Hotel Spotlight

A Private Bubble of Beachy Bliss in Mexico

by Jeralyn Gerba
Banyan All photos courtesy of Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

These are extraordinary times. Travel with extraordinary care. Check out the special Covid notes from Banyan Tree: Existing bookings may be postponed to a later date without having to select a future day immediately or cancel altogether. There are no cancellation or amendment fees when changes are made 24 hours before arrival. If you would like to change a destination better suited to your revised travel arrangements, Banyan Tree will transfer your reservations to a sister property of your choosing. New bookings can also be changed or canceled at no charge.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
$$$$ (from $500)

International hospitality brand Banyan Tree (with luxury hotels and spas in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Middle East) got its humble name from an unusual species of fig tree with aerial roots and limbs that spread laterally, indefinitely — each singular specimen creating its own mini jungle. Hindus say Krishna stood beneath one when he delivered the sermon of the Bhagavad Gita. Poet John Milton had his Adam and Eve fashion clothes from banyan leaves in Paradise Lost. In Asia and India, the banyan tree has long been synonymous with providing shelter to weary travelers. And it does feel like we've been traveling a long, hard road for a while — even though we've mostly been sheltering in place.

When the Thai-based brand launched its first hotel, it sought to emulate the relief and comfort nature provides through high service standards and service culture, an all-pool villa concept, and tropical garden spas — which can be found in gorgeous locations all over the world. When Banyan Tree Mayakoba opened in Mexico's Riviera Maya over a decade ago, the aim was to up the ante of the lavish coastal development by blending Asian hospitality with Mexican culture that shines through the wellness experiences, a beach club, restaurants, waterside terraces, and tons of flora and fauna. The result is 123 all-private pool villas (the smallest is 3,150-plus square feet) with walled gardens, sun terraces, nature-filled nooks for getting lost, and lagoon canals lined with mangroves.

Book It

Rates start at $500. Click here for reservations. Or contact the Fathom Concierge and we can book your trip for you.

At a Glance

The Vibe: Private bubble of beachy/jungle bliss.

Standout Detail: The state-of-the-art hydrothermal experience, called The Rainforest, is a ten-step treatment that involves going through various sensory chambers like a cascading Rain Walk, aroma steam room, hamam, sauna, ice fountain, and restorative acupressure vitality pool
. All spa therapists at Banyan Tree are trained at the original location in Phuket.

This Place Is Perfect For: Couples and families looking to relax, be pampered, and generally stay put.

Rooms: 123 private pool villas include beachfront properties and two- and three-bedroom family residences. Indoor/outdoor living is seamless with amenities like hammocks, walled gardens, walk-in closets, fresh fruit deliveries, and big bathtubs with sustainable bath amenities.

On Site: The resort is working on new over-the-water villas and beachfront suites, as well as renovating Sands Beach Club to include two expanded oceanfront pools, an all-day-dining indoor and outdoor restaurant, a Raw Bar, a new Kid's Club with a pool and ocean views, and updated spa facilities (to be completed at the end of 2020).

Food + Drink: There are several dining options, but the most interesting is Haab, a culinary experience channeling ancient Mayan flavors and techniques. Guests are led into a jungle garden where they watch dinner prepared over an open fire as a traditional storyteller shares Mayan legends and astronomy lessons under the stars. On the more resort-y side of things: Saffron is the resort's signature Thai dining room, nestled among the mangroves. Tomahawk is the steakhouse. There's also a beach shack, an Italian restaurant, a globally inspired breakfast bar, a burger shop, a pool bar, and a raw bar. Private dining includes in-villa barbecues, romantic dinners on a traditional trajinera boat, and tapas on a sunset cruise.

What to Do Nearby

In Mayan, Mayakoba means "village over the water" — a stretch of Caribbean Sea with cenotes for swimming and nature trails for walking and jogging. The hotel is 45 minutes away from the beachfront Mayan ruins of Tulum and ten minutes away from the famous Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen. Mexico’s only PGA golf course is a few minutes away (the hotel can book the game, buggy and equipment for you — and even your kids).