Paola Rubio is a biologist at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, a villa resort in the 640-acre Mayakoba development along Mexico's Mayan Riviera. She is a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, who has been at Banyan Tree Mayakoba for four years. Here is an edited chat with her:

What draws people to your resort?

It's a private resort and Banyan is characterized as a luxury brand. But in particular, Banyan Tree Mayakoba is well-known for nature and ecology.

What kinds of animals do you have there?

The biodiversity is impressive. On a regular day you can see crocodiles, different species of birds -- cormorants, ducks -- raccoon, deer, agouti (a rabbit-size rodent) and more.

Some migrate -- storks, for instance. Others live here year-round.

It's difficult for dangerous animals to get close to our area, though the jungle is more verdant in some places nearby. We have crocodiles, but we have a sustainable program for managing them.

What do you do there?

We have projects with the local communities to protect the environment. We have one for protecting melipona bees, a native species that's endangered. We began with training people on beekeeping for this stingless species, and built the bees a specialized habitat. We began buying their melipona honey at a premium price. We went further and now have a workshop where people use the honey to prepare soaps, which we buy. More products means more benefits for them.


Advertisement

What does honey from Yucatan bees taste like?

A bit more sour. What's interesting is not just the taste but its natural properties: It has a different composition and a lot of vitamins because these bees pollinate in the local rain forests with different types of flowers.

As a biologist, what's your favorite place on the Mayakoba grounds?

I love the canal and lagoon system. I totally love to see this. The system is connected all over Mayakoba -- it's not like there's just two or three canals. There are close to 8 miles of waterways, all connected.

-- John Bordsen, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer