Playa del Carmen

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Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya

Address: Km. 298.8 Carretera #307

Neighborhood: North of Downtown

City: Playa del Carmen

Phone: 011-52-984-877-3888 or toll-free in the U.S. 866-585-8575

Website: www.mandarinoriental.com/rivieramaya

Expert Review

Editor’s note: This hotel is currently closed for renovations.

Mandarin Oriental does an excellent job of executing spas in general but the infusion of Mayan tradition at the Riviera Maya outpost is especially noteworthy. After all, if every spa looked like a cookie-cutter Zen cubby what would be the point of traveling to one? The Mandarin Oriental chain made a huge splash in early 2008 when it opened their first Mexican hotel here in Playa del Carmen, amidst 36 acres of tropical forest. The 120-room property incorporates design elements from around the world, with whitewashed buildings reminiscent of the Adriatic, Southeast Asian accents, like seagrass furniture and the occasional Buddha statue, and lagoons, reflection pools, and thatched huts that are pure Quintana Roo. Five bungalows and two-level villas, reached by golf carts, are decorated with Mexican art and have secluded outdoor showers and stone tubs. Each room has a view of one of the property’s unique water features.

Guests start the experience sipping healthful chaya (Mayan spinach) juice beneath a thatched-roof palapa, surrounded by the rustling jungle. One treatment has a Mayan shaman lead spa-goers through a purification ritual involving blessings, herbs, mineral-rich mud, and meditation, in a half-buried clay structure called a temazcal. Another lets guests pluck botanicals such as Mexican marigolds or chacá leaves from a garden for a scrub and massage designed to align body energy with the cycles of the tzolkin, the ancient 260-day Mayan calendar. Like all Mandarin Oriental resorts and hotels, this one offers pure luxury at a premium price, but it’s worth it. 2010 Smart Luxury Award winner

Tags: luxury | expensive | spa | smart splurge | smart luxury winner

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