Even the road to Maroma is a sight to see- bright tropical blossoms and birds scattered among the lush mangroves that line a unpaved path to the resort. Make sure to pay attention on the drive in- as there are multiple forks in the road- but only one will lead you to the the seaside paradise. Set upon a spectacular private beach, Maroma is nothing like many of the other resorts in the Riviera Maya. Though owned and operated by luxury hotel group Orient-Express, in many ways Maroma still feels like the private property that architect Jose Luiz and his wife Sally called their home for years. It’s a place where I left my room door open as I milled around and where I could be happy just spending hours on my private porch. Every morning I walked the forty steps or so to the pristine beach, coffee in hand, to watch the sun rise accompanied only by my thoughts and the soothing crash of the Caribbean waves. This was the magic of Maroma- a place that lets you unwind, relax, and feel as if the entire property was there just for you alone. As an Orient-Express hotel, Maroma offers best in class service- what they call “homemade hospitality.” Each guest is taken care of on an individual and tailored basis- where every need is met in a very behind-the-scenes way. You’ll never see the effort that goes into making each moment perfect- just that when you wake up- a steaming hot pot of coffee is already waiting on your porch table, that the beach is free of debris any time you want to lay out, and when you come back from an evening excursion, hundreds of candles will guide you back to your room.
Before I visited Maroma, I had read so many reviews from travelers telling me how special the property is- but I realized that it’s a place where words and even pictures can’t do it justice (though I will try). It’s just one of those sanctuaries you’ll have to visit.
The Road to Maroma
Maroma Resort & Spa is located on the Yucatan peninsula, along the Riviera Maya which has time and time again been recognized as one of the safest travel destinations in Mexico. The Riviera Maya is the more sophisticated answer to Cancun- private beaches, adult only resorts, fine dining, golf, spa- all within easy driving distance to Cancun’s city life and shopping scene. The hotel is also within short distance to Playa del Carmen, which is the area’s commercial center. Maroma offers complimentary, private transportation from the Cancun Airport for all their guests. The hotel is also easily accessible by taxi as its entrance is located just off the main highway, Carretera 307. Beyond the front gate, there are multiple security points along the ten minute private drive to the resort and a list is updated daily with names of hotel guests.
Many people travel to the Riviera Maya to experience the historical and ecological wonders of the area. There are plenty of public excursions operated by local companies ranging from cave snorkeling at the Rio Secreto to day tours to Chichen Itza. In addition, Maroma offers private and small group tours for its guests- snorkeling or scuba along the barrier reef, boat trips to nearby islands, horseback riding in the jungle, bird watching, kite surfing, touring the ruins… you name it, and the hospitality office can set it up for you.
When you walk through the main entrance of the resort, paths will either take you to the “original” side or the “new” side. The original buildings, which were constructed before the property underwent extensive renovations, are close to the restaurants. The newer part of property houses the gym, spa, and Villa Karolina, 4 bedroom private villa. I would recommend booking alongside the original portion of the hotel, as I personally find the views to be more charming.
In keeping with the Mayan ambiance, each guest resides in a two or three story hacienda. Rooms are hardwood floor and accented with bamboo, colorful tiles and local rugs and artwork. Guests who book larger suites will have the entire villa or floor to themselves- but standard rooms will only occupy a corner of the house. That’s not to say that the rooms don’t feel private-they do. Each room comes with either an ocean facing or garden facing porch complete with chairs, table and your personal hammock. Each porch faces away from the other guestrooms- so despite sharing my villa with other guests, I never saw them or felt like I was sharing anything at all.
My oceanfront room, room 36 (pictured above), was furnished with a King size canopy bed, caftans, slippers, a living area, workspace, closet, dressing area, large bathroom, and even an armoire filled with popular books should you have left yours at home . Floor to ceiling windows line the room, letting in spectacular lighting and stunning views from every angle. Each room is equipped with free, reliable high speed wireless internet which can be accessed from inside the room and on the porch. The room also contains mosquito nets, citronella candles and bug repellent but I didn’t see a single insect in sight the entire time I was there despite being in the wet season. The ambiance is incredibly romantic- especially at dusk when candlelight illuminates the space in a warm, cozy glow.
The view from Room 36
Kinan Spa is situated on the newer side of the property. Kinan is the Mayan word for the individual energy- similar to the Asian concept of Chi- and the entire spa is built to ensure positive energy and balance. Massage beds are placed so that guests’ heads are at the west looking east- representing new beginnings. Relaxation rooms point north which symbolizes earth and grounding. Spa guests have access to a private changing area, complete with shower, steam room and cold plunge pool. Each service begins with a Mayan foot bath which has been traditionally used for detoxification. Many of the treatments offered at Kinan are rooted in ancient Mayan healing traditions and exclusive to Maroma.
I decided to try a mud massage- which uses a traditional healing Mexican mud, rich with vitamins and minerals, in place of massage oil. Guests can choose either a relaxation or a revitalizing formula and a custom tailored 50 minute massage. More traditional services at the spa include the signature Mayan Temazcal- performed once a day. It’s a ritual similar to a North American Indian sweat lodge which combines a mud body treatment, meditation, and a cold cleansing plunge.
The spa also houses a wellness center, hair salon and a medical spa. Group classes include daily yoga and meditation as well as nutrition and fitness consulting. The medical spa offers everything from Botox to body reshaping and is overseen by Ultrashape. Clearly, regardless of your wish, it can be answered at the Kinan Spa.
Breakfast at El Restaurante
Maroma has multiple restaurants on property- from the formal El Sol to the beach side Freddy’s Tequila & Ceviche Bar. My favorite is El Restaurante, a more casual, beachside restaurant where breakfast is served daily from 7am to 11am. Breakfast is included in your room rate and you can ask for the multiple course meal to be delivered to your room, but I find that most guests choose to bask in the morning sun at the restaurant. And what a wonderful way it is to start the day!
The view from the breakfast table
Each morning starts with a different plate of pastries
accompanied by fresh squeezed local juices and freshly made jams
Start breakfast with a mug of the most delicious Mayan hot cocoa – flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and lemongrass
and your choice of a savory breakfast dish.
For diners who prefer (an even more) special occasion restaurant, Maroma offers dinner at El Sol. The restaurant recently underwent a menu change and now serves tapa style plates for sharing alongside a more traditional menu. The tapas are really the draw of the restaurant so I recommend dining at El Sol primary for the small plates. I particularly enjoyed the lamb dolmas (rolled with Hoja Santa), the smoked salmon pizzeta (with guacamole and dry tomatoes) and brie cheese fritters (with guava sweet and arugula).
If formal dining is not your purpose, I would recommend dinner at El Restaurante, which is particularly lovely in the evening when the entire space is lit in candles and a live band serenades diners every night.
El Restaurante at Night
For me, Maroma is like a siren’s song- and will always beckon me back to the Mayan Riviera. It is one of the most special places I’ve ever visited- every bit the small paradise they call themselves. Like I said before- to truly understand Maroma, you’ll have to experience it.