Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya
Romantic, authentic, lavish
Carretera Cancún-Tulum, km 51 Mexico (52) 998-872-8200 From the U.S.: 866-454-9351 www.maromahotel.com
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At a Glance
The first luxury resort on the Riviera Maya, Maroma, A Belmond Hotel is on the area’s best beach and has an authentic, destination-specific vibe.
- White powdery sand of the best beach in Riviera Maya
- Beautifully landscaped grounds around a traditional Mexican villa
- Indulgent free-standing spa complex for serious relaxing
Belmond Maroma & Spa Review
On the Riviera Maya, where resorts announce themselves in massive letters along Carretera 307, the discreet Maroma stands gloriously apart. You have to know exactly where to turn off the highway, and even then you end up driving for a few minutes through mangroves and jungle before arriving at the imposing reception area, where you’re welcomed with a stiff margarita.
Opened in 1995, Maroma is widely considered the first luxury resort on the Riviera Maya and, despite the recent building boom, remains one of its most celebrated and authentic. It was conceived and built by Mexican architect José Luis Moreno, who came to the Yucatán in 1976 to dive and fell in love with the region. What started as his private residence has grown into a small community complete with white stucco villas, two pools, beautifully landscaped gardens and the 30,000-square-foot freestanding spa complex (!), all of which occupy 25 acres. Belmond acquired the property in 2002 and the hotel has remained true to the original in the decades since. The recent refresh included the addition of 10 one- and two-bedroom suites with direct beach access (some have private pools and gardens), bringing the total count of rooms, suites, and villas to 72 (19 rooms, 51 suites, two villas)—75 percent have ocean views.
The multilevel main house, which contains guest rooms and Maroma’s restaurants, was Moreno’s stunningly original villa, and with its many stylish details, including original art by painter Bertrand Castelli, a stained-glass window depicting a small seahorse and a spiraling wooden staircase, it still feels like a private home. The rest of the rooms and suites are located in clusters of villa that are sprinkled throughout the tropical landscape and along the beach.
The Mexican inspiration evident in the architecture also informs the spacious rooms and suites, each unique but all displaying artisanal touches like smooth conchuela limestone floors, handwoven wall hangings and pillows, chic rattan light fixtures, romantic Talavera-tiled bathrooms, and glassware, ceramics and textiles sourced from Mexico (most specifically made exclusively for the resort). Moreno employed hundreds of Mayan craftspeople to furnish his property, and Tara Bernerd, the designer behind the Grand Suites of Belmond’s Venice-Simplon-Orient Express train, has followed suit, enhancing that original ethos with new additions, including 700,000 handpainted tiles by one of the country’s best-known ceramicists.
Situated in a pretty garden area and shaded by trees, the main saltwater pool is removed from the beach, yet unlike at some other resorts, where the pool chaises are the first to be occupied, guests aren’t vying for sun loungers there. Instead, those in the know claimed the teal blue loungers on the sand early in the day, and some seem never to leave them, ordering breakfast, lunch and pre-dinner cocktails to their beach pads and palapas. The cove where Maroma is located has perfect turquoise water and its own marina, though it is not the only resort nearby and onlookers do take note of the property and its guests as they stroll past.
Maroma offers unabashed pampering; it’s the kind of place where you return from a long beach walk craving coffee and find a tray with freshly brewed Mexican café waiting for you in front of your door. Or where the staff at the beach seems to read you mind and restocks your cooler and ice bucket with hibiscus-flavored water, when you’re not quite ready for a cocktail. Or arranges towels just so. The staff, from the hosts who help with special requests to the team on the beach, are friendly and warm.
The resort has a bewildering range of room categories. Villa clusters hold between two to six suites. All the rooms are large but not all have ocean views, so if one is important to you, be sure to request it. The one-bedroom suites all have an outdoor area with plunge pool and access to a private beach. If you’re a serious spa-goer, get a room near the new Maroma Spa by Guerlain, with 9 cabins and treatments integrating Mayan elements and a focus on holistic well-being, purification rituals and rebirth. The spa also features an Apothecary with lessons on how local herbs are used for healing. (The glass-bottled organic bathroom toiletries in every room by Mexico City–based brand Xinú, scented with incense, lemon, and clay, channel a spa, and large soak tubs with bath salts and scrubs and a turtle-shaped loofah are a nice touch.) There’s also a new meliponario—a secluded bee sanctuary that supports local biodiversity and education, and supplies curative honey from the much-lauded stingless “golden protectors”—with new hives by the Fundación Selva Maya, an area non-profit. The bee motif figures on everything from your wooden key fob to ice cubes, bookmarks; the honey, in cocktails, dishes and spa treatments.
Maroma offers multiple restaurants, including Casa Mayor (traditional Mexican), and the new Woodend, with an open (and open-fire) kitchen helmed by Aussie Top Chef Curtis Stone from Gwen and Maude in L.A. The focus on local produce means lots of delicious shareable small plate vegan and pasta options and seafood and meats. Breakfast on the terrace is still a meal you may not want to skip. Most congenial is Freddy’s Bar, in a large open palapa by the beach (although longtime bartender Freddy Flores has departed to be closer to home and family).
When they’re not at the beach or the spa or in the water, guests will find plenty to do: there are grab-and-go bikes by the exercise room near the entrance; candle making (in honor of the candle lighting tradition on display throughout the property at night); tequila and mezcal tastings; scuba diving and snorkeling; and day trips to Chichén Itzá or Tulum or Akumal to snorkel with wild turtles to name a few. Of course, many guests may opt to never leave the beach and that’s just fine, too.
Maroma is most magical at dusk and after sunset, when votive candles are lit across the property, and guests stroll through what looks like the set of a sumptuous production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Slightly indulgent? For sure, but it’s remarkable how quickly one can get used to it. And the coatis (the curious creatures that are a cross between an anteater and a racoon) and lizards may wander in occasionally to see what the fanfare is all about.
Who Should Stay
Maroma allows children year-round, but the sedate, romantic setting may not be ideal for families with young children. For those who are wary of critters and animals, Maroma’s jungle setting does mean that it is common to see lizards, monkeys, bugs and more around the property.