guides. I love how I can go as shallow or as deep as I want, because people running it are top-notch and help you every step pf the way.
The food is made up of one of the most delicious ensembles of menus I’ve ever had—the fact that it’s at a resort is mind-boggling, this because the owner did away with tradition and elevated the cuisine to a rarefied level, so even simple snacks melt in your mouth. Each dish is hand-crafted and the ingredients are carefully selected for their freshness and quality, many from local provenance. With 5 types of cuisine, it’s impossible to be bored. There is even an emphasis on plant-based food, though it’s really hard to tell it’s vegan—this is what they must be talking about when they say you need to try chef’s-level vegan to understand the draw—I don’t even want the protein add-ons anymore, I just don’t need them, it’s sooo good as is!
And finally, there is the Waldorf-Inspired Children’s program. Though I don’t have kids, I can see how nice it is for parents to drop their little ones off to a dedicated and chaperoned space full of intelligent activities and games. It’s a built-in day care center made by people passionate about children. What could be better when you need to make room in the schedule for calls, or give yourself time to take a dip? Oh, and there are corner family suites too, so the children can have their own bedroom and study area.
I realize I am extraordinarily privileged to be hard at work in such an idyllic spot, so I want to share my experience to spread the word. This magical place won’t stay hidden for long.
Hope to see you here!