I Visited This Idyllic Beachfront Mexican Hotel to Learn What Conrad's 'Year of the Resort' Was All About

Conrad Tulum is one of three resorts the Hilton-owned luxury brand opened in 2022, along with three city hotels.

Large palm trees surrounding wide pool with ocean view at Conrad Tulum

Courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts

On a particularly relaxed Friday in August, I spent the morning with my two best friends in the Tulum jungle, splashing around what I'm quite sure is the world's most entertaining pool. We were at the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya Resort's spa pool, which comes tricked out with mystery buttons around the perimeter, each setting off a variety of jets, waterfalls, and even a surge of bubbles bursting out from a lounger submerged a foot below the water's surface. 

Shaded by a thatched roof, we bounced — and I mean bounced with actual glee — from one button to the next, guessing the form in which water would spout, gurgle, or foam out at us. Then, we hit the spa's hydrotherapy circuit, and after a brief (ok, very brief) cold plunge, we settled in a chic concrete hot tub, where the spa manager served us mango-flavored popsicles. 

"Luxury doesn't have to be serious," said Dino Michael, senior vice president and global category head for Hilton's luxury brands, when I told him about my girls' trip at Conrad Tulum.

Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya's Maratea Restaurant interior
Courtesy of Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya

My stay was proof of that very sentiment. My two days at Conrad Tulum, filled with sunrise soaks in our alfresco tub overlooking the ocean, mezcal Negronis at Ultramar pool bar, and visits to the build-your-own chilaquiles station at Arbolea restaurant each morning, was pure, luxurious resort fun. And it all showed off exactly what I went to investigate: Conrad’s commitment to the resort life. 

While the Hilton-owned luxury brand does have a few standout resorts, like Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, celebrated for its game-changing underwater suite, I associate it mostly with big-city hotels — like Conrad Los Angeles, which opened in the summer of 2022 with three restaurants and a bar by Jose Andrés. 

Aerial of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Justin Nicholas/Courtesy of Hilton

But in 2022, Conrad went hard on the resort narrative, spurred by the successful Conrad Punta de Mita opening in 2020. That property is why I was keen to check out the 349-room beachfront accommodation in Tulum, which opened in January 2022. It’s attached to the new Hilton Tulum Resort, the brand’s first (and incredibly well-received) foray into all-inclusives.

Conrad’s brand-new Sardinian and Moroccan hotels also came online in 2022, both taking cues from the Tulum hotel, which fully immerses guests in the natural environment, with a secluded beach and laidback, bohemian design by HBA

Contemporary, envelope-pushing interiors are a focus for Conrad, Michael shared, describing the “Conrad modern design aesthetic” as “bold and impactful.” He offered the example of Conrad Kuala Lumpur, coming in 2024: “It’s very dramatic in design, the [food and beverage offerings] are off-the-chart dynamic. KL has a lot of classic luxury; a slightly more formal environment. But this [hotel] is much more bold and higher energy.”

The Conrad Tulum design lives up to all those adjectives and more. I entered through soaring wooden doors, to a lounge with hanging chairs, water features, and macrame-draped light fixtures. Connecting the entry with the rest of the resort is a massive reflecting pool that’s fast becoming one of the most Instagrammable spots on the Riviera Maya.

Long lobby interior with doors on both sides and ample bohemian style seating

Courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts

As rooms go, the resorts tend to offer more space; While a city hotel has entry-level suites with at least 350 square feet of space, most resorts will offer starting rooms with 450 square feet, Michael explained. “It’s the interplay [of] how much time you spend inside and out: your balcony, your patio, your plunge pool. At Conrad Tulum, every one of our rooms has these small, two-person plunge pools,” he said. The goal, Michael added, is to offer enough space for guests to enjoy Champagne and room service with a view at every Conrad resort.

On Sardinia’s Chia Bay, the first Conrad in Italy brings a similar Champagne-in-the-room ethos to its 107 accommodations across four floors. And in Morocco, Conrad didn’t choose a skyscraper in Casablanca to court business travelers, nor an outpost in Marrakesh, where luxury hotels abound, but opened in the coastal city of Rabat in December 2022 — with a striking Atlantic beachfront and a top-tier suite with a waterfront infinity pool. 

Exterior view of Conrad Rabat Arzana in Morocco during a purple sunset with the blue water pool reflecting warm glow of interior light

Courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts

Interior hall lobby with lanterns on the floor and large comfortable seating at Conrad Chia Laguna in Sardinia

Courtesy of Conrad Hotels & Resorts

In choosing hotel locations, Michael is committed to not only following the travel trends but exposing Conrad's clientele to lesser-known destinations.

"Sardinia is having a moment again; it was our first entrance into Italy. Tulum must have been on every top travel list. And North Africa is having a real renaissance, I think," he said. "People have always gone to Marrakesh, but I think as you go a little bit farther out, there's that real push toward discovering North Africa a bit more. I think people had a narrow view of what Morocco is."

After a huge 2022 — with six hotel openings, including the Morocco, Sardinia, and Tulum resorts — Conrad shows no signs of slowing down. Four more new hotels are coming this year, the most resort-centric of which will be Conrad Orlando. ("There's a great golf course and a great crystal lagoon," Michael said. "Ya know, you're in Florida!") It's even constructed so that most rooms have views of Disney World's nightly fireworks.

While I'm all for looking ahead — and this luxury brand's progress is worth watching, especially coming off the Year of the Resort — I can't help but look back, too. And that's because all I really want is to return to that Tulum spa pool. Did I mention they serve fresh-fruit skewers by the pool? Iconic.

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