One of my favorite resort stays in 40 years: The Andaz Mayakoba in Mexico
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Some birthdays simply come and go as dates on the calendar, but others carry more weight and meaning. For me, and probably many others, turning 40 was one of those birthdays that felt like a true milestone. To celebrate — or just make it feel less scary — I’d been dreaming up a fun, extravagant 40th birthday trip for myself and some friends for years. Turning 40 just sounded less intimidating when done with friends in a beautiful location.
I had a reference point for what I wanted: My husband’s 40th in 2014 was celebrated by taking a high-end around-the-world journey in business class with stops in places like Amsterdam, the Maldives and Singapore, thanks in large part to points and miles. I’d been working toward something similar for myself to kick off 2021. And when you have friends who love points and miles as much as you do, it’s realistic for them to meet you in some of those spots.
But that was not to be, as the pandemic had other plans in mind.
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I amended, canceled and rescheduled this trip multiple times. My actual 40th birthday in January was a lovely evening, but it was spent at home with my family of four around the kitchen table, instead of somewhere like an overwater villa in the Maldives. But that was fine as I simply decided to not really turn 40 until it could be done properly, even if that wasn’t going to happen in the near term or on the other side of the world.
As vaccines started to roll out more widely in the U.S., a new celebratory plan was born. We would meet some friends for a long weekend of reconnecting and celebrating just south of the border in the Riviera Maya portion of Mexico in mid-May, assuming we could all get vaccinated by then.
We now had a new plan in place, but whether or not it would actually happen felt very up in the air until literally the night before departure. With COVID-19 cases spiking, there was a real possibility of the Cancun area closing due to returning to a red level in Mexico’s so-called stoplight system. But we got lucky and the area stayed open at the second-highest orange level. So, with vaccines in our arms and excitement in our hearts, we left the U.S. for the first time since the pandemic began for a long weekend of living it up with friends at the Andaz Mayakoba in the presidential villa.
Seeing friends again was everything I hoped it would be and more. The resort itself far exceeded my expectations in almost every way. Whether you are looking for a close-to-the-U.S. spot to celebrate a milestone birthday, reconnect with loved ones or just want a weekend of fun and sun, here’s an in-depth look at everything you need to know about the Andaz Mayakoba.
As a Hyatt property, most of the Andaz Mayakoba’s 214 rooms and suites can be booked with cash or World of Hyatt points.
If you’re looking to use points, it is a Category 6 property that costs 25,000 Hyatt points per night for a standard room with one king bed or two double beds. However, if a standard room isn’t how you want to spend your vacation, you can book a suite online using points instead. For example, 40,000 points get you a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom lagoon-view or beach-area suite with a plunge pool.
We actually spent the last night of the trip in this type of suite — more info on that below.
If you want to spend 50,000 Hyatt points per night, you can book an ocean-view studio or beachfront studio. You may have already picked up that there are lots of location types when it comes to rooms at this resort, and they aren’t just names — it will really matter here.
If you are looking to rack up Hyatt points for a similar trip, the World of Hyatt Credit Card is currently offering up to 60,000 bonus points: 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 bonus point, on up to $15,000 spent.
The Hyatt card is great for frequent Hyatt guests, but you can actually get more points to use toward a Hyatt vacation from the welcome bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, as those points can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the World of Hyatt program.
Right now, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 in spending in the first three months of account opening. That would be enough points for two nights in a standard room at the Andaz Mayakoba from one card bonus.
For our last night at the Andaz Mayakoba, we booked a standard room with cash for a little over $200 per night, since using 25,000 Hyatt points would come in below the TPG valuation for that type of points. In the end, we scored a Globalist upgrade into a suite on that night, but since we were leaving pre-dawn on our final day it wasn’t worth paying big bucks to secure a great room in advance.
However, for the first couple nights of the trip when our friends were all in town, we went all-out and booked the two-story, 4,575-square-foot presidential villa.
This likely sounds insane — and it is — but it was also almost practical in its own way.
With this part of Mexico still actively in the midst of the pandemic, we wanted our own vacation bubble of sorts. This villa and its private pool, private hot tub, full kitchen and massive living area provided just that. In addition to the living space, it had three true bedrooms, so we were able to comfortably share the space with two other traveling parties instead of everyone booking individual hotel rooms.
