Luxury Hotels

Another luxury Mayakoba hotel

Looking across, from the arrival point

Looking across, from the arrival point

And all the while that ILTM Americas is going on, with the business side of the must-visit event taking place at Fairmont Mayakoba, life continues, too, at that lovely hotel’s two sibling luxury resorts, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba. The gal was whisked away for a night at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, which can be reached via a ten-minute beach walk from the Fairmont or, if there is baggage, via a ten-minute motor shuttle, which means a cobble-stone drive through the forest to a central meeting point, so to speak, and then another radial drive back out, to Banyan Tree.

Terrace and pool, villa 310

Terrace and pool, villa 310

Each of the three resorts has its own character. Banyan Tree offers a strategic first view, a wow as you look, from reception, over to an oriental arch. Get to your villa (there are 107 in all) and you will look over a creek, or an inland canal flanked by mangroves. Villa 310 was perfect, with its own 45-ft pool next to an outdoor hot tub, and a terrace with outdoor dining for six – see the video, below, for the full tour. Once inside the main gate, you have total privacy. One building is solely living room, with dining, and lounging. Another building, with direct access down six blue-tiled steps to the pool, is the master bedroom (a second bedroom, upstairs, is reached via an outdoor staircase).

Washbasin, and Banyan Tree fabric items

Washbasin, and Banyan Tree fabric items

The master bathroom is memorable: it has a big closet leading off, and a full-wall window, with door, looks out to the one proper bathtub, which is outside. The bathroom, inside, has a central washbasin area, with basins either side of a big standing mirror: uniquely Banyan Tree, cotton robes and bags for toiletries are in the company’s distinctive black on white, or white on black, fabric, which actually complements the Portuguese tile-look of the washbasins, as shown right. Sadly Peter Hechler, GM here, had himself been whisked away temporarily, to Cuba, where Banyan Tree opens a hotel shortly. I look forward, hopefully soon, to discussing his creative food plans.

Saffron restaurant deck

Saffron restaurant deck

Example: Banyan Tree guests can start a day with a Lxchel Champagne Breakfast on the hotel’s own launch, the Lxchel – the menu includes a porcini and truffle omelette, lox and bagels, and Taittinger. At breakfast on dry land, Oriente’s buffet is outstanding. At other main meals, there is Saffron, cantilevered over the water, for genuine Thai, and, soon, Tamarind will be offering genuine Italian. Dinner only, too, there is HAAB (named for the 19 Mayan signs of the zodiac): Peter Hechler has created this from a jungle spot, and servers in full Mayan gear serve jicara jars of xtabentum drink, or such cocktails as Huana, rum with guanabana fruit. Dishes include ceviche in avocado sauce, spiced pibil suckling pig and so on. See the picture of HAAB at the top of this article. Then, all too soon, it was time to return to ILTM. SEE THE VIDEO, BELOW, OF WHAT I LEFT BEHIND AT BANYAN TREE MAYAKOBA.

Read more
Luxury Hotels

The luxury Fairmont Mayakoba hosts ILTM Americas

Welcome from Samantha Gatza

Welcome from Samantha Gatza

How on earth does a luxury hotel with 401 rooms cope when it hosts 600 conference delegates, plus peripheral addenda? It is even more of a challenge when those conferees are part of ILTM, the world’s most exclusive network of suppliers and buyers in the highest income bracket. Well, the gal can report that Fairmont Mayakoba, led by the marvellous Dennis Clark, manages magnificently, with more memorable moments every year. This year, arrivals were greeted by two Maya shamans (see above), and inside, in the big airy lobby, a local group played, drinks were offered and there were refreshing skewers of chilled fruit.

Rosewood GM Daniel Scott, left, with Mayakoba CEO

Rosewood GM Daniel Scott, left, with Mayakoba CEO Agustin Sarasola Castill

Fortunately I had arrived a day earlier, and as always there was a lovely relaxed Fairmont-ILTM welcome cocktail, with a superb buffet (under Dennis Clark and his team, the food, with input from celebrity Mexican chef Richard Sandoval, is absolutely outstanding). I was not the only one who could eat the deep-fried tofu every day, at least, for the rest of my life. Monday there was a welcome lunch for the 35 media, who this year include the Editor of National Geographic Traveler and such good friends as Mexico’s zany Deby Beard, queen of food, wine, travel and the briefest shorts on any female over five years old. The lunch was hosted by Agustin Sarasola Castill, CEO of OHL’s 1,605-acre total complex, and its three Mayakoba hotels, Fairmont Mayakoba and its siblings Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba, in the complex’s vibrant village square, El Pueblito, which even has a church, ideal for weddings (there are also scheduled Sunday services).

