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Interview with Arturo Zavala Haag, Owner of Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum from Mexico

In the middle of the jungle in Holistika, there is a building that looks like a Hollywood star's mansion from the 1950's. This building has been hosting Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum since 2016. I talked with Arturo Zavala Haag, Owner of the Hotel Tiki Tiki, about Hotel Tiki Tiki and Tulum Town.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Arturo Zavala Haag

Arturo Zavala Haag


by Melisa Kaya

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When Arturo Zavala Haag has decided to own his hotel, he did not want to take over an existing building or hotel, so he designed his own building and created his own concept, and Hotel Tiki Tiki took its place in Tulum Town. With a turquoise and beige building, trees and pool in its garden, a bar where you can enjoy exotic and tropical Tiki cocktails, and 15 unique rooms, Hotel Tiki Tiki offers accommodation in a special location where its guests can enjoy all the features of Tulum Town. I talked with Arturo Zavala Haag, Owner of the Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum, about the building that he designed and Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum.

Arturo, before talking about Hotel Tiki Tiki, could you tell us about yourself?

I was born (b.1972) and raised in Mexico City, studied architecture in UIA in Mexico City, in 1999 moved to Paris to do photography and stayed there 14 years before coming back to Mexico and installed with my family in Tulum.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

What is the story of Hotel Tiki Tiki?

I wanted to start a business when I arrived and build something in Tulum, so the idea came to do a small boutique hotel, because it sounded fun and we thought it would be a good idea.

I partnered with Tony Burwell and Ricardo Gutierrez Cervera, they owned the land and proposed it to build the hotel, my friend and fashion photographer Serge Barbeau also joined as a partner.

The name was just fun, it came out brainstorming, it was a bit inspired by the Tiki movement.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Garden

What inspired you to establish your hotel in the middle of the jungle in HOLISTIKA in Tulum Town? Please tell us about your location.

Since my partners owned the land and wanted to detonate the residential area of Holistika they proposed to do it there. There were not many hotels in Town and especially not many that were nice.

Land at the beach was already very expensive and has a lot of title/ownership problems, so we went the safe way and also the initial investment was much less.

So we saw an opportunity to create something really nice and more affordable than the crazy prices at the beach.

We were very focused on the architecture and design of it.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Pool and Rooms View

Hotel Tiki Tiki is located in the Tulum town. Please tell us about Tulum. What are the advantages of being there?

Well, Tulum is a very hot destination at the moment, very easy access from all over the world with direct flights to Cancun Airport, and then an easy 1:30hr drive.

We saw how Playa del Carmen developed really fast and saw a big opportunity to do something nice in Tulum.

Tulum has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the weather is very nice especially in winter, so it’s very attractive for the tourists that want to escape the cold weather.

It also has the Mayan ruins archeological site that is very interesting to visit although it is very crowded these days.

Around Tulum there are many beautiful sites and adventures to discover, like the floating canal of Muyil, scuba diving in one of the many Cenotes, road trips into Yucatan to see other Mayan archeological sites like Chichen Itza or Coba, you can visit the Colonial cities of Valladolid, Izamal and Merida, you can kitesurf, you can party with the best DJ’s and most beautiful people and you have amazing restaurants everywhere.

So Tulum is a very complete holiday destination, there is a way to many things to do, for any age and any plan.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Lounge Bar

Could you tell us about Hotel Tiki Tiki and the overall concept?

We wanted to make a small boutique hotel, the land was not huge so the distribution and floor plans had to be very well used and very functional.

We had many construction restrictions like 12m maximum height so at the end we managed to make a very nice and cozy 15 bedroom hotel.

The distribution is very functional and operation wise is very efficient.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Your building is looking like come from 1950's design era. Please tell us about its concept and design details.

I always liked the architecture of Miami Beach and Art Deco, so if it worked over there why wouldn’t it work in Tulum, we are very close by and we have exactly the same weather and geographical conditions, so I decided to design the hotel in a mid-century modern-art deco mix with a tropical Mexican twist, something that nobody had tried before in Tulum, so we have a very original concept that our guests enjoy and appreciate the architecture and design features.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Suite #8

You have 15 uniquely designed rooms, could you tell us about their features?

They are all different in a way, each room has a different tile floor design, all with a turquoise touch, of course, that is my favorite color and is inspired by the color of the water in Tulum beach.

Some rooms have private terraces in the ground floor, on the first floor they all have balconies and on the second floor the rooms are a bit smaller but have a much bigger private terrace overlooking the top of the surrounding big jungle trees.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Suite #8 Balcony View

Every room has a lot of light and windows, and very nice views. They all have a Hammock inside the room where you can relax Mayan style without being bothered by mosquitoes or the hot weather in case you like AC.

They all have AC and ceiling fans, blackout curtains, laptop safe, Nespresso machine, minibar, and organic amenities. The decoration is simple with mid-century modern style furniture made of local Tzalam wood.

All the walls are made of “Chukum" a Mayan traditional beige looking local stucco, the tile floors make the room feel fresh and clean and give a lot of personality to each room.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Bar

What kind of special services do you offer to your guest for making their stay unforgettable?