On our dates, it cost a whopping $1,500 per night, but when you think of it effectively as a house within a hotel that was shared by three groups for sleeping — and several more for gathering and hanging out — it’s less crazy.
But practicality aside, you only turn 40 once. Or, twice, in this case. Despite it being the most expensive lodging I’ve ever booked, I have zero regrets about going all-out on this trip after the year we all had.
The Andaz Mayakoba is set in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, which stretches along the coastline from a little south of Cancun to a little south of Tulum. More specifically, the resort is in the Mayakoba area, which is an insular, lush, gated 620-acre area comprised of lagoons and four high-end resorts: Banyan Tree, Rosewood, Fairmont and the Andaz.
This area is only about 30 miles south of the Cancun airport, but the drive can take more than an hour in traffic. Our afternoon arrival took more than an hour while our pre-dawn departure was no more than 30 minutes with empty roads.
We arranged our transportation via the hotel to test out their version of that service. The resort offered a private SUV for about $150 each way or a private van for about $100 each way. To test both, we booked the SUV for the outbound trip and van for the return, but in the end, we received a private SUV each way.
It’s far from the least expensive transportation option, but other than a minor delay locating the driver at the Cancun airport, it was exceptional service, complete with a variety of cool beverages to start the trip. Our friends used a variety of other services that start at about $50-$60 each way if you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum.
After clearing the Mayakoba security gate and making the final portion of the drive through the winding roads, we arrived at the Andaz Mayakoba lobby. To enter, we had our temperature checked and were then cheerfully greeted with a seat and a cool, fruity, tequila-based drink.
Likely because we had booked the presidential villa, we were met by the general manager and our point person for the weekend, Aldo, who was beyond responsive and fantastic.
With paperwork and a pretty massive credit card hold behind us, we were given a stone to toss into the lobby’s cenote-inspired water feature to make a wish and begin the vacation.
Since there’s only one presidential villa and it was only 1:30 p.m. when we arrived, the room wasn’t quite ready for us at that point. To make good use of the time while we waited, Aldo gave us a golf cart tour of the massive property and then dropped us off at a restaurant near the main beach and pool area so we could eat lunch before moving into our palace, I mean villa, for the weekend.
I’ve had the pleasure of staying in some pretty over-the-top rooms, suites, villas and home rentals. Some have been truly great, but I don’t think any can touch what this massive villa had to offer.
Before you even get in the door of the villa, there’s an oversized outdoor enclave with a water feature that welcomes you and sets the tone for relaxing in your own space.
Once inside, the entryway is larger than some apartments I’ve had. From there, a left turn will take you to a lock-off room with two beds and turning to the right will take you to the main area of the villa.
The living area was massive and it showcased the view out to the ocean with a floor-to-ceiling window to paradise.
The sliding doors out to the pool — and beach just beyond — made it easy to hop from one amazing setting to the next.
Having this much space for just the two of us would have been a waste, but for our group of nine, it made for the perfect home base.
There was a circular dining table that we utilized for multiple meals, drinks and games we all enjoyed together.
There was a welcome amenity to kick off the weekend waiting on the table when we arrived.
There was also a full kitchen that we promptly stocked with beverages and snacks from a prearranged order with Rivera Maya Groceries. Not surprisingly, it’s much more cost-effective to host a weekend of celebration by paying grocery store prices for snacks, beer and wine than it would be to pay resort prices for everything.
If I had it to do again, I would have added a couple of frozen pizzas to the order list for an easy, affordable meal.
Since this is an Andaz, nonalcoholic beverages and snacks are included at no extra charge. This included Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Pringles and other assorted snacks.
While this was not a trip that was spent on Zoom calls and email, there was a legitimate private office with a door located off of the living room that would have been great if this had been a working vacation.
Downstairs and upstairs both featured a large bedroom with a king bed, enormous closet and private bathroom. They looked quite similar with virtually identical layouts, with the obvious difference of the ground-floor versus second-level view.
When we first walked in the entire villa was a bit warmer than I’d hoped, and for a moment I was afraid this would be one of those stays where the air conditioner could never really keep up. My fears proved to be totally unfounded as we pushed the settings lower and the cool air — and great sleep — followed.
After a long day in the sun, these rooms got very dark and cool, and the beds were fabulous.
