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The Best Way To Experience Tulum, According To A Native Fashion Designer

For Jacopo Ianniello, Tulum is more than a destination. It’s the source of everything that he does—a large portion of that surrounding his artisanal clothing brand, Caravana. With humble beginnings in a tent on a Tulum beach, Ianniello’s label holds Mayan technique and tradition as core to its identity. Using ancient skills that have been passed down for generations, Ianniello fuses subtle hints of more contemporary processes for a modern, yet soulful affect—an aesthetic that has become synonymous with Tulum style. A decade later, his pieces are available everywhere from Miami to Mykonos, but the only place that really matters to the designer is where it all started. Here’s everything he loves about the Mayan town. 

What is your favorite thing about Tulum?

The wild nature of Tulum and the surrounding area; the jungle canopies, the lagoons, the fresh cenotes, the Bio-reserve, all juxtaposed with the Maya ruins and the deep sense of history and past. Tulum’s magnetism and frequency radiate in a way that is unmatched by any other place in the world that I know.

What are some brands you look to get inspiration for Caravana?

For the last decade, my inspiration has been deeply rooted in the history of Maya culture. My interpretation of this has evolved into what I call “Neo-Artesania”, a philosophy that has come to be at the core of Caravana. This is a blend of ancient processes and modern techniques that celebrate and preserve Maya artistry. Above all else, my inspiration stems from experiencing life in the way I believe it to be: beautiful and with purpose

What are your favorite restaurants in Tulum?

Ka’an, Arca, Nomade, and Hartwood all of which are located on the beach road Boca Paila are my four top places. Each has become culinary spotlights of Tulum in their own unique ways.

Ka’an is a second home to me. If you want to have a glimpse of what Tulum looked like 10 years ago, this culinary project inspired by indigenous life in Mexico is the place. Located inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere and nestled between the jungle, lagoon, and Caribbean Sea, it’s a great spot to spend the day and enjoy fresh seasonal food.

Arca has arguably the best cocktails, and they make a mean Negroni. Not to mention their Chef & Partner Jose Luis Hinostroza, of the famous Noma Chef familia, has designed Arca’s menu to bring to life the tastes of Tulum with a touch of high-class elegance.

Nomade as a whole is a visually and energetically beautiful space, and the care they put into their entire brand can be tasted at their delicious restaurant.

Hartwood has been to me the heart of Tulum’s culinary identity since its birth. Laidback, yet their dinner menu has a life of its own and is to this day still one of the very top places to eat.

Can you suggest your favorite activities in Tulum and its surroundings?

For those seeking an authentic Maya experience, I like to suggest doing a traditional Temazcal ceremony; an ancestral ritual to purify the mind and body that takes place in a steam bath similar in shape to an igloo. This detoxification ceremony is normally led by a shaman who guides using a combination of songs, visualizations, breathwork, meditations, medicinal herbs, and of course the steam itself. It can be a very profound experience.  

Where can you find the best spa in Tulum?

My favorite place for my body, spirit, and soul is Immersion at Papaya Playa Project. This is a program involving a weekly rotation of catalysts based on journeys for self-growth. Started by one of my dearest friends Juan Pablo Heredia and his Love Academy this is so much more than a spa; it is a true journey of self-immersion to reimagine our essence and is particularly needed during this collective deep state of renewal we find ourselves in during these Covid times.

The Yäan Healing Sanctuary, Nomade Balance Spa, and Mayan Clay Spa offer beautiful energy healing and holistic, traditional Maya cleanse experiences.

How do you see Tulum evolving in the coming years?

It’s hard to say. There are many here that still align with the principles and ethics we believe in, and that collective is always growing, no matter how much Tulum has changed in the last 10 years. I feel that Caravana will always continue to gather people and continue its growth regardless of the changing identity of Tulum because what doesn’t change is Tulum’s energy. It’s one that calls to people’s hearts and souls and brings them back into alignment.  

At Caravana, we want to remain a beacon of hope that people can live, create, and be of service to our planet and community. If we were not in sync with the authenticity of Tulum and the Maya culture, without a doubt Caravana would not have thrived as it has over these last 10 years. 

It would be egotistical to call ourselves “gate-keepers” of the Tulum lifestyle, but we feel that we do honor and recognize the important aspects of Tulum, and aim to enlighten people about this. This land listens to those who dwell here; it helps people prosper if their intentions are aligned with Tulum’s heart by being conscious of its environment and the legacy of its indigenous people.