For its first venture outside of Asia, Banyan Tree chose Mexico's Riviera Maya, a resort destination that excels in pampering guests. Part of the glitzy Mayakoba complex, which also includes a Greg Norman–designed golf course, Banyan Tree is made up entirely of large freestanding guest villas. The sleek, Asianinspired design blends beautifully with such Mexican details as custom-made Talavera sinks and local handicrafts, and each villa comes with a pool. Leaving the serenity of these plush pads is worth it for beach time or such activities as a naturalist-guided tour of the beautiful mangroves that surround the property; with an eye toward the fragile eco systems, these tours are aboard an electric-powered boat.
The Grand Velas is located in Riviera Nayarit, Nuevo Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coastline, an area known for consistently perfect weather conditions (it's sheltered by the Sierra Madre Mountains). Naturally, this serves as a stunning backdrop to the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, an all-inclusive beachfront resort facing Banderas Bay. Kids are catered to with their own pool and activities such as treasure hunts, cooking classes and piñata making (they even have their own spa treatments). If adult travelers have the urge to do more than soak up the rays by the tiered infinity pool, the resort offers beginning-level scuba classes, beach volleyball and bike tours. Interiors are done in a contemporary style with teak furniture, private terraces and plunge pools, providing plenty of room to spread out and take in the sun-drenched setting.
In 1959, Jacques Costeau explored the Palancar Reef, off the southwestern shore of the then littleknown Mexican island of Cozumel. Today, the spectacular coral reef, which is part of the world's second-largest reef system, tops the list of scuba divers. Those who prefer to stay on land won't be disappointed thanks to the island's picture-perfect beaches, the best of which is found at the Presidente InterContinental. Tucked between lush jungle and brilliant blue sea, and surrounded by flowering gardens, the resort feels ultra-private. Guest rooms are housed in thatched-roof structures with sleek interiors. The outdoors are celebrated in the details (hammocks on the terrace) and an extensive activities menu. Those hankering to follow in Costeau's footsteps can join in daily diving excursions.
Located near the tip of the Baja peninsula where the desert mountains meet the Sea of Cortes, the Secrets Marquis Los Cabos features a dream combination of gorgeous setting, pristine accommodations and superb amenities. Foodies can relish the nightly menu comprised of the freshest local ingredients from the Michelinpedigreed executive chef; while artistes browse the resort’s extensive collection of Latin American sculptures and paintings on display. Sybarites will prefer to book a treatment at the newly re-envisioned Spa Marquis, while sunseekers flock to one of three infinity pools overlooking the water that offers glorious sightings of dolphins, jumping rays and whales. A dream destination for golf aficionados as well, six 18-hole courses are within ten miles of the resort.
The Royal Hideaway Playacar occupies an enviable stretch of white sand beach on Mexico’s tropical Caribbean side, just five minutes south of Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya's buzzing beach town. The sophisticated, colonial-style property (an all-inclusive, all-adult getaway) strikes a winning balance between boutique and rambling, with thirteen lush acres and a myriad of activities, like water sports, private tennis lessons and excursions to nearby archeological sites. The property boasts a beach-chic elegance: dining is exclusively à la carte and many guests dress up for dinner. During the day, social hub is the vast, palm-fringed infinity pool and the oceanfront solarium deck, the perfect place to soak up the sun, while evenings find everyone at the sleek Piano Bar for aperitifs.