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Careyes is the ultimate in a hot, sexy, Mexican hideaway.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s by design.  A luxury development tucked away on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Careyes is the home to numerous Sports Illustrated cover shoots, and is the destination of choice for Hollywood types and jet-set internationals for whom privacy is paramount.

It’s not difficult to relax in a place like this, and my first experience with Careyes – on a recent weekend getaway with friends – did not disappoint.  Arrival to our private villa had us feasting on freshly made cheese quesadillas, truly out of sight guacamole, and margaritas, as well as the view from our infinity edge pool overlooking the jagged cliffs and ocean below.  Hello holiday.

While Careyes boasts no shortage of extravagant comforts, the 3,000+ acre property has a decidedly quirky feel reflecting the eclectic taste of its founder, Italian-born financier and artist, Gian Franco Brignone.  His private home fashions an external stairway to the stars with a giant question mark aside a giant explanation point on the roof that must be visible from space.  Signage here and there on the vast property has this same ‘?!’ which a friend says is because when asked ‘why Careyes?’ Giancarlo would say ‘Careyes? Careyes!’   Inside a giant ‘stairway to heaven’ leads to a king size mattress under a huge skylight.  Careyes?!

Stephanie-Johnson,-Careyes,Lazy days consisted of reading by the pool, hiking down the cliffs to an ocean dip in the sea below, following along the rocky coast in a boat for more saltwater swimming, and eating from the gorgeous seaside buffet at the ‘club.’  And massages.  Plenty of them.  At least one a day for at least an hour a piece, on the beach under swaying palms. Crazy nights involved inspired dancing on tabletops under the starry sky and midnight skinny dipping.  Ah, Careyes?!  Yes, Careyes definitely cast its spell.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this trip – the brightly-painted bungalows, the seaside revelry, the stunning stretches of beach, and Careyes’s distinctly bohemian sensibility – stayed with me long after my return to Manhattan.  So much so, it’s the inspiration behind our Stephanie Johnson Careyes Collection, new for Spring 2014.  Get to know the Careyes Collection – and take a peek at what I packed for this magical getaway – on next week’s post, Style Guide:  Careyes.


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After sharing my sun-drenched three day trip to the Riviera Maya last month on SJ’s Style Compass, I’m so excited to announce that I’ve partnered with Fairmont Mayakoba – the luxury, eco-resort that hosted my stay – to launch an exciting giveaway!

Between January 4, 2012 (today!) and February 1, 2012, we’ll be giving away one brand new Stephanie Johnson Riviera Maya collection (inspired by this amazing destination) every week for five weeks, culminating in the grand prize giveaway of a free three night stay at Fairmont Mayakoba!

To enter, you’ll be asked to answer a weekly question about the resort.  Contest questions will be posted on SJ’s Style Compass each Wednesday beginning today, January 4, 2012, through February 1, 2012, and you’ll have until the following Monday at 9PM EST to post your answer as a comment on the blog.

Winners will be announced each Tuesday, culminating in the announcement of the grand prize winner on February 7th.

The grand prize* includes:

-Three-night stay at Fairmont Mayakoba in a Signature Casita

-Daily breakfast for two at La Laguna Restaurant

-One 60-minute massage of choice at the Willow Steam Spa

-Stephanie Johnson Riviera Maya collection

*Terms and conditions apply

Please like Fairmont Mayakoba and Stephanie Johnson on Facebook for more details on the giveaway.  And please be sure to visit Fairmont Mayakoba’s website and my Destination Riviera Maya blog post, as they’re great resources to research clues. . .

Buena Suerte!

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I’m just back from a three day sun-drenched trip to  Mexico, where I was hosted by the Fairmont Mayakoba.  Heaven on earth.  And the best part is it’s just a quick three and a half hour jet from NYC.  Needless to say I am thrilled to have found an escape from the coming TriBeCa winter and plan on visiting often.  (Every weekend in February?)


