by Candyce H. Stapen
To reach the Fairmont Mayakoba, part of a 240-acre gated community, guests drive through a lush “jungle” landscape of canals and lagoons lined with coconut palms, bamboo and mangrove thickets. That’s because the design of the Mayakoba development, home to several other resorts, fosters the preservation of the Riviera Maya’s indigenous natural habitats.
Instead of permanently cutting away the dense foliage to position the hotel seaside, the Mayakoba’s main building sits well back from the ocean, encircled by a wide ribbon of trees, bushes and mangroves. From the lobby, situated on a rise, there is a patchwork of greenery laced by the lagoons and canals that wind near the resort’s 90 casitas. Only nine rooms are oceanfront. The remainder of the resort’s 401 units, situated just north of Playa del Carmen, is either in the hotel building near the main lobby or clustered throughout the grounds.
Kids ages 2 to 17 years old stay free when sharing the same room with parents and there is an optional all-inclusive package at the resort, that includes several luxury dining options and in-room amenities. This pet- and eco-friendly resort sits off the Mesoamerican coral reef, the world’s second largest coral reef, and Fairmont Mayakoba is making efforts to help reforest the coral reef.
This is a different feel for a beach resort and, we confess, one that takes us awhile to enjoy. After all, like so many who come to the Riviera Maya, we crave the beach. Given a few days, however, we come to appreciate the sense of place that the resort delivers. The Riviera Maya is known for its mix of jungle and water — sea, canals and cenotes, also known as underground rivers.
Because the property spreads out, guests arrive at rooms via golf cart. Cars aren’t permitted on the grounds, a nice touch that makes bicycling and strolling particularly nice for families. But this is not a resort for those who mind walking or waiting for the frequent shuttles as the main pool is about a half-mile or more away.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive optional package and kids stay free
- Comprehensive children's programs
- Family cooking classes
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
All of the 401 guestrooms feature one king or two queen beds, complimentary Wi-Fi and a mini-fridge. Connecting rooms, cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request.
The hotel located near the lobby offers typical Fairmont rooms with pool, canals or tropical forest views. At 436 to 480 square feet the unit's are large, with enough room to share. They feature with a flat screen TV, Bose wave radio and CD player, as well as in-room tea and coffee service.
Only nine units -- all suites -- sit beachfront. They feature with a flat screen TV, Bose wave radio and CD player, as well as in-room tea and coffee service. There is a large bathroom with a soaker tub and stand-up glass shower. Some of these units feature second bedrooms as well as private plunge pools.
At this property, it's fun to choose a room located in one of the 90 casitas, each of which houses two to four units. Larger at 458 to 504 square feet, these rooms either face the canals or are nearby, offering views of watery thickets or the forest. They feature with a flat screen TV, Bose wave radio and CD player, as well as in-room tea and coffee service and a mini-fridge. There is a large bathroom with a soaker tub and stand-up glass shower.
You have to go to Fairmont Mayakoba the experience goes beyond whatever you can imagine the staff the location just outstanding. Clean hotel. Friendly staff. The spa is incredible the Eucalyptus room is so relaxing I fell a sleep. The hotel Boutique and shops. The church on the property
This was hands down the best experience and perfect place for our wedding. We had Patty as our host and planner with Fairmont Mayakoba.
I felt it was important to highlight how amazing our experience was at this resort! I have to say that Patty was above and beyond the absolute best host we could have asked for. She was amazing with her communication and worked with us when we had specific requests regarding our younger guests, this was such a big deal for Cindy and I and showed just how much she cared to truly make this an exceptional experience.
The resort itself is truly a beautifully maintained property. From the rooms to the food to the pristine beach area and pools everything about this place was 5 stars. This is the perfect place for either couples or families and at no point will you feel like it's overcrowded or that you can't get a space at the one of the restaurants. The resort fee covers so many activities I recommend you try to do a little of each from the catamarans, kayaks, bikes, boat tours, chairs under the palapas at the beach, archery, tennis courts, beach volleyball and more!
Every day you will find each and every staff member welcoming and they all treat you like you are the one guest that matters. I can't say enough great things about this property and how well they take care of the guests along with the property as a whole. I wouldn't just recommend this place I would advise you to make it a point to book this hotel and stay here, you will absolutely not want to leave!