Tatler's Jeremy Wayne and Rosewood chef Juan Pablo Loza

Tatler’s Jeremy Wayne and Rosewood chef Juan Pablo Loza

It was dine-around time, and it seemed that Rosewood Mayakoba’s magnetic culinarian Juan Pablo Loza was overseeing most of the food. Having raved about the tofu last night, now I raved again, about the open tacos spread with guacamole, on top of which were liberal amounts of tuna ceviche. Divine! There were margaritas in what are best described as topless preserving jars with handles, and beers and wine and it is quite amazing that anyone stayed awake for the subsequent Forum (everyone did). I moved on around, next to the absolutely superb Mayakoba boutique, which has beautiful leather work and embroidered bags and something for everyone.

Three-inch-high butterfly chairs

Three-inch-high butterfly chairs

The art gallery, which was showing a collection of tiny chairs, and sculptures featuring hands and feet, wittily and with great style, was offering sushi, which was really popular. The finale, of this lunch that is, was to be a cooking demonstration, Juan Pablo Laza showing that a chef of a top luxury hotel can also turn his hand to showing how something is done, in a temperature of nearly 30°, in a pop-up kitchen in a village square (it does have a working church, by the way, with regular Sunday services, and it can do weddings). Sadly, I had to leave, so I walked back to my Fairmont home, along part of Mayakoba’s fascinating Nature Trail. NOW WATCH A GENERAL VIDEO OF THE MAYAKOBA COMPLEX, BELOW

 

Read more
Luxury Hotels

ILTM Americas, luxury hotels and more

Before the Forum...

Before the Forum…

It’s showtime again, showtime, that is, for luxury hotels and other travel elements in the great continents of The Americas. Yes, the fifth ILTM Americas began this very Monday, September 26th, 2016, held as always at Fairmont Mayakoba. This time there were equal numbers of exhibitors (300) and invited travel advisors (300, of whom 71% were making their first-ever trip to ILTM Americas). As always, the hard work of one-to-one meetings was preceded by Monday’s Forum, and this was the best yet. First, it had a theme, ‘How to win friends and influence people’. Next, it had one of the world’s most charismatic hosts, Brazilian media man Pedro Andrade.

Pedro Andrade is mesmerised by a Summit speaker

Pedro Andrade is mesmerised by a Summit speaker

I have written about Pedro Andrade before – learning English back in Copacabana, he was talent-spotted by Mario Testino, travelled the world as a top model before getting into television, where he now has his own show on NBC’s lifestyle network, LXTV. At the Forum, he first introduced Matthew Luhn, a charismatic character who evolved from animating with Pixar to become a key story-teller. Always have an opening handle, he said, and you need a middle and an end, and along the way you need what he calls a ‘save a cat’ moment, something totally emotional.

Party acrobat swirls overhead...

Party acrobat swirls overhead…

Next up came three circumlocutionary and long-winded young male rebels, all white, all Americans, who are part of the Summit team that has paid $40 million to turn the US’s most popular ski resort, Powder Mountain UT, into a community of the future (Pedro Andrade was obviously more fascinated by them than some of the audience, who did not understand what it was all about). But then came Bill Saturno, a hilarious National Geographic archaeologist who started his career as a child burying his mother’s silver teaspoons in dirt and then trying to find them, generally unsuccessfully. The discoverer of the priceless San Bartolo Mayan heritage site urged travel advisors to use professional guides for their clients.

..others look down at 3D mapping on the lake

..others look down at 3D mapping on the lake

There were also a couple of educational sessions, one on Mexico, the other on adventure travel – I especially liked listening to Warsaw-born Milo(sz) Pierwola, who gave up law in New York for what he really wanted to do, lead wilderness expeditions. His has built this now-job into a whole way of life, working with colleges and companies, leading find-yourself expeditions, sometimes challenging people on a one-to-one basis to stretch themselves to their personal mental and physical limits. It is a far cry from luxury hotels, admittedly, but, says Milo, he is happy. Which he was not, as a lawyer. WATCH THIS ADVENTURE LEADER EXPLAIN HIS START, BELOW

Read more