Are you ready for a “real” vacation?  A tropical getaway with your own little private paradise on cool white sandy beaches, with warm turquoise waters, and swaying palm trees.  This oasis does exist….the Maroma Resort and Spa by Orient-Express.  Tucked away on the Yucatan Peninsula, this Mayan Riviera resort is waiting for you to dip your toes into the azure waters of the Carribean, and bask in the sun with soothing sea breezes.  Many refer to this special place as “Magical Maroma” and believe there are healing powers that help you to unlock your inner energy and spirit.

Upon arrival, the Maroma family greets you by your first name, and the staff is prepared to meet your every wish and help you plan your escape into paradise.

A local artisan had created a birthday welcome on my hotel bed with Feliz Cumpleaños spelled out with fuschia bougainvillea and some jungle foilage.  The room was equipped with my favorite drinks, snacks and selected aromatherapy based on the information they gathered from my personal profile before I left home.  The bars of soaps and shampoos were handmade by the local communities using natural resources like honey, lavendar and chocolate.

Each day the hospitable local staff tends to your needs and prepares your beach palapa for a relaxing day in the sun.  At night, handmade candles are lit along the walkways so you can meander the garden paths to your villa, where you’ll find a note on your pillow with an Utz ak’ab’ (Good Night) tale from the ancient Popol Vuh, a mytho-historical narrative, like this one:  The surface of the earth had not yet appeared.  There was only the calm sea and the vastness of the sky.  There was nothing standing; only the water at ease, the placid sea, alone and tranquil.  Nothing existed.  There was only immobility and silence in the darkness, in the night.” 

The Maroma Resort immerses you into the local culture and food as well.  The Mayans cultivated corn, beans, squash, cacao, and hot chili peppers, that are used in local dishes today.  Every morning, I looked forward to the traditional Mexican breakfast and the freshly squeezed chaya or watermelon juices, and the handmade corn tortillas.  Maroma’s tortilla lady sat me down and put a ball of the corn tortilla in my hand to roll out, and taught me how to do this.  The hotel creates authentic experiences like this, so you can  learn their traditional Mayan ways.   The cuisine is infused with local ingredients, fresh seafood, herbs, and spices that provide a Mediterranean culinary experience.  Every afternoon, I kept a lookout for the ice cream man who would deliver the homemade flavor of the day to your beach cabana.  The ice cream was made from the local fresh fruit – strawberry, papaya, mango.

There are several ways to explore the Yucatan:

1.  Mayan Ruins:  the Mayan civilization has been traced back to 1500 BC, and their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics led them to calculate the lunar cycle, predict eclipses and other heavenly events.  The Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza ruins are day trips from Maroma where you can learn more about the Mayan ceremonies, commerce and political activities, and see some of the ancient Mayan architecture.

2.  Sian Ka’an Biosphere:  if you want to have an adventure and do some eco-touring, head south to Mexico’s largest biosphere where you can combine driving through a preserved jungle, archeology, and you can go deep sea and troll fishing and catch some Dorado, King fish or Snapper for dinner

3.   Tulum Beaches:  there are more long stretches of white sand beaches if you drive south of the Tulum ruins.  The Tulum beaches are lined for miles with eco-lodges.

4.  Aquatic Activities:  the Riviera Maya offers an array of water sports from Kite Surfing, Jetskiing, Snorkeling, to Scuba Diving where you can dive into cenotes or in the world’s second longest barrier reef.

5.  Playa del Carmen and Cancun:  if you miss the city and have an urge to shop, head south to the smaller beach town of Playa del Carmen to buy some local handicrafts and people watch while dining at the outdoor cafes.  You could head north to shop in Cancun, but unfortunately, Cancun has become more developed and is very crowded.

If you prefer to relax and stay at the resort, there’s plenty to do at the Maroma Resort.

Cooking Classes:  Chef Juan Pablo Loza will share his culinary skills at the resort’s cooking classes.  Learn how to prepare local delicacies in the resort’s lush garden surrounded by a lush jungle.  Chef Loza shares everything from the preparation of the ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

The Temazcal:  Or take time to experience The Temazcal, a sacred Mayan steam bath where you can purify your body and soul in rebirth ceremony that takes place in a pyramid structure on the beach facing the sea.

Kinan Spa:  My personal favorite is to visit the Kinan Spa, a world famous spa that just received the 2011 Condé Nast Spa Award.  The spa has an open air setting, and the waiting area is under a towering Banyan Tree.  At Kinan, you are introduced to beautiful healing experiences that include the healing powers of local herbs.  We experienced some of these spa rituals and treated ourselves like the Mayan Gods, then walked away from these treatments with grace, balance and strength to our entire beings.  My Mayan healer reminded me of the importance of awareness and stress free healthy living with this saying:  “When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind.”  I left Maroma rejuvenated, and took some of Maroma’s Magic home with me, and remember to keep my breath still.