This is also located about 15-20 minutes from Playa Del Carmen and about 45 minutes from Tulum...so if you're feeling adventurous and want to explore a little more you're just a quick car ride away from two beautiful areas. However, the resort if very large and has so many things to keep you occupied that staying there won't allow you to be bored. The spa is also top notch, the massage I received was one of the best I've had and the facilities are incredible.
Lastly, it was genuinely an unforgettable week and even more so a wedding day to remember for the rest of our lives. We can not wait to come back to Mayakoba next year!
Pools and Beach
All five of the resort's pools are heated. Although the beach area features a pool, most families tend to hang out at the laguna pools, the main pools, one of which has a waterslide. There's also an adults-only pool. Conveniently, the laguna area offers plenty of lounge chairs, two eating options -- an inexpensive cafe and a restaurant -- and is home to the resort's multi-room children's facility.
Then there's the beach, a reasonably wide, but not too long strip of sand. Despite the resort's size, we did not find the beach crowded. The sea's gentle slope and typically calm waters make it a good place for kids to splash under the watchful eyes of their parents. Beach games, like corn hole, beach volleyball and more, can be found throughout the beach. The beach features plenty of lounge chairs in the sun or under palapas for shade. Restrooms can be find only a short walk from the beach at the nearby restaurant.
Lifeguards are on duty at the beach and at the water slide at the main pool. Pool and beach towels are provided.
Beach Water Sports
Families can also find non-motorized water sports located at the resort's beach. The resort fee includes the use of kayaks, stand up paddle boards, boogie boards, snorkel gear, sand toys for the kids and guided catamaran tours.
For additional fees, families can experience even more onsite activities like renting a motor yacht, private windsurf of kiteboarding lessons, group catamaran or stand up paddle board yoga lessons and more.
Coral Reef Reforestation
This snorkeling activity has families learning about coral reef restoration and reforestation while also enjoying a catamaran and snorkeling tour. For an additional fee, families get a behind-the-scenes look on the resort's efforts to reforest the Mesoamerican coral reef, the world’s second largest coral reef, that is submerged in front of the property. After an informational briefing on the beach about how the coral reef is being restored, families then board the small catamaran boat and head out into the sea to snorkel and witness the reforestation efforts slowly taking place on the sea floor.
Guided Eco-Boat Tour
This small, electric boat, which can accommodate about 10 people, takes visitors through the Mayakoba river canals to spot more than 300 species living in the area. Wild birds, fish, and possibly an alligator may be spotted during the 30-minute long guided tour. Reservations are recommended but tours are included in your stay.
The gated children's complex, which has an outdoor pirate ship for young kids to climb, plus another air-conditioned main room, also houses an air-conditioned teen lounge with a Nintendo Wii, billiard table and air-hockey. We are not certain how many teens show up since they'd have to walk through the entry to the children's program, something most teens won't do no matter how tempting the fun is on the other side. When teens aren't present, the older kids in the supervised program use the room.
Both the Fairmont Mayakoba's program for ages 4 to 6, the Discovery Club, and the Adventure Camp for ages 7 to 12, operate out of the same facility. Hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m. daily. The resort recommends you reserve a space at least 24 hours in advance.
We like the fact that kids are taken around the property and not confined to the kids' area. Children go on nature walks to feed the resort's turtles, swim in the pool, slither down the water slide and build sandcastles at the beach. Back in the air-conditioned room, kids craft mini-pirate boats, create Mexican-style bracelets, have their faces painted, find out the secrets of fashioning balloon animals and watch movies.
The fitness program for ages seven to 17 aims to get kids moving. Kids follow instructions on drill cards that outline a specific activity such as jumping over obstacles. By doing these exercises or "tricks" as they're called, kids strengthen athletic skills needed for baseball, skateboarding, soccer and other sports. After training for an hour or two with an instructor at the resort, participants can opt to come back to be tested as well as continue to improve and post their scores once at home.
Family Cooking Classes
Something special to try: the family cooking class. Even though the hour-long class conducted in the resort's kitchen consists of mixing ingredients rather than actual cooking, we have fun combining, drizzling and garnishing the prepared elements as well as looking around the large facility. Afterwards, guests can enjoy the lunch they just created. The chef is happy to work with families about any dietary restrictions, too.
