When I really want to go on holiday I like to book a beach getaway where my main activities include lounging, eating, swimming a ton (preferably in bath-like temperatures), and doing yoga. When I arrive I unpack completely and prefer not to have to drive anywhere–biking and walking are acceptable. One of my preferred destinations for this kind of trip is Mexico’s Tulum on the Caribbean coast, where my yoga studio the Shala holds an annual retreat at Amansala, a small resort right on the aqua ocean’s edge. The weeklong escape is my idea of paradise. Excellent classes in the mornings are followed by a whole lot of nothing in the afternoon except possibly a walk on the white sand at sunset or a restorative yoga session, which often means stretching over a few pillows. Despite copious amounts of guacamole and quesadillas (and a nightly margarita or two) I come home tan, somewhat toned, and with a cheerier outlook on life that lasts for months.
Of course, this stretch of coastline coined the Mayan Riviera has turned from insider secret to a huge destination for luxury resorts in the last decade, particularly in the area around Playa del Carmen. Following on the heels of the Mandarin Oriental last year (I haven’t gone myself yet, but by all accounts it’s fabulous, and I will get my own look in January) is another big brand debut. The Banyan Tree Mayakoba launches on February 1 with 132 villas, all with private pools, set out along the beach and nestled in the mangrove forest. With a huge spa and a Greg Norman-designed golf course, it’s got the buzz of one of the most anticipated openings of ’09. Of course, it helps that the flight to Cancun is only four hours from New York and temperatures balmy when the East Coast is frigid, but especially in these current bad news days I am thinking about my Mexican escapes more than ever.