February 2, 2009

Fairmont Mayakoba (Riviera Maya) Review

I love Fairmont Resorts because they excel at being luxurious, yet kid-friendly, a balancing act that not all resorts do well. I have been pleased with all my Fairmont experiences, so I was very eager to try out the relatively new Fairmont Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya, just north of Playa del Carmen. I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive at first, as it is a very large, sprawling property. But once there, amidst the canals and lush vegetation, the resort took on a much more intimate feeling. And the Fairmont staff, as expected, provided exceptional service, so it was definitely not a mass market, “mega resort” experience.

Most of the rooms are spread out in low rise buildings around the property, surrounding an island with the main family pool, an adults only pool, kids club, cafe/deli, and casual restaurant. It really didn't take long to get oriented, as there is one main path running through the center of the property. Our room was the in “Private Casita” section, out by the beach, and separated from the rest of the resort by a long stretch of jungle. But rather than feeling isolated, we felt like we were staying a private resort. At the end of the day as guests headed back to their rooms near the main pool, we enjoyed having the oceanfront pool and beach to ourselves. And only the casitas in this section are assigned a private butler.

The best rooms hands down are the Beachfront Signature Casitas, with their own oceanfront infinity pool, and a terrace leading right to the beautiful beach. Most romantic are the Private Signature Casitas right behind them, on the second floor with their own rooftop infinity pool. While not beachfront, they enjoy the same panoramic views of the ocean and the resort, but are quieter and more private. But even the least expensive Fairmont rooms have their redeeming qualities. They are close to the lobby and spa, and have their own pool which was the quietest one of all, as most guests headed to the main pool in the center of the resort, just a short walk away. And as all rooms are nearly identical in size (~500 sq ft) and amenities, guests experience no difference in quality no matter what room they book.

For families wanting lots of space, there are many suites available which are basically two rooms connected, with the second bedroom transformed into a living room with sofa sleeper and coffee table, and two identical, and huge, bathrooms. Half of all the rooms at the resort are also available in a connecting configuration. Though they are not guaranteed before check-in, my clients receive priority in getting a connecting room request fulfilled because the Fairmont Mayakoba is a Virtuoso property.

What impressed me most about the resort was how it managed to serve the needs of all guests. Adults could find ample places to relax in peace, either at the adult infinity pool, or in the huge Willow Stream Spa (20 treatment rooms, including a couples’ room on the roof). Families with babies and toddlers hung out by the shallow kids’ pool, which was located conveniently close to the bathrooms, swim-up bar, and market. In fact I was very impressed by the clever design of the entire main pool area. Walkways and grassy areas clearly separated sections geared either for adults or children, but not so much that parents felt like they were isolated. Mom and Dad could relax in the kid-free water near the swim-up bar, but still easily monitor their kids on the waterslide. And if parents need some time alone, all children receive 3 complimentary hours in the Kids Club daily, which is open until 8 pm.

For 2009, the Virtuoso amenities are:
> Upgrade on arrival
(subject to availability)
> Daily continental breakfast for up to two guests
> $50 or $250 spa credit, depending on room type

For more information about the Fairmont Mayakoba, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist, at

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