The closet in each bedroom was hilariously huge, and as a mom who used to desperately look for a good, quiet place to put the crib on vacations, this would more than do the trick. Luckily for us, we weren’t looking for a makeshift nursery and instead got to use the closet to simply store our clothes. There were some complimentary flip-flops in the closet that you could use if you needed some shoes to run out to the pool.
Continuing down the hallway from the bedroom and past the closet was the equally massive bathroom area.
The bathrooms were an area that differed a bit from top to bottom floor. The ground-floor bathroom had a soaking tub in addition to the shower, whereas the top-floor bathroom did not have a tub.
But not to worry — the occupants of the top floor had something even more exciting available just off of that bathroom.
Just down the hallway off the top-floor bathroom was an unassuming door to the outside.
Out there you found one of the over-the-top amenities of this villa — a private hot tub.
This was fun not only in its own right, but it also proved to be a great option when the rain started but you weren’t quite done swimming. It didn’t fully shelter you from the rain, but caught most of it so you could still soak as long as a few drops here and there didn’t bother you.
Double bedroom attached to the presidential villa
While this was not clearly spelled out on the website, the villa actually has a third bedroom available. This one is on the ground floor and houses two double beds and its own private bathroom. I have to assume this room looks more or less like standard rooms across the resort — which is to say, it is adorable.
This room had its own minibar and coffee setup, with the same nonalcoholic free inclusions, just in a smaller quantity.
Its bathroom was more of a standard size, but still spacious with a single sink and a walk-in shower.
To get a better sense of how this third bedroom plays into things, here’s a view from the back of the villa showing it off to the right. It worked out perfectly to have more of those traveling with us that weekend right in the center of the celebratory action, but still in their own private space. It would also be great for older children traveling as part of a big family getaway.
Presidential villa pool
This deserves its own section as it was perfect and was really the reason we booked this villa.
Behind the villa is a private pool that is just big enough to comfortably hold our entire group of nine, but not so big that you’re going to be swimming laps or anything. The pool had some warm water coming up from a few jets, so while it wasn’t super warm, it did seem to be getting a bit of warmth from below.
All around the pool was nice wood decking, a variety of seats, palm trees, an occasional iguana and jaw-dropping ocean views.
The outdoor living portion of the villa couldn’t have worked out better for our group and the ability to create our own vacation bubble — even while swimming — worked out perfectly.
As mentioned, on the last night of our stay, we had booked just a standard room. By that point, the rest of our traveling group planned to fly home or head to a different resort in the area, so there was no need to stay in that massive villa. Plus, my wallet appreciated the downgrade. However, we scored a Globalist upgrade to an available one-bedroom suite. While at the resort, I did ask to see if that upgrade would be possible — I don’t know if it would have happened otherwise, but luck was on our side.
The suite was fantastic with a true, spacious living area, complete with a (pretty chilly) plunge pool on the balcony.
If you wanted to get some work done, as TPG’s Victoria Walker did on a working trip to the resort earlier in the pandemic, there is a desk built into the wall adjacent to the TV.
And if you prefer to just watch people and creatures go by from the balcony, that’s on the list of available options, too.
The plunge pool felt great for a quick cool-off after a bike ride, but keep in mind this is not the same as a heated hot tub.
This one-bedroom suite had a separate room for the toilet located just across the hallway from the larger area for the shower and vanity. I love it when hotels make this space so functional for families or couples, who can complete different tasks in their own separate spaces.
While I obviously adored the larger villa, this bedroom specifically might have actually been cuter than the villa’s bedroom — and the bed was equally comfortable.
The brightly colored accents in this space really made the room come alive in a way that the villa’s primary bedrooms didn’t quite offer.
All of that is to say that if you are able to use points, cash or a Hyatt Globalist upgrade into a one-bedroom at the Andaz Mayakoba, you are still in for quite a treat even without all the pomp, circumstance and square footage of the presidential villa. In fact, for a solo or couples getaway, the one-bedroom suite is really the better option.
The Andaz Mayakoba is huge. And when I say huge, I mean it was about a mile from our villa on the beach to where we would eat breakfast each morning at Cocina Milagro. Some parts of the resort were even farther away than that.
For us, this was actually fantastic. Riding the available bikes scattered all around the property to get where you wanted to go was a great way to burn off some of the chips and salsa while still having fun. And when you didn’t feel like doing that, or when the weather didn’t cooperate, you could always call a golf cart to pick you up.
