Nestled within the private and secluded destination of the Mayakoba (which means “village of water”), and hidden away from prying eyes of the paparazzi are four of the world’s most exclusive luxury resorts where top A-list celebrities such as Madonna, George Clooney, Kate Hudson, and Leonardo DiCaprio are known to have visited and vacationed at. The four resorts in the Mayakoba region are the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Fairmont Mayakoba, Andaz Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba. All these four hotel resorts are well connected by a network and series of well-manicured canals. A proud recipient of Travel & Leisure´s 2018 “Best of the Best” award in Mexico, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is an exceptional AAA Five Diamond luxury beach resort, which is well positioned along the famed Riviera Maya of the Yucatán peninsula that is located on the eastern coastline of Mexico.
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba is an exceptional blend of Mexican cultural influences combined with unsurpassed Asian hospitality. So famous is it that you’d find its mention in many aloha guides. As the first Banyan Tree Resort in the Americas, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba was conceived as the sublime setting for romantic getaways, family vacations, business events or wedding celebrations. Guests are constantly enchanted and mesmerised by the bountiful myriad of freshwater cenote lagoons, pristine beaches, lush mangroves, natural dunes, and intricate coral reefs. Everywhere my head turned while frolicking at the celebrated Riviera Maya coastline, I would encounter astonishing and ravishing natural beauty. With 123 elegantly designed private villas, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is the perfect destination getaway for sunbathing, healing spa pampering, professional golfing, as well as world-class fine dining options. Each private villa is a self-contained personal sanctuary with high ceilings, spacious interiors, a private heated pool and a personal garden terrace. Guests also get the choice to ride their own personal Banyan Tree bicycles to get around the smooth cobblestone paved roads of the extensive resort compounds.
The grand lobby of the resort majestically opens up to an unforgettable view of a magnificent centerpiece tree with stunning red oriental style hanging lanterns perched on its branches. This river lobby entrance immediately leads up to a water dock where riverboats frequently take hotel guests on an hour long educational nature river canal cruise of the entire Mayakoba region. Families can take their children on a fully immersive and educational eco-boat ride through untouched nature, surrounded by an arcadia of indigenous fish and bird species in the carefully maintained ecosystem that is being complemented with the Riviera Maya´s hospitable warmth and undeniable charm. During my own river cruise ride, I caught sight of so much wildlife that I lost count of them. I was particularly thrilled and amused by the sight of a baby crocodile lazing on top of a rock, basking in the sun, completely nonchalant and oblivious to the wealthy billionaire businessman seated just directly above who was having a video conference call on the private pool patio of his extravagantly luxurious mansion. Serendipitously at that very same moment, an osprey and a heron simultaneously flew right by. Whoa! Now that is a combination that you simply would not get to see everyday!
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba is an exclusive enclave of almost transcendent and tranquil beauty, where ancient civilizations embrace each other. The fiery passionate nature of the Mexicans is being calmed by the gentle and soothing caress of the Far East. This energy translates over to the resort’s popular spa. Inspired by time honoured ancient Asian wellness traditions that have been passed down through several generations, the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa is a blissful slice of heaven created to promote the very essence of oriental wellness philosophy. Experience the intuitive and nurturing healing touch of skillful massage therapists that hail all the way across the globe from Bali and Thailand. These professional masseurs have trained for several years at the Banyan Tree Spa Academy in Thailand. Soothe your sore muscle tension and stress away with the signature Rainforest Indulgence hydrothermal spa experience that features an aroma steam chamber, experiential tropical rain showers, ice fountains, relaxing saunas, cascading waterfalls and ending off with restorative acupressure jets in the climatic vitality pools. This complete hydrothermal treatment is Mayakoba’s antidote for muscle pain and immediate stress relief.
