The Riviera Maya is as idyllic and exotic as it sounds. Nestled on
Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, this region characterized by powdery white
sand beaches, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and lush emerald
jungle has been inhabited by the Mayans for thousands of years.

Mayakobá is a new luxury resort enclave, 42 miles south of Cancun,
presenting a rare experience for discerning travelers. Pass through the
secure main gate into a serene world of privilege and exclusivity that
includes El Camaléon, a Greg Norman-designed golf course, and four
ultra-luxury resorts – the AAA Five Diamond, Fairmont Mayakoba (opened 2006), the Rosewood Mayakoba (opened early 2008), Banyan Tree Mayakoba (opening February 2009) and The Viceroy Mayakoba
(opening next year). Guests staying at any one of the properties in the
Mayakobá complex have the rare privilege of sharing all resort
amenities, making the only difference where you lay your head at night.

Fairmont Mayakoba main canal. / El Camaleon golf course.

The luxurious Mayakobá development is distinguished from the rampant
high-rise hotels of nearby Cancun by a conscious effort to protect and
maintain the area's fragile eco-systems, as well as the indigenous
Mayan community. Here, you will not stay in a hotel tower. The four
resorts are built almost completely below tree-line, with casitas and
villas scattered through the jungle with views of the mangroves,
lagoons and canals, with just a smattering of beachfront casitas for
the privileged few. So even though the resort is huge, the feeling
throughout is private and intimate.

Developers made it their utmost priority to study the environment and
integrate the resort properties with as little disruption as possible.
To successfully complete such a forward-thinking project, they made a
thorough analysis to maintain natural balance, and biologists and
developers came up with the blueprint for creating the resort. From the
mangroves and canals to the beach and coral reef to the hundreds of
thousands of plants and wildlife, Mayakobá is and a thriving example of
how luxury and nature can live in perfect harmony.

Choose from Beachfront Casitas with private plunge pools or Casitas among the mangroves.

Mayakobá truly offers something for everyone – a mile long stretch of
one of the best beaches on the planet, the area's pristine coral reef –
one that is the second largest in the world, a world-class golf course
that is home to Mexico's premier Mayakoba Golf Classic,
indulgent spas offering indigenous and international treatments, nature
tours and cultural visits that amaze all ages, kid's clubs, imaginative
local and international cuisine, as well as the shopping, dining and
nightlife of charming Playa Del Carmen, just 5 miles away.

Kids will love the tour through the resort's crystal clear water canals
in a lanchas (silent covered motorboats) with an ecology expert to
point out the beautiful flora and fauna. We saw many birds including
Parrots, Hummingbirds, Kingfishers, Eagles, Herons, Cormorants,
Flycatchers and more. Environmentally friendly electric golf carts and
bicycles are also available throughout the property.

Lanchas (silent covered motorboats) tour through the
resort's crystal clear canals with an ecology expert to point out the
colorful flora and fauna.

Many of the most notable Mayan sites are an easy day trip from Mayakobá
-- among them are Cobá, perhaps the largest of the Mayan cities,
Chichen Itzá, famous for the 91-step pyramid, and Tulúm, a walled Mayan
port city perched above scenic beaches on the Caribbean coast.

Another great trip for parents and kids is to the lesser visited UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
where Mayan guides who speak English, Spanish and Mayan, take you
through the jungle to see mysterious Mayan temples and then by boat
across a lake to a natural “lazy river” where you float effortlessly
through crystal clear canals for several kilometres. At the end of the
adventure, you are served a delicious lunch of fresh ceviche, artfully
presented by a Mayan chef who was taught by the Fairmont Mayakobá staff
how to prepare five-star cuisine. The Fairmont Mayakobá actively
participates in empowering and revitalizing Mayan village communities,
keeping indigenous culture and local traditions alive, by providing
training and by purchasing locally made products.

Our Mayan guide takes us through the natural canals of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. / Chichen Itza is a day tour.

We stayed at The Fairmont Mayakobá which has 401 supremely comfortable
and spacious accommodations with huge, spa-like bathrooms that flow
open-plan from the bedrooms. The rooms and suites are scattered from
the main building to casitas and villas spread throughout the mangroves
and along the meandering canals and lagoons. The resort's premier
accommodations are the Beachfront Casitas with private infinity plunge
pools. The Private Signature Casita Suites with rooftop infinity plunge
pools are also spectacular, and the two Presidential Suites, which
should really be called villas, are perfect for families offering a
luxurious homelike atmosphere.

The Fairmont features some truly great pools, five of them – the main
“Island” pool is 10,000 square feet with swim-up bar and it is divided
into many private areas, so you feel like you have your own secluded
spot to relax. The two infinity pools, one overlooking the beach and
one overlooking the lagoon, have the “wow factor” and are for adults
only. The children's pool boasts a fantastic waterslide and wading pool
adjoining the main Island Pool, next to the Discovery Kids' Camp. There
is also the Bambú Pool near the main building for both adults and

Fairmont Mayakoba's beachfront infinity pool. / Tropical cocktails at the main 'Island Pool' swim-up bar.

The 37,000 square foot Willow Stream Spa also has a couple of pools on
the rooftop where you can ease your muscles with the healing waters of
the signature vitality pool, or find energy in the sea-mineral soaking
pool. Here, you can indulge in local, indigenous spa experiences based
on local Mayan traditions, featuring local herbs, essential oils, and
extracts. For chocolate lovers, discover Cacao with The Food of the
Gods Body Nourisher . The most popular treatment is the Cha Chac Rain
Ritual, based on the Mayan rain ritual.

The Fairmont Mayakoba is an amazing resort, because it is at once a
romantic retreat and a great family resort at the same time without one
interfering with the other. It is a serene hideaway and yet offers so
many things to see and do -- a dreamy beach, an amazing golf course, a
world-class spa, creative cuisine, cultural visits to ancient Mayan
sites, nature and adventure, as well as the advantage of sharing the
luxurious facilities of the other Mayakoba resorts – the Rosewood, the
Banyan Tree and coming next year, the Viceroy.

La Laguna breakfast buffet. / Las Brisas beachfront bar.

Insider tip: When you first arrive at the resort and are escorted to
your casita, the property will appear huge and maze-like. To get your
bearings, know that the property flows out from the main building
towards the beach, with casitas set on either side of a center island
where you will find the main “Island” pool and La Laguna restaurant
with the Lagoon infinity pool next to it. A mangrove separates the
casitas from the beach area. It is a fairly long walk to the beach, so
it is best to catch a golf cart or pick up a bicycle to get to the
beach where you will find the Las Brisas restaurant, bar and beachfront
infinity pool adjacent to it.