Banyan Tree Mayakoba is a bit of an anomaly along the Riviera Maya. Whereas other hotels emphasize their Mexican roots, giving a nod to local traditions and native ingredients in both food and spa treatments, Banyan Tree throws some Asia into the mix, with staff coming all the way from that distant continent to work at the hotel. Bedrooms in the villas draw inspiration from the Far East as well as Mexico, blending straight lines and lacquered finishes with the colorful patterns of Mexican textiles and talavera ceramic sinks. Very high ceilings help to keep the rooms cool, and many rooms have private patios, pools, or outdoor bathtubs.
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Its position 40 minutes from the Cancún International Airport means that Banyan Tree Mayakoba is perfectly poised to avoid the raucous crowds that descend upon the United States’ favorite Spring Break destination. The hotel is also 10 minutes from Playa del Carmen, a charming town with small shops that are fun to explore. Many guests opt to take an excursion to one or more of the Riviera Maya's attractions, either Tulum Maya site or Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Some even make the longer trip to Chichen Itzá.
Need to Know
Rooms: 118 villas; from $464. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Seven restaurants, bars, and other dining experiences are on the property, offering everything from traditional Thai cuisine to contemporary European cuisine. One particularly unique opportunity is dinner on a trajinera, a gondola-like boat that floats along the resort's mangroves. The trajinera dinner must be booked in advance; guests who would prefer the trajinera experience in the morning can book breakfast on the boat. Spa and gym details: Unlike most hotel spas along the Riviera Maya, the spa at Banyan Tree Mayakoba features Asian-inspired treatments and even brings trained massage therapists directly from Thailand to work at the hotel. Guests who want to get outside for some exercise can try out the 18-hole, Greg Norman–designed golf course.
Who it's for: Travelers who like luxury and don't hesitate to pay for it. Our favorite rooms: The Sanctuary Pool Villa lives up to its name, with a private garden and a private heated pool and whirlpool. Nature photography: World-renowned wildlife photographers are on-site and lead nature photography classes. Check with the concierge at the front desk for information.
"Sanctuary for the Senses"
Drawing on their motto: "Sanctuary for the Senses," Banyan Tree Mayakoba gives new meaning to living in the "lap of luxury" in all of its 107 villas clustered along the Mayakoba Lagoon on the Riviera Maya. Signature restaurants and bars - including the drifting "Ixchel" (Goddess of the Moon) dining boat - showcase contemporary Thai delights, Mediterranean fare, delectable seafood and modern Mexican cuisine. The Spa features intimate outdoor pavilions located along the lagoon and offers award-wining treatments and massages - some of them drawn from 17th century Java. A host of outdoor activities including golf, snorkeling, canoeing and eco tours complement other recreational options such as daily yoga classes, two pools and two tennis courts.