Exploring an Abandoned Beach Resort in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera

Posted by - August 16, 2012 | Category: Peculiarities

In its heyday, the Club Maeva Tulum (formerly Robinsons Club Tulum) was an idyllic getaway in paradise; a long sweep of white sandy beach on one end, lush pristine jungle on the other. The numerous online reviews and forum discussions from regular frequenters of the resort capture a vivid picture of day in the life at Club Maeva Tulum – hours lounging beside the expansive pool, turtle sightings on the uncrowded beach, and outstanding food and drink despite its all-inclusive status.

Main Building, Club Maeva Tulum, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Club Maeva Tulum Beach Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Hotel-Club-Maeva-panoramio-photo-by-Dragonheart.jpg

The only complaint appeared to be regarding the beds – seems the firmness of the mattresses didn’t quite suit the taste of a few.  And although there were 300 rooms, they didn’t give out those ungodly neon wristbands – the family atmosphere the resort cultivated meant that they just seemed to know who was staying there and who wasn’t.

Hurricane Emily in July 2005 changed all that. Hurricane Wilma in October of the same year dealt the resort its final blow.

deserted main building and pool -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 195

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The resort now lies in ruins. Glass and debris are strewn across the site. Anything even remotely useful has been looted.

black and white abandoned building -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 179

Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-182.jpgbroken first aid kit -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 185scary bathroom -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 187Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Tulum, Xpulha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 193garbage in hotel pool -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 199Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Tulum, Xpulha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 204deserted kids play room -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 207

Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-210.jpgAbandoned Beach Resort, Club Tulum, Xpulha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 211

Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-211.jpgbroken glass -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 216deserted hotel -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 218

Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-223.jpgbroken electrical breaker box -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 224overgrown pathway -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico227deserted Deli -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 233crumbling ceiling, ceiling caving in -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 237-001

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Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-241.jpgdeserted loading dock -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 252debris scattered in hotel -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 257deserted employee lounge -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 258black and white debris and junk -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 259After the hurricanes, the property was sold to the Palace Group. According to forums on Tripadvisor, they are in a dispute with the Mexican government over the land. Seems there is an underground cenote below the resort, so in the government’s eyes it is protected ground. The Palace Group still owns the buildings though. I guess that’s some consolation.black and white bathroom in ruins -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 326outside jacuzzi -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 330

Abandoned-Beach-Resort-Club-Tulum-Xpulha-Riviera-Maya-Mexico-171.jpgdeserted bar and restaurant -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 177deserted restaurant -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico178Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico212-001Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico259-001Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 274-002deserted theatre -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 267-002Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Tulum, Xpulha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 280Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 294

coati skeleton -- Abandoned Beach Resort, Club Maeva Tulum, Xpuha, Riviera Maya, Mexico 304-004

It’s an eerie feeling being in an abandoned resort. Almost as eerie as being in an unabandoned one.

Special thanks to David Barnard from www.texaspepper.net for use of the Club Maeva Tulum before photos.

If you liked this post, check out this abandoned private island in Thailand.

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74 comments - add one
  1. Raymond some awesome present day photos of CMT. Just curious how you got in to the property? I was at Akumal Beach Resort about 15 miles south of CMT last May and drove to the cut off from the highway but could not get in CMT. Thanks for the newest and most complete photo update on the Internet of Club Maeva Tulum

    1. Texaspepper, I was a follower of your website, and visited Club Maeva in 05 and 06 and just visited Catalonia Royal Tulum last week, and we walked to Club Maeva by beach and looked through the resort, sooooo sad, took pics. but just very sad to see. Security guards were there the previous day but none on the day we went.

  2. Great post.
    I’ve been to man made ruins in Tulum but not this particular site.
    I doubt if it will stand the test of time as well as those archaeological sites have.
    Probably won’t need to either thanks to the rapidly expanding population in the area and all of the new construction planned, which includes an international airport that will deposit millions of tourists a year very close to this hotel.
    Hopefully it will be restored to it’s former glory before too much longer.

