Tucked away in the quaint, thatched-roof Maya village of Ek Balam is the Genesis Eco-Oasis Resort.
I had the privilege of staying here for a few nights on a recent trip through the Yucatan Peninsula, and after our stay, I’m quite confident in saying that you won’t find a better eco resort in Mexico!
A stay here is truly a restorative vacation, where you can also catch a glimpse into the lives of the local Maya residents, who are free from rush hour, expensive bills and meaningless screen time.
This cozy ecolodge is in the heart of the Yucatan jungle.
While it’s been around for several years, it’s still a hidden gem among travelers who head off the beaten path.
What’s great about staying here is that it’s the perfect gateway to the many ecological tourism attractions located throughout the Yucatan.
From cenotes, birds, supporting local Mayans through community based tours, it’s the ultimate destination for those who describe themselves as (or aspire to be) responsible travelers.
And what better way to be a responsible traveler than to stay in a small village and support the locals who run this lodge and the surrounding residents who offer incredibly authentic tourism experiences, even for the most seasoned traveler.
In my mission to seek out meaningful and genuine travel experiences, I’m happy to report that this eco resort highly values these types of travel experiences as much as I do and blew away all of my expectations.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. In fact, we paid full price to stay here. I loved this Mexico Eco Resort so much that I wanted to share it with my readers, because I think you’ll like it too! This post does contain affiliate links (including Airbnb) for other things, so I may make a small commission if you make a purchase through them (at no extra cost to you). I only share info about products and services that I know, use, love and trust.
Discover the Yucatan Jungle
The amazing part about about Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is that it is so much more than miles of coastline of white sandy beaches and mega resorts.
Once you head inland (even just by a few minutes) you’re transported to a world rich in history and culture, enveloped by the lush jungle.
This is a fascinating part of Mexico – the history really comes through everywhere you travel when you leave the all inclusive resorts.
The Maya people thrived here for thousands of years and were a highly advanced civilization (demonstrated by the incredible cities in which many ruins remain today) until the Spanish conquest arrived and wiped out much of this population through war and disease.
Nonetheless, there are still over a million people in the Yucatan who speak the Mayan language.
Many are proud of their roots and are happy to share their knowledge, traditions and way of life with tourists from all over the world.
And if you’ve stumbled upon this post from Googling the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, perhaps I could persuade you to try something different.
If you want to experience the real Mexico and avoid the ‘touristy’ stuff, this is the eco resort you’re looking for.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect destination for slow travel, a restorative vacation, a place to relax and heal or just something a little different, this resort in the middle of the jungle is a match made in heaven.
Don’t miss my video about all the fun things we did nearby this eco resort:
Where it Is and How to Get There
In a little over 2 hours west of Cancun you will find yourself in the village of Ek Balam.
If you’re coming from the Cancun airport, you can take an inexpensive coach bus, called the ADO bus (the first class buses are more comfortable than the plane you came in on)!
You can purchase your bus tickets in the airport terminal just after the baggage claim, and then walk straight outside to the bus area.
You will arrive in the city of Valladolid, and then simply take a taxi for about $12 to the resort.
Alternatively, if you’re planning to rent a car and drive yourself or are thinking about a road trip through the Yucatan Peninsula, this is a great place to stay.
And having your own vehicle while staying at this lodge would be highly beneficial.
But even if you don’t have your own car (like us) you can still get around and enjoy the area no problem.
The closest city is Valladolid, which is about 25 minutes by car.
This place is super colorful and adorable (but more on that later)!
Did You Know? Genesis Eco Oasis is featured in the Lonely Planet Guide Books. These books are one of the most trusted sources of travel information, so you know it’s legit! Plus, as much as I love reading blogs and reviews on TripAdvisor, nothing compares to a good old physical book. And with maps of the Yucatan peninsula, you’ll never have to worry about your spotty WiFi service. Get your copy here!
Now, let’s get to the tour of this incredible Eco resort property!
The Beautiful Hotel Grounds
Upon arrival you’re greeting by Lee, the owner and manager of this property.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever met such a lovely, warm and welcoming woman who made us feel at home the moment we arrived.
We shared many insightful conversations with Lee over the course of our stay, and were treated not as guests, but as dear friends.
She is so passionate about introducing travelers to sustainable tourism and the benefits it provides for everyone.
When I asked her about why she started this lodge and what she hopes her guests love about experience here, she didn’t hesitate to share her perspective about providing a more rewarding travel experience:
What I hope eco-cultural tourism can do here is provide other work options closer to home, beyond ‘Cancun-esque’ type of tourism.
Those who choose to stay in their communities can teach visitors some of their skills and knowledge, like handmade food, weaving, language.
And by teaching us what they know, they are preserving important elements of their tradition and heritage.
And visitors are getting a clearer picture of where they are and how people live.
It may not be as dazzling as a floor show in an all inclusive but there seems to be something more rewarding about being invited into the humble homes of such hospitable and generous people.Lee Christie, Genesis Eco-Oasis Retreat
After you check in at the open air reception area under the traditional palapa-roof, you will be whisked away into a tropical paradise.
Perfectly manicured gravel trails lead you through something that feels like a secret garden.
The lush floral landscape immediately engulfs you. A tapestry of lavish colors is a feast for the eyes as you try to decipher the beauty of each colorful plant.
