It List 2008
Beach Hotel. If ever you had any doubt about the arrival of the Riviera Maya, a once-sleepy stretch of sand 40 miles south of Cancún, then try booking a room at the new Mandarin Oriental, one of the most anticipated hotel openings this year (we had to put our name on two waiting lists to get in). Hassle aside, it’s easy to see why the property is red-hot. The winning Mandarin formula—exemplary service, forward-reaching design, a first-rate spa—has taken root in a pristine Mexican coastal environment. Acres of mangrove forest, including an on-site cenote, surround a lovely—albeit small—stretch of powdery sand. The 128 boxy white villas give beach chic new meaning, with polished stone floors, rough limestone walls, spare four-poster beds, and sculptures by prominent Mexican artists. We’ll admit, we did experience a bit of sticker shock at checkout. But it’s worth it. This is the most sophisticated resort on Mexico’s eastern coast.