Banyan Tree opens all-villa Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico


I just returned from a quick trip to Cancun to visit this signature resort that opened in spring, 2009. Banyan Tree is an Asian luxury hotel brand that opened it’s first resort here in the peak of the economic downturn and just before the H1N1 flu scare. It's one of several luxurious Mexican resorts.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba offers 132 spacious private villas, each with its own pool large enough to swim laps in. Each gated villa has a large outdoor private grassy area featuring the pool, a jacuzzi (in select categories), patio table, and Bali beds, both open to sun and protected from the sun. As the Mayakoba resort area is surrounded by winding lagoons and riverways, each villa faces water.

Villas are tastefully decorated, with both fine Mexican and Asian touches. Room amenities are plentiful, including Illy espresso, a range of beverages and snacks for purchase, robes and slippers, beach bags, umbrella, his and her emergency toiletry kits, and mosquito replellent should it be required. Bicycles are also available for use on property.

One of the highlights of Banyan Tree is their spa. The Spa here is exceptional. Each treatment room is a small villa featuring a changing room, steam and shower, along with a sitting area and two massage tables. This is heaven for couples. In addition, the Banyan Tree spa features a unique Rainforest treatment, a cycle of varying hot and cold wet rooms, the first of its kind in North America. To stay here and not partake in the spa would be to miss out on half the experience! Yes, my Balinese massage was one of the best massages I’ve had! (The spa therapists are from Thailand). A yoga room and fitness center complement the facilities.

Dining was exceptional, with the Oriente providing breakfasts offering an array of American, Mexican, Japanese and SE Asian cuisines; Sands, a beach side cafe; Tamarind (closed during my stay) and offering healthy spa-style cuisine, and Saffron, featuring upscale Thai dining. There’s also a private wine room and poolside bar (both closed during my visit). There are reciprocal dining privileges with the other Mayakoba resorts: Fairmont and Rosewood.

While the private pool villas and services available provide little incentive to leave one’s villa, the property does have a large pool by the main building as well as beachside, along with the ocean-side beach. Beach side service was attentive and excellent.

The main building includes most of the properties main dining venues and facilities, along with a couple of stores. For a touch of elegance Banyan Tree provides, one needs only peruse these shops and admire the fine quality goods offered — from fine Mexican silver to the most luxurious Thai silks. On the top floor is the reception area and La Copa Lobby Bar, offering a huge area with cabanas, sofas and Bali beds for enjoying a fine cocktail and pleasant conversation.

There are several villa room categories, and it’s important to understand the differences and choose properly. I almost preferred my Garden pool villa, the lowest villa category, for its high ceilings, but certainly the other villas, up to three-bedrooms, and with jacuzzis, provide the right fit for certain travelers.

For golfers, the adjacent El Chamaleon golf course, home of the USPGA Mayakoba Classic championship every February, is of high quality.

This is Banyan Trees first foray in North America. Resorts are scheduled to open in Acapulco, opening the last quarter of 2009, and a wine and spa resort in the vineyard of the famous Mexican winery, Monte Xanic, in the Guadalupe Valley (the Napa Valley of Mexico) in North Baja California, Mexico. So stay tuned as Banyan Tree establishes itself in North America. Maritur is located on property, and can provide airport transfers by new Cadillac Escalade vans, or signature excursions to some of the exciting sightseeing opportunities offered in the area.

Right now, rates here are phenomenal for what this resort provides, and luxury spa services and all food on property is at 50% off!