Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico's Mayakoba Development

  • 01 of 10

    What to Expect at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Fairmont Mayakoba is the first major upscale hotel brand to open in Mayakoba, the new resort area on the Riviera Maya.

    It is a venture predicated on the belief that the trusted Fairmont name will attract customers who don’t care to gamble on quality and service.

    Fairmont Mayakoba makes a Mexican getaway easy. It is set a half hour from Cancun Airport, which is no more than few hours’ flight from anywhere in the Lower 48.

    At Fairmont Mayakoba, all staffers speak English, which is not the case at all Mexico resorts. Spa, golf, and restaurants are all on the Fairmont Mayakoba property. Numerous sparkling pools invite swimmers and splashers. Golfing couples at Fairmont Mayakoba will be delighted by the resort’s championship-level golf course, El Camaleon.

    There are some drawbacks: Fairmont Mayakoba is sprawling, with a potentially confusing serpentine layout requiring significant walking or waiting time for a golf cart.

    Some Fairmont Mayakoba visitors may be surprised that their guest room, while beautiful, may be in close proximity to others’ rooms. The overall feeling is not one of privacy. The Fairmont Mayakoba charges hefty a la carte prices for nearly everything. There are kids afoot. There are few diversions beyond the beach, spa, pools, and golf.

    Package deals and guest freebies are not a feature of Fairmont Mayakoba. This is a high-end, full-service resort with costs to match.

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  • 02 of 10

    Guest Rooms at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Fairmont Mayakoba’s 401 rooms are divided into nine classes. Apart from the beachfront villas, which are rambling and multi-story, rooms are approximately the same comfortable size. What varies is the rooms’ settings.

    Run-of-house rooms are located in apartment-like buildings with elevators, and many mid-level rooms are so close together that they have an oddly urban feeling, with Rear Window-type views of other guests’ balconies. The most secluded rooms face the lagoon or golf course, and furnish a much more private experience.

    Regardless of their location, Fairmont Mayakoba rooms are marvels of sophisticated, comfortable design, and living in them is a sensual pleasure. Floors are stone; furniture and doors are thick, gleaming wood; beds (king or two queens) are plush; and color schemes, with accents of ochre, pumpkin, or cranberry, delight the eye.

    Every room features a large balcony, a flat-screen TV, reading chairs, several phones, and CD player (bring music). There’s a dressing area with ample storage, cushioned hangers, and an in-room safe. Bathrooms have his-and-hers sinks with yards of granite countertops, lighted makeup mirror, hairdryer, stone shower with bench, whirlpool tub, partitioned john, robes, slippers, and Penhaligon's toiletries.

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  • 03 of 10

    Dining at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    The resort claims three restaurants, all with bars and roving live musicians who play jazz, mariachi, Peruvian, and classical genres. Menu and drink tabs are equal to what you’d pay in a big US city.

    La Laguna, in the center of fhe property, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a soaring ceiling and an outdoor deck overlooking the tranquil lagoon. Breakfast is both a la carte and buffet.

    The buffet is distinguished by fresh-squeezed exotic fruit juices and made-to-order omelets and sopas, Mexican mini-pizzas. La Laguna’s lunch choices include salads, sandwiches, and pizza. Its varied dinner menu highlights your choice of grilled meat, seafood, cheese, and/or vegetables served in a molcajete, the black volcanic stone used for mixing guacamole, and then rolled up fajita-style in tortillas.

    El Puerto, in the main lobby, serves dinner indoors and outdoors. Its specialty is fresh-caught local seafood including succulent Caribbean spiny lobster, which comprises half of a memorable surf-and-turf platter.

    The beachfront Las Brisas is so named for the breezy trade winds that whoosh off the Caribbean. It is Fairmont Mayakoba’s gourmet restaurant, where you can feast on tuna tartare followed by saffron-scented bouillabaisse or rosy duck breast. Cap the meal with a chocolate souffle, if you so desire.

    Room service is available 24/7.