  3. Wow… weird and definitely creepy. Has that feel of when they explore the Titanic – you can almost hear the ghostly laughter and glasses tinkling…

  4. Cannot remember where that hotel is, but Tulum is my fav place in the world. Cracks me up that the cheap cabanas I stayed in during the 90s backpacking are now marketed as echo chic and cost $100+/night :)

  5. ps:
    Has anyone found a new resort in this area that they like?

    Would like to visit again, not sure where to stay.

    This place had a great beach, good food, a nice size, ocean facing rooms, etc.

  6. [email protected] says:

    I visited CMT December of 2004 on my first trip to Mexico. Since then I have been back at least a half dozen times staying mostly in Playa Del Carmen and area. CMT still remains the most visually stunning resort and most beautiful beach I have visited in the Mayan to this day. These pictures unfortunately are stunning too. Obviously for the wrong reasons. I only hope that whatever dispute that exists is resolved and this resort is somehow restored to its former glory. Truly a shame that a small piece of paradise has been allowed to detoriate to such a sad and pathetic state.

  7. Thanks for the photos Raymond. My family spent many happy weeks at this place, and for me personally it’s heartbreaking seeing it crumble. So many memories…

  8. Wow, we just came back from hotel next door and stumbled on this place while walking down the beach. Thanks for the history lesson. We spent an hour there pondering various theories.

  9. I have been to this resort in the past, it was so so beautiful that it has been my happy place in my mind for years, I have always wanted to go back. I keep a picture of this place in my cube, and it makes me happy. When I googled it, I found what I feared, that it had been destroyed by hurricaines. :( how sad.

  10. Hi there. You actually found a lost paradise formerly known as Robinson Club Tulum.

    The resort was German owned & operated and, before losing their land lease, it was heaven on earth. Much like being on a land cruise, the kitchen was opened by one of the top 5 chefs in Germany and some serious culinary talent worked its way through that kitchen. Nightly entertainment was provided in the theatre by the staff, most memorable was the “variety show” where we the audience voted on the contestants (staff). The skits were awesomely funny and most favorite was either the Purple Rain Skit or Queen’s Bohemian Raphsody. After the Show, guests would be welcome to a cocktail in the plaza bar where music would be played, and dancing done on the marble dance floor. About 11:00pm is when La Palapa would magically change from the lunch hut into a Discoteque. Many dawns were witnessed by dancers not ready to quit. Activities abound during the day and always guests were called in German, Spanish then English.

    As you may have guessed, we were avid attendees, going twice a year for over 6 years straight. Like a home away from home, this place had everything and was simply amazing.

    The birth of our first child in 2005 curtailed our traveling and we heard that the new owners were just not the same.

    It saddens us greatly to see these pictures and if we were to win the lottery, we would fight to bring this oasis back.

    Thank you for sharing your travels & findings with us.

    1. I stayed at this resort with my family shortly before it closed. At that point i believe Palace Resorts had owned it for 1-2 years. They were painting the buildings and doing some renovations. It seemed odd as some of the staff told me the rumor was they were going to close it. I’m not sure why they did – the resort was almost full but it was Easter Week. Club Tulum is by far the nicest location of all the Palace Resorts, and Tulum is the hot spot on the Riviera Maya. I hope that Palace Resorts begin work on it soon and restore it to its former glory without screwing it up.

  11. I am staying at the Catalonia and just discovered the ruins the other day, taking a walk. Began online research to put a name on the place and found your evocative photos. Thank you.

    It seems like a sad place right now, littered and neglected, but actually it’s probably happier than being overdeveloped.

    There are resort ruins to the north too, just beyond Escencia, do you know anything about those?

  12. Reading your lead I see you DO know about the northern ruins. I saw the guard too – I was poking around, checking out some big animal tracks in the sand (the guard dog’s I’ll bet!) looked up and saw he’d probably been watching me the whole time I was there. Too bad you didn’t get in there. Do you know what was there?

