Carretera Cancun – Tulum Km 51, Quintana Roo
Deeply rooted in its Yucatán setting, comfortable and welcoming Maroma incorporates Maya culture into its rooms and especially its spa, without creating a theme–park atmosphere.
Built more than two decades ago as a private home and eventually expanded by the same owners to become a guesthouse, then a full–service resort, Maroma Resort & Spa has evolved almost organically over the years. Its whitewashed buildings merge into one another, topped with domes and spires and rooftop walkways and shielded in between dense greenery. It's simultaneously one of the most attractive and most modest properties on Mexico's Caribbean coast.
The rooms are similarly free of ostentation yet supremely comfortable, appointed with everything from handmade soaps and Mexican tile baths to hammocks on the terraces and Maroma's signature drapy caftans (in lieu of robes). Deluxe Ocean View, the next category above the basic Garden rooms, are worth the small step up in price, as you move from livable to near–palatial in scale. Sea views go for substantially more, and all the suites (there are several varieties) have them. The Sian Nah "spa suites," opened in 2006, are unique to the Riviera Maya: beautifully designed spaces with private pools, gym equipment, and pavilions for open–air massages and other treatments. The ultimate space here is a four–bedroom villa for large families or multi–generational travelers who want to stick together. While Internet access is included in the rates, there's one thing you won't find in any of the rooms: television, so as not to distract from the natural surroundings. (If you're starved for moving pictures, you can watch movies in the "cultural palapa," a library lounge near the pool).
The atmosphere of calm is enforced with a three–night minimum stay (five nights over weekends in high season), which keeps guest traffic low. At night, more than a thousand candles are lit around the property, creating a beautiful, serene glow. While you might be moved to play tennis or take a snorkel trip (an hour–long outing to the nearby reef is included in the rate), you will most likely spend the day sunning and the evening eating—the various restaurants. The casual beachfront El Restaurante serves up seafood and Mexican dishes from different regions, including those from the Yucatan Peninsula like cochinita pibil - roast suckling pig. More formal El Sol Tapas Bar and Restaurant is open only for dinner and serves "Mediterranean–style cuisine with a Pre–Hispanic Mexican twist," using a host of local ingredients and pouring from an extensive wine cellar.
Another distinctive element at Maroma is its temazcal, the traditional Maya sweat lodge. At many resorts and hotels in the Riviera Maya, this is a token bit of theater, but Maroma's ritual, conducted in a pyramid–shaped sauna on the beach, is an intense ritual that is often the highlight of guests' stays. Equally enlightening is the Kinan spa, where treatments draw on everything from Ayurvedic practices to local herbs. Experiences like the signature Kinan Ritual go beyond spas' usual cosmetic mandate to a full healing process. If this sounds a bit too New Age, you can opt for a decadent body wrap or just apply local clays to yourself at the "mud bar" and sweat it off in the steam room.
As with other truly luxurious resorts, the service is what really elevates the place to the highest category. Here, it is not only perfectly attentive, but it has a particularly personal feel. Many of the hotel's employees were instrumental in building Maroma years ago—in effect, they've grown up here, and their dedication to and pride in the place shows.
Web Address: www.maromahotel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 64
Published rates: $765 to $1,945, incl. breakfast and a snorkel trip
Review by Zora O'Neill, photos courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels
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