However, if you have mobility issues that would render bikes or golf carts problematic, you like your services to be in a more compact area or have kids that aren’t yet great bike riders, keep this sprawling layout in mind. You could absolutely headquarter your trip out of just the services in the beach area of the resort and still have a great time for a few days, but you would be missing some of what the property has to offer.
The Andaz Mayakoba has two main pool areas. The first is down by the beach and the second is up near the lagoon area adjacent to the Cocina Milagro restaurant. On balance, the one by the beach is more lively while the one up in the lagoon area is quieter, less crowded and peaceful.
Down by the beach, there was almost always a fair amount of pool-goers during the main daylight hours and you could order drinks or snacks from your phone or via servers who came by pretty regularly.
This pool had some available floats and toys when we visited and there were usually some available seats in one of the several twisting and turning areas.
Of note is that while there were areas of varying depth, including some pretty shallow sections for the littles, I was surprised to not see a pool lift for those with mobility issues.
The lagoon pool reminded me a lot of the Andaz Costa Rica in how it is tiered and feels like it just blends into the hillside. Turns out, the properties were designed by the same person — so you will spot the similarities if you are able to visit both. (And you should, they are both top-notch.)
This pool never had more than a few guests during our visits and it had a very shallow toddler area and a water feature that would be great for toddlers and preschoolers.
But mostly, this is where you’d come to take a peaceful dip, read a book by the pool or nap the day away in one of the many available cabanas.
I can’t say enough good things about the different pool options this resort had to offer. But I will also point out that, once again, I did not spot a pool lift in this section.
This resort does a great job catering simultaneously to the interests of both adults and children, but it could probably do better when it comes to meeting the needs of those with mobility limitations.
If you’ve never heard of sargassum consider yourself lucky, but now is a good time to add it to your vocabulary.
This brownish-red pungent seaweed is a very real problem across much of Mexico’s Caribbean coast and actually well beyond. This year is shaping up to be a bad one for this seaweed that washes ashore from thousands of miles away. The resort — and even the Mexican navy — is fighting the seaweed by land and sea, but if you’re hoping for a pristine beach, right now that’s a challenge in this entire area.
The Andaz is battling it with a small army of workers raking it up from dawn to dusk.
A tractor then comes by and does its best to take it away. However, that also means there’s a tractor driving up and down the beach frequently. We could even hear it from our second-story bedroom in the villa.
While the season for this seaweed seems to stretch from spring into fall, the worst months can be from May-August, which is when our stay fell. However, with the efforts of the constant clean-up crew, some days were noticeably better than others. In fact, on our last day, we were able to get into the water without much bother from the seaweed.
For us, this was not a deal-breaker, but we are into pools more than beaches, so your experience may vary.
Seaweed aside, the beach is gorgeous with absolutely perfect, soft, white sand.
The Andaz has plenty of seats down by the ocean and unlike at some other resorts, there’s no nickel-and-diming or pre-dawn nonsense to get a chair. Just go grab one and let the relaxing begin.
I can personally vouch for the beachside mojitos.
And to show you it isn’t always this way, here’s a beach view from TPG’s Victoria Walker taken at this very same resort in the fall of 2020.
The Andaz Mayakoba has both a gym and a spa. I’ll readily admit I got my exercise outside on the included bikes, so other than peeking at the gym (and maybe taking a bottle of water while I was in there), I don’t have much more to offer on this amenity.
I did look around for a Peloton but the resort didn’t have those available — but again, you can get your pedaling in on a real bike.
The spa is located next to the gym and looked quite nice, but I didn’t try it out on this trip so can’t offer much insight. They did have a discounted massage special running in the mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. One person in our group was able to leverage his Globalist status into a complimentary visit to the sauna, but when I inquired about that availability there seemed to be some confusion so I didn’t push the issue.
Kimbo Kids Club
Another way that the Andaz Mayakoba is quite similar to the Andaz Costa Rica is with the included kids club for children aged 4-12 available from 9 a.m.-5 p.m at no extra charge.
While I didn’t bring my kids on this trip, I was able to look around in the kids club and meet the charming women who run it. In addition to the main area, there was a baby area — you can hire babysitters there for children under 4 for a fee.
