We were somewhere around La Isla, on the outskirts of Cancun, when we learned that the airport we were approaching was, after Mexico City and Sao Paulo, the busiest in Latin America. It was surprising, as we had just spent a long weekend in restorative tranquility in Mayakoba, the enclave to the south, where we had encountered fewer people in four days than on a typical weekday metro ride; where was everyone? Then we passed a line of cars back behind a highway exit signposted Hotel Zone and we got it; the mega hotels of Cancun loomed in the distance, and we could almost smell the vats of fruity drinks waiting for surely thirsty travelers, traffic roaring.
We have understood that the moments of pleasure on a beach are unanimous; throw in the guilt-free vacation gluttony surrounded by like-minded tourists, and come home sunburned and swollen with exaggerated stories to tell. But our idea of a beach getaway has, shall we say, evolved since paying our own bills – and we’ve had enough experience to know that you can combine sun, fun, and excessive indulgences, all the while coming home. house refreshed and wise – the latter not really a stretch for us. And for that, the absolute only choice for us was the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya (they sometimes veer on “a concept by Hyatt”, but that sounds a bit too much for a hotel name).
Just 40 miles south of the airport and halfway to Tulum, Mayakoba is a private community of four world-class beach resorts, including the Andaz. In 2020, it was named the # 1 resort in all of Mexico (a CN traveler reader poll… and these are people who would certainly know about such things), and if there were any fruity drinks to be had here, they would certainly be of the more epicurean type. We settled into our cool, white balcony room and quickly surrendered to the sultry allure of the Riviera Maya.
This was our second visit to the Andaz – we had come for the opening four years ago, and there was comfort in the familiar. But this time around, we had been invited to experiment with adjustments that were put in place specifically to showcase Mexican culture, something that is perhaps overlooked in more, shall we say, “commercial” properties. A year-long immersive initiative, our visit coincided with the third installment (Volume 3, as they call it), which spotlighted the Yucatan, with additions to the menus of the resort’s main restaurants, special spa treatments and activities specific to the natives. culture. We dived with enthusiasm.
After an afternoon in one of the property’s two splash pools – which is actually a multi-pool creation in itself – we cleaned up and headed to the posh place for dinner, Casa Amate, a intimate space with various dining rooms designed to resemble the eclectic residence of a cultured world traveler. The six-course dinner special was a luxurious combination of delicacies, ranging from shellfish soup with lobster, plantain and rum, ribs with agave honey and morita pepper, red snapper wrapped in leaves banana and other dishes each featuring aspects of traditional Mexican cuisine. cooking; to say our senses were overwhelmed is an understatement. Fortunately, the Andaz has miles of lush walkways between buildings where we were able to stroll out of the indulgences of the evening.
After breakfast by the pool the next morning at Cocina Milagro (poached eggs on avocado toast with chili flakes), we boarded one of the resort’s many small boats for an eco-cruise. on the lagoon which winds through all the properties. Even at 10 a.m. the Mexican sun was asserting itself, but there was shade along the way, and we were delighted with the abundance of flora and fauna, from herons to iguanas passing by. by various species of turtles.
Lunch took place at one of two beachside restaurants, VB, which until recently was called Vegan Bar, because everything on the menu is just that. We loved the idea, because it takes the guesswork out of semi-vegan menus – even though we’ve recently moved away from our meatless habits. And of course the various wraps, smoothies and salads were healthy and delicious. The fact that it’s also connected to the resort’s boutique, with its colorful selection of beachwear, snacks and other goodies, meant scoring some fond memories on the way out.
In particular, the Andaz, and the Mayakoba in the broad sense, have been involved from the start in charitable, sustainable and ecological initiatives. And that afternoon we were introduced to an incredibly knowledgeable Sancvs Foundation Ambassador, from whom we learned all about reef rehabilitation. While the prognosis for the world’s reefs is dire, their demise will certainly not be due to a lack of testing from such determined conservation organizations.
After an hour on the beach discussing the said coral, it was definitely time to get out of the sun. And clearly, there would be no better place to take shelter than the sumptuous Naum de l’Andaz spa. We remember Naum as one of the best hotel spas we have ever had the pleasure of experiencing, especially its steam room, sauna and ice face bath. But we opted for a simple, relaxing hand massage using honey made by melapona bees (a stingless species endemic to Yucatan), which is used by Mayan communities for its healing properties.
To be continued…