They say that the sense of smell is the most powerful trigger for memory—the hint of a forgotten cologne; the whiff of an uncommon spice; a breath of air that mixes with an exotic flower—suddenly you are awash in a moment from years ago, filling every sense with nostalgia.  Powerful and elusive: the sense of smell is atmospheric, seductive, and undeniable.

The Coqui Coqui begins with smell.  From there, the charming boutique hotels and perfumeries scattered across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula enfold you in a symphony of all the senses, inviting you into their world and revealing a Mexico far more profound than you might’ve imagined.

Each outpost of the Coqui Coqui family resonates with an ambience that has been lovingly crafted into a rustically gorgeous and soft-spoken luxury.  While there is a strong correlation of style and personality between them, each location perfectly and deliberately embraces the unique character of its specific destination.  Those travelers who are blessed with both a little extra time and a desire for getting to know the “real” Mexico, might be lucky enough to visit at least two or three, if not all four Coqui Coqui locations.

Minutes after the tame, three-hour New York-to-Cancun flight had landed, our little rental car was already whisking us down the only road that hugs the Mexican Caribbean.  Route 307 proudly announces its litany of tourist icons as we pass: Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Xel-Ha, and a roll call of mammoth resorts that stand back-to-back in cookie-cut opulence, with each one claiming their own acre of white sand and palm trees.  We were glad to let them pass, knowing that Tulum holds a more harmonious balance with the glorious beaches and unruly jungles.  While these aren’t exactly virgin beaches anymore, in Tulum they still feel close to those days, edged with mysterious wilderness.  Here exists an undeniable feeling of immersion into the natural surroundings: where stylish bohemians luxuriate in the simple paradise that is the shade of a palm frond on the edge of shimmering waves.

No place embraces this ideal more than Coqui Coqui Tulum.  The original Coqui Coqui location, its story is almost too good to be true—two globe-trotting Italian models (and renaissance creative minds) meet by chance on the beaches of Tulum, where a small slice of land becomes first their rustic home, then a beach house with an exceptionally lovely guest room, and finally, the simple, yet stunning, seven-room boutique hotel. Nicolas and Francesca have truly put their hearts and souls into the evolution of their hotels.  You can see their influence and impeccable taste in every aspect of the residences, from the found-object antiques, to the perfectly laid back, yet accommodating staff, to the signature, homemade, organic toiletries, whose intoxicating fragrances must be the final element in the magic spell that the Coqui Coqui casts upon you at arrival.

Devoted to maintaining a harmony with their natural surroundings, Nicolas and Francesca utilized traditional Mayan building techniques in both their Tulum location and their newly opened Coba hotel to create the stone structures that are deceptively elegant.  Venturing deeper into the Yucatan, the Coqui Coqui lineage will guide you to the colonial town of Valladolid. There you are welcomed into the single accommodation: a grand and inviting suite that lazes beguilingly over a succulent garden and the main perfumery, where you are left to yourself to take in the charms of the small city.

Though you will find the Coqui Coqui’s signature products at all their locations, it is at the Valladolid residence where the uniquely exotic scents are dreamed up and mixed. You might glimpse Nicolas pouring over tinctures and essences like a handsome, mad scientist, trying to capture the ethereal sensuality of the tropical forest, or the smoky tones of the agave.  As you pass through the lobby, their heady fragrances entice you to capture each moment of your day with a different scent, and we defy anyone who can check out of the Coqui Coqui without at least one signature product to take home.

And what could be more lovely or appropriate a souvenir from such an indescribably enchanting place?  Photographs and words do little by comparison to the evocative magic of a beautiful scent: like a memory, but twice as powerful.

– Ava Fedorov

Photographs by Jeff Owens and Ava Fedorov for Socially Superlative