At Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, they’ve braided my blond hair and wrapped it around my head, capping the hairdo with a fragrant crown of flowers. Around my neck, I don a colorful Oaxacan-made scarf. The white peasant blouse, which covers my brightly embroidered corset, and flamenco-style skirt billows in breeze. Seagulls circle in the sky. In the distance, a monkey shrieks.
Costumed, I pose before the cobalt Caribbean Sea, the Riviera Maya sand serving as nature’s frame. My blood red lipstick gleams in the sun. The only things needed to fully complete my transformation: darker, thicker eyebrows; a complacent, slightly amused and knowing glare – and a boyfriend named Diego Rivera.
Now is your chance to be Frida Kahlo. Andaz Mayakoba offers guests a VIP session with Del Sol, their official resort photographers. (Virtuoso travelers booking the resort through their advisor receive this as one of numerous complimentary perks.) Having procured a trunk of clothing and costumes based on the fashion cache discovered in Kahlo’s former Mexico City home, now the Blue House museum, the photographers provide guests with an imaginative portal of make-believe, while steeping them in Mexican culture. The fun getups and pro shots go beyond selfies to create worthwhile mementos – Mexico’s spirited soul seems palpable and accessible at this resort, which proudly embodies some of Kahlo’s identity and whimsy.
Just an hour from Cancún, the 214-room property is one of four hotels comprising the swank Mayakoba eco-development, which was built to immerse visitors in the Yucatan’s nature and mystery. Ronald Zurcher’s sleek, contemporary design plays out amid the manmade canals hewn into mangrove forest.
Modish guest rooms are adorned with Mayan handicrafts and local artwork. An official “tacologist” (I’ll strive for this career in my next life) helps guests create the perfect taco. Of course there’s a tequila sommelier, as well as a spa with treatments born from Mayan traditions and infused with Yucatan grown herbs. Across the resort, the overall attitude is festive, yet casual, as guests lounge by two pools, take paddleboard and kite-surfing lessons, and snorkel or wander the immense Mayakoba development, home to the 18-hole El Camaleón golf course, abundant biking and hiking trails, and guided eco-tours through canals teeming with some 250 wildlife species.
After the photoshoot, I grab a resort bike and pedal around the 600-acre property, my Frida ensemble exchanged for ordinary athletic garb. On a jungle path free of other guests, I meet a family of furtively chattering coatimundi, their long tails raised to the heavens as they pass. Before I can pedal again, some iguanas waddle into view. When they don’t proceed, I bravely navigate around them. I think that’s something Frida would do.
Note: Andaz Mayakoba won “Best Virtuoso Experience” in Virtuoso’s Best of the Best 2017 hotel awards.
Virtuoso Advisor Tip:
“I love the modern take Andaz Mayakoba has, complemented by Mexico folk art details threaded throughout the property. The restaurant feels open and airy, like you’re still connected to the outside. It’s authentically Mexican, hip, and will appeal to families and younger millennial-type travelers.”
Christie Knubel-Holmes, Austin-based Virtuoso travel advisor
Plus, more from Becca Hensley: Five Places We (Really) Love in Mexico
All photos courtesy of Andaz Mayakoba.