    1. Hi Ina!!!

      The northern resort ruins once belonged to the Xpu-Ha complex.
      I have been in there (not on purpose, transferred there due to oversold Cancun resort) last week and now it belongs to a local (mexican) chain called The Bel Air Collection.
      Something like the 60% of what once were the complete Xpu-Ha Resort remains in ruins due to a dispute with the government about the real owner of the lands where part the complex sits.

      After some deeper research, even before the 2005 hurricane season strike part of the hotel were actually in litigation, so when the hurricanes hit and damaged a vast part of the complex, the resort was bought by the Palace chain.
      After that, a good part of the hotel facilities kept operating normally, but after reading through tripadvisor about it, seems like the overall service quality decreased in comparison to the original owners.

      Now, somewhere between 2007 and 2009 happened (maybe when Bel Air bought the hotel, or at least part of it) and a good part of the hotel facilities where cut like if done with a razor blade, leaving it the way it looks like now =/

      I explored the accesses to the closed part both inner ones and from both sides of the shore, but were unable to enter it due to guards at both shore acceses (from the own “beach” and from the one that is near the Catalonia)
      Seems like they aren’t on duty on sundays, because the first day I was there was a sunday and there was no guard at the inner beach access, but sun was setting and had to go back because of the hazardous rock trail.

      Coaties and raccoons now made their nests inside the abandoned rooms.

      I’ve been in CMT too during the same trip, and perhaps during this weekened I’ll have all the photos uploaded to Flickr so y’all can see an update of the resorts 😉
      I didn’t enter as far as Ray did because I was afraid about being attacked by an indigent or someone who now settled inside the buildings.
      A taxi driver told me that once a tourist got attacked by a(guard perhaps?) person inside the facilities with a machete D=

      That’s all for now, greetings from México! =)(and sorry about my english xP)

  13. Great pics comparing the pre and post hurricane look. We\’ve stayed at the Catalonia Royal Tulum on the same beach and wandered past the Club Maeva property but never wandered in further than the beach bar. I\’ve also heard the rumor about nothing being done there because of the cenotes.

  14. Thanks Raymond for the pictures. My wife and I went on our honymoon 12 years ago to the Robinson and have a lot of great memories. It is sad to see the place in its present state. As Angel stated, it was a german owned resort with some of the best food Ive ever had. I had been to Cancun and stayed in other resorts, but alway thought the food was bland, but after staying at the Robinson, I was ready to go back for just the food. I also remember the young german staff would work tirelessly to insure a seemless transition from morning, to daily, and then to nightly activities, finishing up with a show in the theater. I was told the staff worked 6 days a week with one day off. told It was great resort.

  15. We had a great week there in Feb 2006. Sad to see it like this. I’ve got more good “before” pictures, if you’re interested.

  16. We stayed there as recently as 2004 (have since doing longer stays in Zihuatanejo) and your descriptions are spot on. This place was much more casual about keeping track of guests -hence no wristbands. Food was great, staff extremely helpful and friendly. Snorkeling right off the beach here was as good as at any of the so-called ecoparks in the area. Shame to see it so utterly forlorn now .

  17. A group of friends and I were there on vaction twice. we loved it. It had the best beach around. So sad it’s been destroyed. Lots of good memories there. It was my first real trip to the Riviera Maya and I loved it. Thankfully I have lots of nice pics from our time spent there.

  18. Our family stayed in this Club Maeva in the Spring of 2005 (with our 6 months old) and loved it so much we came back again in 2006 (our boy was 1 and a half). Food was excelent, staff was friendly, beach was awesome, entertainment was offered all day. Beach restaurant “Palapa” was a casual place during the day with brick oven pizzas and self served beer tap, it changed to fine dining at night. So sad to see it in shambles but we have great memories from this place. Seen an abandoned resort in Barbuda island last year, but no looting there, just sand and vegetation creeping up the buildings.

