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October 2017 - Andaz Mayakoba
What’s an Andaz?
If you aren’t familiar with Andaz, you’re probably not alone. It’s one of at least 35 new luxury and lifestyle brands launched over the past 20 years. What’s more, the move from traditional hotel ratings of four stars or five stars to the less transparent lifestyle descriptions means from a consumer point of view, it’s more difficult than ever to know what you are getting yourself into when trying someplace new.
The Andaz brand is 10 years old and is Hyatt’s entry into what it calls “boutique luxury.” That description is probably a bit off on two counts. Hyatt’s brand guidelines for developers state that Andaz room count should be between 125 and 300 units, not quite the under 100 rooms many people think of when they imagine a boutique hotel. Whether Andaz is luxury in the sense of its sister brand Park Hyatt or say Four Seasons and Dorchester Collection is questionable. From a hard product standpoint, my stay at Andaz Mayakoba showed high-quality construction with solid doors, excellent bedding and all around a nice feel. Staff was also very accommodating and genuinely friendly. If you like W Hotels or trendy brands like Thompson and Gansevoort, or you are looking for lively, sexy vibe for a company meeting, Andaz is worth a look. My Special Report on Andaz Mayakoba is below.
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1. Andaz Mayakoba Overview
1. Andaz Mayakoba Overview
Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya marks the first Mexican property for the lifestyle brand from Hyatt. It is part of the 11 year old Mayakoba eco-resort complex, about 40 minutes south of Cancun International Airport, sharing 1,600 acres with hotels from Fairmont, Rosewood and Banyan Tree. From this perspective Andaz fits very well. Fairmont provides large resort luxury, Rosewood is high-end branded luxury and Banyan Tree brings its Asian flair with a focus on spa. Andaz provides a something for those of you looking for a bit hipper. For example, there is a poolside DJ playing club dance music, although it is not overpowering. When you stay at one hotel in Mayakoba, you have signing privileges at all resorts, access to a culinary school, and Greg Norman championship golf course (It hosts the PGA’s OHL Open each year).
At Mayakoba are six miles of freshwater canals surrounded by mangroves, lagoons, flora and fauna as well as over 200 species of tropical birds and of course, some very nice beaches. Mayakoba received the Sustainable Standard Setter Award from the Rainforest Alliance, the Ulysses Prize for “Responsible Tourism Development” by the United Nations World Tourism Organization and Rosewood Mayakoba was awarded “Most Socially Responsible” at the fifth annual Virtuoso “Best of the Best” Hotel Awards. This past August, Andaz Mayakoba received the Virtuoso award for “Best Experience” from the group of luxury travel advisors. You can go between the hotels via golf carts or small powered boats.
Like the other three hotels in Mayakoba, rooms and facilities at Andaz are split between a main area where you check-in and is in the middle of the mangroves (think jungle) and the beach area. There are restaurants and bars in both areas, but the gym, spa and meeting facilities at the Andaz are in the main area. You get between the areas either by golf cart or bikes. This means, choosing where you want to stay in is very important as you should budget 10-25 minutes to get from one part to the other.
Both sides have pools. I personally prefer the beach. I find it’s cooler. You get ocean breezes. However, staying on a canal or lagoon with your own boat dock and watching turtles, fish and birdlife of the mangroves from your private deck and plunge pool you might think you are in the Amazon.
The décor featured in all rooms and suites is inspired by traditional Mexican crafts and iconography and the cement construction with exposed concrete floors provide a chic warehouse aesthetic. All 41 suites feature private plunge pools. The design of the rooms is grounded by a locally made area rugs as well as Mayan décor items such as a traditional masks and colorful bird figures. The remainder of the decor is minimalist in design with color tones inspired from natural terrain such as stone, sand and water.
Restaurants were all excellent, and OllaCeviche not only has a dozen varieties, but since each order is freshly prepared in an open kitchen, the chef will mix and match to order, which is particularly nice if there are some ingredients you don’t like.
Of 446 reviews on Trip Advisor, Andaz Mayakoba is rated 4.5 stars. Some 93% of the reviews are Very Good/Excellent. I stayed my first four nights while the resort was full with two conferences and my last four nights while it was at about 30% occupancy. Much of the criticism I read online would be the same as mine. There is a 15% automatic “service charge” for all your meals and drinks that is apparently split among staff. However the way it is split, when you ask your server if it is meant to cover his or her tip, the universal response is only a limited amount goes back to their pocket. When I want to tip my server, I expect the money to mostly go to them. It’s clunky and after tiring of giving 30%, I decided to just add an extra but unsatisfying 5% to the bill. The other element that was inconsistent was the wait for golf carts, and in the reception area, there are no restaurants, so it wouldn’t hurt to have some coffee available in the morning. All rooms and suites do have Nespresso makers.
Overall, the service was excellent but lacks small touches. For example, on the beach when I asked for water, I was given a warm bottle. When you come to the pool, you won’t find anyone rushing to help you set up although all chairs already have a towel. Unlike a Four Seasons or Rosewood, there were no surprise and delight type moments, for example, at the pool or beach, coming around with a refreshment of some type or just a cold towel. It’s nothing that is detrimental to your stay, just the type of things that would raise the bar a bit.
