Have you ever thought about taking a romantic getaway to Playa del Carmen, Mexico?
I am a professional matchmaker and here's what I know...
- It is a straight shot flight from most major cities right into Cancun and then a quick 20 to 40 minute car ride to Playa.
- Playa is full of hotels for all different types of vacations. Everything from family resorts to all inclusive properties to top notch resorts.
- Several of the top notch resorts are located in an area called Mayakoba which is about 25 minutes from the Cancun airport.
Mayakoba is a self-contained gated community that encompasses three exclusive properties -- the Banyan Tree, the Fairmont and the Rosewood. If you are staying at one of the properties, you can eat at any of the restaurants at any of the hotels although they are all separately owned and charge the meal to your room, which is very convenient. We ate at all the properties and they all seem to offer top notch food and good service. Additionally, all the hotels share one stretch of beach, so you can walk from one resort to the next quite easily. And there is a top notch Greg Norman golf resort that runs through all the properties and guests from all the hotels have access to play.
As for choosing which Mayakoba property to stay in during your vacation, hands down, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is the most romantic and extravagant of all the properties. The Banyan Tree spares no detail to make your stay as romantic as possible. They even have a "romance consultant" on staff that can help with every romantic desire. And Adriana, the Communications manager, is also quite helpful coordinating your every desire while you are at the resort.
Upon arrival at the Banyan Tree, the first romantic thing you notice is the open-air boat that sits at the lobby and will transport you to the Mayakoba beach. The boat takes you on a 15 minute scenic tour of the mangroves within which the hotel is set and where you will actually see a variety of animals including crocodiles, monkeys, giant turtles and a variety of colorful birds. The ride to the beach is not to be missed, but is only necessary one time during your stay. After that, you can also get to the beach by riding one of the hotel's beach cruiser bicycles along the golf course straight to the beach. This was one of my favorite parts of our stay. You get exercise and the ride is beautiful through the property.
The Banyan Tree villas are set all throughout the mangroves on the property. This reminded me of the canals in Venice. Every room that is on the water is a full villa with its own pool. We had the Courtyard Pool Villa which was spectacular and had both a private swimming pool as well as a private hot tub. The pool at the villa is not a small lap-pool like most hotel villas, but instead it is actually a real full-sized pool. The most romantic part of the pool is that you can literally open the sliding door from your bedroom and dive into the pool in the buff. Another great perk of the villas at the hotel is that all of them have a separate structure for the living room which serves to enclose the villa on both sides, making it completely private and neighbor-free; it feels like you are in your own oasis.
Additionally, the Banyan Tree offers a "bath menu" which literally has over 10 romantic baths they can prepare for you and your sweetheart in your private outdoor bathtub under the stars. You let them know which special bath you want and when you return to the room, that bath is drawn with candles, romantic music etc, all under the stars.
Another romantic extravagance at the Banyan Tree is their two possibilities for private romantic meals. One is a privately prepared barbeque dinner served on the rooftop of your villa under the skylight. And the other is a private dinner served to you by candlelight as you are meandering through the mangroves in the evening on your private boat. Both options are unlike anything you have ever experienced at other resorts.
The Banyan Tree also has quite a spa, and one of their special not to be missed romantic offerings is their "Rainforest" which you experience as a couple. In bathing suits, the two of you go through 10 different hot and cold water and massage rituals that end in a very romantic hot tub room where the two of you can linger and languish together.
As for activities in and around Playa del Carmen, a great romantic activity to do with your honey is scuba diving in the "Cenotes." The Cenotes are famous in this part of the world and basically you scuba dive through caves deep on the bottom of the water. And the Cenotes are found in the oddest place -- they can be in a campground or a park and then all of a sudden there is a water hole in the ground which leads to a whole underwater maze. A great way to experience the Cenotes is to hire a private guide or go with a small group. The company we used was called Cenote Xperience with Nico the owner being most helpful. We had a lot of fun.
Another activity you don't want to miss is to take an afternoon or evening and go into the town of Playa del Carmen. The town is adorable and it's about 15 minutes from the hotels. There are blocks and blocks of pedestrian, no cars allowed, streets, tons of fun shopping -- trendy clothes, one of a kind pieces and even your typical Mexican outdoor market where bargaining for a good deal is the name of the game. And there are very reasonably priced restaurants along the main drag that are yummy and romantic as well. This is a great place to pick up your sweetheart a little trinket so she remembers this special trip.
- Playa del Carmen definitely has a mosquito season and if you are staying at a hotel where your room is on a mangrove, make sure you choose a non-mosquito month.
- Playa del Carmen gets little unexpected rain showers like a tropical island, so don't be surprised if there is a torrential downpour and 40 minutes later bright sunshine.
- The Banyan Tree hosts many romantic weddings. If all the pomp and circumstance will disturb your otherwise relaxing vacation, this might not be the place for you. However, if you are there with a special significant other and hoping that your nuptials are just around the corner, a hotel like this might just give you just opportunity to catch the bouquet or get your boyfriend in the mood to propose marriage.