Rocky and windy beach is not conducive to swimming
Food gets mixed reviews
No cross-cuisine ordering off the different Shangri-la menus
Some guests have complained about poor water pressure
This 94-room all-inclusive is a stylish, adult-only oceanfront property located where the road from Tulum town meets the road to the beach. There's a dual-level infinity pool area with swim-up bar and hot tub section, and the large beach area includes both soft sands and rugged, rocky coastline (swimming is not recommended). This upscale resort's wellness center includes a fitness center, spa, and beauty salon. The food and yoga classes get mixed reviews, and many public spaces around the resort feel neglected. Rooms with air-conditioning, 24-hour electricity, personal jetted tubs, and TVs are nice perks for the area, but travelers seeking a more focused wellness resort, or who don't want an all-inclusive, might want to check out spots farther south along Tulum's spa-and-yoga heavy Hotel Zone.
Built in the mid-2000s, Kore Tulum Retreat Wellness Resort has already lived a few different lives; it was known at one point as a gay resort and spa, and most recently as a general wellness resort under the moniker ZenSerenity. After a short battle and ownership change (the hotel is now under the Parnassus Resorts family), this boutique is making another go of it. Guests who visited the hotel's previous incarnation may not notice much of a difference in appearance.
The hotel's entrance is off the main road that leads to the beach Hotel Zone. Once past the security gates, guests will reach a circular driveway with shady parking spots to the right and bike rentals to the left. The hotel's main entrance is fairly grand for a boutique, with high concrete walling, a large doorway, and a wooden walkway surrounded by dense garden grounds. Inside, the lobby keeps up the circular theme and appears quite stylish and upscale, with nice furnishings, two check-in desks, and high ceilings. But in areas beyond the lobby, it becomes difficult to tell if the hotel is undergoing renovations (it's not), just finished them (it hasn't), or is just a bit abandoned and neglected. While most spaces are clean, the library, inside The Gallery Bar, has only a few books occupying the shelves; and the bar at Shangri-la has an empty wine closet, dusty piano, and desolate vibe, which is odd for a place that's in use.
The outside public spaces are colorful, social, and lively, especially around the pool bar -- when there is a bartender manning the post. During periods of low occupancy, this area, with its infinity pool, rocky coastline views, beachside sun loungers and beds, and jetted hot tub area can feel like a personal oasis.
At the intersection where the road from Tulum town meets the road to the beach
Neither in Tulum town nor along the main beachside Hotel Zone strip, Kore Tulum Retreat and Wellness Resort is at the nexus where the roads to these two destinations meet, making it central to both the beach and town. It's a 12-minute drive to the end of the southern strip of the Hotel Zone and the entrance to Sian Ka'an, and nine minutes to the center of town, which has its own share of excellent restaurants and night spots. There's also a big-box store with everything you need within walking distance of the hotel. Nearby day trip activities include snorkeling or diving in cenotes, swimming with turtles in Akumal, or hitting the climbable ruins of Coba, which is two hours away. Adventure parks like Xplor and Xcaret are located roughly 45 minutes north off the main highway, just before the club-bumping, tourist-heavy beach city of Playa del Carmen. Cancun International Airport is around 90 minutes away by car.
Upscale, stylish rooms with stocked minibars, jetted tubs, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning
Kore Tulum Retreat Wellness Resort's 94 contemporary, stylish suites feature two double beds or one king, shiny tile floors, high ceilings, and separate seating areas. Unlike many spots in Tulum, especially along the coast, rooms have flat-screen TVs, 24-hour air-conditioning and electricity, and jetted tubs. Larger rooms have covered outdoor terraces with two-person hot tubs, though Master Suites have indoor jetted tubs off the bedroom. Furniture is in dark woods and oak, with white fabric and orange-yellow accents. Master Suites have separate living rooms, dining room tables, and small kitchens (though they're understocked).
Bathrooms feature faux-marble countertops, tile floors and walls, and rainfall showerheads. Toiletries include organic shampoo, bar soap, conditioner, and lotion, and there are makeup mirrors, bathrobes, slippers, and hairdryers.
Confusing dining options within two main a la cartes and four menus; mixed reviews on the food
Kore Tulum has resort-type features that include one breakfast and lunch restaurant, Nirvana, serving international a la carte dishes with a poolside view, and a three-in-one dinner restaurant. Located above Nirvana, the high-high-ceiling room is split between the Shangri-la dining room and a waiting lounge and bar area with red vinyl-covered seating, U-shaped bar, and diner-style vibe. There's also a shiny, black piano and large (empty) wine closet, and a feeling that the bar is not in use (it is).
While breakfast and lunch are straightforward enough -- served a la carte style at Nirvana, dinner can get tricky, as Shangri-la offers three different menu options that can either be available all in one night, on a rotating basis, or in twos. Shangri-la's divided seating area has great, full-window views, but lacks any natural flowing air. When more than one menu is available, guests seated at the same table are only able to order from the menu of the section they're seated in. During high season, Nirvana will open for dinner and serve a Mexican menu, otherwise the choices upstairs are between Japanese, Italian, and Mexican.
Off the lower level of the hotel's infinity pool, Kore has a makeshift sand-only beach area setup with loungers and cabanas. A little farther is the larger beach section, full of sun loungers, covered beds, and wild, crashing waves. While it's not uncommon for area beaches to be rock-heavy, Kore's area of beach is rockier than most and swimming is not advised. But a narrow path running along the coastline of the resort allows for strolls with sea breezes, relaxing on cabana beds, or a higher vantage point for watching the waves. For those who just want to soak up sun, the soft-sand beach can make that happen.
A pool, a few bars, 24-hour room service, fitness center, and Wi-Fi
The hotel's social center and most vibrant area is its dual-level infinity pool. Surrounded by padded loungers and palm trees, it's conducive to relaxing and tanning without getting sand in your suit. There's a swim-up pool bar slinging drinks (when the bartender is there), and just off to the side is a separate area with four small hot tubs. Drinks can also be grabbed at Nirvana's ground-floor level bar, and snacks are available from the poolside food cart.
The wellness center includes a spa with ten treatment cabins, a steam room, sauna, whirlpool tub, and beauty salon. There is also a slightly cramped but efficient gym with up-to-date machines, free weights, and flat-screen TVs. There's also an event palapa that is used to host daily yoga classes, which guests say can be hit or miss, depending on the instructor.
The Gallery is the hotel's large, dual-level sports bar that also houses the barren library, and a game room with pool and card tables. It projects sports events as well as the occasional movie, and has free Wi-Fi. To get Wi-Fi elsewhere on the property, guests have to pay a fee. Parking is free.
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