Maid service was again very good, however, if you want turndown service, you need to request it. Then again, while rates vary, you can get 1-bedroom suites for as low as $500 per night and the expansive Presidential Suite seems to run around $6,500 per night. I’ve seen less offered in other resorts for double the price. There’s 24/7 room service, full dry cleaning, laundry, including three-hour express service and one-hour pressing, which is not always common in resort hotels.
WiFi, which was of a good standard, is complimentary. Non-alcoholic beverages and snacks in the mini-bars are complimentary, however, even in the suites, the choices are limited and not particularly enticing. Personally, I would rather have a decent selection and pay for it.
Presidential Suite (1)
Located at the end of a col de sac directly on the beach, The Presidential Suite spans 4,575 sq. ft. across two floors and includes a large ground floor living area and dining area with two-story high ceiling. It would be my first choice and is really stunning.
One bedroom is located on the ground floor with a bathtub and large walk-in closet and would be perfect as a master if you don’t like climbing stairs. The large ground floor garden-like private terrace overlooks the Caribbean Sea and has a private pool, separate dining area, and a hammock. You can walk out to the beach and people from the beach can see you, albeit from a slight distance.
The second floor bedroom has a private balcony overlooking the ocean and a separate terrace with an outdoor whirlpool, although no tub, just a walk-in shower.
There is a full kitchen so you can have a private chef. There is also an office and a guest bathroom. You can connect an Ocean Front Double which sleeps up to four guests to make a 3-bedroom layout. The Ocean View Double opens to the same private garden as the Presidential. I would specify that you don’t want that room sold if you are taking the Presidential or just buy it yourself. The location and entrance make it a good choice if you travel with security.
Bi-Level Suites (3 in this category)
Andaz Mayakoba features three Bi-Level Suites in the beach area of the resort. The suites are each 1875 sq. ft. and include separate living and dining rooms on the main floor. The bedroom, located on the second floor, features one king size bed and a large bathroom with a bathtub.
Suites 3512 and 3311 each face the water while 3112 faces the golf course. The suites feature a large wooden terrace on the ground floor with a small private pool. Various plantings provide a good level of privacy. There is also a kitchenette with separate entrance.
Ocean Front Suites (4)
There are four Ocean Front Suites (1,100 sq. ft.) with king size bed and a lounge area. Suite 3721 is second floor, while 3711 is ground floor. The terrace has a private plunge pool and overlooks the water. Expansive bathrooms span the entire length of the room and have walk-in showers, no tubs. There toilet is separated by a hallway so it can double as a guest toilet. Two more Ocean Front Suites are located next to the restaurant in the pool area, so are considerably less private but ideal for families if you want to keep an eye on the kids as there is a small lawn area between the building and the pool area.
Beach Suites (1,100 sq. ft.) are the exact same layout as the Ocean Front Suite, and have lagoon and golf course views, but are located in the beach area of the property, hence the name. Each has with a private plunge pool that overlooks the water canals and mangroves. Lagoon View Suites (10) and Andaz Suites (3) are the same size and layout but are located in the main area of the resort (away from the beach) with the latter featuring wheelchair accessible terraces, showers and lowered room function controls.
Open for dinner only and serving diverse Latin American cuisine, Casa Amate is designed to resemble the home of “an eclectic traveler passionate about Latin culture." The restaurant is built around a courtyard overlooking the resort’s surrounding lagoon with a special Amate tree, which gives the venue its name. Each intimate room is specifically designed as one would find in a house including “a Bar Studio, Library, Estancia and the The Comedor." Food was terrific and as at all restaurants, dietary preferences are enthusiastically accommodated.
Located in the main area of the resort is Cocina Milagro, a poolside pavilion restaurant featuring floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, two open kitchens and a bar terrace. The interior of the restaurant is a combination of stone locally handcrafted tile, local thalami wood, and stone. There is a breakfast buffet with a market-to-table menu concept with an emphasis on seafood.
Located on the beachfront of the resort, OllaCeviche is a casual, open air restaurant featuring fresh ceviche and sharing plates, as well as a tequila bar with over 25 different tequilas and mezcals. Guests can partake in special ceviche, guacamole and taco cooking classes along with mescal, tequila and craft beer tastings. The ceviche menu is extensive and everyone we tried was really top notch, including generous portions.
OlleTaco is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers a market-style feast of tacos, Yucatán specialties, tasty sauces made with local produce and locally crafted artisan beers. The restaurant also has a resident “tacologist, who teaches weekly taco-making classes highlighting a variety of salsas and taco fillings.
El Camaleón golf course offers an 18-hole golf course designed by PGA legend Greg Norman. A unique course, its fairways are lined with sand dunes, mangroves and a multitude of hazards. It is the site of the PGA Tour OHL Classic at Mayakoba. There is also a Jim McLean Golf School. Within the school, Mayakoba has added a Pure Performance Golf Lab, which is designed to help golfers of any level through custom club fitting and custom club building. Utilizing technology such as the Trackman swing and ball flight analysis system, advanced fitting software and high-speed cameras, your current equipment can be accurately measured to find the best combination from 30,000 fitting options to improve your performance.
5. Health and Wellness
There is over 14,000 square feet of event and meeting space, as well as lawn and terrace areas for outdoor functions. The hotel offers a large ballroom with natural light, encompassing 6,200 square feet, as well as five flexible meeting rooms with modern and uniquely configured spaces designed to feel more like a home than a meeting space, each supplied with high-tech audiovisual equipment. The restaurants, pools, beachfront and El Pueblito are also available for social events.