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  • 04 of 10

    Weddings, Honeymoons, and Romantic Getaways at Fairmont Mayakoba

    mexico romance, riviera maya, fairmont hotels
    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Couples who choose to tie the knot at Fairmont Mayakoba will experience professional-quality wedding planning, catering, and attention. A variety of packages is available, from “just us and a few friends and family” to major wingdings requiring truckloads of tropical blooms.

    Ceremony venues include the beach; La Isla, an island bound by the property’s pools and lagoons; a ballroom; and a variety of suites. A shaded terrace is available if rain threatens. The couple may choose from several dining venues, including the beach. Several menus are offered, with custom options. Various packages for liquor, music, photography, and flowers and decorations are also presented.

    Mexican weddings call for a three-day residency, blood tests, and other requirements. The resort’s wedding planner will advise couples in this regard. Discounted room rates are available for group bookings.

    Honeymoon couples are treated to luscious flower-petal turndowns and a moonlit lancha ride with a storyteller who relates Mayan tales of love.

    Fairmont Mayakoba offers several honeymoon-appropriate packages. The four-night Under the Mayan Moon romance package includes airport transfers via Hummer, room upgrade, restaurant or in-room breakfast daily; a dinner for two on the beach, spa access, and other perks.

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  • 05 of 10

    Service at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Fairmont hotels are renowned for service, and the Riviera Maya outpost satisfies expectations. Despite its massive size, Fairmont Mayakoba service is warm and welcoming, with personal touches like individual mini-tours after check-in, and staff members who learn your name and greet you by it whenever they see you.

    Very impressively, Fairmont Mayakoba’s personnel are all either conversational or fluent in English, so there is never a lost-in-translation moment here. (Even the chambermaids can make themselves understood in English, which isn’t always the case within the U.S. And they are quieter than your usual morning staffers.) Baggage delivery, room service, and wakeup calls are reliable. Furthermore, staffers never seem to be angling for tips.

    The one service-related snag here is the transportation system. Golf carts are supposed to roam the grounds of this far-flung resort, but guests often give up on waiting and then set off on a 10 or 15-minute walk to the pool, spa or restaurants. (The beach is even farther).

    A better option is to take advantage of the many bicycles lined up for guest use throughout the resort. (If time is of no concern, a lancha ride, on a slow-moving boat that plies the resort’s end-to-end lagoon, is practical and romantic.)

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  • 06 of 10

    Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    A centerpiece of this resort is its hushed, soothing Willow Stream Spa, the Fairmont’s in-house spa brand. This spa is a modern architectural achievement in wood, glass, and a locally quarried beige stone called sascab.

    Changing areas, treatment rooms, and indoor and outdoor lounges are spacious, spotless, and inviting. Amenities offered to spa patrons include tea, tropical fruit juices, and cookies; a hot tub ample enough for a bachelorette party; a rooftop pool long enough for lap-swimming; a steam room and, instead of a women’s sauna, an inhalation room redolent with healing herbal scents.

    A beauty salon fashions Caribbean braids, breezy updos, and sleek mani-pedis. The spa boutique stocks jewelry, accessories, and international beauty products including the locally made Maya Herbal.

    Face and body services are performed by polite, well-trained estheticians. Treatments have a Mayan twist; the recommended Mayan Clay Purification combines a scalp-to-sole slathering with skin-soothing local clay followed by a massage. Signature Willow Stream Spa treatments include palliative massages for fliers or golfers.

    Couples treatments’ are performed in the pretty, tree-shaded Fuego Suite entered via a wooden catwalk. Treatments for two include the Yucatan Healing Retreat, Hip Honeymooners (rosepetal exfoliation and rubdown) and Ritual of Two (aromatic mud bath followed by massage).

    A spacious, extremely well-equipped adjoining gym and excellent fitness classes are open to all guests for a fee. Guests without spa appointments may use the pools, tubs, and steam rooms for a a fee. All these services are free to members of the Fairmont Presidential Club. Prospective visitors are urged to sign up online, at no cost, before their trip.

