ARTA News / Culture

The Real Truth About My Vacation To Playa Viva

Since my vacation this summer at Playa Viva, an eco resort located in Juluchuca, Mexico,
I’ve noticed a slew of eco resorts popping up everywhere. Playa Viva was my first. For my best friend, too, who came along for the adventure. I really wanted to experience a place that was remote, beautiful, peaceful with plenty of outdoor activities, great food and pure luxury.

After doing extensive research on this place and reading the great reviews online I decided to grab Bloomspot’s sensational deal in Playa Viva for 5 days before it ended. All of the activities listed on the eco resort’s website along with the many beautiful photos made Playa Viva even more appealing.   After my arrival…

Playa Viva was not what I expected. Visually appealing. Yes! Functional? Fun? Or relaxing? Not really. Upon arrival we were told to beware of scorpions. Uhhhh…Did she just say scorpions?!  “Yes, she did”, my friend replied.

Nowhere on the site did it mention to “beware of scorpions”.  Suddenly it was a huge turn off. Even the site’s director noticed my cheerful expression go to one of shock and fear. The more she talked, I begin to realize that if anything were to happen to us in Playa Viva, there was no one on site medically trained to help. And that we were at least one to two hours away from any reliable medical facility. 

I have to say I was disappointed during our five-day stay here.  It rained the first two days.  Just a few board games and old paperback books that my best friend nor I found interesting enough to read. I was HOT. She was BORED.

Everyday we had to do something to do to keep us both sane besides STARING at each other all day, reading/looking at the same magazines from our plane ride, SEEING the same scenery, SEEING the same people for breakfast lunch and dinner, on this deserted island that felt more like the reality show Survivor. But without the cameras. I begin counting down the hours and minutes on the second day to get back to my sweet casa in LA. I actually took Tylenol Pm just to get through the night! Lol…

So many bug attacks we endured. Once the mosquito net was closed for the night…That’s it!  Don’t even think about getting out.  If you did your bed would be filled with a million and one bugs. No lie. Bugs flew in my eyes and face. Zapping me in every direction. I really had no idea what I was getting into when I chose this vacation. I struggled the first two to three days and nights just to get adapted to this wild life.

Trust me—I do understand what eco means and what it is all about. It would’ve been nice to see beautiful wildlife animals like peacocks, amazing birds, dolphins, clean refreshing crisp water, clean pool water, or some with natural healing properties. Maybe it was the location?

In any situation a place that you patronize should be well equipped and prepared for just about anything, regardless of weather conditions.  I could go on and on about my experience here but I won’t. Instead I’ll touch on things that affected me :

  • POOL WAS DIRTY.  POLLUTED. Dead crabs were in the bottom of the pool.  The sun came out on the third day of of the trip. Someone finally decided to clean it on our last day. Right when our time was up.

THE BED WAS DAMP AND COLD.  Due to the humidity and ocean air.  

  • NOT A LOT OF ACTIVITIES ON THE PREMISES. ONLY VOLLEYBALL. That was cool. To do more we had to go into town which was an additional fee $$.

  • NO WI-FI WAS AVAILABLE. NO CELL PHONE USAGE. But when it was time to use the Visa card for checkout.. It was accessed within minutes!

  • MOLDED WOOD IN THE ROOMS. MILDEWED TOILET PAPER . Wood should be treated in this type of environment to prevent any kind of sickness.

  • MOSQUITO NETS WERE FILTHY AND UNCLEANED. Nothing more to say. Pictures are self-explanatory.

  • PATHS WERE NOT  WELL LIT ON PROPERTY AFTER DARK. You really did need a flashlight to see your way back to the casita.
  • A STRAY DOG WAS ON THE PROPERTY. DRINKING THE POOL WATER AND UNDER THE TABLE WHEN EVERY MEAL WAS SERVED. Diseases are common among stray animals.
  • THE GENERATOR WAS TURNED OFF BETWEEN 12AM AND 6AM TO CONSERVE ENERGY. The island is a complete blackout. Although we were told, it seemed inconsiderate.
  • HOW ARE THEY GIVING BACK TO MEXICO?

