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Enjoy an idyllic view of the Riviera Maya coast from a Maroma Resort and Spa’s suite.

Mayan Magic

by Riki Altman | Jezebel magazine | October 12, 2011

Stars align just above Maroma Resort and Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico, perhaps because the property was designed in tribute to ancient Mayan civilizations, wherein buildings are arranged to match celestial events.

At the risk of sounding too trite, consider this: The founder and architect of the property, José Luis Moreno, was a great believer in mysticism and the power of energy fields, influences that are apparent from the astrology-themed structures to the various types of spirituality-focused services provided.

Landing at nearby Cancun International Airport is a bit jarring for those intent on decompressing, but a distinct change in scenery occurs just a few miles away once the driver enters Riviera Maya and turns onto winding back roads leading to Maroma. Suddenly a secret world unfolds, where carved wooden animals spout water into a reflecting pool and guests are greeted with icy margaritas.

This dream destination is less geared toward families and more suitable for couples looking to escape urbanism—especially if they are “stars” in their own rights. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake recently unwound at Maroma (they stayed in separate rooms), while Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Mario Batali, Sean Penn, Robert Redford, Tony Blair, Cameron Diaz, Claire Danes and Brad Paisley have also sunbathed on its soft-sand beach.

One four-bedroom villa and 65 rooms and suites—all encompassed in white stucco buildings no more than three stories high and handcrafted by a family of Mayan masons—comprise Maroma. Even the most basic room features an oversized tub covered with authentic Mexican tile and a private terrace with a sofa or a double hammock. Those planning to stay awhile should consider shoring up in a Sian Nah oceanfront suite. Laden with marble floors, a well-equipped fitness room and massage space, beachside bed, indoor/outdoor shower and private plunge pool, Sian Nah is Mayan for “House of Heaven”—a befitting moniker for such a cloud-nine sanctuary.

Equally divine is Maroma’s proximity to the world’s second-longest barrier reef. Guests are provided a complimentary snorkeling trip, but with three pools, two tennis courts, entertainment and cultural centers, impressive gift shops and an observation tower offering 360-degree views of liquid turquoise, it is tempting to stay on the grounds. When the occasion does rise for body/soul rejuvenation, myriad opportunities await, ranging from multilevel yoga classes to signature treatments at the Kinan Spa with mud bar. Then there’s the ritual temazcal treatment for those willing to go deeper—and considerably hotter. Akin to an Indian sweat lodge, the temazcal hut is filled with hot volcanic rocks and sealed off. A shaman then chants and pours herbal water to produce steam, while participants inhale the warmth and exhale their emotional blocks. Afterward, they are taken to the sea to cool off.

More spiritual awakenings happen during mealtimes, where nearly a half-dozen outlets helmed by Chef Juan Pablo Loza equal a culinary haven for foodies. Loza not only creates delectable plates composed of native ingredients, but he also serves each with a heaping helping of education so guests know the origins of his recipes and ingredients. So many have become enamored by this handsome and talented toque that he now hosts private outdoor cooking classes with tequila tastings.

Before you say “adios” to the otherworldly Maroma and its decadence, ask where to find el túnel de los deseos. It is said that this spot is where the ecological zones of the ocean and the jungle are harmonious, so wishes come true. Perhaps, then, a return visit will soon materialize.

Room rates start at $395 per night. Highway 307, KM 51, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico. 866.454.9351,