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  • 07 of 10

    Golf at Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Golf is an outstanding attribute at Fairmont Mayakoba.

    The Golf Club at Mayakoba borders the resort and is managed by Fairmont. Its 18-hole course, El Camaleon, is Greg Norman’s first creation south of the border. It extends a par-72 challenge to links-loving couples (or grooms whose brides are off enjoying the spa or beach).

    Designed to harmonize with nature, El Camaleon meanders over three distinct landscapes: mangrove forest with natural lagoons; jungle-bordered greens; and beachfront. This picturesque course is the setting of The Mayakoba Classic, Mexico’s first-ever event on the PGA tour.

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  • 08 of 10

    Nearby Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Mexico Tourism.

    The Riviera Maya’s seductive Caribbean coastline is now lined with resorts, but the region has retained its natural appeal. Adventurous Fairmont Mayakoba visitors may swim, splash, snorkel, or dive in the area’s cenotes, or fresh-water caves; the best cenote system is Hidden Worlds.

    Other outings include the rather decrepit but relatively close-by Mayan ruins at Tulum and the grander Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza, which necessitate a long day trip.

    Some Fairmont Mayakoba guests elect to explore the nearby town of Playa del Carmen, a magnet for vendors of tacos and margaritas as well as souvenirs ranging from ticky-tacky T-shirts to silver-and-stone jewelry. The much bigger, and correspondingly more boisterous, town of Cancun is about 40 minutes (and a hefty taxi fare) away.

    Fairmont Mayakoba’s concierge can furnish suggestions for area excursions and taxis.


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  • 09 of 10

    What You Should Know About Fairmont Mayakoba

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    In a resort of 401 rooms, true privacy is hard to come by. Travelers who prefer to avoid the presence of other guests will not find their bliss at Fairmont Mayakoba. On the other hand, visitors who enjoy meeting and chatting up fellow travelers will find Fairmont Mayakoba a friendly place.

    This resort has its share of families, especially young parents with babies. Romantic couples who do not care to see or hear children on their getaway may experience stroller shock.

    Guests who don’t use the resort’s bicycles have to deal with waiting for golf carts, and will have to build extra time into their daily plans.

    Many services cost extra here. Activities that are not free except for Fairmont Presidential Club members include gym and spa use, business center PC use, in-room DSL connections, and local phone calls. If you are annoyed by charges like these, or by relatively high food and drink tabs, you will be uncomfortable at Fairmont Mayakoba, whose philosophy is the counterpoint of the Riviera Maya’s many all-inclusive resorts.

    The resort doesn’t offer activities such as a game room, a DVD library, ping-pong tables, or the like. Available activities stop at beach, pools, golf, spa, gym, dining, and organized morning hikes. In answer to the question, “What do guests do on rainy days?” one staffer answered, “Make babies.”

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  • 10 of 10

    Is Fairmont Mayakoba Right for You?

    © Fairmont Mayakoba.

    Fairmont Mayakoba takes the guesswork out of planning a Mexican wedding, honeymoon, or romantic getaway.

    The brand’s high architectural and service standards are in full flower at this handsome resort. Couples looking for an elegant south of the border wedding, and who have the finances to fund it, are assured of a class experience. And the couple’s guests will be impressed by the resort’s lovely rooms.

    On the other hand, Fairmont Mayakoba lacks the private feeling of smaller, more intimate properties. For brides who dream of nuptials on a secluded, deserted beach, and of a subsequent Mexican honeymoon holed up with the senõr in a jungle casita, this is not the place.

    Nor is Fairmont Mayakoba a good fit for couples with budgetary concerns. Fairmont is a sophisticated, high-end hotel company, and brand-name quality has its price.

    Where to Find More Information About Fairmont Mayakoba:

    Fairmont Mayakoba
    Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
    984-206-3000, 800-257-7544

    Hotel Web Site

    As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.