Mayan Luxury and Mezcal on Playa Maroma, Mexico

February 23, 2011 by


In dire need of a respite from the relentless east coast winter, my husband and I headed to the Hotel Maroma Resort and Spa on Playa Maroma in Mexico, about half an hour south of Cancun on the Riviera Maya. A total chill-out week of beach walks, great food, massages, and an occasional Mescal did the trick.

Tropical flowers everywhere. Oh, how I wish I could have brought some back!

The arched and gated entrance, above, to one of the resort’s private villas. Although they share the resort’s property and amenities, they are separately owned and not part of the resort’s accommodations.

Ah, yes, pray to the Beach Buddha! Just happened upon this one during my afternoon beach stroll.

Entrance to our (significantly upgraded) room…er, duplex apartment with a rooftop pool. There had been a reservation mix-up that left us roomless, but management took extra good care of us.

Originally built by local Mayan masons twenty years ago as a private home, the property slowly expanded into a resort, later owned by Orient-Express Hotels, then acquired by present owners, Belmond. If it weren’t for the thatched roofs, Maroma’s whitewashed architecture would not look out of place in Santorini.

The pristine architecture sits against a backdrop of lush jungle-like gardens teeming with local wildlife. Winding paths lead circuitously down to a long stretch of white sand beach and clear turquoise water. I came across this large Washingtonia Robustus (Mexican Fan Palm), above, on my stroll through the resort property.

A stone path leads to serenity in the resort’s candlelit Kinan Spa where I spent a few hours melting into total relaxation.

Awaiting a bliss-out in the spa’s peaceful enclosed garden is perhaps as heavenly as the treatments themselves.

I thought it was a mongoose in the tree…perhaps a meerkat? These babies can be a bit aggressive, with appetites larger than mine–we had to watch over our poolside snacks!

Ok, I just can’t figure it out. Can anyone identify this plant for me?

I really like how the foliage emerges from these logs and would like to replicate it in my own garden. I’m thinking they would work well too for candles too.

He spoke to me, and although I’d lived in Puerto Rico and Southern California, I couldn’t come up with the right Spanish words to respond to…a bird!

The multi-hued parrot was not the only bright splash of color punctuating the hotel’s neutral backdrop. I spotted this couple at breakfast and just had to ask them about their outfits. Anyone who sports color and pattern like that is happy to engage in conversation.

While I thought they were their special Caribbean vacation outfits, these friendly well-coordinated Floridians told me that this colorful garb was typical of their ordinary everyday look: color, color, and more color. I especially liked his neon green socks.

Photo via Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa.

Maroma’s al fresco beachfront breakfast remains hands down, my favorite meal of the day and often filling enough that some people skip lunch–not something I would ever do. On the same patio, we savored late afternoon cocktails, guacamole, assorted ceviches, and I even sampled…fried grasshoppers. Not bad, and no, they don’t taste like chicken.

Photo via Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa.

La Tia Dalia, aka The Tortilla Auntie, brings her handmade fresh tortillas and Mexican hot chocolate to your breakfast table as she has every morning for 19 years.

Every night at dusk, several guests enter a tiny sweat lodge to experience the resort’s signature temazcal ritual. I did not partake. I chose instead to sip margaritas while watching the sun setting softly over the Caribbean.

On my last morning’s beach walk, I left a little bit of Urban Gardens in the sand…

Take away: Total relaxing and pampering make the days pass all too quickly. Although there are some large all-inclusive hotels peppering the beach not far from this one, there is enough distance between them and this uncrowded property to make the place feel almost secluded even in the high season when it’s fully booked.

Belmont Maroma Resort and Spa
Carretera Cancún-Tulum
Km 51, 77710 Riviera Maya
Quintana Roo, México
1 866 454 9351

Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Robin Plaskoff Horton, Urban Gardens.


  1. Amanda said:

    Your unknown plant is a banana! Or Musa in latin. You can see by the shape of the flowers they are in a row like a bunch of bananas! 🙂

    — February 24, 2011 @ 08:22

  2. Caroline Vidican said:

    Looks like a banana flower to me.
    Beautiful pictures, lucky you.

    — February 24, 2011 @ 08:22

  3. Caroline Vidican said:

    Oh sorry, didn’t see that Amanda had already identified it!

    — February 24, 2011 @ 08:23

  4. Ellen Shapiro said:

    Gorgeous pix! Did you stay at the Maroma Resort on the Riviera Maya, or is there a beach called Playa Maroma?

    — February 24, 2011 @ 09:10

  5. Georgia said:

    Great photograph of the banana!

    — February 24, 2011 @ 11:06

  6. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Stayed at Maroma Resort, Ellen. Heaven on earth. Have you been there? It on Maroma beach or Playa Maroma.

    — February 24, 2011 @ 13:27

  7. Maggie said:

    Lovely photos, next time come to Australia we grow many beautiful plants and trees.

    — February 24, 2011 @ 16:13

  8. Romantic Dinner said:

    OH Gorgeous Photo’s and Yeah its very Loca . Great idea for Garden .Mind Blowing your this post really i loved that . plz tell me Means of “Loca” ?????
    I Think Crazy …..

    — February 25, 2011 @ 05:06

  9. Ellinor said:

    Thaks for stopping by and taking the time to translate 🙂 I’m honoured 🙂

    How exciting with a contest! Of course I’ll have to try make a nice creative container then. For sure I’m gonna enjoy the other participants too.
    I love your blog and I’m gonna link to you today cause I think other should experience your blog too 🙂 Have a great green day!

    — February 25, 2011 @ 09:35

  10. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Romantic Dinner and Ellinor thank you both so much for your kind words about the blog! I am so glad you are enjoying it, it is my love child! La Vida Loca translates to “That Crazy Life”…I take it to mean, that sort of lazy, loose, happy-go-lucky life. And Ellinor, I will be looking for your container photos!

    — February 25, 2011 @ 09:46

  11. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks Maggie, I would LOVE to visit Australia! My daughter was there last May and went sky diving over the Great Barrier Reef!

    — February 25, 2011 @ 15:03

  12. Travel: Rustic Landscape Design and Green Walls at Nizuc Resort in Mexico's Riviera Maya - Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] Nizuc Resort & Spa maintains a secluded vibe despite being a quick drive from downtown Cancun–thanks in part to its careful approach to landscape […]

    — October 29, 2013 @ 16:55

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