The Fairmont Mayakoba is an enormous 45 acre parcel on the ocean.  I was sold on the long drive from the lobby to my beach casita.  Ferried by a golf cart, we wound through mangroves, over bridges, and under a rich canopy of trees.  Butterflies everywhere, iguanas (we spotted 5 one morning en route to breakfast!), colorful birds, and their native Coati (similar to a raccoon with a long nose) dot the landscape.

Our room was gorgeous.  Spacious with two queen beds, a terrace, dressing area with two closets, and a huge bathroom.  I’m a sucker for a great bathroom, and Fairmont has it.  Large shower, two sinks, and a sunken tub.  Our first night we returned to the room to find rose petals on our beds and floating in a warm bath.  My daughter was smitten and wanted to bathe with the flowers again in the morning.  A warm Mexican welcome.

Just another note on room amenities. . . custom blended Fairmont Teas, along with fresh ground coffee, a glass teapot and a French press are in every room.  Again, my three year old was taken by the French press and had me making it every morning despite the fact I don’t drink coffee.  Thankfully they include directions as well as a handy tea timer for ‘light’, ‘medium’, or ‘dark’.

I have to mention the staff and specifically their top notch concierge.  I arrived with a broken camera card and had a total meltdown (after all I can’t go anywhere these days without chronicling it for SJ’s Style Compass).  They arranged for me to use a camera card they had while they sent someone to town to purchase me a new one.  Meanwhile their business center staff noted I was using too high a resolution and was therefore only getting about 30 images per card (say versus 1000).  Oh.  Problem solved with a smile.


The beauty of the Fairmont Mayakoba is that you don’t have to leave the resort if you are just looking for an extended weekend getaway.

The Children’s Adventure Club was a hit with my daughter who had a chef experience one afternoon where they decorated chef’s hats and then made cookies.  She even made and decorated a basket to tote them back to the casita.  On another trip, she made herself a bracelet and a necklace for mama, with colorful beads.  I wore it everyday.

And of course the bikes!  Bikes are located everywhere on the vast property, so feel free to grab one and cycle to lunch or the pool.  I loved getting in a workout (ok, a workout SJ style) while stopping to see an iguana on the side of the path.

The boat trip is a must.  A guide takes you through the mangroves and canals pointing out a rosette spoonbill and a great blue heron.  You may even get lucky and see a crocodile.

Walk on the beach and sun in the sand.  They have the whitest sand beaches that feel soft under foot.


Once I entered the Willow Stream Spa I didn’t want to leave.  They burn a coconut orange oil that smells divine, and they serve up pineapple and Chaya juice or hot tea.  Upstairs is an open lounge with glass looking into the canopy of trees.  I wished it would rain so I could snuggle up with a book and watch the rain.  They were very accommodating even when this stressed out New Yorker (can I say that now?) asked for something off menu.  No problemo.  I relaxed into a 60 minute reflexology treatment. . . sublime.


Part of my Mexican dream was the breakfast buffet.  Pretty much anything you could want including local fruits and tasty aqua frescos.  They blend a special ‘green’ juice that I had every morning.  Don’t forget the Huevos Divorciados (two eggs over easy, one with spicy green sauce, the other with a milder red).  How I love Mexican food!

Saffron is a Thai restaurant located at the Banyan Tree Resort within the Mayakoba compound and definitely worth a trip.  A stunning outdoor setting on the canals with delish Thai cuisine.  You’ll think you were transported to Bangkok for the evening.



Stephanie Johnson is partnering with the Fairmont Mayakoba* to share this incredible destination.  That’s right, we are giving away a trip (no, I’m not kidding!), and some stylish SJ bags with which to travel.  Look for details in an upcoming SJ’s Style Compass post and check in with our Facebook page for more info and how to enter. . .

*Special thanks to the Fairmont Mayakoba, for providing many of the photos used in this blog.  I took the one of the dude on the beach!


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