While there are many good reasons to consider taking a group to Mayakoba—from the seclusion of the jungle surrounds to the beauty of the white-sand beaches, the luxury of the impeccable lagoon- and ocean-facing suites, and the sheer variety of meeting spaces that capitalize on the stunning location—the food (oh, the food!) is sure to convince you.
This 620-acre, gated community located about 30 minutes via car from Cancun International Airport is both a tropical oasis and a foodie paradise. Far from what many know of all-inclusive resorts, which have restaurants serving international cuisine from Japanese to French, the four properties within Mayakoba truly convey a sense of place through their plates. “The idea is to get to know Mexico while you’re here,” says Matilda Fredberg, group sales executive with Andaz Mayakoba Resort.
The newest of the four hotels at Mayakoba, Andaz opened in 2016 and has quickly elevated the already-high bar for F&B previously set by the other properties. If you think eating south of the border is all about tacos and guacamole, think again (although, there’s plenty of mouthwatering varities of those to go around, too): Andaz’s signature restaurant, Casa Amate, was just named one of the country’s top 120 restaurants by Culinaria Mexicana (Mexico’s approximate equivalent of a Michelin guide) for 2020. Here, Chef Ari Reyes works wonders blending traditional flavors with modern tastes, as evidenced by dishes like duck mole with plum, avocado and pickled onions (paired with high-quality tequila, of course)—all within the confines of a space that’s designed to look like a historic Mexican home, with various rooms to explore.
Each of the other properties share a similar philosophy when it comes to culture and cuisine for guests. “When you’re coming to the beach in Mexico, you’re expecting to have a real experience from Mexico,” says Chef Juan Pablo Loza with Rosewood Mayakoba. Loza says they love customizing F&B for groups to emphasize the reason they’re there to begin with, as well as incorporate Mexican touches. For example, for a group of winemakers, the Rosewood team came up with a salsa that incorporated some of the winemakers’ own products; for another group, they created a chocolate house with hand-carved figures inside that were custom to the group. It all comes down to making a lasting impression that will keep people talking long after their return flight. “It has to be authentic, fun and different,” Loza adds.
Ready to take your group on a culinary journey of Mexico through Mayakoba? Here’s what not to miss.
Top Food Experience Customized brunch at Casa Amate or breakfast aboard a boat on the lagoon
Reception Idea Mexican Kermesse, a celebration with traditional food, dancing and music around pool
Poolside Eats Guacamole and chicharrones
Best Sweet Treat Tres leches cake with dulce de leche
Top Food Experience HAAB interactive dinner experience in the jungle, escorted by Mayan warriors
Reception Idea Waterfront stations with Thai food at signature restaurant Saffron
Poolside Eats Poke bowls
Best Sweet Treat Chocolate-encased tiramisu with hot coffee poured over
Top Food Experience Mexican fiesta on La Isla Lawn with taco carts and live fajita station
Reception Idea Korean grill and hibachi bar on the beach
Poolside Eats Insect tasting menu
Best Sweet Treat Yucatan Bola cheesecake with berries
Top Food Experience Le Ceiba dinner cooked over wood fires in the garden beneath Ceiba tree
Reception Idea Beach fest with food stations, tequila and mezcal
Poolside Eats Shrimp tacos with Oaxaca cheese
Best Sweet Treat Churros with vanilla ice cream
For More: El Pueblito
Culinary experiences within the destination go beyond the borders of the four resorts, too. Within biking distance (all guests have access to complimentary two-wheelers) or a quick golf cart ride away is El Pueblito, a charming area designed as a classic Mexican village square. The entire space can be rented out for events, like a Mexican fiesta for up to 500 people, creating options for various food stations and entertainment (it’s especially enjoyable at night, with bistro lights and festive pinatas setting the mood).
Restaurants within El Pueblito are each operated by one of the hotels and include La Fondita, which serves up the freshest tostadas and most refreshing margaritas; Pan Dulce Bakery, which prepares eye-popping treats like gold leaf- and chocolate-dipped banana bread; and Pueblito Bar, which opened in December with an expansive mixology program and live music on weekends. Also within El Pueblito is a cooking school by Chef Karla Enciso, who leads hands-on classes for groups of up to 40 people making Yucatan favorites like lime soup, panuchos and kibis (plus dozens more recipes to choose from). Afterward, everyone enjoys the spoils of their hard work paired with Mexican wines.
Throughout Mayakoba, there’s a keen focus on special dietary needs. All staff is well trained to ask in advance about any restrictions, and chefs are extremely accommodating to prepare versions of dishes that are allergen-free. It’s entirely possible to eat vegan for the duration of a stay and not feel like you’re missing out on any Mexican flavor—another reason the destination is so attractive to groups with diverse needs.