Social Life Magazine | Luxury Publication for the Hamptons

Unusual. Private. Exclusive. Banyan Tree Mayakoba

With no shortage of five star resorts seeking to establish themselves as go-to properties in Mexico, it may often be challenging for you to cut through the maze of options and land on a true gem … especially when you’re definitely not seeking a diamond in the rough.

Not too far down your list you most assuredly will find Banyan Tree Mayakoba, and it’s there that your research can come to an end. Located on the shores of Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya, this all-pool-villa resort brings new meaning to luxury South of the Border, with the added bonus of true convenience: boasting only a few short hours of flight time from New York City and other East Coast metro areas, it has become something of an attention grabber.

But don’t let the renown get in the way of your penchant for unusual, private and the exclusive.

With Banyan Tree, it’s “check, check and check!”

The resort is nestled along the edge of the exotic Mayan jungle and flawlessly blends Mexican culture, Asian hospitality and pure nature and serenity. All 123 elegantly designed private villas – from secluded Garden Villas to three-bedroom Beachfront Villas – feature spacious outdoor areas, private pools and unique layouts. Finally, while the accommodations speak for themselves, the wellness and spa options, interpolated with the cuisine, make for an experience unrivaled among its peers.

From the minute you enter the property (and here’s a differentiator – you will do so in less than hour of landing), you are swept away to a completely different world. Located in the heart of Mayakoba, the 1,600-acre resort enclave is nestled between miles of meandering lagoons and the Caribbean. You will be face to face with white sand beaches and turquoise water, but upon a more curious examination, you’ll find the bounty of the freshwater lagoons and mangroves, natural dunes and intricate coral reefs.

The white-glove service mentality of the staff will instantly put you at ease and help you understand that no whim is out of reach. But, before digging deeply into the details of your visit, you’ll want to get settled.

The impressive mix of villas, able to accommodate various size parties and offer a variety of views. While all offerings are spectacular, you cannot beat the Beachfront Three Bedroom Pool Villa. Just steps away from the white sand and turquoise waters, the exclusive beachside enclave features an exclusive selection of special services and amenities including a heated pool and bubbling jet pool.

For the previously initiated, you know that you can’t beat HAAB, a unique interactive outdoor dining experience that brings to life ancient Mayan traditions, culture and cuisine. As newbies, we raised an eyebrow when we were escorted into the jungle by Mayan warriors dressed in full garb with face paint and feather headdresses, beating drums and carrying fire-lit torches (think Survivor meets the Hawaii episode of The Brady Bunch). Following a sundown ritual, the warriors told stories of ancient Mayan culture and customs, as all guests actively participate in the preparation of traditional Mayan cuisine. In two words, it was educational and sublime.

HAAB takes its name from the Mayan Zodiac, an integral part of the Mayan calendar and culture, and is inspired by the four basic elements of earth, wind, fire and water, which are apparent throughout the evening.

Speaking of evident,  it will be so from the cuisine that wellness is a priority at Mayakoba: the spa and related activities drive home this imperative. Founded in Phuket in 2001, the Banyan Tree Spa Academy provides dedicated training facilities to ensure that the highly-skilled therapists consistently deliver the highest quality treatments and authenticity anywhere in the world.

To that end, the Banyan Tree Spa was created to blend romance, serenity and exotic sensuality in a true sanctuary for the senses. Features include 16 lagoon or jungle-view private treatment rooms, as well as massages and treatments in the privacy of your pool villas.

Here’s a favorite: The Rainforest hydrotherapy experience is unique to this resort, combining the best of European spa and hydrothermal therapy with the essence of Asian wellness philosophy to create a haven of serenity, warmth and comfort. With eight different hydrothermal therapy experiences, the exceptional Rainforest Trail is designed for a romantic experience, to soothe and revitalize your body, presenting a truly holistic and rejuvenating wellness experience.

The resort recently debuted a wellness program for travelers looking to stay active and healthy while on holiday. Aptly called the “Healthy Vacation” guests are offered a suite of wellness amenities and health-minded experiences, including daily smoothie bowls created by a health coach who also provides a 60-minute individual consultation, one yoga class, a cultural activity in the local community guided by the resort’s CSR director, and a welcome kit upon arrival with a yoga mat and special gift.

Yes, Banyan Tree Mayakoba should make your winter holiday short list even shorter … the only remaining question is, will you return?