Melissa Perlman, owner of the beautiful Amansala Resort in Tulum, Mexico, became an avid traveller after college, keen to find her next adventure.
When she took the plunge and moved to Tulum, she followed her dream to open her own beachfront resort, and hasn’t looked back since. The Sybarite speaks to Melissa about her extraordinary story, the success of Amansala, how Covid has affected her business and what she is hoping to do post-pandemic.
Could you tell The Sybarite a little bit about your background? Where are you from? Where did you live before Tulum?
I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona, and spent all my childhood there. I soon realised I didn’t want to spend my life there and wanted to travel. I wanted to move to a big city and I always pictured New York City to be the most exciting and glamorous city of all, and it pretty much was. I loved the New York lifestyle, I worked for myself for 6 years but it is a distinct type of person who wants to live there their whole life.
What inspired the move to Tulum?
I loved New York but I felt I met so many people but didn’t really know that many people. I was going through the motions but not really living life. At the time I was working on a Guide to the Most Beautiful places to rejuvenate the Mind, Body and Soul, and I realised there wasn’t a place that was exactly the place I was looking to go to. I was craving more nature and a warm climate, so I decided to make a change. When I came to Tulum initially, I fell in love and came back every year. And now here I am, living here!
Why did you open Amansala? Was it a difficult task building and growing Amansala?
I opened Amansala after 9/11 when I was evaluating what to do with my life and thinking about how precious our time is, which is a very similar feeling people are having right now. Thinking if I could live anywhere, where would I live and my answer was Tulum. I feel in love with the beautiful blue sea, the nature that surrounds all the area and a certain feeling in the air that I only can say is the Mayan Magic... where things just come together. I feel very aligned here and very much in balance.
How has Amansala developed since it opened?
It started as a few rooms as a pop up and has evolved into one of Tulum's most iconic hotels. It has become more refined, but still maintains the soul that it was born from!
In what ways does Amansala reflect you?
In every way, in how I want to feel when I travel as if I am staying at a friend’s beach house. It is very welcoming and surprises the senses with wafts of incense, soft sheets, dogs, delicious food, ginger tea in the morning.
As a woman who started her own business, what advice would you have for women who are trying to do the same?
Know you have all that you need, believe in yourself and follow your dream.
In these difficult times, how have the restrictions on travel affected Amansala? How have you adapted?
We have been fortunate in Tulum in that the borders and travel has been allowed. While our group yoga retreats have temporarily slowed down another type of digital nomadic traveler was born. People that are free to work from anywhere and chose to work by the sea with us!
How do you think the pandemic will affect the luxury travel industry?
I think people realize luxury can be seen differently and luxury means being in nature, having freedom to be in open air and not be restricted.
Apart from Tulum, what is your favourite travel destination?
I love Asia, all of it the food, the culture.
What is the greatest adventure you have ever been on?
The greatest adventure by far has been the Tulum adventure, as it has taken me down so many paths.. from arriving with a suitcase and no hotel to having 4 hotels, 2 kids, 4 dogs, and 4 restaurants!
What is your dream travel destination that you have yet to visit?
That’s a tough one as the world has so many gems to be discovered, I would love to see New Zealand.
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