What a pretty picture clouds make. You feel like an angel, sometimes, floating over them. The gal thinks of the clouds on the fabulous painted ceilings in bedrooms at Four Seasons Florence, or the clouds above the indoor swimming pool at Chewton Glen Hampshire. But here she is, floating down to the second annual International Luxury Travel Market ILTM Americas, once again held at the mammoth luxury resort of Mayakoba, Riviera Maya.
Mayakoba is a huge 1,605-acre estate on 11 miles of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, 40 miles south of Cancun, handy for Maya ruins at Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum. It is owned by Obrascon Huarte Lain OHL, and is known not only for its long beach and its miles and miles of mangrove-lined inland waterways (they planted 47,000 mangrove) but also for its 18-hole Greg Norman golf.
You drive in through a gate off Zona Hotelera highway, and past the main entrance you can take three different directions, to a Banyan Tree hotel, a Fairmont and a Rosewood (as of 2014 there will also be an Andaz Mayakoba, replacing what was once to be a Viceroy, now razed). ILTM is being held, in the main, at the 401-room Fairmont Mayakoba, perhaps the most family-friendly and casual of the siblings. This year I am not down on the beach, which is a mile away from the main building, but in 626, upstairs in a two-floor block, looking directly across a river to mangrove. I cannot see any other buildings.
I have my own bike, a brand-new, never-used BMW, with a lock, which means I can get great exercise by cycling furiously down to the beach and back. This luxury hotel allows one to be very fit. There is a first-class Technogym with at least a dozen Pilates balls, and quarter of a dozen lovely staff at any one time. I quickly make my way up to a welcome dinner that Fairmont’s boss-on-the-spot, Ian Robinson (black shirt, back row) is hosting. A mug shot of the Fairmont and ILTM management makes someone look rather like the Leaning Tower of Pisa – and that is before dinner.