  19. Honeymoon 1994, was a gorgeous place. The food was awesome a lot of folks from Germany where there and a lot of the workers where German. ! Dug out my picture album..would love to go back? This was very secluded and small scale resort. That is what we liked. Hate the large resorts. Hope lemons buys it?

      1. That’s what made it so special. Seems like kindred spirits were drawn here. Even the staff was different. There was a special magic, hard to describe. We stayed there twice. My goodness, even the palapa cats were different. Heartbreaking!

  20. I visited Club Maeva for the first time with my family in 2003, it was so wonderful, we returned 4 more times, and I celebrated my honeymoon their in 2005. We went back to mexico in 2007 and stayed at another resort, but it just wasn’t as welcoming. this makes me and my family so sad to see what happened to this place, so many wonderful memories!!!!

  21. Had a great vacation there in 2001 and the food was the best as was the place. I was wondering how it fared in those huricanes and only now found your page. Thank you, it is very sad to see something you remember so well look like that.

  22. Stayed there in 1996, when it was still a Robinson Club. Sad to see how it has deteriorated. Interesting blog post. But the beach still seems to be there or it seems to be back. I seem to remember that it was partly swept away. So maybe the property could be renovated.

  23. Stayed at Club Maeva in 2005. My wife and I had a blast there.. The beach was the best.. It will always have a place in my heart as my daughter was conceived there :)
    I have some pics from my webshot account, I’ll see if I can link to it. It shows the beauty of this resort as it was

  24. Too bad, it was the most beautiful place on earth at the time when it was still the Robinson Club Tulum!Terrible to see the images…

  25. We stayed at the Club Maeva Tulum in Dec 2005; they were selling off their shirts because Palace Resorts had bought the property. It reopened after Hurricane Wilma (Oct 20-21, 2005) and was in fine shape, except for some missing palm leaves and some room renovating. Palace had lost their beach at Xpu-Ha due to the hurricane and wanted Club Maeva’s beach; they actually bussed their customers from Xpu-Ha to Club Maeva. Palace also lost their lease rights at Xpu-Ha with the government due to their misleading (fraudulent, perhaps?) practice of claiming they were building an eco-park then gradually closing it off to just their resort guests. The Mexican government wanted the rights to that cenote back. So, plans to renovate Club Maeva into a Palace never occurred, likely because of the economic downturn. The other Palace eco-resort has also apparently closed. Club Maeva was gorgeous, with the hotel rooms in small buildings on islands in a lagoon. Very sad to see it just wasting away.

  26. I went there for my 40th and had just the best time ever the staff were excellant food was fantastic and we still talk about it now with the friends from Canada we met there 8 years ago !!!! Please lets hope it gets sorted and revamped

  27. we visited this place once and really enjoyed it. it was small and quaint with a lovely beach that we had a private sopt at everyday we were there. it is to bad someone did not repair it back to its originality. club maevea will always be in our hearts as one of the best we have been to in the riveria maya. glenn and jane

  28. Wow. I went with my family many times when it was Robinson Club, and it was AMAZING. Went back once when it became CMT, and wasn’t as impressed, but I just cannot believe these photographs, absolutely incredible. Thank you for sharing, I always wondered about that place from time to time…now I know!

  29. See these photos of Club Maeva Tulum fill me with sadness, we were there in March 2007 and was a paradise. Wrote a comprehensive post with many pictures of the place: http://mundoporlibre.com/2009/08/viaje-la-riviera-maya-y-cancun-mexico.html
    His downfall was not the passage of hurricanes Emely and Wilma, we in hired all rebuilt and in perfect condition, who really killed him was the crisis of swine flu (influenza A), could not overcome the low demand for hotel and had to close.

