What’s Old is New Again

Modern luxury merges with ancient culture at a seaside resort in the Riviera Maya
July, 2008
By Lucia Stoller

Traveling to the tropics of the Riviera Maya is not only adventurous - it’s also incredibly fun for families. The Fairmont Mayakoba, nestled on the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean Sea, is an exceptional resort for parents and children. With impeccable service and entrancing surroundings, the Fairmont Mayakoba combines the best of both the modern and the ancient world.

The Fairmont Mayakoba offers several accommodation options for traveling families. The upscale, modern resort, located just 42 miles south of Cancun, features 401 rooms spread throughout the indigenous jungle. The Fairmont also offers 34 beach and lagoon casita and casita suites. They are ideal choices for families; large and stylish, offering plenty of space for everyone. Joy Bartolini, who has vacationed at the Fairmont Mayakoba with her family for the past two years, describes the upgraded casita suites as “enormous,” with the two extremely large rooms and bathrooms almost too big for a family of four. Families will never get tired of feasting their eyes on the views from the large balcony. And you can rest assured that you’ll be treated well no matter which room you choose. “The staff could not have been more accommodating” says Claudia Volpi, who also stayed at the Fairmont Mayakoba with her family, including her two young daughters. The resort recently earned the AAA's Five Diamond Award® and the number 10 spot on the Top 15 Central America/ Mexico Hotels in Condé Nast Traveler's 20th Annual Reader's Choice Award 2007 issue. (source: http://www.fairmont.com/)

Onsite Explorations
With a vast array of onsite activities at this non-inclusive resort, families will find it easy to tailor their vacations to their specific tastes. Golf carts and boat rides make exploring the resort and its environs easy and enjoyable. Joy Bartolini recommends the nature boat ride around the property, complimentary for guests of the resort. “This was one of the highlights of the trip for the kids as they saw tons of iguanas and two crocodiles,” she says. They also have “a resident crocodile named paco the croco -- too cute” says Claudia Volpi. “We saw turtles, the crocodile - lots of wildlife in its own element, which had an added benefit for my kids.”

The Fairmont Mayakoba has an impressive variety of activities designed specifically for children, with multiple kids and adults pools to choose from and a kid’s club that features activities for a variety of ages. The resort structures the kid’s club according to age range, combining games and excursions with activities that teach the children about the region’s history. The Discovery Club Expeditioner, for ages 4-8, features onsite excursions, arts and crafts, games, and music. The Adventure Camp Explorer, for ages 9-14, is a counselor-based program that can include everything from golf and biking lessons to on-site tours and visits to the teen gym. And the Master Expeditioner program, for ages 15-18, features such activities as belly dancing lessons, Capoeira lessons, blind volleyball, water limbo, sports competitions, obstacle challenges, and bike tours. For older teenagers who can’t bear to leave technology behind, the program includes access to the Internet and an X Box games. Parents can enroll their kids in a full-day or a half-day program: The full day is $50 while the half-day is $35.

Besides the structured activities for kids, outings to the clean, well-maintained beach are a must. And parents don’t have to worry about their children having all the fun. With a fitness center, a spa, 4 restaurants, lounges, and bars and golf and tennis options, Mom and Dad have plenty of ways to work out and chill out. “We played tennis and used the gym and the spa - all were excellent” says Claudia. In-room babysitting services are available as well, although parents should be aware that the cost is $18 an hour, with an extra hour charge if they stay out past 11pm. Claudia spoke well of both the babysitters and the kid’s club service, stating that “ the babysitters and the kids' club staff were well trained, very professional and the kids had a great time.”

Offsite Adventures
The Fairmont Mayakoba is ideally located for regional sightseeing. Although it may appear isolated and removed, it’s a mere 10-minute drive into the town of Playa del Carmen. Joy recommends the beach in town, particularly on weekends when local families are around. Parents can rent a few lounge chairs for $10 and sit right at the water’s edge. Ayahamint Aguirre, from the Reservations Department at the Fairmont Mayakoba, was brimming with suggestions of family-friendly activities around the resort. The Cedam Maritime Museum in Puerto Aventuras houses an interesting display of various artifacts from shipwrecks along the coastline. Adventurous types should visit Aktun Chen, the underground dry caves located in the jungle between Akumal and Xel-Ha. Older kids will love checking out the stalactite and stalagmite formations and might even see a spider monkey or two. Horseback excursions throughout the jungle can be arranged at the resort, and fishing boats can also be chartered for a day or a half-day of deep sea fishing.

Nature and animal-loving families should visit Punta Laguna to see wildlife like birds, deer, turtles and crocodiles. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is also not to be missed - not only will families be awed by the spectacular flora and fauna and natural ecosystems (freshwater canals, mangroves, and lagoons abound) but will get to feast their eyes on unexcavated Maya ruins. Ayahamint likens the nature park Xcaret to “an Eco Maya theme park,” describing it as “a paradise for children.” Joy also recommends Xcaret, ideal for older children since swimming and visiting the water theme park are two of the highlights. Many of these activities require reservations, which can be made at the resort upon arrival.

Food, Family-style
When it’s time to eat, the Fairmont Mayakoba caters to parents and kids with their multiple restaurants and snack bars. “The food situation was wonderful - they had restaurants that were all well-equipped for kids, and also a deli on property where you could get snacks and other items,” says Claudia. If you’re venturing into town, Joy recommends the HC de Monterrey, an outdoor steak grill filled with locals in Tulum Pueblo. Her kids couldn’t get enough of La Parrilla in Playa del Carmen, where the waiters balance drinks on their heads before serving them to the table. “The kids thought that was a riot,” she says. “The food is great and every time we’ve been there has been a live band which added to the festivities.” She also recommends John Gray’s Place for lunch, also a stone’s throw from the resort in Playa del Carmen.

With its plethora of activities and services, the Fairmont Mayakoba will leave a lasting impression on the whole family. More information and a comprehensive family-focused review of the resort is available on Ciao Bambino, a global guide to family-approved vacation properties catering to babies, toddlers, school age children, and teenagers.

Article is courtesy of Ciao Bambino Family Travel Site


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