One of the standout properties in the planned resort community Mayakoba on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, the Banyan Tree brings a distinctly Asian sensibility to this luxury enclave. Thanks to super-private villas with huge pools and terraces, this is the perfect spot for an unforgettable Mexican honeymoon.
The Grounds at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Riffing on the Southeast Asian roots of the hotel brand (the company started in Thailand), a huge Banyan tree – a type of spreading fig – is marooned on its own small island in the middle of a waterway that runs beneath the main entrance to the resort. The main buildings have distinctive upturned eaves and breezeways galore. Like its neighbor, Rosewood Mayakoba, the property is set within a delicate ecosystem of sand dunes, lagoons and mangroves.
The Rooms at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Size does matter (well, sometimes). The freestanding villas are outstandingly roomy – the pools alone measure a whopping 3000 sq.ft, while separate living areas and spacious bathrooms add up to the sense you’ve landed in your own private residence. The rooms are clutter-free zones, all clean lines and modern décor with an understated Mayan feel (there is, of course, the requisite hammock on the terrace). Only sliding glass doors stand between the low-slung, Japanese-style bed and the pool, making leisurely dips an essential part of every day.
The Restaurants at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
With eight eating options (not including in-villa dining) guests are spoiled for choice. While each of the restaurants has its charms, there are two standouts. Oriente, the elegant main restaurant, which serves traditional Mexican dishes with a contemporary spin, like a “cappuccino” made of red beans and dusted with achiote powder and served with a meltingly good morsel of lobster, and Saffron, an intimate dining room suspended over the lagoon that’s all about fragrant Thai flavors in a swooningly romantic setting. There’s really an experience for every mood, from a cocktail bar, La Copa, to spa cuisine (Tamarind) and a casual beachfront joint (Sands).
The Pools/Beaches at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Like the other resorts in the Mayakoba community, Banyan Tree boasts a stretch of gorgeous Caribbean beachfront, complete with umbrellas, attentive beach attendants and a bar/restaurant. Every villa has its own enormous pool, something most couples take full advantage of (which might explain why the paths connecting the areas of the resort are often devoid of life.)
The Spa at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Without doubt one of the best spas on the Riviera Maya coastline, this “Sanctuary for the Senses,” is focused on Asian therapies performed in tranquil over-water cabins. The highly skilled Thai therapists use time-honored techniques like Balinese and Lomi Lomi massage and Chinese footwork.
Recreation at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
The Greg Norman-designed El Camaleón Golf Club, which links each of the resorts in the Mayakoba complex, is sensitively designed around the jungle and mangroves.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum (open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) are a must-see for anyone visiting this region. They’re not the largest or most historically significant of the Yucatan’s archeological sites, but they’re certainly the most comely, situated on a grassy, windswept bluff overlooking a picture-perfect arc of white sand beach, where many visitors stop to cool off after exploring the ruins.
A guided tour of the lagoons in an electric-powered lancha, or small boat, during which you’ll learn about this unique environment while enjoying stunning scenery.
The Bottom Line
This idyllic part of the Riviera Maya offers a luxury getaway within a setting of unspoiled natural beauty. Couples will love the secluded nature of the suites, but families also receive a warm welcome and there are plenty of activities to keep kids occupied.
Address: Ctra. Federal Cancún–Playa del Carmen KM 298, Quintana Roo
Reservations: +52 984 877 3688
Room Rates: $$$$