Okay, so maybe this place wasn’t  for me. But there are plenty of spectacular adventurous people who have enjoyed this place and would probably do it again. I can only speak for how I felt.  I know for sure there is an Eco resort that is suited just for me and my style. Uxua. More on that later.

On a positive note, I honestly appreciated bonding with the locals and meeting new people, and the friendly staff of Playa Viva. Especially our tour guide Johnny.  The people of Juluchuca are hard working and interested in providing a better life for their families.

The Things I appreciated in Mexico:

  • MEETING NEW PEOPLE IN TOWN AND THEIR  FAMILIES

  • LOCAL COCONUT FACTORY TOUR: The locals work so hard for very little money. Earning under $20.00 a day. No lunch breaks at all.

 

  • TRAVELING INTO IXTAPA/ZIHUANTANEJO

  • EATING PURE AUTHENTIC MEXICAN FOOD. DRINKING GREAT MAI TAI’S IN ZIHUA!
  • SEEING HOW THE LOCALS LIVE WITHOUT ALL THE OVERRATED THINGS WE CRAVE FOR HERE IN THE STATES

  • ABLE TO SPEAK/USE THE SPANISH LANGUAGE
  • WAKING UP TO DAYLIGHT! THANK GOD! THE DAYS ARE DIMINISHING
  • MEETING AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN BROTHER FROM DETROIT WHO HAS BEEN RESIDING IN MEXICO FOR AT LEAST 12 YEARS.
  • MEETING AWESOME INTERNS FROM LOS ANGELES
  • ENJOYING BEING ALL NATURAL.  NO MAKEUP.  NO WEAVES.  NO WIGS.  NO LASHES.  JUST BEING ME!

4 thoughts on “The Real Truth About My Vacation To Playa Viva

  1. Tara, Thanks for your direct and revealing review of Playa Viva. Then again, I wouldn’t expect anything else from you. I’m sorry about some of the things that went wrong that we could have controlled.

    What we can change (now or in the future).

    Connectivity: When the permaculture team put in the new gardens at the entrance, they cut the line from the satellite to the modem. It was temporarily spliced and tapped, but Serafin, head of maintenance, decided he wanted to replace the cable right then before it rained so much the water would fry the cable, modem or transmitter. In the process of changing the cable, he unfortunately fried the modem. It took us too long to get it fixed and that was during your stay. In order to clear credit card transaction for check out, Julia would call me remotely and I would connect to the internet at Casa Viva or other location (Casa Viva internet was also out from time to time due to the rain). Sorry about the modem and connectivity.

    Pool. The pool pump and filtration system is run by solar panels. When the sun comes up, the pump turns on and when it rains and is overcast, we might not have enough sun for the pump to work. We are looking into setting up a back up system for cloudy days, but unfortunately, we do not have it in place yet. The bloomspot offer was for low season, which is when it rains. Sorry. But as soon as the sun came out, as you pointed out, the pool pump and filter come on and did fast work to clean the pool. Sorry about the pool being dirty those days.

    Mold. Not sure if you have ever owned or rented property on the beach, but the salt air that comes off the ocean is a killer. We work 24/7 to keep everything dry. To give you an idea of the damage caused by the salt air: a refrigerator might last 3-4 years, a washer or dryer 2-3 years, a modem 1 year, laptops are lucky to get 14 months of life. Anything with solid state circuitry will rust and break in short order. But there is no excuse for moldy toilet paper. We will be more vigilant about these details. As we will be about the stains at top of mosquito nets. This is unacceptable in my book, so thank you for bringing this to more light. I will discuss with Julia. Sorry about the mold

    Lights on the trails. We will eventually add lights on the trails using LED’s connected to the solar electric system. We just added the trails this year. Before it was all your path in the sand. First come the paths, then the lights. Sorry if this was a problem for you.