  30. Wow! Thanks for posting these pictures. We just returned from a trip to Mexico in January and had just talked about Club Maeva. Our first trip to Mexico was in Feb 2007 we stayed at Club Maeva Tulum. It is the benchmark for all other Mexican vacations and still remains our favorite. We were wondering what had happened to it so now we know. CMT closed late 2007 or early 2008 with the promise that it would be renovated and reopened. We have been waiting ever since and now know that it won’t happen any time soon. Glad we were able to experience it. The reviews were correct – awesome beach, snorkling, food, pools, etc. I must say I am a little sad. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  31. We loved this place. One night they had German night. The best German food, song and drink. It was like we were all family. Unglaublich!

  32. What a shame….this resort was incredible…my wife and i were there 3 times between 2002 and 2005…one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean…quiet and relaxing…awesome food when it was Robinson Club…such a shame it is now in ruins…

    1. Firstly, big thanks to Mr. Walsh for some amazing & surreal photos! Very nice job obtaining these at possibly some danger to yourself based on the subsequent comments.
      However, I do need to set the record straight about the reason for this hotel’s closure and degradation.
      I’m sure they did sustain some damages from the hurricanes in 2005, but the resort was fixed up after that. I am not 100% sure when those repairs were completed but is was likely within a year or less. The reason I know this is that I was at this resort around late 2006-early 2007, and at that time there was no sign of damage.
      The fact is that Palace Resorts acquired this property in the summer of 2006… around the June time frame. It was open and fully functional (and accessible to Palace members) for about 1 year… late summer 2007, when Palace announced that they would be closing for a few months for renovations. They were supposed to re-open by late November, which I was very excited about since I was going to Aventura-Spa Palace in December and was looking forward to a couple of day trips to CMT. Unfortunately, it had not re-opened by the time i was there and has been closed ever since.
      Here’s what I have heard directly from several Palace Resorts reps about the situation: during the renovations, they discovered sink holes/cenotes/underground rivers on the property. The analysis from ecologists apparently indicated that razing the buildings and rebuilding with a larger/heavier footprint (as were Palace’s plans) was not possible due to the fragile state of the ecosystem in that area. From that point, they have basically been at a stand still and there has been nothing done with the property at all since that time (the degradation over these 5-6 years is clearly shown by the photographs).
      Initially, Palace was optimistic that some type of agreement could be reached, such as building with a smaller footprint or something of the like. Obviously, none of that has come to fruition. I don’t know for sure if Palace still owns this property, but either way, there is clearly nothing being done here to rebuild, which is very sad, given this is one of the nicest beaches in this area.
      The clarify on the Xpu-Ha (Palace) issue. That resort was indeed once great with access to a spectacular beach itself. The hurricanes did do severe damage to it though since their rooms were palapa style and therefore far more susceptible to high wind damage. Along the same time, the owners engaged in a property dispute but this was with another party (not the government as is the case with CMT). Apparently, the property rights had been sold to both parties, meaning a large chunk of it was under dispute. So, when Palace repaired the hurricane damage, they only did it to the portion that was more clearly theirs. Unfortunately, this left the resort a shell of what it used to be… maybe 1/3rd the size and most importantly, no access to that wonderful beach. From what I am told, the dwindling visitors combined with the ongoing property dispute led to Palace deciding to close Xpu-Ha Palace permanently.
      Bottom line is that Palace could have had 2 of the premiere locations in the Mayan Riviera locked up, which would have been a tremendous benefit to not only its members but everyone who enjoys a great hotel on a great beach. Sadly, neither were meant to be. Frankly, I am baffled that these properties are stilled deserted and left to rot. Certainly, there is a lot of money to be made here and at the very least, you would think that a few nicely placed bribes would enable this property to be re-developed. One can hope 😉

      1. Just to follow up on Xpu-Ha… this is the property now owned and run by Bel Air Hotels. However, it’s worth noting that is the same exact thin slice of property that Palace was running as Xpu-Ha Palace after the hurricanes & dispute, so, best I can tell, the far larger and better portion of this property is still sitting there cordoned off from access. Although, not sure you couldn’t access the beach from the south, but why would you really want to with no services there? As it stands this now Bel Air property has one very narrow access to a small & rocky “beach”.

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