Lovely Fairmont Mayakoba a great spot on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico
Canadian golfer Stephen Ames is a guy known for speaking his mind. So when he tells me he thinks the Fairmont Mayakoba resort in Mexico is a "fantastic property," that says something.
Ames was playing last week in the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and was staying, along with a bunch of other players, at the Fairmont. It's a beautiful property (with a five-star rating from the American Automobile Association) that's quite secluded, with plenty of room (45 acres) to roam about.
There are 401 rooms, but some 90 per cent of them are behind the mangrove line that's behind the beach so as to protect the fragile environment. Only 34 units are in the beach area, many of them with private pools and all with butlers at your service.
The units are spread out along a vast network of canals that are home to dozens of species of fish, as well as herons, ibis, ducks, turtles and the occasional crocodile, which usually gets whisked away as quickly as possible. You can't - and wouldn't want to - swim in the canals, but they're a relaxing backdrop to the resort. There are free boat rides (all electric boats with overhead covers called lanchas) through the mangrove forests; a great way to learn about the environment and the local wildlife. They even had an ecology manager on site to make sure things are done right.
The beach is a little remote from the units for some folks' taste, but Paulina Feltrin, the resort's public relations director, tells me beach shuttles run all the time and that nobody has to wait more than five minutes for a ride. You also can hop on a BMW bike any time you wish and take a short ride to the beach or the beachside pool or the restaurant Las Brisas, where they serve a wonderful blue crab tostada and will make you a margarita with cucumber or tamarind if you wish. All the seafood they serve is sustainable, Feltrin says. And the views out onto the Caribbean and over to Cozumel are wonderful.
(The food is great but watch the habanero hot sauce. Just a small drop is enough to satisfy all but the most avid chile fans.)
The Fairmont Mayakoba also has a beautiful spa with 20 treatment rooms and Maya-inspired treatments and several enormous swimming pools, one an adults-only facility. There's also a kids' program and a nice pool with a small waterslide to keep youngsters entertained. It also is the only Fairmont in the world that has an all-inclusive program for those who wish one.
The hotel is right alongside the El Camaleon golf course, which is a beauty. A couple of the rooms have fine views of the course.
Mayakoba is an area north of Playa Del Carmen, a fun place to walk about and have drinks or dinner, and the city of Cancun. So it's a shorter ride to the airport in Cancun than many of the resorts on the Mayan Riviera.
Feltrin says Mayakoba's seclusion makes it one of the safest areas along the Mayan Riviera, which many folks say is the safest part of Mexico. I certainly had no problems during my recent week at the Barcelo Maya Beach resort south of Playa Del Carmen, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back again.