There is an unknown warrior, or is it a Mayan god, at the entrance to Maroma Rivera Maya by Orient-Express. It is not actually at the main entrance, but what is the main entrance? A good, or rather not-good, two-kilometre pathway leads from Highway 307 due east to the luxury resort, set as it is right on the beach.
About eight feet wide, and very rough, at one point it crosses a wood bridge over mangrove. Every hundred yards, signs indicate the animals you might come across, including raccoon (the gal saw one). There is no sign for dogs (she saw two).
Having already said this is the ideal place for weddings, and lounging and relaxing, it is great for others too. If you must smoke cigars or shisha, there is an indoor lounge for you. If you are eager-beaver fit, there is plenty of scope.
A pair of paragliders soars overhead while, down in the crystal-clear ocean, there are canoeists and swimmers and people in little dinghies. Far out to sea a white cruise ship sails past, fortunately too distant to spoil the harmony. It is not surprising 35 percent of people at any one time are ‘repeaters’.
There is a marvellous main gym, with good Technogym equipment, a personal trainer, lots of fresh fruit and, bliss for some, one of the 65-room hotel’s two televisions (the other is in the library).
But there are other ways of keeping fit, like swimming in one of the shared pools or, if you are in the right room, in your own personal plunge pool. Room 65 has one, just big enough for three swirls of the arm to get from one side to the other. It also has its own mini-gym, with a treadmill and a full set of weights.
I felt at home as soon as I arrived. It is all so romantic. At night the walkways are illuminated by over a thousand night-lights set in little glass
To get to the front door you have to walk over four stepping stones set in a decorative pool, and then skirt under a hanging hammock, and then use a pressure-pad ‘key’ that is a chip set unseen in a block of wood. Some people these days are too clever for words…. but this place is also simply simple. On my four-post bed a welcome is set out in leaves and flowers.
Oh the view from the room! The fan-shaped salon area of my ‘home’ looks out over 20 feet of perfect grass, with a bright royal blue double lounger, and then 50 feet of near-white sand, with lots more loungers dotted around. At night the moon illuminates the water as if it has become shot silk. Magic.
No wonder Trip Advisor fans, who have rated this best hotel in the area, rave about the beach and the views, and so much else. They just love the staff, for whom nothing is too much trouble (they wear earphones, to be in radio contact, but you are barely aware of this).
One of the newest members of the team is William, a Mexican-born Belize-Costa Rican who looks about 17, is 35. He gave me an hour’s private Chi Kung session. Oh BOY. It started with simple breathing exercises, went on to King of Siam lunges, with a bit of fencing style thrown in, and culminated in dance movements of which Martha Graham would have approved.
I had my eyes shut but I know I was lying face up, my ankles around his neck as he stood upright saying Inhale… Exhale (which he did for 60 minutes). A few minutes later I swear I was holding his whole weight on my knees, buckled up over my tummy… at the end I felt exhilarated but, at the same time, like a wrung-out towel. Recovery was a magnificent head massage and Aromatherapy Associates facial.
The Kinan spa here, with its airy walkways and ceilings that soar up into seemingly sky-high palapas thatched roofs, is truly magnificent, Mayan rather than the standard (these days) Asian. As the Man Who Runs Maroma, Federico Echaiz says, this resort is a uniquely Mexican experience.
As I am walking back I see one of the maids, in her charming local gear, and hairnet – if only all hotel maids would wear hairnets, for hygiene reasons – looking at a tree. I look at her face, with the kind of skin every American and European would long for. Perhaps eating cactus and grasshopper, as I did yesterday, is good for the complexion. Whatya think?
And now a sad tale. A red female parrot, one of the ‘employees’ here at this divine resort, is pining. A wild animal robbed her of her mate and now she awaits a new one (this is, after all, the perfect place for weddings, of all sorts). Today, she is not even talking as I walk past.
I am about to say goodbye, to the tortilla-maker and the margarita maker and the beach sweeper, and William and all the spa staff. A posse of them is them, at the main door, to bid the latest departing guest farewell and, as always, Federico Echaiz says “this is your home”.