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“Amazing, a feast for the soul”
Review of Playa Viva

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Playa Viva
Ranked #1 of 1 Petatlan B&B and Inns
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Reviewed November 23, 2010

I was amazed at every detail. Every aspect of the resort is so well thought out. I couldn't stop stairing at the beautiful detail in the thatched roof and the bathroom tiles. Everything was very sustainable and nuturing to the local environment. The staff incredible. The food was delicious and the basil margaritas sublime. Great yoga too! They best eco resort I have stayed at yet. I would go back and bring friends and family in a heart beat.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Cle053
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 23, 2010

Playa Viva is a place like no other. When I've imagined the perfect hut right on a beach in paradise it turns out it exists. Playa Viva is that place. Very private off by itself, it's the perfect spot for a truely relaxing vacation. I just loved going to sleep to the sound of the waves. Definitely one of the highlights was the turtle sanctuary a half a mile down the beach. We were able to witness all phases of the turtle life cycle; mother coming out of the ocean to dig a hole, lay her eggs, meticulously cover her eggs up and return to the ocean. Then thanks to the santuary where the eggs are transplanted by volunteers, we were able to see the newborn turtles dig their way up through the sand and head to the ocean. Just priceless.
No having to decide which restaurant to go to because all meals are included and lovingly prepared by the chef. It was great fun playing in the ocean or for a more relaxing time there is a lovely pool. Only about 35 minutes from the Zihuatanejo airport so easy to get to from LA on Alaska Airlines. Airport transfers are included in the price. The only negative were the mosquitos and other insects that were particularly active at twilight. Playa Viva does provide bug spray but it's nearly impossible to completely avoid being bit.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank SantaMonicaKatharine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 23, 2010

Playa Viva was a fantastic experience! I totally reconnected with my wife in a beautiful setting right on the Pacific Ocean. The rooms are very comfortable, with unmatched ocean views. The food is fresh, delicious and artfully prepared. The staff is kind, friendly and knowledgeable. Playa Viva is host to a sanctuary for endangered sea turtles, and there is an amazing role for guests in helping to release palm-sized baby turtles back to the wild. The owners work hard to harmonize the inn with the slow food and traditional agriculture of the area. If you want to love and respect the natural beauty and traditions of Mexico while relaxing your cares away, Playa Viva is the place for you! A++

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Doug_Wayne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 14, 2010

Well - it's easy to get a sense of the Playa Viva experience from all the great reviews. I, however, have taken a longish time to write because I can't adequately describe my 5 nights (supposed to be six nights - more later, in the Caveat section) in an easy fashion. If you don't feel like reading a too long review, here you go: It was GREAT, but don't go because I want it all for myself.

Alright where to start - The promise of crocodiles? Scorpions? Sundry bugs aside, I was fascinated with the ethos of the place and was completely taken aback at the beauty of the construction. The casitas and the common area were so sturdy and elegant - those words don't usually clump together- that I felt as though no matter what weather or natural disaster (or bugs), I would be safe and sound.

I arrived more frazzled than I expected having MISSED MY PLANE in Mexico City. I have never missed a plane, ever, and I'm old enough to have travelled on long-defunct British 'planes, Oh alright here is the 1st part of the caveat section. Since Mexicana has declared bankruptcy, getting from the SF Bay Area to Zihuatanejo one is somewhat limited in choice. I arrived in MC with 2 hours between planes but due to the endless line at Immigration and not having printed out a boarding pass for the toothpick-sized plane to get me to Playa Viva, I missed the plane by 5 minutes. Not speaking Spanish I managed to embarrass myself by bursting into tears and acting as though it was the first time I had left home, let alone seen an airport. After being as pathetic and bathetic as I could stand, the ticket agents took pity on me and helped me find a hotel nearby. And that is another story for a different time.
And by the way, DO NOT either throw away or put in luggage that goes into the hold, the IMMIGRATION PAPERS that you get stamped while standing in mind-numbingly long lines as you enter Mexico (yes, I've travelled to Mexico twice before - I think it was MC itself that was the problem). Just try getting out of Mexico without them. Now THAT'S a really funny story for another time -

Anyway, was tense and headachey and frustrated when I deplaned in Zihuatanejo - but at the mere mention of Playa Viva, even though I was practically inaudible, the taxi drivers and the desk clerk at the airport livened up -'We expected you yesterday!' and I was brought to the front of the taxi line and ushered into a cab feeling like a foreign dignitary. The drive was a blur and after 30 minutes we stopped in town where we waited for me to be transferred by the wonderful Johnny, over the swollen river into the property. Standing around in the teeny town of Juluchuca in 90 degree heat and humidity immediately put me into a holiday state of mind. People were cleaning and setting up the sea salt stands - you can buy some of this extraordinary sea salt at Play Viva itself. And apparently this salt is now the rage in hip restaurants all over the US. Finally drove through the river and through palm groves into Playa Viva.
I was ushered to the common area where I was met by the very friendly and kind Julia who runs things and answers all questions (in English, French and Spanish). I was given a Basil Margarita (the house specialty) and felt very welcomed.

