'My husband and I met here in Tulum in 2003. I was staying at a place nearby, and for my birthday I asked the receptionist to suggest somewhere cool I could go that was more authentic. She told me, 'Go to Tulum for the beautiful ruins—and the beach is fantastic.’ So they dropped me off at the ruins by myself and I started walking, and I walked and I walked and I walked and suddenly I saw a tent. There was a bathtub under it and a sign that said ‘Massages.’ It wasn't at a hotel, nobody was around—nothing. And then Nico [Malleville] appeared and he served me coffee. It was love at first sight!
I moved to Tulum as soon as I could and we decided to build a little house. It didn’t turn into a hotel [Coqui Coqui Tulum] until our friends and family started asking for rooms and a place to stay. So suddenly we built a guest room, and then another. We just keep making it bigger and bigger [laughs]. We have seven rooms now, a little restaurant, the boutique, the spa, and the reception area. It’s super little and we’re packed year-round. I think we are somehow a little responsible for Tulum becoming so popular in the last few years. We've always brought down a lot of people from the fashion industry through Nico, and we just shot the catalogue for Hacienda Montaecristo here, which is the accessories line I have with my best friend. From there, people just keep coming very naturally, all through word-of-mouth.
We also have a perfumery—it’s the essence of the hotel. Really, there was Coqui Coqui Perfumes in one house and then the rest of the hotel is a coincidence. Nico loves perfume and really wanted to do it. The 11 fragrances are meant to evoke places—Nico wanted some to represent the Yucatan Peninsula, and we also have some that represent Europe and Latin America, where we're from. The Orange Blossom, which is one of our best sellers, is the signature smell of the hotel. I still use Chanel No. 5 though—it’s been my perfume since I was 14 years old. But I like to alternate; I’m in love with the Coqui Coqui Fresh Roses. Nico did it two years ago because he was like, ‘I’m a perfumer. Can I please make a perfume for you because you always wear Chanel No. 5?’ [laughs]. So he made Fresh Roses and I love it.
I am very shy, so for me putting on makeup means getting attention. I prefer not to have much makeup on, but I am getting older... [laughs] So I'm trying to take care of my skin more because I like to just use a day cream for everyday life rather than makeup. Though after seeing how my skin reacts to the sun—I used to be super, super light—I added a few other things. In the morning, I put on Avène Soothing Hydrating Serum, or Estée Lauder Perfectionist CP+R Wrinkle Lifting Serum. La Prairie Anti-Aging Emulsion is a great day cream because it has a sun protection—I have a lot of freckles so if I didn’t have protection in my daily cream, the sun would be too much. So I will use La Prairie or I will alternate with the Avène Cleanance Emulsion. There’s also this Melissa complex balm get from a man who makes honey and creams in Valladolid made out of pure Melissa oil and honey. It’s very calming, and it absorbs quickly—you can even use it on cold sores.
At night I use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. I love it. I need something that dries and doesn’t leave my skin oily because it's very hot here. After the shower when I am getting ready for the evening, I can put the Night Repair on and it absorbs in without feeling sticky or oily . I’m also trying to put the Advanced Night Repair Eye around my eyes, but I think I only remember to use it once a week. Other than that I use Avène Gentle Purifying Scrub in the shower, also about once a week. I just do it quickly on the neck and the face.
For makeup, red lipstick is my favorite thing. Right now I’m wearing NYX Matte Lipstick in Bloody Mary. I love a shiny lipstick, but I wear it only at night, of course—for the day it’s too much. Eyeliner I do every day now because I’m 35 and it helps [laughs]. I feel more proper and like I'm taking care of myself when I wear it. My blush is either Chanel Rose Cache Blush in #31 [ed. note: discontinued] or the NYX Blush in Red. Then I also like the Chanel Translucent Powder Compact in Natural. I don't usually do my nails, but if I do, I'll use NYX Girls Nail Polish—it’s the same color as the lipstick. Sometimes I'll do the OPI Lincoln Park After Dark or I do Chanel Frenzy. My colors are always the same. I wear black, white, pale pink, or sometimes a wine color. That’s also the palette of my store.
We’ll either have something on the eyes or on the lips or on the nails, but we're not getting dressed up every day. When you live here you can’t have a lot of makeup, or your hair fixed all the time... It’s a simple life.”
—as told to ITG
Francesca Bonato photographed by Emily Weiss on January 27, 2014 in Tulum, Mexico.