A hotel turned eco project in Mexico

Rob Bleaney visits a hotel that is couched in nature

The tourist industry in the beautiful Riviera Maya has struggled over the past couple of years – with fears about Mexico’s drug wars keeping many visitors away

But, now, Americans and Europeans are heading back to this stunning stretch of coastline as they realise the violence is mostly confined to the country’s northern states.

Stylish Playa Del Carmen, brash Cancun and idyllic Tulum are all beginning to beat to the sound of the tourist drum again.

But one resort stands alone for its mesmerising concoction of stunning birdlife in a natural yet luxury setting.

Fairmont Mayakoba, the “city built on water”, opened five years ago after a huge ecological project to clear hundreds of mangrove trees and dig up underground rivers.

Canals were formed in the swampy grassland to create the perfect breeding ground for an amazing variety of bird life. Herons, storks, moorhens and cormerants have made the Mayakoba their home and, each year, new and exotic species arrive at this exotic paradise from South America to bask in its glory.

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Amidst it all, a beautiful luxury hotel has been carefully created to allow nature and humans to co-exist side by side.

There are beautifully sculptured pools, a private beach, classy restaurants and an impressive lobby boasting live classical music. Some of the majestic apartments even sport their very own private rooftop pools overlooking the Carribean sea.

And the resort is only 10 minutes in a taxi from Playa del Carmen, for those who fancy hitting the shops or bars.

It’s all pretty specatcular – but everything is done with nature in mind.

Bicycles, golf buggies and electric boats are the only modes of transport in the resort and the staff lead guided tours through the mangroves so you can get up close and personal with the wildlife.

It’s a bird watchers’ paradise but it also makes nature accessible to tourists in a way most people have never seen before. There are even a few crocodiles knocking around in the grassy banks, totally harmless ones, of course.

n Fairmont Mayakoba room rates start at $229 per room per night. Visit www. fairmont.com Fairmont Mayakoba room rates start at $229 per room per night. Visit www. fairmont.com