Some bits: I wore a bathing suit and flip-flops. That was about it. For one thing it was really hot (but not unmanageable). I had some trousers that I had from rafting which were light and dried v. quickly, a coverup and nightie. Definitely bring mosquito hampering things as they showed up as soon as the sun went down. Playa Viva has plenty of natural repellent if you forget. The beds are romantically and necessarily covered with beautiful white netting. The towels were plentiful and soft. The showers all had great shower heads and strong water pressure. The bed was extraordinarily comfortable. The sofas and hammocks............everything was made for relaxation.

Food was served at 7am, 10am (for those who were hungry after Yoga, or a walk - or just lazy (me)). Oatmeal, cereals, eggs made to order, the BEST coffee I have ever had - I was even drinking it in the evening. Lunch at 2 and supper at 6. The food was all completely fresh. I was lucky enough to be there when one of the cooks made some bread - fresh from the oven. Again - the BEST bread I have ever had - and I include fresh croissants in Paris -.
In the heat of the afternoon I was brought sliced jicama, cucumber and carrots in lemon juice with a spice that was also citrus based - very refreshing.

I lay in the pool which was warm and cleaned everyday, or sat on the edge listening to the ocean and reading. Didn't have to talk to anyone if I didn't want to. It was perfect.

Now for the fun bits: I am NOT a camper and am scared of bears. Oh alright, they don't have bears, but the bugs are 3 times the size they are in Northern California and there are lizards. And frogs. The frogs, however don't move, they just huddle by a tree or a hedge and one can only see them at night when wandering around with a flashlight - Note- Bring a strong flashlight. It is VERY dark at night and even with fireflies (I thought I was hallucinating as I hadn't seen them since I was about six) you need to watch where you step.
The place is solar powered which is fine up to a point. There are no bright lights which is really lovely when you are taking a shower but can be disconcerting, until you realise that since it's dark outside, you go to sleep. The scorpion light wasn't necessary although I dutifully checked my bed and sheets every night.
Continuing in the camping vein - there are no windows so you are exposed to the sounds of the palm groves, or as I liked to call them, "The Jungle". and the ocean. Now I read in some reviews that it was a delight to fall asleep to the lapping waves. Apparently the waves lap (and one can actually swim) from December to April/May. Lapping sounds? I felt as though I was standing in front of a jet engine. The ocean was LOUD and as I didn't bring ear plugs (due to lapping ocean visions) was REALLY REALLY loud. I, however, seemed to be the only person that had a problem with this. The other guest that was there said that she slept like a baby for the first time in years, and she was from a bucolic town in Canada. By the way, apart from the first night, there was only one other guest (as the season hadn't exactly started) and I was completely alone for one comically terrifying night. Unfortunately this has spoiled me. I don't want to go back if I have to share this place, that felt like home, with anybody.
So back to the sounds of the night - during the day of course, it's just the ocean doing what oceans do. And you can see it, but in the pitch dark I felt as though I was in the midst of creation, the ocean had such an unearthly sound.
Then there were the sounds on the other side of me - in the jungle- sounds that only bore a passing resemblance to the creatures of the night that I am used to- crickets,crows and annoying yappy dogs, freight trains.... One creature sounded like the belt of a broken dryer all speeded up. Another like a berserk automatic lawn sprinkler. The whole thing had a very 'Alice through the Looking Glass goes to the Tropics' sort of feel.
I got used to the fact that nature had taken over and tried to record the whole thing (didn't really work) because there was no way I could describe this immersion.
Going to the loo in the middle of the night was an experience in itself - and before you read any further - I was enjoying myself immensely, scaring myself, feeling brave that I could be so part of nature etc etc. None of this is a complaint, but as the title says, I still am trying to place this extraordinary week into a part of my mind, but can't figure out which part, it was so colourful.
So the only time I hurt myself was in the middle of the night when the power, the solar power, um, ran out (? is that correct? Anyway it was darker than dark). Putting my torch (flashlight. for you lot) in my mouth so that my hands were free to carefully maneuver the netting, slipping into my flip-flops and heading over to the loo was all fine . I pushed open the swinging door (like a saloon door), was about to sit down when some huge flying thing flapped by me and I dropped the torch and the door swung hard into my face.
I was very proud of myself that I didn't scream. That was the only surprising encounter with rogue animals.

Spending one night alone except for the two watchmen was extraordinary. Me and hundreds of acres of the wild. No light, except every now and then the moon would light up the top of a breaking wave. Ribbons of electrified light.

The beauty of the buildings, the pool, the kitchen was beyond imagining. The care and choice of the raw materials. The thatched roof and high ceiling of the casita were carefully and artistically made and strong. The walls were all rounded, I don't think there was a right angle anywhere. I felt very safe from the elements (apart from that flying thing).

I took long walks down the beach. The only person, except for some fishermen, for miles. There's a lagoon to walk to and southward, the turtle sanctuary.
The ocean is warm - a very different Pacific from San Francisco- and I gather that there are water sport type things when the ocean is calm (hah!). I had a massage in the 'turret' above the open kitchen. No television, no cell phone service (or very minimal), I was in heaven.

The staff were all so kind and humoured me when I began making Italian and English into a mangled language that I pretended was Esperanto hoping it would resemble Spanish. The alcoholic drinks were made perfectly by the all-around brilliant Johnny- he was always questioning whether or not it was too sweet, not sweet enough and would make sure that everything was just as I wished.
I also felt I got really special treatment during the time I was alone, as I got a fresh cocoanut cut open and delivered to me with a silver straw (probably not silver........). As fresh as fresh could be. I amused myself watching the crabs run all over the beach and wasn't bored for a minute.

Caveat #2 - as previously mentioned, make sure your immigration papers are WITH you and not headed to Salt Lake City without you. Unless of course you want to have a Kafkaesque experience (and, hey, who doesn't!) to end your holiday.

So the only reason I couldn't give the rating 100% in the sleep quality department was due to me. NOT the bed. I would be so interested to go back again when the ocean takes a break and stops showing off how awesome it is, and surely would then be able to give a perfectly perfect rating.

Thank-you David

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled solo
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1  Thank FelicityFidget
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
leventhald, Owner at Playa Viva, responded to this reviewResponded November 21, 2010

Thank you for such a detailed description of your experience. The straws are stainless steel. They were a gift from a guest. These are "recycle-able" straws, that can be washed and used over and over again.

As for the ocean, yes, it is open ocean and during a certain time of year and month, the ocean is ferocious. As you mentioned, some people love it and others find it disconcerting, like city folks find crickets under their window or country folks find traffic, so un-naturally loud.

We look forward to having you back...and thank you again for your wonderful review.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 4, 2010

My stay at Playa Viva was such a treat! Being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean waves in an open air casita was a dream come true for me. Playing in the powerful Pacific pure magic! Julia, Johnny & all the Playa Viva staff made my stay perfection with amazing food and yummlicious basil margaritas!

I could go on and on but I shall stop for now.

  • Stayed: October 2010
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Thank cvh_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2010

Just recently returned from a far too short trip to Playa Viva and am already trying to figure out when to go back. As soon as we turned onto the dirt road that leads you into the property I knew we had found something really special. The foliage was so incredibly beautiful that I could hardy put my camera down to take it all in.

We were greeted at the hotel entrance with ice cold towels and refreshing glass of jamaica juice (local specialty that helps rehydrate/refresh)-perfect treat after our long journey. We were led through an archway and finally got to see where we would be spending the few days. I couldn’t get into the pool fast enough!

Our room was enchantingly fantastic-made us feel like we were in an elegant tree house. My favorite part was the jungle view from the open-air shower.

The food was some of the best Mexican I've ever had-homemade chile rellenos, tamales, whole red snapper, chilaquiles, and fruit/veggies from the garden. This place is a foodies dream, we actually got to go to the onsite nursery and pick fruit for our breakfast-not to mention basil for our sunset margaritas.

The days rolled by too quickly-considering before we knew it we were back at the Zihua airport solemnly looking through our photos.

If you want a secluded beach, eco-luxurious accommodations, and a vacation with a purpose...Playa Viva is place is the place for you. Can’t wait to be back in paradise!

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with friends
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Thank beachcity
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2010

My 17 year-old daughter cried the first night at Playa Viva because there were no boys, dancing, and all of the other distractions most teenagers crave. The first morning we were there, all of that changed... Who can help but love fresh, home made food EVERY meal? Home made corn tortillas, salsa made to your spice liking, and all done with smiles and laughter. I read some of the previous reviews and thought, really, I don't care about getting to know the people, etc. I CRIED when it was time to leave because I came to love the staff at Playa Viva even though we communicated with broken English/Spanish and lots of hand gestures.

I can't explain the experience of Playa Viva, you'll just have to try it for yourself and enjoy decompressing in beautiful surroundings, with lovely people. Just expect to gain a couple of pounds because you won't be able to stop eating.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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Thank KariRedwoodCity_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Playa Viva

Address: Carretera Zihuatanejo-Acapulco | Playa Icacos Juluchuca, GRO, Petatlan 40834, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Guerrero > Petatlan
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Petatlan
Price Range: $350 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Playa Viva 4*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Playa Viva is a sustainable boutique hotel with 8 rooms on a private beach located 30 minutes from Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa International airport. Play Viva is located on 200 acres with 1.3 kilometers of beach front. 85% of the property is in a Private Reserve for use of guests and includes a turtle sanctuary, archaeological site, working permaculture farm, forest restoration, estuary and much more. Come enjoy yoga, surfing or any of the many local activities. Playa Viva is off grid, operating 100% on solar power, solar thermal water heating, grey and black water management systems and built with local materials and craftsmanship. We specialize in farm to table, sourcing much of our food locally and can handle a wide variety of dietary concerns from vegetarian and vegan to many types of allergies. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Playa Viva Hotel Petatlan
Playa Viva Mexico/Petatlan

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