Rising beyond the role of global media punching bag, Mexico is finally regaining its stature as a majestic nation, eager to welcome tourists south of the border. Rediscovering Mexico (or in a some cases venturing for the first time) is as exciting as it is unexpected. Today’s Mexico is filled with top-notch luxury enclaves that easily rival the Caribbean’s most treasured islands. Point in case: Mayakoba along the Yucatan Peninsula’s “Mayan Riviera.”
Located five miles north of Playa del Carmen, Mayakoba doubles as a private community and ecological reserve, housing three upscale hotels, residences, and plenty of biodiversity over its 1600 acres. Flanked by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea to the east and thriving mangrove colonies to the west, Mayakoba’s super ”green” hotels are built around complex labyrinthine waterways that connect the Yucatan’s underground sinkholes and the deep blue.
The opening of the first resort on premises in 2006, the Fairmont Mayakoba, ushered in a new era of luxury tourism for Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. The resort’s wide range of room product from comfortable classic “Fairmont view” rooms in the principal towers to colossal, oceanfront and lagoon-front casita suites present options for both the affluent and ultra-affluent family to revel in the beauty and amenities of this environmental paradise.
Most notably, the outcrop of 34 suites along the resort’s eastern perimeter underscores the global “hotel within a hotel” trend, offering a more private experience while having the resort’s full offerings at hand. Though it’s hard to escape the indulgences of these elegantly understated suites – such as the 24-hour butler service, private plunge pools, sprawling al fresco terraces, and glass-heavy, jaw-dropping mega-bathrooms – the chic common pools, cabana-ready beachfront, and ecological boat tours are not to be missed! Moreover, you’ll want to peruse the greater resort to sample the cuisine at its four fabulous farm-to-table restaurants – the authentic Mexican eatery La Laguna Grill and Bar, the award-winning Las Brisas, the sushi and cocktails driven Lobby Lounge, and the fine dining steakhouse, El Puerto. Savvy travelers should opt in for the new Appetite for Luxury package, which includes all food and beverage on property except at El Puerto. This arrangement prevents any and all guilt (caloric, financial, or otherwise) associated with getting that third tamarind margarita, a second bowl of fresh ceviche and an order of lobster summer rolls on the beach or at the swim-up bar (between meals of course! ).
To feed those urges of self-pampering, the 20,000 square foot Willow Stream spa is utter spatopia, best appreciated in the couple's treetops suite, followed by lengthy soaks in the mineral pool, capped off by a cocktail around the adults-only infinity pool. Golf enthusiasts delight in the 18-hole Greg Norman designed “El Camaleón,” best known from the official PGA Mayakoba Golf Classic, congregating annually at the Fairmont. Nature buffs will want to rise early for the morning bird watching tour and convince the non-birders to experience the resort’s wild lagoons by boat at least one afternoon.
In line with its kid-centric ethos, the Fairmont Mayakoba shows as much love for the kids as it does for the grown-ups. On a daily basis, kids 4-12 get three complimentary hours of fun-filled activity at the dynamic Discovery Club & Adventure Camp. From toddlers to teens, they’re always making new friends at the four family pools, one of which includes a water slide (tastefully designed), or begging for another go-round the property on the complimentary BMW bikes. The hotel also generously comps kids up to 5 years old during family meals. fairmont.com/mayakoba
Those less keen on the family-experience and seeking more of a couples’ hideaway should consider Fairmont’s neighbor, the Rosewood Mayakoba. A masterpiece of contemporary haute minimalism, the resort sumptuously fuses nature and romance along the region’s serpentine lagoons. Each of the resort’s love dens is a lavish individual waterfront unit, equipped with a plunge pool, outdoor shower, private sun deck, elegantly appointed furnishings and high thread counts. Together, the manicured gardens, perfectly aligned infinity pools, and stylish bungalows form a poster child for modern luxury. rosewoodhotels.com/en/mayakoba