You and your 'tweens and teens can borrow one of the resort's complimentary bicycles to pedal around the property. This program has proven so popular that the resort is obtaining more bicycles, including ones designed especially for women and kids.
This replica of a Mexican town sits within the Mayakoba community but outside the gates of the Fairmont. It is accessible to all of the guests staying at Mayakoba resorts. The Pueblo or town features several stores and vendors selling local goods, a church and large courtyard area for weddings and events, a candy shop, cooking classes and a video arcade that the kids will love. When you need a break from the beach or pool, the Pueblito is a great place to explore for an hour or more.
Fairmont Mayakoba offers an all-inclusive optional package that includes unlimited dining at three onsite restaurants, in-room dining, beachside service, premium beverages and a mini-bar, which includes light snacks, in your guestroom. Or families can choose to pay-as-they-go at the onsite restaurants and bars.
Children's menus are available at all sit-down restaurants. Kids under age 5, when dining with parents, eat for free. For ages 6 to 12, the restaurants offer a children's menu plus kids this age may receive a 50 percent discount on most entrees from the regular menu.
La Laguna Grill
La Laguna Grill, featuring Mexican cuisine, serves an ample breakfast buffet as well as an a la cart lunch and dinner. From the children's menus, kids can pick fried chicken, pizza, peanut butter and jelly and other items. Families will like dining on the restaurant's outdoor deck, watching the birds flying over the surrounding lagoon as well as peer down into the water at the fish. The restaurant also has an indoor, air-conditioned space. Included in the all-inclusive package.
When you don't have the time or don't want to spend the money for a full meal, the nearby Cafe Maya, also in the laguna complex, offers moderately priced sandwiches, salads, pastries and coffee to go as well as a few outside tables. Cafe Maya is located near the main pool. It is not included in the all-inclusive package, this casual spot is always pay-as-you-go for all guests.
El Puerto, in the main building downstairs from the lobby, features a Latin-Asian cuisine and is known for its seafood dinners. This restaurant only serves dinner but in high season, also serves breakfast and lunch. Included in the all-inclusive package.
Las Brisas, the resort's signature beachfront restaurant, serves burgers, salads and other such fare for lunch. For dinner, Las Brisas, offers a contemporary take on Latin cuisine. Included in the all-inclusive package for dinner, not breakfast. Breakfast is served here for an additional charge.
Ki' Beach Bar and Korean BBQ
A beach bar serving light bites by day and a Korean BBQ restaurant by night, this beachside spot is Fairmont Mayakoba's newest dining spot. The Korean BBQ restaurant features an intimate, personal grill experience. Only a few spots can be reserved each night and guests grill their own food on a personal, table side grill.
In-room dining is available 24 hours a day. A delivery and service charge is additional for all-inclusive guests.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting is available, as are cribs. Two children under 18 years sharing with parents stay free. The resort creates special programs for children and families during holidays like Easter, Halloween and Christmas/New Years.
Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel.
- Fitness Center and Spa
The property has a gym plus a 37,000-square-foot spa with a wide range of treatments, such as the Chac Chac Rain Ritual or Yucatan Healing, which incorporate indigenous ingredients and Mayan elements. Beach yoga also takes place in the mornings on most days.
- Pet Friendly
Small pets, under 25 pounds, are welcome to stay at the resort.
The Best Time to Visit
High season runs mid-November through May and the low season is June through November.
Fly into the Cancun International Airport. Either rent a car or book your transportation from the airport to your resort ahead of time. That way you can bypass the gauntlet of vendors trying to get you to book transportation and outings.
Cars aren't permitted on the grounds, so bicycling and walking are the primary ways to get around the expansive property. This is not a resort for those who mind walking. However, there are frequent electric golf cart shuttles that take guests to all areas of the hotel. Simply stand at one of the marked shuttle pick-up spots and wait for one to go by. The shuttles drive by about every seven minutes or so.
The Laguna Lounge, the restaurant and bar area near the main pools, features Caribbean music every night. There are several bars to be found throughout the resort as well.