As you walk deeper through the property’s grounds, you can’t help but notice the intricate details of the tiled mosaics or the handcrafted stone work through the pathways.
Walking around the property you will notice the pool among the garden setting, which was specifically designed to embody the surrounding cenotes of the Yucatan region, and is partially fed from the underground cenote water.
While we didn’t get to use the pool during our stay, we imagined with ease how peaceful it would be to float in this paradise refuge, or nap or meditate under the tranquil gazebo.
The common area has comfy tables, chairs, benches and hammocks to relax, read a book or mingle with the other hotel guests.
This was one of our favorite parts of the trip.
We met guests from Berlin, New York, San Francisco and London.
It was great to be able to enjoy a beverage and learn about everyone’s travel itineraries or exchange tips about what to see and do in the area.
The Eco Resort Rooms!
Each of the 7 units are different from the other and have unique features for different tastes and budgets. But sustainability and low impact is a common theme throughout the entire property.
We stayed in the ‘Cielo’ room which had a beautiful outdoor living space that overlooked the beautiful garden below.
Incorporating natural elements like bamboo and stone staircases, each room feels like a throwback to the treehouse you wish you had as a kid.
But the best part? No Eco Resort is complete without your own private outdoor shower, right! Each room has its own private solar heated outdoor shower, which is a wonderful way to start your day!
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Commitment to Sustainable Tourism Practices
What I love most about this property is that Lee truly lives and breathes sustainability, and this comes through in every aspect of her business.
First, it won’t take you long to notice the chicken coop on the property, where fresh eggs are used for meals here.
Lee also owns a nearby farm where they aim to grow and harvest as many of the ingredients they can to serve meals to their guests (mostly vegetarian).
And not only that, there are many plants that grow in the hotel’s garden that are edible and offer healing properties.
Her website provides a fantastic overview of what you can find in the garden.
Almost everything on the property has been repurposed or recycled from other materials in an effort to reduce waste as much as possible.
This system was great. A glass of water is free, but if you’d like to fill your larger water bottle, a small donation is requested.
But all of this water money goes toward spay and neutering the village cats and dogs and helps pay for vet bills and airfare to new homes when they get adopted.
I’ll buy water for that!
And there are a ton of other great things here, like using a certain type of fish in the garden ponds that eat mosquitoes for natural insect control.
Things to Do Near this Eco Resort
Here was our full itinerary when we stayed at the Eco Resort: the Perfect Travel Itinerary to Go Off the Beaten Path in Mexico
A stay at this eco resort is more than just a place to rest your head and grab a continental breakfast; it’s an entirely authentic Mexican experience.
Since you’re in the heart of a Mayan village, there are incredible ecotourism experiences you can engage in within minutes of walking out the front door.
Meet the Neighbors
Hotel guests can go on a ‘meet the neighbors’ tour, where you can choose from all kinds of activities, like learning how to make chocolate from scratch.
This includes grinding down freshly shelled cocoa beans on a stone metate that’s been used by the Mayans for over 500 years (and is still used today)!
Other incredible experiences guests can choose from:
- Making corn tortillas from scratch, including grinding down corn
- Hammock weaving
- Traditional dress embroidery
- Jewelry making
- Participate in a Temazcal Ceremony (Mayan sweat lodge ritual)
- Learn Mayan phrases
- Walk the various trails throughout town to view all the flora, fauna and birds
Visit the Mayan Ruins
A must do activity in the Yucatan Jungle, is to visit the Ek Balam ruins, which are accessible from this eco resort only a few minutes away by bicycle.
After touring these mayan ruins, be sure to stop at the Ek Balam cenote for a cool down dip! This was one of our favorite cenotes in the area.
And if that’s not enough, the Chichen Itza ruins and archaeological site is only about 45 minutes away by car from this eco resort.
Go on a Cenote Safari
There are many cenotes in the area, and guests can arrange to have a local guide from the village bring them on a ‘cenote safari’ and find hidden gem cenotes.
Visit the charming spanish colonial city of Valladolid. The adorable cobblestone streets are lined with colorful facades and make for a fun day of sightseeing. There’s even a large cenote in the middle of town!
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Travel Tips for Staying at this Mexican Eco Resort
The owner of this Eco resort cares deeply about all animals and has many rescues on the property. If you’re an animal lover, this hotel will be heaven for you!
There are several dogs and cats who roam around the property and we loved snuggling with all of them. Completing this animal sanctuary are rabbits, birds and a rooster who lives with the chickens.
This means the early mornings might be more noisy than you’re used to, but we found it relaxing, and used earplugs when we wanted a quieter sleep.
The resort is not all inclusive like you might expect to find when you’re searching for other Eco resorts in Mexico in the more touristy areas.
Your lodging does include a lovely continental breakfast though.
And guests are able to request dinner at the property which is made using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.
The best way to visit would be if you have your own vehicle to tour around the region at your own pace.
I would recommend a minimum of 3 to 5 nights to really capture the full experience of the incredible history, culture and beauty of this area.
How to Book a Stay at This Mexico Eco Resort
You can send a request through the website here.
A stay at this Eco Resort in the middle of the jungle in Mexico is a bucket list experience that I highly recommend to all!
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