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Rosewood Mayakoba — Playa del Carmen

Ctra. Federal Cancun–Playa del Carmen Km. 298, Solidaridad, Quintana Roo

One of several opulent resorts in the expansive Mayakoba complex, the Rosewood is a chic hideaway with a unique layout that's great if you want more than the usual beach scenery. It's also a welcome addition to the area as a top–end child–friendly property.

Rosewood Mayakoba review

The Riviera Maya's Mayakoba is a vast project built around a protected swath of mangroves that line Mexico's Caribbean coast. Fairmont Mayakoba was the first property to open here, in mid–2006, and Rosewood Mayakoba, opened in the last days of 2007, sets the bar a bit higher in terms of intimacy, luxury, and creative architecture.

As with the other neighboring resorts, the Rosewood's layout is determined by the mangroves. The resort has two very different sections. Far back from the sea, in low scrub jungle are the majority of the 130 suites, as well as the main restaurant (helmed by an inventive chef from Barcelona), a lounge with a raw bar and "tequila library," the spa, and two pools. This area is cut through with canals, the water so crystal–clear you can see fish and craggy limestone formations in the bottom. Past the dense buffer of greenery, the beach––with a casual restaurant, a mid–size infinity pool and a smaller cluster of suites––is accessible either by electric boat or golf cart. The half–mile walk isn't one you'd relish in the midday sun. With the social heart of the resort so far inland, the beach can feel a little isolated––though it's great if you want privacy or romance.

In any case, Rosewood's Madrid–based architects assumed guests would be spending most of their time in their suites. Even the "standard lagoon" layout, one half of a duplex building that's all arcs and angles, is 800 square feet, with two showers (one outdoors), a tub, a plunge pool, a rooftop deck and a private boat dock. The next category higher, the deluxe lagoon suites have separate living and sleeping areas, but the bedrooms feel a bit cramped and don't have their own ceiling fan.

The real stars are the "overwater" suites, each with a long terrace cantilevered above the canal. They're undeniably scenic, but the terrace is a tradeoff, as these rooms don't have the private rooftop decks that the standard suites do. Considering most of the plunge pools are right out on the canal in full view of other suites, the privacy afforded by the roof decks can be valuable. (They're also a bit of a respite from the mosquitoes that hover near the water at sunup and sundown.)

luxury riviera maya resortAs for the décor of these lavish suites, think light wood and warm sandstone, all finished with sharp, sheer edges. Green pillows on the sofa add one of the few notes of color––a look that's soothingly neutral, or simply austere, depending on your taste.

Likewise, the public areas rely not on color but on striking architecture to make an impact — more cantilevered decks lend a certain air of midcentury Palm Springs chic to the scenery. But the buildings themselves, of the same limestone that forms the bedrock, neatly blend in to the background in the right light.

One of the warmest and most welcoming spaces at Rosewood Mayakoba is the spa. Set on its own small island, it is designed to capitalize on the outdoors at every opportunity. Every room, including the showers, has huge picture windows, letting in sunlight and views of surrounding greenery. The treatment rooms are separate cabins, each with its own deck overlooking the canals. You'll also find a pool here, as well as a cenote (a freshwater pool in the limestone bedrock) and a café with its own light–fare menu, including the house refresher, a blend of nutritious green chaya leaves and lime juice. Eight spa suites have space for in–room massages and the like.

These suites are also the place to go if you prefer to avoid children, as the spa island is open only to guests 16 and over. The Riviera Maya has only one other truly child–friendly property in this price bracket (Esencia), so Rosewood Mayakoba, with its year–round acceptance of kids, has quickly become popular with families. The resort even maintains a kids' club to keep young ones busy with crafts, nature trips and more.

If you're honeymooning, you may prefer the Viceroy Riviera Maya, with its standalone, ultra–private suites. Or the adults-only Blue Diamond one resort over. Or Maroma—the choices are extensive in this area. But if you want a bit more of a social scene along with minimalist style and personalized service, then the AAA 5-Diamond Rosewood Mayakoba (named "best resort in Mexico in one magazine readers' poll) is a great choice that keeps getting better.

Web Address: www.rosewoodmayakoba.com

Total Number of Rooms: 130
Published rates: $395 to $5200

Review by Zora O'Neill, photos courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba.

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