Banyan Tree Mayakoba: Guest Villas
Villas have privacy walls 20 feet high and thick natural flora separating each, creating a series of intimate and private retreats. Each villa has a private infinity-edged swimming pool and attached jacuzzi, most in a central courtyard but a few on rooftops. Mine overlooked a lush green fresh waterway surrounded by jungle-like landscaping.
My villa was divided into two separate buildings. The bedroom had two entrances to the pool; one with a hammock. The impressive bathroom had ornate his-and-hers bowl sinks opposite a large round mirror. Lots of natural light came in from the wall of windows, outside of which sat an inviting and deep outdoor bathtub in a secluded niche. The shower also took advantage of the natural light with a wall of glass; some villas have outdoor showers as well.
On the other side of the pool, a smaller building contained the lounge area with a dining table, minibar, and a deep built-in lounge (like a bed-sized sofa) for TV watching and relaxing. Back outside, a table with four chairs and a double lounger with a large canvas umbrella provided additional spots for in-villa dining and poolside relaxation.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba: Dining
It was tempting to order in-villa dining and enjoy every meal poolside, but venturing out was worthwhile. I started each day with the outstanding breakfast buffet at Oriente, where they do Mexican, Asian and American standards equally well. You'll even find sushi, stir-fry, and an omelette station among the offerings. (Don't miss the Prosciutto for a savory treat, and Abuelito's hot chocolate with cinnamon for something sweet.
Tamarind off the spa is a don't-miss dining experience for foodies; in it is served modern cuisine pairing food with wildly different flavors and textures, like a watermelon and goat cheese salad, to inspired results. Over the water, Saffron is possibly the area's only Thai restaurant, and certainly the most authentic; its chef comes direct from south Thailand. Sands, overlooking the beach and pool, serves outstanding casual fare al fresco with a seasonal Mexican menu for dinner.
Staying in can be rewarding, too, with in-villa dining available from all of the restaurants at Banyan Tree Mayakoba. I especially enjoyed the guacamole, the seafood ceviche, and the tiny dark chocolate-covered cookies that came along with every meal. With a day's notice, the in-villa dining staff can bring a Mexican, Thai or Mediterranean barbecue to your room, complete with a waiter, music and candles; the effect is magical.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba: Recreation And Romance
So much of this resort is dedicated to creating relaxing, romantic, sensual moments. The resort has a dedicated romance concierge. Not confident in your planning? Check the red Romance book at reception; it has ideas for such diverse intimate moments as a helicopter ride to and from the airport to an all-day spa session for two.
If the waterway that flows right through the lobby around the banyan tree is the heart of the resort, the spa undoubtedly is its soul. The spa therapists are straight from villages in Thailand, and all trained and certified in Banyan Tree's unique method. I enjoyed a three-hour experience called the Thai Herbal Detox. My therapist's tiny hands belied enormous strength and a caring touch as she indulged me with a foot soak in a flower-filled bowl, a lemongrass body scrub and a full-body massage with some Thai-style stretching. Pure bliss.
Also at the spa, the Rainforest Walk is an affordable hour-long experience that's perfect as an add-on before a spa treatment or by itself. You are led through a dozen or so hydrotherapy treatments including a steam shower with a salt scrub, a Finnish sauna, and a refreshingly chilling ice fountain.
With a pool at every villa, the main pool and beach area seems superfluous until you experience it. A boat takes you from the lobby past gorgeous native wildlife and vegetation, or you can call for one of the electric carts. (It's about a 20 minute walk.) The pool's shining tiles give is a mystical enchanting air, and the swim-up bar is the perfect place to while away a hot Mexican afternoon. On the adjacent beach, thick cushiony lounge chairs with sturdy triangular pillows are set up with huge beach towels and shaded with large canvas umbrellas when you arrive. The attentive staff will pamper you with chilled towels, water and robes.
The resort is geared to couples, whether on honeymoon or just looking for a special getaway. Children are welcome as well, and two-and three-bedroom villas can accommodate families. Restaurants and in-villa dining include children's menus, and daily children's activities like movies and LEGO building are hosted by the resort.(Reviewed 9/8/2010)
More About Banyan Tree Mayakoba
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Banyan Tree Mayakoba is located: just south of Cancun in Mexico's Riviera Maya
Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Km. 298, Playa Del Carmen, QR 77710 Mexico
Phone: +52 984 877 3688; Reservations: (800) 591-0439
Web site: Banyan Tree Mayakoba
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.