THE ART OF PURPOSE DRIVEN TRANQUILITY
Written by Ashley Gude / Photography courtesy of Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya
In a world where busyness is too often touted and revered, the Andaz Mayakoba quietly and adeptly brings the art of purpose- driven tranquility back into focus. Just beyond Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Mayan coastline humbly beckons visitors to rest, recharge and recreate at its newest luxury resort, the Andaz Mayakoban. Poised as one of four resorts pristinely tucked into a tropical rainforest, under the Mayakoban umbrella of high-end, luxury resorts, the Andaz has taken great care to respectfully reside amongst the twisted mangroves, winding canals, impossibly clear lakes and cenotes, and the ever-turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Guests can indulge in an array of activities as colorful as the curated native bird murals stitching the buildings together against a verdant backdrop. Or, one can consider slipping into the world of stillness: daydreaming, bird watching, napping, reading, or thoughtful conversation. While the default mode, woven throughout the Andaz, is "oneness with nature," you can build your day accordingly. The menu of options is rich and satisfying: a wellness spa, yoga by the beach, water sports (hydro biking, kayaking, wind sailing, snorkeling from a boat or with sea bobs), scuba diving, jet skis, playing golf on Latin America's first PGA-toured golf course, the sea of gastronomic delights and a slew of cultural adventures. All events are at your fingertips and waiting to be tailored to your liking by the effusively warm and abundantly available staff.
The Apothecary Bar Sanctuary interior. Photo by Tadeu Brunelli
Wanting to gain my bearings, I scheduled the lagoon boat trip, which canvased the area as our guide spotted unique wildlife (crocodiles, quirky birds, camouflaged iguanas). Home to 330- plus species that roam freely (and I do mean freely) through the lush 620-acre property, you quickly realize the expansive measures taken to preserve and cultivate these tropical environments. As a result, the Andaz proudly voices a call to action within the world of tourism, garnering it a handful of awards and nature certifications. Cruising gave us a grand overview of wildlife while also whetting our appetite for the varied dining options. After my initial meal, dining became an active pastime for me. Choosing from one of five on-site restaurants, thankfully, became the most challenging part of my day. Each restaurant sources fresh local ingredients and combines them with authentic cooking techniques to create dishes graciously served by a kind- hearted and impeccable waitstaff.
Centrally located and residing next to the poolside pavilion, Casa Milagros produces food as beautiful as its setting. The interior decor pairs stone, locally crafted tile, and local tzalam wood. It offers authentic Mexican, Latin, and unique international dishes. We circled back on a few different nights as the melt-in-your- mouth tuna tataki and pork ramen tempted us to return. But food is only half of the draw as we quickly developed a fondness for the doting staff; Louis made an impression as strong as sticky rice pudding with coconut milk.
We frequented Tinto del Pulpo because of its accessible location (poolside) and lovely staff. The consistency of the quality of the Mexican fare and locally-crafted artisan beers made this a mainstay. The fresh ceviches and homemade churros with tapioca ice cream also may have had something to do with me being a repeat offender. The Vegan Bar was a stone's throw away. They are always happy to whip up a fresh smoothie or healthy drink at a moment's notice.
They also offer various unique vegan options, including my new favorite, a rice ball salad (fried rice with polenta, mashed red pepper with truffle, green peas, avocado, and spinach salad). If you're looking for the elusive perfect photo op, head to Sotavento. An Insta-worthy setting awaits as tables and softly cushioned chairs lap the edges of the Caribbean Sea. Set under the romance of string lights, with feet buried in the sand, you can select from fresh seafood, gorgeous salads, and prized desserts (almost too pretty to eat ... almost).
Rounding out the dining options, Casa Amate serves up memorable Latin American cuisine interestingly set amidst what is best described as an "eclectic traveler's home." You can sample creative local cuisine from the comfort of different eye-pleasing rooms of the "house" (dining room, library, bar). While the sea is the primary source driving the culinary menus, it also provides a rich marine landscape when scuba diving. On two diverse occasions, I explored the peaceful underwater world of the Mayan barrier reef. Only a short boat ride from the shore immersed me in a grand collection of wildlife. The highlight was spotting a family of eagle rays at a depth of 48 feet right at the conclusion of one of our dives. Luxury reigns supreme across the landscape of the Mayakoba. Whether in the pursuit of experiencing artful cuisines or endorphin-raising adventures, the biggest luxury is choice. The ability to choose your day is not lost on guests, whether you prefer a quiet, contemplative, restorative day or a day brimming with activities fueled by the exotic lush backdrop of the beckoning blues of the Caribbean Sea. You will certainly want more, no matter what you choose, just like the coconut tapioca. sl