We had been to Mayokoba the previous year, and wanted to return. We'd also been for dinner at a Banyan Tree in Thailand and liked what we'd seen, so we thought we'd try and combine the two. We weren't disappointed. Our three bedroom detached townhouse was bigger than the first house we bought when we were married - by quite a large margin - and had a small plunge pool on the roof (NB fab for adults, and supervised children, too scary to leave littlies in alone due to height - but easy to keep them out if you didn't want them up there.)
The bedrooms were all spacious and cool, each with an ensuite bathroom, immaculately designed and kept and with a different local gift for everyone every night at "turn down" time - from purses to mayan chewing gum!
The resort is huge and you can hire bikes to cycle round or call a golf buggy to take you to the beach (about 1km from our room). One gripe was you had to pay extra for the bikes - only $5 dollars a bike a day, but we were already paying so much I thought they could have thrown that in. Also there were no children's bikes or child seats and children under I think it was 12? weren't allowed to rent them....which again was a shame as it would have been a fun thing to do as a family. Could have done with some tagalong bikes for littlies. Still my kids soon got used to calling up the golf cart and chatting to the truly delightful staff - who really 'make' the experience. Without exception they were charming, intelligent and so eager to please and make your stay as lovely as possible. There's also a boat to take you from reception to the beach - as well as an eco tour they run - though it was always booked up by the time we decided to take it - so do book early as apparently it's great - and free!
There are a couple of pools. One we never made it to as it was "inland" and we prefer the beach, the other right next to the beach. This was bath temperature - perfect for sundown when the ever-present sea breeze made it a bit chilly (bizarrely) for sea swimming. The added bonus was a small but well stocked and beautifully run kids' club that my younger two (dd2 aged 6 and ds1 aged 10) spent hours in - perfect for the hot middle of the day sun. There was the ubiquitous x box, but there were also daily crafts and games and a fantastic game of beach footie every afternoon open to all ages and all nationalities - which everyone really enjoyed and was a great ice breaker for the shier teenagers. The beach is long and uncrowded and the sea is choppy (well it is whenever we've been) but warm and a beautiful blue. You have to pick your spot to get in as there are a few rocks, but it's great for dipping and if it does get calm there's apparently great snorkelling and diving v nearby. The beach beds were proper beds, beautifully made up and v v comfy...just lovely.
The food is great - breakfast which was included was amazing, the best I've ever had. There's an adults only restaurant which we didn't visit and a Thai and beach restaurant that we did. Both were first class and when our youngest didn't fancy Thai food they brought food from the kids' room service menu with very good humour and no fuss. Room service was also a treat - with two huge tv's (and we had James Bond on the laptop) we had a couple of great nights in our palatial home and because it was detached we weren't worried about keeping anyone up with the noise.
The one downside - and there has to be one - was cost. Like every 5 star hotel everything extra cost a lot, and food was particularly expensive - though on the bright side, nowhere near as expensive as the Maldives! The other problem is getting out of the hotel, even the short 20 min taxi to Playa del Carmen for dinner is expensive - $26 if there are 4 of you (each way) and nearer $50 each way if like us you're a family of 5. After 8 nights we were ready to eat somewhere else, lovely though the food is. Next year (and yes we want to go again!) I think we'll hire a car for the week from the airport - there seemed to be v good cheap deals if you booked online for a week. It's an easy 45 min drive and would mean you had more flexibility to get out and about if you wanted to. We got a free spa treatment in with our package and the massage was amazing - painful but relaxing - but again if we'd been paying it would have cost a fortune, so depends how much of a spa bunny you are.
Top tips for excursions. Xel-Ha - an eco waterpark - we've been twice and loved it all. And a zip wire place whose name escapes me, but the hotel run a tour and it;s great. We hired a car for the day which cost a lot, but was worth it . You are v near Mayan ruins at Tulum but we haven't been as everyone says it's hot and crowded.
Overall a wonderful, memorable holiday. We all want to go back and when you have children ranging from 13-6 and a hard to please dh, that's quite a recommendation. It's first class, with costs to match, but absolutely worth it if you can manage it.