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For condo rentals, see the website of Alma Libre books.

Between Cancún & Playa del Carmen

Several resorts with first-rate spas are clustered between Puerto Morelos and the Cancún airport. They're actually more convenient for quick getaways than those along Cancún's Hotel Zone, and all offer airport transfers for the 15- to 20-minute commute. Rates quoted are for high season, but don't include the often-exorbitant holiday periods. These hotels are mostly all-inclusive (there are few other dining choices nearby). Some add a 10% or 15% service charge.

South of Puerto Morelos

The beaches, bays, mangrove lagoons, and jungles between Puerto Morelos and Tulum are constantly undergoing transformation. Punta Maroma, home to the coast's first exclusive hideaway, now has several resort and residential compounds. Massive all-inclusives loom above beaches where campgrounds once thrived. Mayakobá, a master-planned resort just north of Playa del Carmen, is a fine example of an ecologically responsible development, though some other resorts use the land without much thought to conservation.

Mayakobá Residential Golf & Spa Resort

One of the most impressive ecologically sensitive developments I've seen, Mayakobá (www.mayakoba.com) incorporates three upscale hotels and a championship golf course into more than 607 hectares (1,500 acres) of healthy mangroves, lagoons, cenotes, and beaches. The compound's concept is unusual -- it's a beach resort with precious few oceanview rooms. Instead, the hotels line a series of freshwater canals. It takes some getting used to, but the idea works.

Guests travel about in electric boats and golf carts and may use the restaurants, spas, and other facilities in all three hotels. Some have trouble with the jungle setting -- bug repellent is a must, especially at dusk, and swimming is forbidden in the canals. I've spotted small crocodiles in the canals and have been assured they're removed to more suitable homes on Mayakobá's wild side. The El Camaleón golf course, designed by Greg Norman, is an Audubon-certified bird reserve -- and a challenge for the pros competing in Mexico's only PGA tournament, usually scheduled for late February/early March. You must have a reservation to get past the gates of this extremely private development. Consider booking a meal or spa treatment at one of the hotels to take a look around.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.