We offer avery personalized concierge-style treat to all our guests, we want to make our guests feel at home, so you really don’t feel like you are staying in a hotel, the feeling is very cozy and friendly.

Our Italian bartender Guido is a genius making very exotic and tropical Tiki cocktails. We don’t have a restaurant, we only serve a delicious and healthy breakfast, but there are many restaurants in town or in Tulum beach that we can recommend and some have delivery straight to our door in case our guests don’t want to leave the hotel. We have one of the most original and beautiful swimming pools, where our guests can use 24/7.

Next door 50m away we have Holistika an ecological holistic centre where you can take daily yoga classes, temazcal, or a therapeutic massage.

The feeling of being in the jungle is very nice and relaxing. But at the end most of our guests come to the Tiki Tiki to enjoy the design and architecture, I would also add that we are one of the best quality-price accommodations in Tulum.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Pool Lounge

How could your guests spend time at Hotel Tiki Tiki?

Normally our guests have breakfast in our covered terrace overlooking the pool with a very nice and soft morning sunlight. Some just want to relax by the pool all day reading and others leave to make an excursion or spend the day at the beach, which is only about 10-15min drive depending on the traffic the season and how far they want to go. All the hotels at the beach are open to external guests as long as they consume food or beverages, and some charge a small fee for a lounge on the beach. So it’s very nice for our guests to discover many different places instead of staying the whole time at the same one. We are just a few blocks away from the heart of town, where many shops and restaurants are located.

We have bicycles and scooters for rent at the hotel and even a Tuk Tuk to discover the surroundings or for the brave and sporty to make it all the way down to the beach. In the afternoon our guests come back for a small nap or a dip in the pool. After a nice shower, they grab a tropical cocktail at our Tiki bar before going out for dinner to one of the many great restaurants Tulum has to offer.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Suite #3

Why should couples choose Hotel Tiki Tiki for their wedding organization? What kind of services do you offer?

The main reasons to choose the Tiki Tiki for weddings is that you can privatize the entire hotel for your party with a max. capacity of 40 guests (if you really fill it up), and our prices are very attractive compared to the beach.

We can help you plan every aspect of it, from finding a place on the beach, to a traditional Mayan ceremony, a rehearsal dinner or a cocktail party. Flowers, music, catering, photographer, you name it, we can find the right solution for every couple demands. We are open to work out almost any request to make your wedding a great experience for everyone.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Suite #9

What can your guests do when they step out of the Hotel Tiki Tiki and step into the streets of Tulum?

They can go to Holistika next door, to take a yoga class or see the art walk murals, sometimes there are special events and therapies. In town you can go shopping, you can buy food in a supermarket, you can go to many restaurants or just for a walk to see some action in town. We recommend all our guests to rent a car and expand their horizons to make some nearby great excursions and to be independent, we can always call you a taxi and they can take you anywhere if you don’t feel like driving. You can also go for a swim in a Cenote, do a scuba dive or take some kitesurf lessons on the beach.

How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations? Do you have any advantage packs that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?

The best way to make a reservation is directly through our website, we will match any online rate available, best price guaranteed, or you can call or send us an email in case of large and complicated group reservations.

We offer some discounts depending on the number of rooms and length of stay.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Suite #7 Balcony View

Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit Tulum? What is the reason?

The high season starts in November until the end of May, the top season is from Christmas until the end of March.

New Year’s and January is the most popular lots of parties and the best DJ’s are around.

What are the most famous attractions near you?

Tulum Ruins, Coba Ruins, Valladolid Colonial town, Chichen Itza, Cenote diving, Muyil floating canal and trips to the Biosphere of Sian Kaan.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum #15 Bathroom in Shower

If you have only one weekend in Tulum as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?

Go to the beach one full day, have lunch and dinner there and stay for some drinks or party.

The other day make an excursion either to swim in a Cenote or to scuba dive, I recommend for a swim to go to Casa Cenote and to scuba dive to Cenote Dos Ojos, I really love to go to Muyil and float in the freshwater canal.

If you are more cultural make a day trip to Coba and Valladolid. Otherwise just stay in Tulum and relax at the beach.

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum Pool

How do you describe Tulum in one sentence?

Tulum is the perfect destination to escape, you have everything there, form the best beaches in the world, great restaurants, great people and lots of adventures to discover, there is never enough time to do everything Tulum has to offer.

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

During New Year’s there is a lot of people coming to Tulum, prices go up like crazy, book well in advance or it will be very difficult to find a nice place, there is only one road that goes to the beach and it’s the same road where all the hotels are, it is very slim and a real nightmare, you can be stuck in traffic for hours, there are very few parking spots on the beach, everything is full, hard to find a restaurant to have dinner unless you have reservations, and the sidewalk is almost non existent. After the 3-4th of January, all become much better, so if you plan to come during New Year’s plan ahead and expect chaos on the beach road. It can take you up to 1:30h to go to the end of the hotel strip if you are patient enough.

Thank you Arturo for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit the website of Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum