Take an early flight and you could be at the Fairmont Mayakoba infinity pool with a view of the ocean by lunchtime. Atlanta is less than a three hour direct flight to Cancun. From there, a quick car ride will deliver you into the warm embrace of Mayakoba, an award winning eco-paradise on the Riviera Maya with four luxury hotels, private residences, a PGA golf course, white sandy beaches and miles of lush, green jungle. Just 25% of the property’s 620 acres is developed, leaving plenty of room for the habitat to support native wildlife, and an environment of calm for hotel guests.
The Fairmont was the first hotel to open in Mayakoba in 2006. The property has recently undergone an extensive renovation. Rooms have been remodeled with a fresh, neutral palette and organic touches tied to the environment, like coral and local wood. The beach club boasts Cielo, a rooftop bar with a breathtaking view of the Caribbean and Fuego, where outdoor dining just steps from the sea makes shoes optional.
The Andaz, Rosewood and Banyan Tree round out the Mayakoba portfolio. Each hotel has a unique flavor with a private beachfront, multiple eateries, and a spa. Paved pathways and a network of lagoons connect the properties. Catch a ride on a “tatich”, an 8 passenger golf cart driven by one of Mayakoba’s intrepid staff, who are full of super helpful information and knowledge about the property. From the Fairmont, it’s just a few minutes on the tatich to the beach or to any of the other hotels.
For me, a crucially important part of travel is being able to soak up the history and culture of a place. It can be challenging to get an authentic experience at an all inclusive resort. Mayakoba gets it right. There are many opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture. Spend an afternoon shopping for local, handmade products at El Pueblito, a replica of a traditional Mexican town square, complete with a mission-style chapel. Explore crystal clear water and stalactites 50 feet underground at Cenote El Burrodromo. There are thousands of these otherworldly freshwater sinkholes throughout the Yucatan Peninsula - all connected through limestone passageways. Learn about the Melipona beecheii, an endangered species of stingless bee native to the Yucatan that produces rare honey that is known to have medicinal properties.
There are many delicious dining options to keep your palate piqued, but one stands out and offers unexpected cuisine for a Mexican vacation. The Banyan Tree’s Saffron serves incredible Thai dishes overlooking the Mayakoba mangrove. Our table on a platform floating above the lagoon was the setting for a meal of fried rice with crispy crab, tenderloin with red curry and three types of rice, and a tequila cocktail called “Laweng” with tamarind-chili syrup, passion fruit and lime.
Mayakoba isn’t just a resort. It’s a thriving ecosystem of passionate people and exemplary hospitality operating within a sanctuary for plants, reptiles, spider monkeys, coati (a racoon-like furry friend with a long snout) and more than 250 species of birds. The resort’s sustainability team oversees the Coral Reef Restoration Program, fostering the growth of new coral colonies, and the protection of sea turtles.
A stay at Mayakoba offers a full circle experience of personal pampering and fun, built on a foundation of sustainability and conservation.
El Pueblito cooking class
Chef Sandy blew our minds with some hot tips: a coin in the steamer to monitor water level. Cheese and butter in masa dough for a more delicious tamale.
On the menu: guacamole, tamales with green salsa chicken; panuchos (tortilla pockets with beans and achiote chicken) and an end of class passion fruit margarita.