(Warning: This is a long, detailed review! The short review is, El Pez is fabulous. If you are into every detail like me, please read on...)
My husband and I stayed at El Pez in mid-February. It was our first trip to Tulum, and I had researched tirelessly to settle on first Tulum as our destination, and then El Pez for our accommodations. We could not have been happier with the decision. Communication with the hotel was clear and prompt before our trip. They arranged the car service for our airport transfer. We were greeted with friendly faces, speedy check-in, cool hand towels, and complimentary cocktails. We had chosen a beachfront cabana, due in large part to preferring a private bathroom (as opposed to the open-plan bathroom in the rooms). The cabana was lovely -- clean accommodations; comfortable king bed; plenty of space and storage for our belongings; pretty, local decor; two high-speed ceiling fans; and the most amazing view you'll find anywhere in Tulum. The bathroom has a sliding door to separate it from the room. Ample bottled water is supplied for drinking and teeth-brushing. (The running water source is cenote water -- from the underground river system in the area. It is clean and refreshing for showering, but not potable.) There was always plenty of hot water, and the water pressure in the shower was good, which is something I value! Our comfortably furnished front porch was just a few short steps down to the warm sand. It doesn't get any better than that!
The grounds of this small property are well-maintained. I loved that there was pretty foliage, native grass along the paths, and dunes -- not just a flat expanse of sand. The beach is lovely for strolling and reading beside -- although, as others have noted, swimming is best done a short (5-minute) walk away, as it is rocky in the cove. I couldn't have cared less, as I am not big on ocean swimming and instead enjoyed climbing up the rocky penisula to watch the waves crashing on the other side. It's quite a spiritual experience perching up there and taking in the sights and sounds!
We awoke to our delivered coffee basket each morning. For someone who can't function before the first cup of coffee, I so appreciated that I only had to stumble to the front porch to access a cup upon awaking. We dined on the full breakfast each morning on the deck of the gran palapa, watching the diving pelicans and soaring gulls. Breakfast was fresh and tasty, with daily offerings of fruit/yogurt/granola as well as egg dishes, pancakes, or French toast. The staff goes out of their way to be accommodating. My husband had a last-minute fishing tour booked one morning, and the kitchen rushed to prepare him cheese and bacon quesadillas -- something that would be easy to grab and take with him. We also had lunch at the hotel a couple of times, which the servers would bring right out to our beach chairs or to our cabana porch. I snacked on ceviche and a cold beer from my comfy beach chair one afternoon, and felt like I was in a Corona commercial. And dinner in the gran palapa was a romantic experience -- the lighting and decor with the soaring thatched roof, with cool breezes drifting through -- we enjoyed the ambiance as much as the food. The mojo chicken was my favorite meal, and the guacamole is not to be missed. We sampled several other restaurants in the area, and enjoyed staying at "home" for dinner as much as going out. It's nice to have the option. And the full bar with premium liquors and a two-for-one happy hour made it even easier not to leave the property! They make a mighty tasty margarita at El Pez.
We also enjoyed the pool while we were there. It is small but private and has a nice view of the ocean. I sunned there with the iguanas. It was a nice switch from being oceanside, and the water was cool and inviting. Considering not many of the small hotels have a pool, I thought it was a nice amenity.
The location of the hotel was just perfect for us. It is a short walk along the beach or beach road to a collection of several boutiques, souvenir shops, and bar/restaurants (take a flashlight for walking back to the hotel at night; the street is not well-lit). Or a five-minute cab ride (which costs $4-5 US, and cabs are readily available) will take you into Tulum pueblo for lots of great local restaurants and more souvenir shops than you need. The restaurants in town are, in general, more local in flavor and less expensive, and there are some places that get rave reviews. The restaurants along the beach road are usually a part of a hotel, pricier, but offer wonderful views and the cool ocean breeze. A cab can also take you to Chedraui, which is kind of a Wal-Mart style department store and grocery, and they have an ATM. I have read a couple of reviews that mention the proximity of the hotel to the beach road; it's true, all the hotels sit right beside the road. But I know that from our cabana, all we could hear were the ocean waves and whistling breezes, day and night.
I would not do El Pez justice if I did not mention the service. Every employee we met seemed to be working diligently to ensure a luxury stay for guests. Housekeeping would discreetly pop in while we were at breakfast and they did such a thorough job: I saw them squeegeeing all of the windows and mopping the front deck each day. There is a full-time employee keeping the beach tidy. The wait staff is wonderful; you will know them each by name before the end of your stay. We even had a chance to learn a bit about the rich Mayan culture by engaging our servers in conversation. The concierges are very knowledgeable about the area and happy to assist with anything. And Michael and Julia, the managers, are so friendly and on-site often to be sure that all is running smoothly. There is no need to book expensive excursions to cenotes or ruins before your trip; the managers and concierge will make any arrangements for you. We opted just to rent a car in Tulum for one day, and Julia showed us on a map where we could see some of the better cenotes. We also took her advice and went to the ruins at Coba, which were amazing. I'm sure many of the Tulum hotels offer clean rooms and pretty views, but the staff at El Pez really elevates their guests' experience.
My husband and I have done the all-inclusive thing, and found that it just didn't suit us. Watered-down drinks, mediocre food, and searching for available beach chairs is not my idea of a great vacation. And Tulum is an area to get out and explore, not just sit around a crowded pool. El Pez was the perfect home-base for our trip. It is a unique experience to stay in a small hotel where, if you choose, you can even get to know your cabana neighbors, learn the family history of your server, and swap stories of back home in the Midwest with the managers. Or you can relax in contemplative solitude, and no one will bother you. If you want to avoid the crowds, noise, and inauthenticity of Cancun mega-resorts, travel a little south to Tulum, and don't hesitate to book your stay at El Pez.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.