While the main kids club is available at no charge, they also do some optional crafts and activities that come with an additional fee.
If you miss taking a boat ride through the lagoons, then you miss a huge part of the charm of Mayakoba. These are manmade lagoons, but they have been there long enough that they really are very much alive.
There are daily tours through the lagoons or you can simply use the boats as a way to get to dinner at the other resorts in the Mayakoba complex. It is recommended that you make an advance reservation for the tour so you don’t miss out.
We cruised around the entire loop one evening and saw the overwater villas at Rosewood, the impressive entrance to Banyan Tree and some incredible birds going to roost for the night, and enjoyed the peace offered by the entire experience.
You can set up private picnics and such on the boats, or you can just take a free ride. Regardless of how you plan it, don’t miss these boats.
And so much more
The Andaz Mayakoba, at first glance, is a very posh beach resort with some Mexico-infused colorful flair. But it is actually so much more. We stayed four nights and that seems like it should be plenty of time to experience a beach resort — but it wasn’t because the more you explore at this resort, the more you find to enjoy.
A can’t-miss attraction here is a cenote. A cenote is essentially an underground cave with water and having one available at the resort is really special. There are actually two — one is said to be on the golf course and we didn’t make it there.
But one is available on the nature trail if you continue past the lobby sanctuary, away from the beach.
This cenote is only open to visitors during the day and a very informative woman opened the gate for us and escorted us down the stairs and into the cenote.
Down there you’ll find limestone, water, bats, fish and a respite from the sun. It was really a highlight of the stay and you should make a point to experience it.
There’s no charge for this experience, but you will have to go up and down some relatively steep steps made of rock. You’ll also probably want to toss some water in your bike’s basket before making the trip here as it is probably about 1 1/2 miles from the beach area and some of it is uphill.
The resort also has its own sort of replica village located just around the bend from the cenote. This is another one of the open secrets here that would actually be very easy to miss if you never explored beyond the main pool and restaurant areas.
This area was beyond adorable and featured a variety of shops, restaurants, Instagram-friendly areas and even an entire arcade. The arcade was empty when we visited other than the woman running it, who informed us it is just $10 to play games all day, which seems like an absolute steal if you are traveling with kids or anyone into arcade games.
On the whole, this area was a delightful surprise to us, but it didn’t seem to be fully reopened quite yet. Hopefully, as occupancy increases in the area more of these restaurants will reopen as they are a lovely addition to the restaurants in the main resort areas while still being within the gates of Mayakoba.
Another surprise highlight of our trip were the classes we took at the Andaz. We took both a salsa-making and tortilla-making class and both far exceeded expectations.
These do come with a fee of around $25, though it varies from class to class, but we found it to be worth it to learn from some of the most endearing and kind women I’ve encountered. These aren’t just demonstrations, but you actually do the work of making a variety of items and learning about local customs and traditions along the way.
In the salsa class, my friend and I made four different types of salsa and then got to enjoy them with some chicken and tortillas that were brought out at the end. That turned the entertaining class into an actual meal that was absolutely worth the cost of admission. We even had extra salsa to bring back to the room and enjoy with chips later on.
Smashing the cooked ingredients into the perfect salsa was actually harder than expected, but so worth it.
The tortilla-making class was less involved than the salsa-making, but it was still more work than you might guess.
The dough had already been prepared for us, but we got to learn some different techniques to turn the dough into a warm, fluffy, finished tortilla.
If I had it to do again, I’d bring along some honey to drizzle on the fresh tortillas, but they still made for a delightful snack.
OK, if you thought the amenities section was long, get comfy for this portion of the review. There’s a lot to eat at the Andaz Mayakoba — and even more, if you venture on to one of the other three area resorts.
Tinta del Pulpo
We’ll start with the three dining options in the beach and the main pool area of the resort. The primary dining option here is Tinta del Pulpo, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a variety of indoor and outdoor seating options.
I particularly loved that even if you eat indoors there’s still lots of cross-air ventilation as they keep the large sliding door and windows open on multiple sides of the restaurant.
On this lunch menu, you’ll find soups ($9), salads ($14), ceviche ($16), shrimp tacos ($14), burgers ($18) and more.
We enjoyed both lunch and dinner and while both were very good, I think I enjoyed the lunch menu a bit more. Service here was generally good, but could get a little slow at times during our visit. I very much enjoyed pretty much everything I tried, but loved the ceviche the most.
