The Banyan Tree Mayakoba's $50 million expansion is still underway. Here's a first look at its upcoming beachfront suites.

By Nina Ruggiero
July 29, 2020
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Editor's Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

Protected by fresh-water lagoons and twisting, green mangroves, Banyan Tree Mayakoba's secluded villas and suites — all with private pools — were made for social distancing before the term was part of our vocabulary.

Saffron, the Mexican resort's signature Thai restaurant, recently expanded to add romantic, candle-lit tables that sit alone on their own miniature docks under glowing trees. There, you're more likely to see a baby alligator poke its head out of the water than to be disturbed by a fellow diner. At the award-winning spa, each treatment room sits in its own overwater bungalow.

Courtesy of Banyan Tree Mayakoba

The property is especially quiet these days, with resorts in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo — which also includes Cancun — operating at a maximum capacity of 30 percent due to COVID-19 regulations.

But the Banyan Tree has wisely used this time to build toward the future, continuing its $50 million expansion that will include 34 new beachfront pool suites — eight to 10 of which are slated to open this December.

Courtesy of Banyan Tree Mayakoba

The airy suites open straight out to the Riviera Maya's white sand and calm Caribbean Sea. Tropical woods, greenery, natural clay, and limestone stucco organically bring the outside in. Accents by local artisans create pops of color and a solarium with a plunge pool adds to the indoor-outdoor ambiance.

Courtesy of Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Six two-story, 2,385-square-foot overwater villas — the resort's first — are also set to open on the lagoon in April 2021. Eco tours of the lagoon are free and run multiple times daily, and private experiences that can be booked include elaborate in-villa barbecues, sunrise breakfast boat tours, and in-room spa treatments.

MK Blue, a 500-person waterfront event space, opened as part of the expansion in June 2019, and Sands Beach Club, which will include an oceanfront pool, fish market, kids' club, library, and more, will open later this year.

Bookings are now open. Beachfront suites start at $1,249 a night and overwater villas at $1,099.

Nina Ruggiero is Travel + Leisure's deputy digital editor. A New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she's happiest on a beach, a cobblestone street, or in a hotel bathtub with a view. Find her on Instagram @ninamarienyc.