For a condo-style vacation or long stay, none better than El Taj in Playa del Carmen. With a perfect location between the beach and the hippest pedestrian street in Mexico, the famous Quinta Avenida, this property offers both luxury and a more private, intimate environment, impossible to get at the big all-inclusive resorts.
With one, two, and three bedroom apartments, plus a few penthouses, El Taj offers an interesting variety of options. All condos feature a full kitchen, dining and living room, and separate bedroom(s). The Oceanfront apartments include balconies with ocean views, while the Beachside ones enjoy views to the pool or garden.
The Penthouse includes an incredible private terrace with Jacuzzi, outdoor shower, loungers, palapa, minibar and grill.
The bathrooms at El Taj come all-marble in floor and walls, with some river-stone touches in the shower area. The sinks are small but stylish. There are no bathtubs, except for those in some condos private terraces.
After a very Balinese entrance surrounded by lush vegetation and Buddha sculptures, you get to an underwhelming lobby that’s more like a small, carpeted reception office. Like El Taj is not a hotel, but a condo building, there is actually no need for an actual lobby.
El Taj features two pools, one in the central courtyard of the Oceanfront building. The white mosaics give it a touch of sophistication, and the second level with built-in seats and panoramic views is put simply an amazing spot. The Beachside pool is a small but gorgeous area with waterfalls, Jacuzzi and loungers in a manicured stretch of garden.
Maya Spa is small but elegant and fully equipped with massage rooms, manicure and pedicure section and chiropractor. Choose from a variety of services that include sunburn treatments, or something more exotic such as an Orange Experience Facial or a Chocolate Body Wrap.
It could seem a bit arrogant to call a gym just The Gym, but in this case the name is well applied. Managed by a luxury New York City chain of gyms, this is the kind of fitness center one always misses while on tropical vacations. It offers top-notch equipment, a wide array of classes, runners club, and even health bar. The Gym is a destination in itself.
No matter that all condos feature a modern and fully-equipped kitchen, dining out is always a pleasure. Plank and Imprevist are El Taj’s restaurants and both offer delicious gourmet dishes in sophisticated fashion. You can also book the services of a private chef to cook dinner up in your own condo.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Both restaurants are not inside the property premises, but a short walk away.
The Indigo Beach Club is one of the best spots in Playa to enjoy a top-shelf cocktail in style. By night, both restaurants feature a nice wine cellar with a long list of international wines.
The Cancun International Airport is a good 50-minute drive away, and you will need to get a taxi, arrange a private transfer or buy a ticket for an ADO bus trip to downtown Playa del Carmen. To move around Playa, you’ll get everywhere by foot or you can also get in a colectivo (mini-bus). For daytrips like Tulum or Chichen Itza, you should consider renting a car.
Frida Kahlo (6-minute walk) is an impressive restaurant with top-notch design and innovative Mexican cuisine. Puerto Cocina Urbana (10-minute walk) serves fusion seafood dishes in a casual atmosphere.
La Perla Pixan (12-minute walk) almost qualify as a restaurant, but it really stands out as a Mezcaleria and Pulqueria. Best place to try the ancient Aztec beverage of Pulque. For outstanding Micheladas (mixed beer with spicy sauces and lime) you should visit Las Helodias (9-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Because they are condos and include full kitchens. The swimming pools are spectacular. The beach is on one side, and the Fifth Avenue on the other.