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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Mexico - Retiro Maya

Retiro Maya is a beautiful, modest retreat in Tulum, Mexico run by a wonderful lady called Luu. During my research I interviewed Luu about her experience of tourism in Tulum, and was kindly given the opportunity to stay in the retreat for the night. The retreat comprises of 13 cabanas (individual traditional wooden rooms) of varying sizes, a restaurant, a beach bar and of course... the beach itself! 

Image: Retiro Maya 

Retiro Maya offers a range of 'healing' retreats and 'self discovery' breaks, but it's also perfect for a relaxing break by the beach, and makes a perfect spot from which to discover the Tulum area. The master suite is especially beautiful - honeymooner's take note! 

The master suite - image: Retiro Maya

Retiro Maya caters for individual guests and groups as well as organised trips such as Yoga retreats, weddings and ceremonies. The Yoga workshop can open out into a work space, dining space or party space and is decorated with Luu's own art work. 

Pallapa beach umbrellas 

The retreat is highly sustainable, with all the cabanas being build from locally sourced materials, using solar and wind power instead of electricity and training local people from the bottom up so that they become long lasting members of the Retiro Maya family. 

 The beach bar  

The retreat is incredibly calming; I lay for hours by the beach and just relaxed - something I very rarely get to do! You feel completely and utterly safe here, and a million miles away from everything. However, if you feel you need to be just that little bit closer to your normal life; their wifi is excellent!

                                               A double cabana                                                      

Up the garden path...

Make an enquiry here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Mexico - Casa de las Olas - Sustainable Tourism

One of the first eco friendly and sustainable hotels I stayed in during my trip to Mexico was Casa de las Olas in Tulum. The hotel is run by Sam and Jimmy who are the friendliest people. Sam gave up loads of her time to show me around and teach me all about the local area, as well as taking me out with her friends for dinner at the New York Times fave 'Hartwood' restaurant! 

Sam explained to me that Casa is more like their home that they have opened up to guests, who are all welcomed with open arms like old friends. The hotel itself is an old house on the beach, with five suites of differing sizes. The hotel is run on solar power (although electricity use is at a minimum), the water is all recycled and cleaned on site and as much waste as possible is composted in the garden. 

The rooms are stunning, with breathtaking views of the beach, beautiful old wooden furniture and snuggly bed linen. Even the products in the bathroom are made locally and are organic and biodegradable.

Biodegradable, locally made shampoo and soap

The house was built to be hurricane proof (the wind is deflected round the house's smooth walls and away from the property) which also means that air conditioning is barely needed as you just just open the windows and let the sea breeze circulate the rooms. 

Hello paradise 

Food is provided by Lulu in 'Lulu's Kitchen', where she cooks up local dishes (the fresh Guacamole salad was to die for) from her own recipes. All the food is from local suppliers and is purchased fresh either every day or every other day to ensure there is no waste. Fresh coconut water is provided, in an actual coconut, while you relax on the beach and meal times are spent round a communal table with your fellow guests - who are most likely now your friends - and a good glass of wine or Sol. 

Best salad EVER

Casa is a perfect retreat where time genuinely seems to stand still! I was only there for 36 hours but it felt like I was there a lifetime. The hotel is next to the Sian Ka'an bio reserve which makes taking trips in the reserve or popping to the community centre bar for rooftop cocktails super easy. Casa also runs courses - such as cookery courses - with local businesses such as the socially and environmentally responsible restaurant Hartwood.

Dying to visit yet? Contact Sam or Jimmy at Casa de las Olas or James at Go Barefoot for details, deals and inspiration. 

Mex-eco challenge: The Body Shop BB Cream

Whilst in Mexico in April I did my best to only use eco friendly products to minimise my impact on the environment. I've already told you all about the wonder that is Naked Shampoo, so today I'll tell you about the Body Shop item I took along. 

All-in-one BB Cream 

BB Cream's burst into the UK beauty market a few years ago, having already revolutionised beauty regimes in Japan. The idea is that they are 'beauty balms', which provide light coverage but also have moisturiser (and usually SPF) in them to nourish your skin while you wear them. 
I had previously been using the Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector, but found that it was too heavy for my skin and didn't really provide the coverage I needed. I decided to give the Body Shop All-in-one BB Cream a try after reading a lot of positive reviews. 

The cream comes in 4 shades (I am 00) which adapt to your skin colour when you rub them onto your skin. I was really sceptical about how well this would work when I first read about them, but after playing around with the testers for a few minutes I was convinced. The cream genuinely blends in well, and provides a medium coverage which I usually supplement with concealer. My skin definitely felt softer after using it for a few days, and now I'm back in the UK and using it alongside my foundation I've found that I don't need to moisturise anywhere near as often. It's important to note that the product doesn't contain SPF, so make sure you have some in your moisturiser or foundation for daily wear, and use sun cream on holiday!

The BB Cream contains fair trade Marula Oil from Namibia, which is where it scores it's ethical points. However, to be completely honest when I read through the ingredients I was a little disappointed. Although it does contain less harmful chemicals than other creams on the market, there are still a few nasties in there. The product doesn't pretend to be biodegradable or vegan so I can't criticise, but I had previously been under the impression that Body Shop products were based on a more natural ingredient base. I think this is a case of better the devil you know - the product is certainly less damaging than others and has social benefits through supporting the community fair trade Marula Oil co-operative - which puts it ahead of the competition in my eyes. 

Overall, I would recommend the product for it's performance and the ethical credentials. However, if you're looking for an organic or biodegradable BB cream then this is perhaps not the one.