Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
In a secluded area of Playa del Carmen, directly on a Cenote (a lagoon-like river)
Playa del Carmen (named for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patron saint of Cancun) is a beautiful, charming resort town and the third largest city in Quintana Roo on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. About 70 km south of Cancun and 20 km west of Cozumel, it's centrally located in the center of the Mayan Riviera and is quickly becoming one of the area's hippest vacation spots (though it's more relaxing and less wild than Cancun).
It used to be the home of the ancient Mayans, and after that a small fishing village, but now Playa del Carmen -- or "Playa," as the locals call it -- is full of exciting nightclubs, popular restaurants, cute boutiques, and resort hotels that sit on lovely white-sand beaches. Because many of the businesses are European-run, the rest of the town retains a hint of European flair. The main tourist thoroughfare of Playa is the cobblestone-lined, pedestrian street Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), but there are plenty of fun outdoor activities for visitors, too, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and sailing. The offshore reef is part of the second largest reef system in the world, Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
As one might expect from the ultra-luxurious Banyan Tree brand, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba is one of Playa del Carmen's most sought after resorts. All of the 164 villas feature sleek Asian-inspired decor and Mexican textiles -- as well as walk-in showers, plunge pools, walled-in grass lawns, patios with hammocks, outdoor bathtubs, and fully stocked bars. The grounds, white-sand beach, and lagoon-like pool blend seamlessly with the surrounding nature. When you consider the high-end spa, plethora of outdoor activities -- such as golf, snorkeling, and eco tours -- and the fantastic dining, it's very hard to find anything wrong with this property. Only the Rosewood Mayakoba can compare, but the rooms are arguably a little nicer here -- though Rosewood has the superior spa.