Mayakoba translates to “village over the water,” a fitting moniker for this luxury property located on the lagoon in Mexico’s Riviera Maya south of Cancun that just celebrated its 10th anniversary. All 123 villas at Banyan Tree Mayakoba are located either on the lagoon or on beachfront, and all of them have a spacious outdoor area with a private pool and patio furniture. Each villa ranges from one to three bedrooms (the three-bedroom family residence holds up to six people, while the beachfront three-bedroom pool villa is steps away from the white sand and turquoise waters.) Here are five reasons why you should consider it for your family’s summer vacation.
Soak in the Seamless Blend of Mayan and Asian Culture
Because the hotel brand is headquartered in Singapore, each location is rooted in Asian hospitality, including having a signature Thai restaurant. Located on the water, Saffron serves authentic Thai dishes including a multicourse, family-style dinner with specialities from different regions of the country, like chili-coated grilled chicken, green papaya salad, grilled beef marinated in coriander root, lemongrass and galangal soup with salmon and grouper, fried fish with herbs and garlic, stir-fried vegetables and mango with sticky rice for dessert. Of course, Mexican cuisine is never far away either, starting with an enchilada station at the breakfast buffet at Oriente, flautas and flank steak by the pool at Reflections and an entire ceviche menu at Sands on the beach (the grouper tossed with cucumber, tomato, serrano chile and red onion is tops, but all are fresh and flavorful).
Take an Eco Tour Through the Lagoon … or Explore in a Kayak
Departing regularly just off the lobby, a one-hour guided boat tour takes you through the canals of Mayakoba where your captain points out birds, plants and wildlife along the way, and the ride also affords views of the other resort properties on Mayakoba. You can see the waterways from a different perspective via kayak. Guided 90-minute tours in single or double kayaks start at the dock at El Camaleon and head through the waterways, and, if you are lucky (or maybe not, depending on your perspective), you’ll see one of the crocodiles in the area. (Don’t worry, the resort knows exactly how many there are at any given time and only keeps them on the property until they reach a certain size.)
Attend a Mayan Culinary Feast in the Heart of the Jungle
Three times per week, the resort hosts HAAB, an interactive outdoor dining experience named for the Mayan Zodiac and inspired by the four basic elements of earth, wind, fire and water and suitable for teenagers and older children. Sixteen guests are escorted into the jungle by Mayan warriors brandishing drums and torches; following a sundown ritual and face painting, the warriors recount stories of Mayan culture and customs and guests participate in the preparation of traditional cuisine that pays homage to how the civilization cultivated their food in fields and forest gardens. The dinner starts with sopas, fried corn dough filled with meat and vegetables, washed down with xtabentun, an ancient honey and ancient liqueur. Throughout the course of the evening, guests sample a variety of Tequila and mezcal, and those not imbibing can enjoy a variety of aguas frescas, water flavored with fruits. Other dishes may include fish and shrimp ceviche in avocado sauce, lime soup with pulled chicken, suckling pig wrapped in banana leaves and roasted and beef tenderloin coated in ground espresso beans and cassava. During dessert the Mayan performers return, and the night ends around the fire pit roasting marshmallows for s’mores with a nightcap of xtabentun.
Luxuriate in Your Villa
With ample space inside and out, sumptuous furnishings, walk-in closets and spacious bathrooms, your villa becomes an oasis that’ll be all but impossible to vacate. On the patio, a daybed and lounge chairs beckon, as well as your private pool; outside your front door you’ll find bicycles for your use on the three-mile nature trail adjacent to the resort. Standard amenities include a selection of pillows, stocked toiletries kit, robes and slippers, CD & DVD player, Bose sound system, coffee and tea making facilities, universal sockets and insect repellent, and an outdoor bathtub just off the bathroom makes for a relaxing end-of-the-day soak. You don’t even need to leave your accommodation for meals, as a personal chef will come to your villa to prepare an in-villa BBQ for your family.
Book a Unique Hydrotherapy Experience at the Spa
The Rainforest Trail is a unique experience with hot and cold thermal cabins and eight different experiences. Start with the Rain Walk, where you’ll be spritzed with water while walking on smooth stones that serve as acupressure for the soles of your feet. Breathe deeply in the Aroma Steam Chamber while slathering a mask on your body, head to the Finnish sauna then cool off with a scoop from the Ice Fountain. Finally, explore the different acupressure jets in the Vitality Pool and Waterfall before retreating to a lounge chair for a soothing cup of ginger tea.