GUYS I DID IT! Two weeks ago, I FINALLY took a proper vacation for the first time in a very long time. Sure, I’ve gone on plenty of quick work/play trips within the past few years, but nothing that could compare to what I experienced at The Banyan Tree Mayakoba. Honestly I can’t seem to shut up lately about what an amazing trip I had from start to finish, and while I owe plenty to my company (my boyfriend and parents) for making it so much fun, we collectively owe most of our trip of bliss to The Banyan Tree Mayakoba.
Funny, but the Riviera Maya / Playa Del Carmen in Mexico holds a very special place in my heart. 3 and 1/2 years ago it was where the idea for Love & Loathing Los Angeles was born! During that trip, I read a book called The Sweet Life In Paris and was so inspired. I came away from it wanting to write a book of a similar premise from the perspective on an Angeleno (vs an American living in Paris).
If you ask my best friend, and travel buddy since I was about 10 years old, she would tell you where I have wanted to go since our trip to Playa Del Carmen, and she’d tell you “MAYAKOBA!!!” To finally visit the one property that I have had my heart set on for so long, and to have the trip live up to every single expectation I’d dreamt up, is nothing short of amazing. I mean like, “extended-the-trip-two-extra-days”, “going-back-in-a-few-months” amazing.
While you are perusing the site and scrolling through photos from my trip, it’s pretty clear what you’re lookin’ at is a 5-star situation. From the architecture, to the restaurants, to the villas, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is Grade A luxury. Truth be told I wasn’t ever sure a place like the Banyan Tree Mayakoba would be in my “price range” for a trip, but when you’re splitting the cost of one villa between 2-3 couples, or a family, (in my opinion) it’s beyond fair for what you get. I could write/talk your ear off for a solid hour about the 9389234892 reasons I think this place needs to be your next vacay (ehem it’s a 4 1/2 hour plane ride away… flights are as cheap as $49…), but let’s break it down simply for a minute so we can collectively “ooh” and “ahh” and then book our trips simultaneously.
FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THE BANYAN TREE MAYAKOBA
1. VILLA LIFE
I absolutely LOVED the idea of being able to book a vacation where I wouldn’t have to necessarily separate from my family. When I travel I am all about booking houses/apartments so that we can stick together instead of having to retire in our respective rooms at opposite ends of the hotel at the end of the night. I loved that with the 3 Bedroom Residences at the Banyan Tree that my mom and I could go for a swim on the rooftop after dinner if we wanted to, or we could all have a late afternoon glass of wine together on the deck without one having to go to the other’s hotel room. Our villa had two rooms with king beds, a room with two twins, and three bathrooms – we were all totally happy.
2. THE BREAKFAST.
Trust me – you have never experienced, nor will ever experience, a better breakfast buffet than the one at the Banyan Tree. This buffet was the highlight of my day every single day and despite being a few lbs heavier, I’ve never been more grateful for a breakfast spread in my LIFE! I don’t know about you but breakfast is one of my favorite things about vacation, it’s such a treat and the Banyan Tree does not mess around. From fresh juice, the most incredible fresh fruit, to quesadillas, omelettes, mimosas, burritos, sweet treats, breads, and literally every single breakfast item you can think of… you get the picture.
3. THE WORLD RENOWNED SPA
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba, from what I’ve gathered, is founded on the ultimate relaxation, so naturally their spa is one of the best in the world. Yes – world. And having experienced it first-hand, I can’t say I disagree! From their absolutely incredible private spa villas to their amazing TOTALLY ONE OF A KIND Rainforest Experience, the spa is reason enough to visit this property.
*For the record the Rainforest is an absolute blast. I think it was supposed to be more relaxing than entertaining/hilarious, but either way I wanted to do it 100 more times it was so cool!
4. BEACH… POOL…. BEACH… POOL
Ok no but seriously, talk about THE most picturesque luxury resort pool and beach… this place is something straight off the front cover of Travel & Leisure. The Banyan Tree has two absolutely stunning pools *complete with swim up bars* as well as access to the most beautiful white sand and turquoise blue ocean. Think warm tropical weather, a light breeze, cocktails, umbrellas and comfy lounge chairs – it doesn’t get any more perfect than this.
The Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant Saffron is hands down one of the most stunning restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at. It’s located right along one of the lagoon ways, and it looks like something straight out of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” in the best way imaginable. It’s just real, really outside, and obviously so much better. The cuisine at Saffron is Thai, which I found surprising, but I was so beyond impressed and thrilled with our meal and overall experience it’s pretty clear why it’s so popular and an absolute “must” for guests and outside guests alike. I won’t lie, this is one expensive meal, but it was also the most unforgettable. Can’t really put a price on that!
6. THE MAYAKOBA
The Banyan Tree is located in an area that is shared by 4 luxury resorts that can all be easily accessed by boat or car. The other resorts include The Fairmont, The Rosewood Mayakoba, and most recently The Andaz. It was so much fun going through the other properties or seeing them by way of boat. I had dinner at the Fairmont one evening, and then Andaz our last night, and absolutely LOVED it.
7. THE STAFF & SERVICE
One of the things that really stood out to my family and me was how genuine and genuinely happy the entire staff seemed to be. All staff members wished you a good morning or offered a hello, and they did everything in their power to make our stay wonderful. The Friday before we left the management team held a little cocktail hour/mixer where we got to meet the Executive and Sous chef among other warm and friendly people and I remember feeling like that was such a wonderful and respectable gesture. Not many places do that, other than maybe a cruise ship captain, but their kindness and hospitality is something I’ll never forget!
9. ALL THE ACTIVITIES
When you get bored of all of that over-the-top relaxation there are actually tons of things to do at the Banyan Tree and in the surrounding area. My stepdad and boyfriend played tennis with the tennis pros at the Mayakoba, we had the option to play golf on a course designed by Greg Norman, we were invited to a cenote (complete with bats) at El Pueblito, took a bike around the property, an eco-boat ride through the lagoon and saw local birds, alligators and other wildlife, or we went into the town of Playa Del Carmen! Tulum and Cancun (where you fly in to) are close and easy spots for day trips. There was not one single dull moment during my 5 days at the Banyan Tree, and we still didn’t even manage to get in everything wanted to.
I genuinely have only absolutely positive things to say about The Banyan Tree – clearly. This is truly one of the most magical places on the planet, and I am so grateful to have experienced it all! Can’t wait for the next adventure!