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Riviera Maya: The softer side of Mexico

Posted by Melanie Nayer  December 15, 2011 08:19 AM

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Say the word "Mexico" to many U.S. travelers and a look of angst falls over their face. The news of drug cartel violence in specific areas of the country has resulted in a massive drop in tourism, but more unfortunate is the reputation by association that Mexico's pristine oceanfront resorts and hotels have acquired, simply because of their address.

Tourism dropped so much this past year that Mexico launched a massive PR campaign aimed at tourists in an effort to convince them the major destination areas of the country are safe. The reality is they are.

Rid yourself of the image that Mexico is all bikini-clad, beer-bong beach parties and imagine a place filled with mangrove trees, tropical forests, lagoons and sand dunes that stretch all the way to the ocean. Mexico's tranquility is located only 45 minutes from the Cancun airport in Riviera Maya, home to all-inclusive resorts and luxury developments, biospheres, eco-facilities and, of course, some of the best water activities.

Far from the chaos of Cancun, the Riviera Maya is fast becoming the hidden gem for travelers who aren't afraid to hop a plane south of the border, and when they do are reaping the rewards of room rates nearly half of what they were last year. Simply because of the drop in tourism dollars, it's not unlikely you'll find rooms at four- and five-star resorts for as low as $175 a day per person, including all meals, activities, rooms with a view, and often resort credits good for spa treatments, gift shop purchases and tours. Among these resorts, the pristinely positioned Mayakoba community consisting of the Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba and Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

lagoon.JPGThe water canals at the Fairmont Mayakoba Riviera Maya

Far from the loud music and water-drowned drinks synonymous with Mexico travel lies the softer side of Mexico - one that promotes eco-friendly environments, sustainable programs, and vegetation and animal rescue projects. The Fairmont Mayakoba, for example, offers organic and/or sustainable food menus, and employs its own landscaping and lagoon teams. The resort's vegetation rescue project to relocate the property’s gardens’ plants has saved more than 1,500 trees and 10,000 plants, and the resort is home to over 200 species, including local and migratory birds, turtles, iguanas, raccoons and deer. Five freshwater pools and a complementary bike rental program all add to the ambiance of the eco-luxe hideaway.

The Fairmont Mayakoba Riviera Maya isn't just a typical beach resort. The 45-acre 401-room oceanfront property is tucked under a forest canopy, flanked with mangroves, lagoons, water canals and sand dunes. A walk over the foot bridges takes you from private casitas to resort restaurants and wildlife sanctuaries. Within seconds of entering the resort grounds, you almost forget you're in Mexico.

For the next three days, on the invite of the resort, I'll be exploring the idyllic conclave of Mayakoba and writing about the various eco-friendly, luxurious and unique offerings found in the Riviera Maya. My hope is to help shed the image that Mexico tourist towns are unsafe for travelers. Follow me on twitter for up-to-the-minute photos and facts, or check back on this blog daily for new updates from Riviera Maya and Fairmont Mayakoba.

Readers: what are your favorite spots in Mexico?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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