With favourable weather and 10 hours from London, the Riviera Maya in Mexico makes an excellent choice for a winter getaway. And the food scene is going from strength to strength with all eyes on noma. CODE recently visited Mexico’s east coast and here’s our pick of the best hotels.
With a jungle setting next to a beach with dazzlingly white soft sand, Belmond Maroma is a true Mayan dream. The Hacienda style resort is authentic in all senses: the lush, verdant landscape that surrounds the rooms is home to parrots and a multitude of native birds that chirp away – happy to call the Belmond Maroma home.
Rooms are designed in an understated Mexican style with tiled foors, thatched roofs with exposed beams and bamboo window covers. Make sure to book a room with ocean views where you can relax peacefully in your hammock.
The sea is a glorious multitude of blues due to its privileged location on one of the prettiest beaches in the area. There are two main restaurants and a sushi / ceviche bar. However our favourite spot to dine is by soft candlelight on the terrace of the Mexican restaurant, El Restaurante, with the sea breeze and crashing waves as the perfect backdrop.
Originally built as the private home of an Italian duchess, Hotel Esencia sits on a 50-acre estate on the white sand of Xpu-Ha in the Mayan Riviera. Quiet and exclusive, the property has only 29 rooms, including sea or garden views with large terraces and private plunge pools.
The vibe here is laid-back luxury – perfect for relaxation and getting away from it all. Enjoy complimentary yoga classes on the beach each morning before spending the day in the hammock on your terrace or on the beach. Hotel Esencia’s location makes it an excellent spot to explore Tulum and the area’s Mayan ruins. Esencia ofers barefoot luxury at its best.
The Rosewood Mayakoba is an all suite property that is luxurious in all respects. The 130 suites – built along serene lagoons – come with rooftop sundecks or private garden terraces, plunge pools and boat docks. The best suites, however, are located on the beach, where you can step from your bedroom to the sand.
Every guest at the Rosewood Mayakoba is taken to the room in a river boat, escorted by a butler while enjoying a welcome drink. Suites are spacious and offer open plan living, designed in neutral colours made from limestone and wood.
There are two large pool areas, including one next to the beach and one of the restaurants, Punta Bonita, which offers Mexican cuisine served ‘tapas’ style. Our favourite restaurant, however, is Agave Azul with its excellent sushi and views of the lagoon and the mangroves. Make sure to head to the beach for midday ‘Champagne O’clock’ to enjoy your complimentary glass of Taittinger on your sunlounger.
There are no standard rooms at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, but a collection of freestanding private villas ranging from one to three bedrooms, each with a pool and large outdoor area. Most of the villas are in-land, many overlooking the lagoon, but the most exclusive are located next to the beach. Families should book a townhouse, with three interconnected bedrooms and a rooftop pool – plenty of space for privacy and relaxation.
Banyan Tree’s Thai heritage and Asian-inspired design is evident at every turn. A large, beautiful open plan lobby captures this feeling with its use of dark wood and dramatic view of the lagoon, and in the villas, handcrafted Mayan furnishings and amenities complement the Asian design.
The signature restaurant, Saffron, offers modern Thai cuisine with a romantic candlelit setting on the lagoon. Mixing Asian design and hospitality with its Riviera Maya beach-side jungle location, the Banyan Tree blends seamlessly into its surroundings.
Emyr Thomas @BonVivantLiving
Emyr Thomas is the founder of Bon Vivant, a luxury travel and concierge service based in London with global coverage. Book through Bon Vivant for access to free upgrades, breakfast and restaurant and spa credits.