    Generator. When Playa Viva is full, which was the case when you were there if I’m not mistaken, we use more than 100% of the power we generate so the back up generator kicks in. Also, when it rains for a few days, the generator is also needed as we can not produce enough energy during the day. Unfortunately, the generator is really loud and is located behind the 4 bedroom Casita. As a courtesy to the guests in the 4 bedroom Casita, we turn the generator starting around midnight, when most people are asleep, and leave it off till about sunrise when folks start getting up. Since most folks have a flashlight they can use for the few minutes they might need for a late night wake up, we feel it is better to trade out modern convenience (24/7 power) for peace and quite (noisy generator). Sure the ocean, frogs and crickets make plenty of noise, just that there is something very different about a motor over the sounds of nature. Hope you understand. Eventually we will move the entire solar system to a new maintenance facility much further away and build a sound proof room for the generator. Sorry about any inconvenience created by no power late at night.

    What we can’t change:

    Obviously the weather. We are sorry that it rained for some of the days you were there. You missed the tropical storm that some of us weathered through a few weeks before your arrival. We do invite you to come back during high season when it rarely if ever rains. Zihuatanejo area gets about 300 sunny days a year. As you could tell, the sun makes a huge difference in your experience.

    Surrounded by nature. We are sorry that our warnings about scorpions was counter productive. We want you to be careful but not alarmed. We had a few scorpions early in the season in the EcoCasitas after the construction was completed. We obviously invaded their territory and they made a vain attempt to take it back. After 3-4 weeks, no more scorpions were sighted but we still need to make sure you are well informed. The same about the ocean. We have several guests that do not take the ocean seriously and then get pulled out by the riptides. We have not had any major problems, just a few scares, but it is enough to warn folks to be very careful. This is for your long-term comfort and security, obviously we have to do a better job of communicating this so that nobody has their vacation is ruined. Any advice on this matter can be better managed would be appreciated.

    Thank you’s.

    Thank you so much for all the kind words about the local community and the local folks you met. So many folks do not adventure out as much as you did, we encourage this and so happy you are the type to be so adventurous.

    Questions.

    What activities should we add to improve our offerings, especially for rainy days? What should be offered on site and what as an excursion? What else can we do to make the experience better?

    Again, thanks for your frank and thorough review. Comments like this help us work harder and improve to make the experience of going to Playa Viva for future guests.

    Thank you,

    David

  2. With such big-picture thinking in play, it is no surprise that the resort’s actual buildings will be thoroughly examined for their social, environmental, and economic impact. The first decision focused on the kind of structures to be built. “We put a lot of thought into the social hierarchy, the structure and movement of people,” Leventhal says. “We want to move people from private spaces to public spaces to more public spaces.” That means visitors will sleep in private casitas (small houses), lounge and read in bigger common areas, and cook, dine, and socialize in the beach club. Later on, a town-like plaza will become the social and cultural center for the entire resort community.

  3. Tara,

    I was doing a search and came across your posting about Playa Viva. It’s interesting for me to read this posting now with the benefit of hindsight.

    Since you wrote this we have added lighting along all paths to rooms, it works and looks really nice. Internet was installed in Juluchuca and we built a tower to transmit the signal from town to Playa Viva, which means much faster internet (although we are reliant on electricity in town for reliability). We have increased our solar power capacity and reconfigured the back up generator so no loss of power. These are some large issues we’ve been able to address over the past few years.

    We are still diligent in making sure that we can provide a clean (mold free environment). This is a constant battle.

    I want to thank you again for your comments, it is through communications like these that we can improve what we do and who we are. Sometimes it takes a bit of time, some additional investment, a little luck and cooperation from the weather, Telmex (to bring faster internet), etc. to make everything just right, and when it works, it’s great. But when all those elements don’t align just write, it can be a challenge.

    Thank you again.

    David

    PS – as for scorpions, we are constantly diligent. A new strategy was to build a “fire road” to protect the site and keep the fire from jumping just in case. Additionally, we use this fire road to spray and keep a perimeter from encroaching scorpions. Nature is nature, but we are doing our best to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for our guests.

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