Maroma Resort & Spa

A mystical hideaway on the Mayan Riviera

Your palapa or mine? Get a massage or just toll in the sun on Playa Maroma.     Photo: Frederic LaGrange

EVER SINCE ARCHITECT José Luis Moreno followed a machete-beaten path through 200 acres of tropical jungle, in 1976, to build this exclusive beachfront resort, Maroma has been deliberately hard to find—tucked off an unmarked gravel road, 20 miles south of Cancún. On my first evening, I followed the flickering lights of a thousand candles along a maze of stone walkways, wandering through gardens of orchids and palm trees until I found myself on a narrow crescent of fine white sand: a heavenly border between jungle and sea.

The Good Life // Designed simply, the 64 rooms in ten low-lying, white-stucco buildings are an elegant mix of saltillo tile, handwoven rugs and bedspreads, mahogany beams, and bamboo shutters. Dine on fresh grilled snapper at the cavernous El Sol restaurant or on the beach-view terrace. Jaw Dropper // The world's second-longest barrier reef, which runs 450 miles from Cancún to Honduras and teems with coral and fish, is just 200 yards offshore.

Sports on-Site // At the beach kiosk, set up snorkeling and reef-diving trips, sea-kayaking excursions, and day sailing on a 27-foot catamaran ($15 to $120 per person). On land, mountain-bike through 250 acres of protected jungle. Spa offerings include a two-hour Maya steam bath and cleansing ceremony ($90), yoga classes, and nine types of massage ($50 to $120).

Beyond the Sand // The Yucatán is cratered with more than 700 cenotes—limestone sinkholes that offer otherworldly snorkeling, diving, and rappelling opportunities. The resort can arrange a trip 40 miles south to Dos Ojos cenote for $90.

The Fine Print // Continental Airlines (800-523-3273, www.continental.com) flies from Houston to Cancún for $400 round-trip; American Airlines (800-433-7300, www.aa.com) flies nonstop from New York for about $700. Double-occupancy rates at Maroma (866-454-9351, www.maromahotel.com) start at $400 in high season (November 14 to December 18 and January 4 to May 15) and $340 in low season.

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