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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Off the Grid in Playa del Carmen

Trade the chaos of Cancun for this relaxed town on the Mayan Riviera, where you can swim in sinkholes and explore stunning archaeological sites.


1. Where to Stay

A courtyard at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba.  

Mingle with Mexican trendsetters at Hotel Deseo (from $128), run by the Mexico City–based group that recently opened the Hôtel Americano in New York. With only fifteen minimalist rooms, it manages to avoid that big-resort feel while still attracting a cool crowd after sunset to its central poolside lounge, where you can sip premium Añejo tequilas (from $8) while watching silent movies from the twenties and thirties projected on the walls.

Have breakfast on the beach at El Taj (from $250), a Bali-inspired boutique resort with a prime waterfront location. Throughout the property, you’ll find exotic wood carvings and palapas with thatched roofs, while its 57 spacious units feature fully equipped kitchens and multiple bedrooms.

Stroll past mangrove-lined canals and freshwater lagoons at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba (from $450), the first foray into the Americas from the super-luxury Asian hotelier best known for posh spa offerings. Opened just north of town in 2009, the property doesn’t abandon the brand’s renowned decadence: Guests stay in 132 stand-alone villas with a minimum of 3,000 square feet and private pools and Jacuzzis.

Published on Dec 6, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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