Looking for the details on the perfect Playa del Carmen getaway? Our My Caribbean series has you covered, catching up with Ignacio Boli, the beloved concierge at the Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa del Carmen, who talked to us about his favorite spots in the city, the best beaches and the one thing every traveler has to experience.
What brought you to Playa del Carmen?
The location and vibe of Playa del Carmen were both huge factors in my decision to move to the area. It has always been more ‘down to earth’ compared to the more commercial, high-rise Cancun. It’s right in the heart of the Mayan Riviera and I love the laid-back lifestyle, tranquility and of course, the beautiful beaches.
How long have you lived here?
I have lived in Playa del Carmen for 24 years and I’m proud to say I have spent 22 years working as the “world famous” concierge at Mahekal Beach Resort – the only resort of its kind in all of Playa del Carmen.
What makes Playa del Carmen special?
It’s a beautiful city – from the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters to the year-round warm weather. Playa definitely attracts a wide variety of visitors with its authentic Mexican feel and atmosphere. It has a fun and lively beach culture and the locals are incredibly welcoming – so I’d have to say the local hospitality is definitely what makes Playa special!
What’s your favorite restaurant in Playa del Carmen?
That’s a tough one. My favorite restaurant on-property at Mahekal is definitely Fuego Restaurante y Cantina — it’s open-air and all of the food is cooked over a “Tulum-style” wood-burning oven which adds a distinct flavor that you just can’t beat. Additionally, they just launched a “Catch of the Day” program where twice-a-week local fisherman pull right up to the Fuego beach and Executive Chef Nerey selects his menu items for the day, right off the boat, so you know it’s fresh. However, off-property I love Cenacolo. It’s an Italian restaurant located in the newer section of 5th Avenue. The handmade pasta and extensive selection of Italian wines are muy delicioso!
What’s your favorite bar in Playa del Carmen? What is your drink of choice?
I always love this question because not many people know that there is a bar at Mahekal named after me! Boli’s Bar is a cozy and fun alternative to the bars along 5th Avenue. It’s the perfect place to mingle over cocktails and a game of pool. Much like me, Boli’s Bar is unique, colorful and friendly. I always recommend guests try Boli’s Margarita, which is a sweet tamarind infused margarita with a spiced chili rim. My other favorite bar is La Bodeguita del Medio. It’s removed from the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue and it has the look and feel of Havana, Cuba. I always get the mint mojito – it’s their most popular cocktail.
What’s the best beach in Playa del Carmen?
I’d say it’s a close tie between Mamita’s and Mahekal beach, which is Playa del Carmen’s longest stretch of beach, spanning 920 feet. Since they share the same shoreline and are walking distance to one another, I think they are both very popular and are the epitome of Playa. They are easily accessible and a great size and so much to do from jet skis, catamarans, banana boats to parasailing and beach sports. There is no question you will be entertained. Mamita’s is known for its beach clubs, Kool and Mamitas, so it attracts a livelier crowd, while Mahekal is more laid-back and relaxing.
Where is your happy place at the end of a long day?
After a long day, there is nothing I enjoy more than to be at home with my family.
What’s the one thing every visitor to Playa del Carmen must experience?
I would like to think I provide all the best recommendations whether guests are seeking true Mexican cuisine, a lively pre-dinner happy hour or a night out on the town, but my number one suggestion and “must experience” is to visit the archaeological sites such as Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza. They are truly unique areas with a mix of history and nature. You can feel, touch and experience one of the last areas occupied by the ancient Mayans – how cool is that?