Another option by the main pool is Vegan Bar. This is actually where all of our cooking classes took place. It’s a casual, bright, cheerful spot where you can order salads, smoothies, wraps, juices and more from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
In the evenings, food service is suspended, but you can still order drinks from the bar from 3 to 10 p.m. This is also where you will find a small gift shop with some swimsuits, Gatorade and toiletries.
A torrential downpour rained out our reservation at Sotavento as it is literally on the beach and very affected by weather. But, if the weather is on your side, this looks like an amazing spot for dinner right on the sand.
Sotavento specializes in entrees such as a lobster tail ($72), shrimp ($34) and salmon ($32) grilled right on the beach, though it also has options such as lobster fettuccini ($30) and beef tartare ($23).
Reservations here are recommended, but just keep the weather in mind as rain means that they will need to try and move you to another location. The covered Vegan Bar patio served as an overflow for Sotavento when it was raining, but even that became impossible when the rain got too terrible one evening.
Those first three spots mentioned are down by the beach, but Cocina Milagro, which has the widest array of breakfast options, is up in the lagoon area about a mile from the beach.
The bright, sunlit restaurant wasn’t too busy as long as you eat in the 7 to 8 a.m. timeframe but does get more lively as you get in that more popular 8:30 to 10 a.m. range. There are indoor and outdoor seats available, depending on your preference.
For breakfast, you can enjoy the buffet (which is served to you), order from the menu or even visit the outdoor quesadilla and tamale station. Hyatt Globalist status covers your order from the menu or from the full buffet. Having done both I actually preferred the buffet option for reasons I will get to shortly.
From the menu, we tried French toast ($10), a “healthy bowl” made of yogurt, berries, avocado, dark chocolate and other delicious ingredients ($8.50), an assortment of Mexican pastries ($6), huevos rancheros ($11) and grilled avocado ($11). It was actually all fantastic and we certainly started our day with smaller portions when ordering this way, but on this day we were eating breakfast in that prime 9 to 10 a.m. timeslot and the service was really slow.
Save ordering from the menu for when you are in absolutely no hurry at all and/or on the day you get to breakfast a bit early.
When it comes to the buffet, masks are required to get up and peruse the options, which are spread over two sections of the restaurant.
You’ll find breakfast buffet staples such as eggs, bacon and fruit but there are also lots of local specialties, too. And if you don’t see what you want — like toast or fried eggs — your server can bring those to you. The outdoor quesadilla and tamale stations are also included.
The buffet includes a variety of juices and coffee — iced or hot (and they did have almond and coconut milk).
I was personally a huge fan of the vast variety of sauces and salsas — especially after learning more about what goes into them in the salsa-making class.
I’ve missed an indulgent breakfast buffet over the last year, so this was really a daily treat that was very much enjoyed, especially with Globalist status making all charges but the added gratuity disappear each day.
If you at all enjoy this type of start to your day, mark this meal down as an exciting one on your calendar.
This restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, but while I didn’t try those meals here, I got the impression that breakfast is its standout meal of the day.
The nicest restaurant at the Andaz Mayakoba is unquestionably Casa Amate, which is open only for dinner.
You’ll want to make advance reservations for this meal and save it for a special evening treat. We went on the final night of our stay when it was just the two of us left savoring the final rays of the celebration weekend, and it was really a great way to end the trip.
This restaurant feels like you are in someone’s home, with each room featuring a different theme such as a library or bar studio. There’s also an outdoor courtyard and a special amate tree. Walking in here truly felt special and if you enjoy a nice meal it’s another not-to-be-missed spot on your vacation to the Andaz Mayakoba.
Our host took us through a variety of the themed rooms and let us pick the one that spoke to us the most.
In the end, we loved them all, so we just picked the one that was almost empty at the time we sat down.
On the menu here you’ll find high-end salads with inclusions such as grilled tuna, grilled avocados, pumpkin seeds or pickled papaya that run about $15 to $20.
As the complimentary bread came out, it was quickly clear we had ordered too many courses. If you are a carb lover, save room for this as it was soft, buttery and addictive in all the best ways.
There was also a delightful octopus-based amuse bouche that we hadn’t quite factored into our meal planning.
