By Leaders In Travel agent, Sandy Muller
My travels to Mexico this past October 2009, brought me to the spectacular Banyan Tree Mayakoba - a new resort in the ever-popular playground that is the Riviera Maya, just a short drive south of Cancun.
The resort offers a unique Riviera Maya experience, blending Asian and Mayan cultures. With an architectural design that embodies the essence of Thai, the resort does not fall short in providing the local flavor of the destination, with Mexican touches everywhere. The entrance is, perhaps, a little too dazzling - more Las Vegas than Mexico - but the villas, spa, restaurants and the landscaping are tasteful and beautiful.
The spa is beyond description. It begins with a walk through the spa's "rain forest", with its varying degrees of hot and cold "rain" - and ends with a series of rooms for massage, steam and therapy. When your personal treatment sessions are almost completed, you enter a beautiful indoor pool and relaxation area. Just outside the Spa building is a series of spa cabins for single and/or couple treatments. The spa complex design is totally Thai and heavenly.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba's villas are extremely private, as you enter a walled courtyard containing a large pool and outdoor living area with a small dining table and chairs, overlooking a stunning lagoon. The larger villas have a separate glass enclosed air-conditioned living room/dining room, which are not attached to the bedroom, but within the courtyard.
The bedroom is very large and dramatic: two of the walls are glass sliding doors through which you can also enter the pool. The bathroom contains a center counter with two large sinks. Off this room are additional rooms, walk-in closet, walk-in shower, separate commode, and another sliding door glass wall opening onto an outdoor area containing a fabulous bathtub, surrounded by candles.
The beach club is a self contained area of the resort, complete with a lovely restaurant, beach bar, large infinity pool and small beach. The clubhouse has showers, changing rooms, and an activity desk for water sports. Service is extremely attentive.
Two restaurants are open for dinner; one Mediterranean, one Thai; both offering beautifully presented gourmet meals. Service is top notch in each. Breakfast is served buffet style in a third restaurant located in the main building. In addition to a very ample hot and cold buffet, they offer eggs and pancakes cooked to order. The resort is planning to utilize this venue as an additional restaurant for dinner in high season, specializing in Mexican cuisine.
The entire property is beautifully landscaped and intertwined with lagoons. A protected area, it is not uncommon to find various species of birds and wildlife throughout the property. Banyan Tree employs a full time biologist and guests can enjoy a 50-minute boat tour of the lagoons and canals twice per week, focusing on the history and development of the Mayakoba area. With the biologist as your boat guide, guests have a chance to enjoy beautiful birds and wildlife up-close in this breathtaking setting.