Papaya Playa Project: Exclusive interview with Emilio Heredia – The man behind a place with unique sensory experiences in Tulum
Emilio Heredia, owner of the Papaya Playa Project, began his spiritual journey 30 years ago, a journey during which he studied yoga, karate, Tao and body psychotherapy. Holder of a degree in engineering as well as in finance which gave him the status of president of various financial institutions in New York and Mexico in the early 2000s, he wanted to connect to the world on a deeper level, more sincere, and this is the reason that will have given birth to the Papaya Playa project in 2011. Meeting with the initiator of a place with unique experiences and well-defined values.
II. What was the main objective of the Papaya Playa Project? His vision ?
The Papaya Playa project aims to create an immersive space between the sea and nature. A place of escape where creativity becomes a second skin and the cultural exchange between those who travel to this distinctive site generates an exceptional community.
We have discovered a new form of hospitality by fusing local culture and sustainability to create unparalleled wellness experiences through gastronomic, artistic and design manifestations. We work every day guided by a philosophy under an eco-social responsibility.
III. The PPP is more than a place to stay, it has this close connection to nature and real community value – how would you describe it? How is this essence shared?
Tulum is a magical place that awakens you spiritually. We know the importance of sustainability, social responsibility, and take care of all the knowledge that the local Mayans have given us. We share this essence in every space you may enter; keeping 93% of our land intact, supporting the local community, cleaning up our environment, and having methodologies that will take care of all the biodiversity we have.
IV. How would the perfect stay for a PPP guest unfold? What lessons should he learn from this? What feelings?
The best recommendation I can have for a guest is to feel connected to themselves and to nature, to awaken their awareness of well-being and autonomy through meditation, and to begin a journey of introspection. Most of our clients end their visit feeling totally different, that’s my main goal.
V. When would be the ideal time to come to the PPP? Are there different experiences depending on the season?
We always organize special events, concerts, plays and full moon celebrations every month (The “Full Moon Party”, ndr). So every time during the year, people can come and enjoy our programs. Obviously, when it comes to the period from November to February (high season), we have more activities.
VI. How do you maintain the uniqueness of PPP despite the strong competition in a place like Tulum?
And what’s interesting is that at the end of the day, most of our clients leave with an experience that has awakened their awareness of nature. It is our uniqueness, and we have it here, before our eyes, it is all we need to care for and value.
VII. Well-being has become an overarching topic in the luxury experience today – and the PPP fits right in there – how do you plan to capitalize more on this in the future?
Know that we have an immersive wellness program, Papaya Playa Project’s innovation involves not only a special care of nature, but has also created a wellness program through art and awareness, which we call Immersion. This allowed us to follow the constant exchange of creativity, beauty and inspiration for personal growth. Artists, local teachers and residents are part of a rich weekly program of yoga practices, workshops and artistic, meditative and body experiences.
This magical experience ends with the illumination of our famous Star Collector, an art installation that tells the story of a common origin; the analogy that everything in this world is made of stardust; plants, animals, stones, sea, human beings and wind.
Another of the great pillars of wellness at Papaya Playa Project is the importance of self-care. This is why special moments have been created for guests to heal and reconnect. The spa is a secluded space in the jungle that offers face and body treatments meant to relax body and mind, bring back ancient Mayan and Mexican rituals through Temazcal, healing baths that use local herbs and other miscellaneous natural elements that are meant to reunite guests with Mother Earth.
VIII. Sustainability is also the main concern these days, and therefore of PPP. Especially in a place where nature is closely linked to a well-established culture being that of the Mayas. What are the project initiatives?
The Papaya Playa Project foundation is based on a sustainable and respectful way of life, we work every day from a perspective of social and ecological responsibility. Since July 2015, the project has been on a mission to achieve a community that produces zero emissions and zero contaminants. These actions have cemented us as leaders in conscious hotel operation and inspired others to do the same. The property where the hotel is located preserves 93% of the original land and free space, and at the same time, has pushed the initiative “United for Tulum” which collaborates with businessmen and women, civil servants and civil society for the well-being of the region. A vision of Tulum based on social principles that will help its preservation in the years to come.
In addition to social initiatives, Papaya Playa Project has an independent system of gardening, orchards and wastewater treatment for irrigation. The raw materials for our restaurant are grown in organic gardens and at the same time we are working to expand our plantations by planting chickpeas, papaya, pineapple, guava, jackfruit, panapén, cashew and watermelon.
Additionally, we have a turtle care program, beach cleanups and ocean conservation and other crucial actions we are taking for 2022.
IX. Do you think that the tourist potential of Tulum is used to the maximum? What do you think of the current situation and the future direction of tourism in Tulum?
We know Tulum’s growth has been significant, but as founders of a project that aims to help preserve Tulum for generations to come, we need to stay strong in our roots.
X. To have such a strong concept you need to have a healthy lifestyle, how would you describe yours?
I simply seek to achieve happiness, which is to go beyond the paradox of confusion, beyond any individual illusion, and leave without judgement, be free, and love everything and everything. We are all part of the same Mother Earth, feeling separated has brought us sorrow, but knowing that we are one brings joy and peace to our hearts.