Some people don’t mind flying halfway around the world and spending $1,000 a night to enjoy a AAA Five Diamond resort with accommodations that offer luxury, privacy, access to nature and a creative blend of cultures. But that kind of experience is just a few hours away, and if you visit from late October to early December, surprisingly affordable at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, located about an hour south of Cancun on Riviera Maya.
Book in advance of the high-season to enjoy an array of appealing places to cool off—including the private pools that every guest gets to enjoy from their villa. Popular with couples, Banyan Tree Mayakoba also accommodates families in its larger villas. Here are five reasons to consider booking a last-minute stay.
Note: The resort is undergoing renovations—the addition of over-the-water villas and beachfront suites and the renovation and expansion of Sands Beach Club—from now until early 2020. Most accommodations are well way from the construction zone and guests will be able to enjoy beach access at a newly constructed Beach Club.
The Spacious Villas Are Offer Relaxation and Seclusion.
There aren’t any rooms at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, just 123 luxury villas that offer plenty of space and seclusion—including an inviting private pool set amid a courtyard overlooking the lagoons and mangroves. They offer 3,153- to 5,511-sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor living and during shoulder season some can be booked for around $619 a night.
The villas feature warm wood décor with striking touches of gold, orange and red as well as large bathrooms, walk-in closets and outdoor bathtubs. Each comes with complimentary Wi-Fi and a pair of bikes for exploring the resort, including a three-mile nature trail.
You Can See Lots of Local Flora and Fauna.
The 620-acre Mayakoba complex—which includes three other resorts (Fairmont, Rosewood and Andaz) as well as private residences—is set amid a maze of man-made mangrove-lined lagoons that are home to more than 200 species of vibrant birds (including herons, egrets, ibis and storks) as well as alligators, turtles, iguanas, monkeys and coati. Banyan Tree offers free eco-boat tours (on comfortable and electric boats featuring ample shade) with a guide to help guests spot the local wildlife.
Guests who want a slower-paced, self-paddle experience can also book a 90-minute kayak tour. In addition, the resort employees a falconer on the beach who sets a trained falcon into the skies to scare off scavenger birds looking for leftovers from lunch. Another way to appreciate the resort’s natural surroundings is on the Greg Norman-designed, jungle-meets-sea El Camaleón golf course.
You’ll Enjoy a Thai Vibe Much Closer to Home.
Banyan Tree Resorts is Thailand-based and some of the cultural heritage is evident the moment you arrive: the open-air courtyard features a lantern-strung banyan tree surrounded by architecture that marries Asian and Mayan design and artwork. The effect is particularly seductive at night when dramatic lighting and the sounds of the jungle set the mood.
The Thai influence is seen in fabrics and décor and at the spa (where many of the therapists are from Thailand), while the flavors of Thai cuisine can be enjoyed at Saffron, an open-air lagoon-front eatery serving classic dishes prepared by Thai chefs with a contemporary twist.
Its Location Offers Easy Access to Top Mayan Sites.
Not everyone wants to just relax by the pool or at the beach and enjoy spa treatments while on vacation—some people want to experience the local area. Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s location makes it easy to see a trio of major Mayan sites: Tulum, which has a gorgeous setting perched above the sea; Coba, hidden away in the jungle and home to the climbable Nohoch Mul pyramid (it has 120 steep steps); or Chichen Itza, where you can see the legendary El Castillo and Kulkukan pyramids.
All three are reachable on day excursions, making the resort a great base for indulging the senses as well as challenging your inner adventure-seeker.
There’s Culinary Variety to Satisfy All Appetites.
In addition to Saffron, guests at Mayakoba can enjoy a range of other cuisines: Italian (including fresh, handmade pasta) at Cello; grilled prime steak and seafood at The Tomahawk Den; Mexican dishes and fine tequila at La Copa Lounge; Yucatecan specialties and Mayan culture at Haab; and an international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Oriente.
Another dining option that’s popular with couples is a made-to-order fusion menu served aboard Ixchtel, a traditional trajinera boat as it cruises the resort’s waterways. Wine or tequila tasting and Thai or Mexican cooking classes are also available.