My husband and I just returned from a 5 day stay, our first trip without our young children, and it was a wonderful escape from the regular pace of our lives. We are experienced with high expectations, and in most regards they were met, however the few areas in which they were not could use improvement.
We selected Banyan Tree based on many criteria, including privacy of rooms, not being geared towards children, quality of dining, and service reputation. We found our room to be wonderful - not too far from the restaurants (Sands excluded, as it is down by the beach), very private, and great amenities. That said, I did find it necessary to put a towel down on the couch in the living room area - the cushions were stained with who-knows-what (and I don't want to imagine).
Our chief complaints are centered around the food and beverage program at the resort. First off, we believe that a resort in Mexico should have Mexican food available for dinner every day, and Banyan Tree does not. After a very poor lunch service at Sands on the day of our arrival (40+ minutes to receive salad and ceviche appetizers) and being told it was caused by a new menu being rolled out, we didn't want to be guinea pigs twice in one day and decided we would save the Mexican dinner for the last night. We were quite upset upon learning mid-day on our last day that Sands was not going to be open that night, and then were even more surprised that it is closed most nights. We then scrabbled to arrange the in-room Mexican BBQ, which while a wonderful experience, is extremely expensive, especially since we had already paid for the full board meal plan and were then paying more than the difference between the meal plan and BBQ price, which seems greedy since we were forced to do it to get Mexican food at a resort in Mexico.
We also found the room service experience to be lacking in terms of speed of delivery. We ordered a pot of decaf and a pot of regular coffee daily, usually around 5:30 am, and were disappointed with the 30+ minutes it took to have it delivered (especially since it is French press, which takes mere minutes...and the coffee is wonderful, just not the speed with which I was being allowed to get it in me!). The in-room espresso machine is lovely, we just prefer a big pot of coffee, and as a half-caff drinker an espresso machine is not the most useful
At Tamarind, we were surprised to find it's not really Mediterranean at all. The service is very good, and the food is better than average for a resort (although I was served crunchy risotto). The "textured lemon pie" may be a lifetime favorite dessert, but it is actually a deconstructed lemon pie. We would have been very happy if there was more Mediterranean fare on the menu.
Saffron was good -again the service was excellent, but if you like to see your food you can't dine outside because they haven't yet figured out to to light the outdoor dining area. We kept hearing conversations about spiciness - lots of servers expressing that things could be toned down, etc., but my husband is a major fan of big heat, and even when he requested his food to be spicy it was not. It seemed like too many complaints about the heat level has caused a shift too far in the opposite direction. I am not a huge Thai food eater, but enjoyed what we ordered. The desserts were my least favorite among the restaurants.
As many others have stated, the Oriente breakfast is A+ awesome! A great selection, wonderful pastries, to-die-for granola - I could eat there three meals a day if they would have let me. We did find 7am to be a late start for breakfast (we are early risers and also like to work out in the morning), and were slightly annoyed to have to wait for coffee and juice because the staff meeting was still going on after 7, but they were very responsive when we made note of this service-slip (although it happened 2/3 of the time we dined there)
The Ixchel breakfast on the boat was a magnificent experience. The same wonderful food as at Oriente (with nearly equal selection of pastries, granola, fruit, etc) in a truly unique presentation. As a photo-hobbyist it was very cool to be able to lounge on the front of the boat with my mimosa and take in (and take photos of) the amazing birds, flora, and even a croc! I'm not sure I would have wanted to do this at 11am (too hot), but at 9am it was one of my favorite vacation experiences ever.
The spa is certainly world class. My husband and I got different treatments in the same room which is rarely "allowed" at other spas, and enabled us to get exactly what we wanted. I loved my Indian Head Massage, and the flexibility to get two massages for half the time so I could get a little taste of everything I wanted.
The gym is perfectly fine for even the biggest gym rat, and the resort is so spread out you can cover 4+ miles without leaving the grounds.
We found the wi-fi to be decent - it's wonderful that it's included, because if I was paying extra for it I would have been annoyed with it not working in-room on my phone (but it did work outside, so I sat by the pool to use it).
It is not really a beach resort - as others have noted - and most people will have to take a buggy down to the beach, but there is a pool and restaurant there so you can camp out for the day.
There were LOTS of very little kids around the resort, which while I didn't mind, would have probably been annoyed at if it were my honeymoon. And villas with the pool in the courtyard between the master bedroom and living room area would have made me have a coronary if trying to keep my toddlers safe since there would have been no way to keep them from falling/jumping in. I understand there are rooms with pools on the roof - definitely something to look in to if you want to bring little kids.
Overall, the service is exceptional. The Mexican food fiasco, long wait times for coffee, and lackluster menu at Tamarind are certainly things for the management to consider since they go a long way as dissatisfiers.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.