The Riviera Maya Just Got a New Luxury Hotel—and It Floats Over a Mangrove Forest

Etéreo is Auberge Resort Collection's third resort in Mexico

Etéreo, Auberge Resort Collection

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts

The Riviera Maya in Mexico has a new sustainable, luxury development set to rival neighboring Mayakoba and Baha Mar in the Bahamas. Called Kanai, there are currently three luxury hotels planned for the development; while St. Regis and EDITION Hotels are slated to debut in 2022, the first, Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection, opens today.

Auberge’s third resort in Mexico, Etéreo (which is the Spanish word for "ethereal") is just 40 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and floats over a protected mangrove forest on a white sand beach. Impressively, all 75 of its rooms are either oceanfront or boast a view of the seemingly endless stretch of stunning beach.

Rooms range from the 875-square-foot Studios to the 3,925-square-foot, three-bedroom Penthouse Suites, with each accommodation featuring an expansive private terrace and private plunge pools. Suites come with butler service, while penthouse suites have outdoor hot tubs and sky-deck roof terraces. 

Etéreo, Auberge Resort Collection room

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts

Etéreo, Auberge Resort Collection suite

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts

New York-based design studio Meyer Davis designed the interiors, bringing in natural elements through the use of raw materials like lava stone, copper, and indigenous tzalam wood. They worked with several local artisans to create accents and focal pieces, including the late and celebrated Mexican artist, Manuel Felguérez, who crafted the resort's sculptural wooden lattice screens and architectural plaster. There are also custom rugs by Daniel Valero, focal pieces in the spa by Guatemala’s Agnes Studio, and outdoor dining tables handcrafted by Puebla’s Bandido Studio. Contemporary art installations include a hanging woven rope sculpture by Marcela Diaz and a monumental, steel-and-glass sculpture by Hector Esrawe. Works by Charabati Bizzarri, Tapiz, Peter Glassford, and Tere Metta adorn the walls.

Sustainability is at the forefront of Etéreo and the larger Kanai. Not only does the development have a Pollution Prevention Program, but Etéreo is also home to a team of in-house botanists dedicated to working with local communities, university researchers, and conservation groups on biodiversity conservation. Rotating environmental experts and consultants will work with the Experiences team to create programming that allows guests to get involved with important conservation efforts, such as planting mangrove seedlings and contributing to the protection of four main species (manatee, sea turtle, whale sharks, and jaguars). The guia, or concierge, can assist in booking all experiences and answer any questions about Etéreo’s conservation work.

Etéreo, Auberge Resort Collection Shaman

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts

There is a roster of cultural activities to enjoy, such as Mayan fireside blessings or Equinox Ceremonies, performances by local musicians, learning local handicrafts and cooking, and snorkeling on flourishing local reefs. Guests can also head out on excursions like swimming in cenotes, exploring historic Mayan ruins, cycling, horseback riding, and diving into Mexico’s epicurean scene with chocolate, mezcal, and wine tastings.

In addition, the resort also has two swimming pools, an events lawn, a kids club, and a robust wellness program centered around cultural and spiritual journeys that respectfully tap into Indigenous traditions. At the heart is SANA, An Auberge Spa, which offers classic energy dispersion therapies, healing body and skincare treatments, cosmic ceremonies, movement classes, and more. SANA will also host workshops and retreats with community members as well as global wellness experts.

Beyond the spa's walls, the in-house shaman, Yaotekatl, intends to improve well-being with resort rituals that are a part of the overall guest experience. For example, a weekly beachside fire meditation and blessing timed to sunset invites guests to put on local Mayan clay to connect with the Earth, before going for a cleansing swim in the ocean. 

Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection

Courtesy of Auberge Resorts

Dining is also a focus here, with five on-site culinary options. The Mayan-inspired Itzam offers innovative exploratory flavors and panoramic ocean views, while the beachfront El Changarro serves catch-of-the-day dining at its best. The poolside Che Che doles out Nikkei-esque Japanese-Peruvian bites and hosts international DJs after dark, and the laidback Alberca features a casual menu of tacos, raw bowls, ceviches, and Che Che favorites. Head to the food cart, El Carrito, for morning coffees and pastries, afternoon street snacks, and evening cocktails.

Rates start at $1,299 per night. To book, visit Auberge Resorts' website.