Blvd. Cabo Marqués, Lote 1, Col. Punta Diamente, Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
Banyan Tree's Asian style blends into a jungle-clad hillside above secluded Cabo Marqués. Suites perched on stilts like posh tree houses are Acapulco's most luxurious, and local sophisticates keep the signature Saffron restaurant booked solid most nights.
Acapulco may have its problems, but builders keep chugging along in Acapulco Diamante, the designated luxury development sprawling over sea-view cliffs and beaches from Las Brisas to the international airport. The latest spurt brought a sprinkling of gourmet restaurants, a concert hall and a partially completed convention center. La Isla, a fun open-air mall with boutiques, department stores and restaurants fulfills the need for diversions, and Diamante is now a full-service destination.
A few luxury hotels—Camino Real, Quinta Real, and Pierre Marques-- have claimed prime turf in the neighborhood, and other names have popped up as Diamante has evolved. Upon opening in 2010, Banyan Tree nudged the bar sky-high for those who follow. It's hard to believe architects and engineers could build a full resort in this location, looking out to a wide, deep blue cove framed by steep green cliffs. The terrain made use of heavy machinery impossible, and most structures were hand-built with wooden beams. A hillier landscape could hardly be found, yet it's perfectly suited for the Banyan Tree look. A winding drive tucked amid thick palms leads to the open-air lobby looking like a soaring teahouse perched atop a cliff. Steep smaller paths branch out from the main building and sweeping pool toward 45 suites tucked amid boulders and trees and farther down to a small lap pool and pocket beach. Even the hardiest hikers have a hard time slogging from bottom to top. Fortunately, electric carts cover the route constantly.
As with Banyan Trees everywhere, each suite feels like a private villa open to panoramic vistas. The smallest is 2,200 square feet; the presidential tops out over 9,000 square feet. At each villa, a private gate opens to an outdoor pavilion with a padded daybed, teak dining set and a cool blue infinity pool. Floor to ceiling glass doors and windows and peaked pagoda roofs frame indoor bedroom–living room combos with furnishings arranged for optimum, unobstructed views. A low, tightly wrapped bed faces a long couch set against the windows, facing a wall–mounted LED TV. Fashion and design magazines are laid out beneath the screen, but it's hard to tear your eyes away from the soothing blue horizon. Treetops shade windows in the bathroom, where toiletry bags holding lotions, combs, and a silken lip balm sit beside double sinks. A soaking tub with comfy headrest faces the outdoors. Shades are available to cover all windows, of course.
Therapists trained in Thailand at Banyan Tree's Spa Academy perform soothing magic at the spa. Flower–scented footbaths preceded all treatments, which are performed in seven air–conditioned treatments rooms nestled in jungle foliage. Spa junkies can book one of six spa suite villas with private en–suite air–conditioned treatment pavilions. Thai chefs prepare sublime curries at Saffron, one of Acapulco's finest restaurants. The less formal La Nao puts out an amazing breakfast buffet with sushi, tropical fruits and irresistible pastries along with enough hot and cold choices to make every morning a new experience. Save one morning for breakfast at your suite, complete with white linens and courtly service.
Families are welcome here, though I didn't see any kids during my stay. The main pool area is better suited for couple snuggling in cocoon-like daybeds and sunbathers bearing Kindles. Should the pool action become noisy, there's always the serene lap pool at the very bottom of the property. It was my favorite hideaway, thanks in part to the refreshing hibiscus margaritas and creative ceviches served at the poolside Las Rocas café. The beach below the pool is tiny and hemmed in by rocks, but there's enough space for private candlelit dinners on the sand.
If you have exploring in mind, the Banyan Tree might not be your best fit. It takes at least 20 minutes in a cab to get from the property to Acapulco's lively Costera and authentic zocaló in downtown. The single winding road connecting various points around Acapulco Bay is usually congested. Traffic jams are inevitable when it rains or an accident occurs. Fortunately, most the city's outstanding restaurants and legendary nightclubs are closer to the hotel, but it can easily cost $30 each way in a taxi for a 10–minute ride. If you just need a few day trips, the La Isla mall has plenty of shopping and dining options and the golf courses at the nearby Fairmont Princess are champion–worthy.
The Banyan Tree is perfect for escapists and couples seeking quiet alone time. I for one could have holed up in my suite for a weekend at least. Travelers seeking professional service, consistently excellent dining choices and tons of pampering will find the Banyan Tree suits their style.
Web Address: http://banyantree.com/en/cabomarques
Total Number of Units: 45
Published rates: $524-$926
Review and photos by Maribeth Mellin