Roughly two weeks ago, news spread like wildfire about mass evictions at several small lodges in Tulum. A travel site now says tourism is still alive and well in Tulum, while one hotel’s owners says they and their neighbors have yet to reopen.
Sixteen to 18 boutique hotels and properties were raided by police, aided by men dressed as security guards, early on the morning of June 17, and guests were left scurrying for cover.
“Evacuees said that a large group of men started breaking door locks and forcibly entering the premises, calling those inside squatters and ordering them out by court order,” Riviera Maya News reported. “Many of the property owners say they knew nothing of the court order and that no notice was given of the eviction.”
The early-morning ouster occurred along a two-kilometer stretch Tulum’s Punta Piedra region, Riviera Maya News reported. The city has been at the center of several land-title disputes along the coast.
Riviera Maya News said that some of the establishments included in the mass eviction were Cabañas Balam, Utopia Yoga Retreats, Adama Boutique, Iguana Blue Hotel, Maya Luum Coffee Shop, KM 33 Boutique, Hotel Parayso, Coqui Coqui Boutique Hotel, Casas Privadas Cocodrilo, La Tente Rose, Hotel Azucar, Casa Gemenis, Samasati, Naay Beach Club, Uno Astrolodge, Villa Las Estrellas, Playa Morena del Mar and at least two private properties and a vacant lot. Update: Two hotels, Casa Caracol and Shambala Petit Hotel, were on a travel agency’s list of affected hotels, but the owners of Shambala have contacted YEL on July 2 to say that and Carocol are open, and that the other hotels on that list are still closed and dealing with authorities.
The Coqui Coqui website today says they and 20 of their neighbors are temporarily closed. Google’s site listing has marked Coqui Coqui and a few other properties as “permanently closed.” (We will update this report as we reach more sources in Tulum.)
Larger resorts, the class normally booked by tour operators, were not affected.
Most real estate agents and hotel owners in Tulum wished to remain anonymous or had no comment for fear of retribution from those behind the raids, Travel Weekly reports. And there is little comment online, on social media channels or from news-gathering organizations, past June 22.
“[The men carrying out the evictions] weren’t even cops,” one shop owner told Travel Weekly, asking that his name not be used. “They were guys in security shirts with no papers who just started taking stuff out of hotels in vans. It’s a long story of powerful businessmen. It’s a few rich guys from Mexico and a few politicians who are trying to get away with it.”
“The unfortunate reality is that for many seemingly idyllic havens around the world, this kind of oral agreement between local hotels and developers is the norm, not the exception,” Town & Country chimed in on June 20. “It may be wishful thinking, but here’s hoping that all parties involved can come to an amicable agreement.”
Tourists still coming
Now, Travel Weekly says news of the raids has had little impact on business. The shopkeeper they interviewed said Tulum today looks as if nothing happened, save for the smattering of closed hotels.
Although Riviera Maya News reports large-scale cancellations of summer bookings, travel agents have downplayed any trouble in Tulum.
“We sell Tulum a ton and will continue to do so,” said Zachary Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico. “We have talked to the principal hotels, villas and other providers in the area and also inspected personally with our staff from our Cancun office; it seems that many of these properties were not properly registered.”
“Very few of my peers are booking the smaller hotels that were impacted by this,” added Mitch Toren, chief vacation engineer with TripGuy Travel, in the same Travel Weekly report. “These hotels are not offered by most traditional tour operators and not always easy to work with directly. We work with many of the larger resorts in the area like Dreams Tulum, which was not impacted by this.”
One Travel Weekly reader took umbrage at the report: “We saved for two years to fly to Cancun from Portland, Oregon, took two weeks of vacation and were evicted by criminals,” wrote Gary Cecil. “We lost our flight, some of our belongings and of course, two weeks of vacation. Get a life and report facts.”