By Jeanine Kitchel
Last week Mexico’s Environmental Agency, Profepa, closed five upscale eco-resorts on the Tulum Beach Road in the Riviera Maya which were allegedly built without proper permits or did not meet proper environmental regulations.
The five properties — Diamante K, Tankah 1, Rancho El Jaguar, Caleta Tankah and Mezzanine– insist their paperwork is in order, but Profepa insists otherwise and has asked the tourists staying at these resorts to leave. Sadly, the Mexican army marched in to assist Profepa and left a PR nightmare in its wake. One New York graduate student called it surreal when four soldiers in fatigues with M16s arrived to put up signs that read “closed” in Spanish. No better way to spoil a really good happy hour.
Profepa says five other resorts are under investigation. Several years ago the Tulum Beach Road ended at Hotel and Restaurant Ana y Jose’s, just before entry into Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. But as tourists flocked to this amazingly beautiful and remote stretch of beaches, hotels have pushed the envelope, some locals say, by buying and building on “ejido” land in the biosphere itself, which is government property. Ejido land, granted to Mexican citizens by the government, comes with a strict set of rules. The hotels in the biosphere claim clear title, but now it appears proper title rights will be put to the test.
If your summer vacation plans include Tulum, check with your hotel and make sure it’s open before heading south.