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Tulum’s UNICO 20.87: Sun, Gastronomy & Relaxation

UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

Story by James Mckenzie

Photos by Paul Clemence

When one thinks of Mexico’s Riviera Maya it’s easy to think of wild, partying Cancun Spring breakers carousing. Others seek out all-inclusive resorts where they can fully relax and enjoy the tropical weather. There are certainly plenty of such resort options to be found along the coast in the stretch between Cancun and Tulum. But if the mood is for something relaxed and a bit more sophisticated, the UNICO 20.87 would be a fitting choice. A 5-star, Leading Hotels of the World member, the UNICO is one of the few adults-only all-inclusive properties in the area.

UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

Located between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, with architecture by the renowned local firm Artigas and interiors by one of hospitality design leading offices, the New York City-based AVROKO, the property design scheme combines modern, contemporary minimalism while also making references to the local style, like the generous use of verandas and shaded terraces. The smaller scale (compared to some of the massive neighboring similar properties) in the area, gives it a more informal, intimate feel. The crescent-shaped buildings make for an atmosphere where guests can relax with tranquility and privacy.

Soaking tub on balcony at UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

One of the hotel’s top features is the guestroom balconies. Standard in every room, these spacious balconies come equipped with a sleek, oversized bathtub from which one can gaze at the Ocean (standard also are either a full or partial ocean view) while soaking in a refreshing salts bath. On the ground floor, the swim-up feature substitutes the tub and makes room for an inviting hanging hammock.

Pool at UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

The relaxed vibe starts with the check-in experience. The process consists of a rather informal conversation in the lobby with a welcome greeting that includes  UNICO’s signature non-alcoholic drink, Jade (A refreshing mix made with cucumber, mint, and lime juice). While the usual paperwork is being done, guests are asked to pick among three choices of aromatherapy for the room, and a local host is assigned. That host will be the point of contact for onsite dinner reservations, excursions, and concierge-like services.

The rooms have a rustic-modern, open, and airy feel with a large bathroom and come with cool personal touches like the sweatshirt material bathrobe, soft branded 20.87 slippers, and fun straw hats ( that can be artistically customized by the pool). A pillows menu is also available.

Dining at UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

Dining is a very important part of an all-inclusive resort experience and one of the highlights of the UNICO 20.87 experience, with four restaurants:  20.87 is a beachside grill venue, the Mi Carisa is Italian, Cueva Siete has Mexican fare, and Mura House serves Japanese food. At the regionally focused Cueva Siete, the hotel has a rotating chef system, keeping the menu fresh and up to date. Currently in charge is Chef Lula Martín del Campo, an award-winning author and celebrity chef. One of her most popular creations there is the octopus and grilled cheese taco. And after savoring del Campo’s gastronomic talents, don’t miss the Mayan Coffee, for both its flavor and spectacle: the Kahlua and liquor-infused coffee is theatrically prepared by your waiter amidst flowing flames being dripped from one container to another until it’s ready.

If just staying in for the night, you can enjoy a meal on your private balcony. The 24-hour room service has items such as shrimp ceviche, beef tenderloin with Roquefort sauce, pasta & pizzas, and salmon among many other choices.

Chocolates at UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate, which is well-represented at the UNICO with its SÓOL house-made chocolates. The ground floor shop features an exquisite selection of chocolate truffles and bonbons, made on the premises.

A quiet pool at UNICO 20.87. Photo Paul Clemence.

For that other major Mexican activity, sun-worshipping, there are some very nice options beyond the beach (which sometimes is affected by seaweed). Beyond the two main large pools, there is a more intimate infinity pool and a quiet pool for guests to relax in a more laid-back mode. The upscale spa offers a wide range of treatment options. For those guests who want to work up a sweat, the facility is well-equipped with modern weight and cardio machines, while aerobic and yoga classes are held there.

Visit UNICO 20.87  for more information.


Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross-section of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis, ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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