The resort offers an extensive assortment of superb international fine dining experiences and options to suit all tastes. From authentic Thai cuisine, delicious Mexican specialties to the freshest seafood and various contemporary flavours, one’s palate will be continuously titillated and enticed throughout your entire stay. Immerse in a deep-in-the-jungle mystical experience at the cultural “HAAB”, where you can relive the superb culinary arts of the ancient Maya civilization, which are inspired by the four sacred elements of earth, wind, fire and water. Unique to the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is a traditional trajinera river dinner boat ride where couples can savour the most appetising tapas and spicy Mexican dishes under the stars. Named after the moon goddess “Ixchel”, the trajinera riverboat allows guests to explore and bask in the beauty of Mayakoba’s diverse flora and fauna as they savour a customised dinner and dine in resplendent splendour. Meals can also be served almost anywhere at the resort. Mayakoba’s talented chefs spare no expense to ensure the freshness and quality of their culinary creations. For example, the Thai head chef over at the Saffron restaurant goes to great lengths to hunt down and procure exotic Thai ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves and galangal (blue ginger) in order to add authenticity and an undeniably Asian zest to the piquant curries.
Avid golfers will absolutely love the resort’s well-maintained and manicured signature golf course which includes two seaside holes, and that is being surrounded by lush tropical landscapes and picturesque stretches of the Caribbean seafront. Designed by the golf architect and PGA legend Greg Norman, this pristine and serene 18-hole championship golf course is named the “El Camaleón”, and happens to host the only PGA Tour event in Latin America; the Mayakoba Classic. The Jim McLean Golf Academy located at the clubhouse offers short programs that are designed to provide world-class golf instruction to help improve any golfer’s skills regardless whether you are an amateur or a professional. This has surely got to be one of the most spectacularly beautiful golf courses that I have ever laid my eyes on. At the point of my visit, I have yet to play a single game of golf in my life. However, that moment of looking at the El Camaleón was the turning point that changed all that as it inspired me to go take up golf classes upon my return to Singapore.
As a heavenly sanctuary for the senses, Mayakoba provides a superb backdrop for resort guests and newlyweds to enjoy blissful retreat getaways with their signature blend of romance, revitalisation, rejuvenation and sensuality. Each luxurious villa is decorated with scented candles, delicate flower petals, the softest bed linens, aromatic essential oils and fragrant incense. At Mayakoba, you can fully entrust their Banyan Tree Romance Directors and Academy of Special Event Planning (ASEP) Certified Wedding Professionals to execute smooth planning and flawless organisation of any wedding event. From creating the bride’s delicate and ornate floral hand bouquet to decorating a sublime torch lit sunset setting for the matrimonial ceremony and celebration, Banyan Tree Mayakoba can provide and prepare the intimate surroundings and venue for an unforgettable Caribbean style wedding for you and all of your invited guests. During my last evening, I was fortunate enough to witness the gleeful smiling faces of a blushing bride and her exuberant bridal contingent as they rejoiced, danced and celebrated on grassy lawns set against the magical backdrop of dazzling dusk hues. I brimmed broadly with elation as I raised my camera to snap a photo of the entire scene for posterity. That captured moment frozen in time is a true testimony to the Mayakoba wedding planners for doing such a great job.
Guests can stargaze and dance the night away while enjoying the Caribbean breeze blowing on their faces, and with their windswept hair glistening under the silvery moonlight at the resort’s spacious Sands Beach Club. During my visit to nearby Playa Del Carmen and neighbouring Tulum, I observed that in comparison to the other beaches along the entire Rivera Maya coastline, the Mayakoba can pretty much boast about having the only stretch of prime beachfront real estate that is literally sparkling clean, and not plagued and infested by the foul staunch of decomposing sargassum seaweed that quite frankly is also a huge eyesore. As such, I really have to salute and give credit to the Mayakoba staff members who tirelessly work around the clock to ensure that the entire five-star luxury resort compound is immaculately clean and smelling fresh.
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba is committed to leaving a positive impact on environmental sustainability by lowering their carbon footprint amongst other green initiatives. The resort is most proud to be “EarthCheck” Gold Certified, as well as being a “Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Standard-Setter” award winner, thus making the Banyan Tree Mayakoba to be the most sustainable five-star resort in the entire Mayakoba region. The resort complex will be undergoing some upgrades and enhancements commencing July 2019 and completing by winter 2020. They will be creating new over-the-water villas and beachfront suites, as well as renovating their Sands Beach Club to include two expanded oceanfront pools, all-day-dining indoor and outdoor restaurants, a Raw Bar, and much more in order to serve their customers better.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Address: Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juárez Km. 298 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo México
Tel: US +1 855 421 1507/ MX 01800 9530565
Email: [email protected]
Contributed by Luke Elijah
Photos: Luke Elijah