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A Life of Adventure

How the path to enlightenment helped a renowned hotelier create a coveted luxurious wellness retreat

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Photo credit: Beth Doane
Photo credit: Beth Doane

Guy Kouris is an adventurer. Born in Israel, Kouris says his life didn’t truly begin until he started to explore the world; for him, to travel was to awaken. After calling Argentina home for 20 years, Kouris moved to Tulum, Mexico, where he and Snow Colbeck collaborated to found Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes and guide guests to uncover their own spirit of adventure.

Mahayana Tulum’s luxurious villas, sprawled on Riviera Maya’s pristine white beaches, offer a haven of wellness and relaxation. The inspiration wasn’t just to create a high-end resort: it was to create a way for friends and family to experience the area’s unique breed of magic, with all the comforts of home. Kouris and Colbeck recently opened a sister property, Zorba Beach Homes, with several more villas and wellness-driven activities.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Kouris about how his wellness philosophies and positive attitude have guided him to create businesses centered on rejuvenation and sustainability, and his tips for how others can find their own enlightenment.

Photo credit: Mahayana Tulum Beach Homes

The story of how you created this magical property is truly incredible. What led you on this remarkable journey?
I love to travel with my kids. Sometimes it is hard to find just the right place to stay. I dreamed of creating a place where families and groups could travel and stay together, a place where families can enjoy the comfort of a home but also the amenities and style of a carefully curated hotel. Somewhere with a distinct sense of design and authenticity that is easygoing and unpretentious.

I first experienced Tulum in the late 1990’s and fell in love with the beach. When I returned with my family in 2013 I was once again struck by the natural beauty and the vibe. The blues and turquoises of the sea, the configurations of the clouds, and the expansive sky are all so amazing, it almost hurts. I felt in my heart that this was the place to build a hotel and began to look around. In 2014, I was able to crystalize the concept of Mahayana and bring my vision to life. I was so inspired by Mahayana that Zorba followed in 2018.

Photo Credit: Beth Doane

The concept of Mayahana is unique and worth noting. Can you explain the concept of Mahayana?
Mahayana is a path to enlightenment. It is the easygoing path and available to anyone. It reminds me of the relaxation and connectedness I hope guests feel when they stay with us.

What do you do to practice wellness in your daily life?
Walking the beach, eating well, and traveling. Traveling for me is the ultimate pleasure. It is an opportunity to connect with myself and explore – it awakens the senses. I also love movies and the cinema and have an extensive film collection. For me, that qualifies as wellness and self-care.

I am impressed to hear you incorporate wellness into your offerings. Why is wellness and sustainability a vital aspect of your properties?
We minimize single-use plastic by providing purified water in refillable containers for our guests, which we replenish daily. We supply organic local biodegradable shampoo, conditioner and body wash made with sacred Mayan honey in refillable containers.

We have friendly and hardworking staff to keep the property and beach beautiful and daily housekeeping so guests can be together and feel at home, but also feel taken care of during their stay. We treat our staff well and with respect. Our staff is like family, and we genuinely care about each of our guests.

Photo credit: Beth Doane

Recycled glass and reclaimed wood are used throughout the homes to conserve the environment and embrace items with a little wear and a past. At both Mahayana and Zorba, we built our villas around existing trees to minimize disruption of the natural flora and fauna and preserve the natural beauty. We don’t have permanent daybeds on the beach so we can move them and make way for the sea turtles that nest on the beach.

We arrange for a variety of services for our guests so they can just relax and enjoy chef services, locally guided explorations of the cenotes and lagoons, and private yoga at Zorba. We provide SUP’s, sea kayaks and boogie boards for people to use, and swimming pools to refresh and provide a place for kids to play.

We are lucky to be right on the beach and enjoy sharing this very connected way of being with our guests.

Amazing to hear. What is your favorite quote?
“May the force be with you.”

Photo credit: Beth Doane
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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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