Regenerating a Watershed: How Playa Viva’s Culinary Offerings and Guest Experiences Shed Light on Efforts to Regenerate the Region

Publicado por Playa Viva el agosto 30, 2023

Playa Viva’s culinary offerings go far beyond offering fresh, farm-to-table organic Mexican fusion dishes three times per day. As one of the world’s most highly-rated B-Corporation hotels and a destination for guests who care about what they eat, consideration of the food ecosystem is paramount. “What we offer is not just a beautiful array of food, it is a reflection of over 15 years of hard work building our permaculture farm and strengthening relationships with farmers, ranchers and small food producers in the local community. It is motivating for my team to know that Playa Viva’s respect for each producer and the origin of each food item is evident to all guests.” Playa Viva’s head chef Marco Antonio Fernández Valdés.


This dedication to uplifting the community is reflected in the culinary experiences and offerings available to guests. These include:

Redefining roles for women- Juluchuca Women’s Cooperative 

Playa Viva’s Permaculture Team farms 20 acres of land using regenerative, permaculture methods. Beyond supplying the hotel with organic produce the team is driven by the aim of transitioning the entire watershed to permaculture methods through education and best practice sharing and creating demand for organic produce which supports sustainable revenue streams for local farmers. This past year the hotel’s Permaculture team founded the Juluchuca Women’s Cooperative, which aims to facilitate capacity building in organic production, including getting women into farm production roles traditionally reserved for men, strengthening social networks, and creating space for mutual support. Through the design and establishment of multi-strata forest gardens at the home level, women develop skills in organic production and seasonal planning; permaculture design and land regeneration techniques. The cooperative currently has a focus on filling the supply gap for local organic products such as coconut oil, tumeric and moringa. 

  • Guest Experience: Playa Viva offers tours of its 20-acre farm 2 times per week so guests can learn how the team has been spearheading regenerative permaculture in rural Mexico for over 15 years. During the tour guests see first-hand the impact of the women’s cooperative and have the opportunity to assist the women in preparing the turmeric, moringa and coconut oil ready to be packaged for sale in the boutique and at regional markets.
    Playa Viva’s Farm Tour is Available Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30AM at a cost of $30 USD per person (13 years and over).


Supporting the 2,000 Year Old Tradition of Artisanal Salt Production – Dona Quintina and her Family

Dona Quintina and her family have been harvesting mineral-rich, unrefined salt in small batches in Las Salinas, for hundreds of years. This painstaking work has grown increasingly difficult due to climate change in recent years.  While most salt farmers use plastic to line drying ponds or “eras” as they are called, Dona Quintina’s family is one of the last in Mexico committed to traditional 2,000-year-old techniques of harvesting this lagoon salt. The family form the drying ponds with clay, sand and water mixed by “dancing” the mixture to the right consistency, then utilizing a pumice stone to create a smooth drying surface for the salt. Playa Viva supports this non-toxic and traditional means of “farming” salt by ONLY purchasing salt, even if more expensive, harvested by Dona Quintina’s family. The salt is served on the table at every meal and sold in Playa Viva’s boutique, aptly branded as ‘Sal Viva.’ 

  • Guest Experience: Guests can take a trip to the beautiful salt flats that are framed by thriving green mangroves teaming with birdlife, just a 15-minute drive from Playa Viva. During the visit, guests learn about the ancient process of farming artisanal lagoon salt, assist with the harvest and share stories with the 96-year-old Dona Quintina, and her family.
    The visit to the Salina is part of the “Local Tour” offered by Johnny Adventures through Playa Viva at a cost of $40 USD per person*.


Cultivating Culture- Mario’s Milpa

Corn or maize is entwined in Mexican life, history and tradition. It is not just a crop; it is central to the Mexican identity. Local farmer, Mario Vargas, and his family, have collaborated with Playa Viva’s permaculture team to become the first local supplier of organic maize to the hotel. The kitchen uses it daily in handmade tortillas and tamales. In recent years local farmers in the watershed have adopted agroindustrial techniques that rely on pesticides causing degradation in the soil, water and community health. Playa Viva supported Mario with capacity building through access to tools, knowledge, and skills to transition (back) to more organic, permaculture-based farming methods. The Vargas family is now a success story to promote and engage other families in the watershed about the benefits of permaculture farming.

  • Guest Experience: For guests wanting to meet Mario and his family, walk through his corn fields, get their hands dirty in the field planting corn in a traditional manner, and see the benefits of regenerative permaculture firsthand; Playa Viva offers an excursion to Mario’s farm. After time in the field, guests visit Mario’s home to make masa, form and cook tortillas over the fire, and share a meal together around the family’s table.
    The Tour of Mario’s Farm is offered by Playa Viva’s Permaculture team on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at a cost of $45  USD per person.


Off the Grid Farm – Cacao and More – Gutierez family  

The Guiterez family lives at the top of the Juluchuca watershed, located around 1,250m (about 4,100 feet) above sea level, at the headwaters of the river that eventually fills the estuary which runs through Playa Viva. The Gutierrez family grow arguably two of the most important products Playa Viva sources externally, cacao and coffee. The coffee is served at the hotel daily alongside freshly prepared coconut milk and the cacao forms the base of many dishes including the guest’s favorite, mole (meat & vegan based options available). 

  • Guest Experience: Beyond sampling their products in the hotel, guests have the opportunity to visit The Guiterez family and enjoy stops in local communities as they travel one hour via quad bike from sea-level into the Sierra Madre Mountains. Guests are received with open arms and a delicious homemade meal by Don Jesus, the charismatic family patriarch who enjoys sharing the stories of their self-sustaining life in the mountains. Guests will also experience a tour of the farm, and orchards, learn about the Guiterrez family’s contributions to Playa Viva’s watershed regeneration project, ReSiMar, and relax at the source of the river that sustains life in the watershed. A pure experience of life in rural Mexico.
    The visit to the Gutierrez family is part of the “Sierra Tour” offered by Johnny Adventures through Playa Viva at a cost of $125 USD per person*

*prices are subject to change


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