Above: an ocean-front cabana at Papaya Playa.
It may not be the world’s first pop-up hotel, but for the next three months, it looks to be the most beguiling. A camp of 99 rustic cabanas on the beach at Tulum, Mexico, Papaya Playa (papayaplaya.com; doubles from US$105), is the brainchild of Claus Sendlinger, founder of Design Hotels. For a group better known for representing design-driven properties, this raw, pared-down outpost is a bold experiment. Sendlinger says the idea was to “create a transitory, yet culturally rooted” setting for “peeling off a few layers to expose the heart and soul of great hospitality experiences.” But this is no backpacker’s bivouac: indulgences include a restaurant and bar run by Berlin techno club KaterHolzig, a spa inspired by Mayan shamanism, and instant access to a 900-meter-long stretch of soft Caribbean sand. Papaya Playa pulls up stakes on May 5.—Angela Leenhouts
Originally appeared in the February 2012/March 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Pop Star”)