The prestigious Mayakoba estate encompasses a mile of pristine Caribbean shoreline backed by mangroves, jungle, and a six mile network of canals and lagoons. From the start, development of the estate focused on ecological conservation and sustainability. This is one of the few locations on the Riviera Maya where most of the intrastructure is concentrated away from the beaches, in order to protect the mangroves and dunes.
Visitors to Mayakoba have the chance to enjoy the gorgeous beaches and irreplaceable natural resources without contributing to their erosion and deterioration. As a bonus, they benefit from so much more than a beach destination; their accommodations feature vistas of serene natural oases teeming with birds and exotic wildlife. They can travel around the estate by boat, enjoy nature tours from their doorstep, and breathe in the fresh, unpolluted air.
Mayakoba currently hosts three world class resorts (the Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and the Rosewood Mayakoba) as well as a championship golf course. Each resort has a beach club fronting the Caribbean, a small number of beachfront accommodations, and a main section set back from the coastline, preserving the mangroves.
The three luxury hotels at Mayakoba each have their own style, so take a little time to work out which is best for your vacation. We’ve stayed at all three properties and here’s our take on the merits of each.
The Fairmont Mayakoba is the biggest, and often hosts groups and conventions. With several large pools and extensive facilities, it’s a great choice for families. It’s the most affordable of the three and you can often find great deals here outside of the peak seasons.
Banyan Tree is a luxury group based in Asia, and there’s an exotic theme to the guest villas at this property, each with a private swimming pool. It’s the smallest of the Mayakoba hotels and will appeal to honeymooners looking for privacy and an exclusive ambiance.
The Rosewood Mayakoba is an indulgent and intimate property that incorporates the essence of Mayakoba in its design. Most rooms have views of the lagoons and canals – some are even built overwater. The Rosewood group is famous for its outstanding levels of service and innovative upscale amenities.
This table explains some of the advantages of each property, with our (subjective) ranking according to several features.
Individual single story villas with private pools and walled gardens, lots of privacy.
The smallest property, but good facilities. Beachfront pool is quite small (but every guest room has a private pool here).
Saffron (Thai) and Tamarind (Mediterranean) are both superb and beautifully decorated, separate restaurant for breakfast and nice beachfront restaurant.
Exotic and extensive facilities, includes Rainforest hydrothermal experience
Only Two and Three bedroom suites are by the beach
More suited to couples, but two and three bedroom villas are available
The most intimate and private property
Fairmont rooms are in the main building, choose casitas and suites for more character. Signature casitas are recommended.
Several big pools, good fitness facilities, best property for groups and conventions.
Plenty of options, including fine dining by the beach. Breakfast restaurants can be busy.
Professional and comprehensive range of treatments.
Small and exclusive beach front section with a variety of room categories.
Excellent kids club, more connecting rooms and suites, more space and facilities for older kids in this bigger property
Choose the casitas and suites for romantic occasions
Even the lowest category has private plunge pool and lots of luxurious amenities plus canal and lagoon views
Very nice beachfront area, boutiques and good sized pools.
Fine dining but only two main restaurants, Casa del Lago (also serves breakfast) and Punta Bonita (by the beach).
Beautiful facilities on a separate island, special Spa suite accommodations available
Beachfront Studios and Two bedroom Presidential suite are beach front.
Good kids club. Some connecting and adjacent rooms.
Excellent, extra special
Very romantic, indulgent suites with serene views.
Exploring the spectacular location is one of the joys of a stay at Mayakoba. Whichever resort you choose, you’ll be immersed in the natural beauty of this region as soon as you leave your room.
For some room categories (including most at the Rosewood), you’ll be taken straight to your accommodations by boat. At others you’ll be transported by golf cart – you’ll rarely see conventional road vehicles within the guest areas of the estate. Golf cart shuttles are also available to take you between your accommodations and the restaurants or beach clubs of your chosen resort. Bicycles are another popular way of getting around the property (the Fairmont has cycle depots throughout the hotel grounds where guests can pick up and return a bike). The Banyan Tree is the smallest hotel by area and the best choice if you prefer everything to be in walking distance. We’ve walked from the lobby to the beach at each one of the properties, but most people prefer to take a shuttle, especially in the heat of the day. In the early morning, the road to the beach is a popular route for joggers, and most hotels incorporate it as part of a walking nature trail.
Another huge advantage of a stay at any of the Mayakoba properties is that you can enjoy an efficient and ecological transportation system throughout the estate. Complimentary golf cart and boat shuttles (the Mayakoba Connection) operate between the lobbies and beach clubs of each hotel, so you can easily experience lunch or dinner at one of the other hotels. This gives guests access to eight or more gourmet restaurants, with exclusive transportation available between them – no need to drive or look for a taxi.
We highly recommend taking advantage of the complimentary nature tours by boat that are often available within the estate. These usually depart early in the morning, sometimes with a later departure too, though the tour is well worth an early start to the day.
During a nature tour or on the Mayakoba Connection you may see the resident crocodiles “Alex” and “Sofia”, or spot a turtle coming up for air. Bird lovers will be fascinated by the dozens of exotic species that make the mangroves their home. You may also see deer, racoons, coatis, and iguanas. The multilingual guides on each boat love to entertain and educate any younger passengers by pointing out the wildlife and providing more information from nature books on board. Even a trip for lunch becomes a big adventure for children!
“El Camaleon” is the Greg Norman designed championship golf course at Mayakoba. This course has hosted the only official PGA tour event held outside the USA and Canada. The 18 hole, 7024 yards, par 72 course is open from 6:30am to 6pm.
Facilities include a pro-shop, beverage carts, GPS equipped golf carts and the Jim Mclean Golf School.
For more information about the course, see here.