Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Bottom Line Review
Definitely in the top 5 resorts we have been to in the world. The base room is a villa with a private courtyard and pool. The two pool areas are gorgeous, one overlooking the lagoon and the other overlooking the beach. The restaurants are all top-notch, both in ambiance, food and service. And the service covers the 3 big "P's" - personal, proactive and professional. Highly recommend!
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba (BTM) is located in a secure gated area called Mayakoba, about 15 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. It's about a 45 minute drive from the Cancun International Airport.
Mayakoba is a protected reserve area for birds and other animals. There are four resorts inside Mayakoba - Banyan Tree, Rosewood, Fairmont, and Andaz. There is also a world-class golf course and a massive man-made lagoon that winds throughout the entire complex. The Mayakoba complex is not within walking distance to any restaurants or shops. However, within Mayakoba, all four resorts are connected for charging privileges so you can go to any of the hotels and charge food, spa, and shopping back to their room.
The base villa, appropriately called the Bliss Pool Villa, is roughly 3,000 square feet including the private courtyard and pool. We were upgraded one level up to the Serenity Pool Villa. The difference between the two villas appears to be the separate stand-alone "entertainment" room and a hot tub added to the pool.
The villa we had was wheelchair accessible so the standard villas will look somewhat different inside.
The bedroom/bathroom part of the villa was very spacious. The bed, pillows, and sheets were very comfortable, the air conditioning worked great, and the water pressure was amazing. The villas are very private and felt extremely secluded.
The Thai influence in the architecture is unmistakable but more than anything, this resort transport you to "somewhere else". We really loved that feeling and it's the perfect way to escape on vacation.
The Sands Beach Club is really one of the most beautiful pool and beach areas we have ever seen. The decor, the variety of seating and loungers, the soft white sand, and the infinity pool overlooking the beach create an extremely relaxing atmosphere.
The video below is from when you enter the Sands Beach Club and walk towards the pool and beach.
The variety of comfortable seating was great but what was really nice to see is the lack of rows and rows of loungers. BTM has done a remarkable job creating separation between groups of people and that is relatively rare at most beach resorts.
Food & Drink:
The main restaurant is the Oriente restaurant, which is where breakfast is held. BTM has an amazing breakfast buffet, one of the best we have seen outside of Asia. They have a great selection of American, Mexican, and Asian food, much of it made to order. There is indoor and outdoor seating and the service is similar to all service at the resort, which is to say spectacular.
Their signature restaurant is called Saffron, which specializes in Thai cuisine. Evidently every Banyan Tree resort around the world has a Saffron restaurant and the food was excellent. Even better than the food was the exquisite setting, with the tables on platforms that juts out onto the lagoon. As the sun goes down and the lights come on around the resort, the effect is quite stunning.
Another fantastic restaurant is Cello, the resort's Italian restaurant and our personal favorite. It seems counter-intuitive to be in Mexico, in a resort owned by a Thai hotel company and yet the food we loved the most was at their Italian restaurant. It's even one of our all-time favorite Italian restaurants in the world. The food is so phenomenal and when you pair it with the service and the views, it is very difficult to beat. Their signature cocktail is called the Sorrento Sunset, a near perfect cocktail in our opinion.
The Sands Beach Club turns into a seafood and steak restaurant in the evening. Once again, the food is excellent and being at the beach with the view and sea breezes makes the experience very memorable. They have an enormous 12oz filet mignon, which they grilled to perfection. They also grill freshly caught whole fish that is a treat for the tastebuds.
The last restaurant on property is the Oriente restaurant. It's where breakfast is held in the mornings but in the evenings, it turns into an open-air steakhouse called the Tomahawk Den where you can watch the chefs grill your steaks over locally-cut wood. This was our least favorite restaurant, not because the food wasn't good (it was great) but because you could get equally great steaks at the Sands Beach Club and the ambiance at the beach cannot be beat.
Overall we would give the property a 3 out of 5 for wheelchair accessibility.
They do have at least one accessible villa, which we have stayed in both times. The accessible villa has no steps, wide doorways, and is generally flat throughout. There is even a ramp in the outside area to reach the outside daybed down near the lagoon water. The villa has a roll-in shower but no built in shower bench. There is also no pool lift to get in and out of the pool. Overall the basic accessibility is good in the villa.
The hotel grounds are generally flat but the only way to get from the villa to the main hotel lobby (and also the spa, Oriente and Cello restaurants, gym, and other main building amenities) is to either go up a steep ramp, go down 3 steps, or use one of the hotel golf carts. The golf carts are the main way most people get around the resort but they are not designed for someone to transfer from a wheelchair since there are immovable side arms. We used the carts many times but I had to lift Judy each time to get her into the carts. Once you are at the main building, it is all accessible with elevators.
All of the restaurants are accessible as well as the spa and gym. The property also has a boat that does tours through the lagoons along with transporting guests between hotels. Unfortunately the boats are not accessible and even to reach the boats is about a dozen steps.
Both pool areas are not accessible. The lagoon pool area has several steps to get to the pool deck. The beach pool also has several steps plus a small strip of sand to cross to get to the pool deck. For our second visit, the hotel build a temporary ramp for us to reach the pool deck. The hotel manager also had the pool staff hold one of the double daybeds held for us each day, which was a wonderful gesture.