THOMPSON PLAYA DEL CARMEN IS TWO HOTELS IN ONE

When Thompson Hotels (now part of Two Roads Hospitality) opened Thompson Playa del Carmen, it was both resort number two in Mexico for the group and a resort in two parts: one half right on Quinta Avenida, the city’s main pedestrian drag, and one half a few blocks away on the beach.

How this hotel twofer works we recently had a chance to see in person while checking out what’s happening in the area, perennially popular for seekers of sun and sand.

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This is the hotel’s main building, part of a mixed-use arch on Quinta Avenida with three layers: retail and restaurants, two floors of hotel rooms, and a pretty kick-ass rooftop pool / lounge / restaurant level with views over the city and the sea.

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There are 92 bedrooms here, all with balconies with daybeds (the Thompson Suite throws in a Jacuzzi). Access is possible through the small hotel lobby facing a side street or through a pair of (key card-operated) lifts off of Quinta Ave. itself.

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And stylish key cards they are: we know we’re not alone in having hung onto hotel key cards as mementos of memorable places over the years, and Thompson’s minimalist black design easily stands out. Given how often you have it in your hand, its literal and figurative role in opening the door to your guest experience, and the chance to linger and bring back memories long after you’ve gone home, it shouldn’t be overlooked as an opportunity to inject some design and brand personality.

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Mexico City-based Niz+Chauvet signed for the interiors – both here and at the Beach House. Light stone floors are perfect for this climate (though they did carry some noise from the hallways), with mid-century modern furniture and very comfortable beds dressed in the brand’s signature sheets. This being a new build you’ll get plenty of space, especially with the balcony thrown in standard, and all the usual tech stuff that works: easy WiFi, plugs and usb-ports aplenty.

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The bathroom had some lovely lattice wood design and tilework and was just this side of our tolerance for peekaboo, something we still think is dangerous in double-bedded rooms.

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It doesn’t get much better than this though – on the roof at Cinco, the all-day dining spot that anchors the rooftop playground on one end. It feels far removed from the busyness down below, but you’re seconds away when you want to go explore. That mix – right in the middle of things, but with enough seclusion – that Thompson has going here is hard to beat.

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Over on the other side is the first Mexican outpost of New York restaurant CATCH, with chef Pedro Abascal serving up delicious seafood with views stretching up and down the coast.

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Walking down Quinta Ave., you’ll find a sign pointing you to the 27-room Beach House, right on the sand at Calle 8. Just through reception is this lap pool – lit to become an almost surreal blue in the evening – faced by stylish cabanas with beautiful living walls. A little further down is the bar and tiered seating with comfy couches and loungers towards the beach.

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On the other side is the third F&B option the hotel offers: C Grill restaurant. Upstairs, the staggered design of the building offers ocean views and terraces from many of the rooms, with the top-of-the-line corner suite adding its own plunge pool and indoor garden. Staying in either of the two halves gives you full access to all facilities of the hotel.

With The Beekman, Thompson Seattle and Thompson Nashville now open, Thompson needs a new challenge: perhaps a re-entry in Europe, now that Belgraves London is no more? We don’t see any reason it cannot pull off what it has done in Playa del Carmen somewhere along the Mediterranean, say the south of Spain or France? We’re waiting…

[Photos: Paul J DeVries]

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Paul J DeVries
Paul J DeVries is a freelance travel writer and was previously a contributing editor for HotelChatter.com. Based in London, he knows the city's hotel scene inside out, while also covering the latest in destinations around the world. When not checking out a new hotel, he checks in on the airlines and inflight products that get you there.