The soup I ordered was more than fine, but I loved the sweet potato and pipian vegetarian main course ($21). It also included pumpkin seeds, corn, avocado and other seeds and vegetables. After an indulgent long weekend, this was perfect.
While I didn’t snap a photo, my husband, Josh, also gave high marks to his short rib ($45). Service here was attentive, though at the end of the meal as the area had gotten relatively full with other diners it did slow down and took a while to check out. However, this isn’t the kind of meal to rush, so, all in all, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
While this may not be on everyone’s to-do list at the Andaz Mayakoba, I have to give praise to the resort’s in-room dining team that put together a once-in-a-decade meal for my friends and me in the villa. I didn’t love any of the standard options that were presented, so when I asked for a sort of DIY taco bar in the room with various meats and sides, they made it happen.
The servers stayed on hand to assist us, refill margaritas and really set the stage for a night that more than made up for a few months’ delay in celebrating together.
When we somewhat on a whim that day decided we’d like to add a churro bar for the meal’s finale, they made that happen, too. If you ever take a special trip to this resort and want to create a private meal for your group, you’re likely in for a real treat.
Hopefully, this section can one day be deleted, but for now, it’s still a relevant topic.
When entering the resort, and when going into the restaurants, your temperature is taken. Every single staff member I saw — including the men raking seaweed out in the sun (which seemed a bit rough, to say the least) — was wearing a mask correctly.
The guests at the resort often did not have masks on, though that isn’t necessarily as questionable as it may read at first glance. Most of the time at this resort is spent outdoors either by the pool, riding bikes, next to the ocean or walking around.
So while we wore masks while at the classes, when going into restaurants, touring the kids club and similar, there was a lot of time when you were outdoors and distanced from others.
The resort thankfully made it easy to take the required COVID-19 test to reenter the United States by including it on stays of three nights or longer and making it available on-site. Other than it being one of the more “aggressive” swabbings I’ve undergone, the process was very simple and the results for the test we took midafternoon were back that evening in our email before 10 p.m.
The included test is an antigen test; if you need a PCR test, that is also available but it is not included. The PCR would cost $155 and additional antigen tests beyond the two included per room are $25 each.
You do need to check the hours, as on the Sunday we were there, testing was only available until noon, but since you only have to test within three calendar days of returning to the U.S., it shouldn’t be too hard to schedule a day to get it done.
Should you test positive and need to quarantine at the hotel, it offers a 50% discount on accommodations and your food and beverages (excluding alcohol) for up to 14 days.
Even though I am generally pretty cautious, and despite the area dealing with a COVID-19 spike, I felt pretty safe with the resort’s precautions — especially since so much of my time was spent outdoors or in open air-style restaurants that had ample outdoor seating available.
Thousands of words and dozens of pictures later, it’s probably clear that I loved our stay at the Andaz Mayakoba.
If the resort was just the beach and pool area, it would still be good enough to visit, but it’s actually so much more than that. The cultural classes, cenote, biking trails, boat rides and even an entire little on-site village take this resort from good to something really special.
I frankly went into the stay with muted expectations, likely in part due to not wanting to get too excited about something that really came down to the wire on whether or not it would happen.
And to be fair, the resort isn’t perfect. The seaweed, through no fault of theirs, is a real issue for those who place heavy emphasis on the beach itself. The service, while uniformly kind and polite, could at times be slow, or you may have to ask for some things more than once before they happen. If you have physical limitations, the spread-out nature of the resort and lack of amenities such as pool lifts may be a deal-breaker.
But in our situation, the combination of friends, the over-the-top presidential villa, fantastic food, relaxing evening boat ride and a much-anticipated resort getaway combined to create one of my favorite trips of all time.
If I am lucky enough to visit this Andaz again and bring the family along for the experience, I will likely wait until my youngest daughter is old enough to comfortably ride her bike several miles per day. Bike riding is not required, but it really adds to the allure of the property. I would likely try to again stay down by the beach area as opposed to the lagoon area, though there are plusses and minuses to each portion of the resort.
But whether you are simply looking for a few days of sun and margaritas or you are putting together an epic milestone celebration, the Andaz Mayakoba can comfortably fit the bill.
As for me, the wish I made for a safe, happy and memorable weekend with friends as I tossed a stone into the manmade cenote at the start of the trip more than came true.
Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.
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