Mexico has many different identities and perceptions, however the first thing that comes to mind is probably their world famous cuisine of tacos, nachos and guacamole. When I personally think of holidaying in Mexico, I think of the Sex and the City Movie where Carrie exiles herself with her girlfriends on what was supposed to be the honeymoon for the marriage of the decade between her and Mr Big. Think gorgeous aquamarine water, white powder soft sand, gloriously warm sunny days, snacking on guacamole between rounds of margaritas– sounds great right? Welcome to Mexico!
Having travelled all the way to Belize from Sydney on a sailing trip in January, it only seemed right to visit their next door neighbour Mexico since I was so close. A journey to Mexico is the perfect occasion to indulge in plenty of tacos, tequila, ceviché and huevos rancheros! Flying to Cancun, the Belmond Maroma Resort is located 35 minutes from Cancun International Airport and 20 minutes from the popular holiday hub Playa Del Carmen.
I had never previously heard of the Belmond Group, but after exploring the brand I have discovered the great selection of five-star luxury hotels and travel experiences under their umbrella. The group boasts many world famous hotels and amazing destinations creating a boutique and personalised feel whether it be one of their properties or train trips. Their hotel Belmond Maroma Resort in Mexico offers ultimate finesse and quality for guests, proudly boasting one of the highest luxury travel accolades with a Forbes Travel Five Star rating.
Turning off the main highway that joins Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, we drove down a long 1.5km gravel path framed by tropical rainforest with thick layers of luscious green vegetation on either side. The driveway seemed endless and we wondered how far away and hidden this hotel actually was, and furthermore if we would be able to make our way back to the real world again. However, upon reaching our destination it became pretty apparent that guests won’t really want to leave the hotel and return to the real world once they arrive.
The staff immediately greeted us with a warm ‘Buenos tardes’ (good afternoon) sitting us down on plush white sofas, under a gigantic sun umbrella to check us in quickly. We made friends with their resident rainbow parrot, whose exquisite colourings were incredibly breathtaking to admire! Our check-in process was made all the better with two deliciously refreshing Welcome Margaritas sliding down a little too easily!
Whilst waiting for our room to be ready, we headed to the main restaurant El Restaurante on the beachfront for a light lunch. Some threatening clouds above gave way to an opening of the heavens, which actually proved incredibly beautiful to watch from our window seat in the restaurant. The ocean remained a beautiful aqua blue with half the sky a soft grey contrasting to the clear blue sky out to sea.We shared an Organic Green salad (US$14), Roasted chicken with crispy skin (US$28) and a side of Grilled octopus (US$12). The green salad was especially light consisting of leaves, cucumber, zucchini and avocado with a zesty citrus dressing. The chicken was tasty and moist, having been fried on the outside to deliver a thin crunchy skin. My favourite was the side of grilled octopus which was incredibly tender and flavoursome.
Following lunch, we were escorted to our room, led a short walk along the paved pathway through the hotel grounds. We were shown the three pools, two suitable for children and one private adults only. The gardens around the hotel are maintained in impeccable condition, with tropical rainforest vegetation so richly green and visually alluring. At night, the walkways are framed by fairy lights which create tunnels of light sparkling in the moonshine.
We were lucky enough to be upgraded to an Ocean View Master Suite. Climbing a flight of stairs, we opened the double wooden doors, entering an expansive living and dining room, filled with natural light looking over the luminously aqua Caribbean ocean. The suite was decorated in a traditional Spanish style with timber furnishings including a round dining table, grand mantle and cupboard, home to an impressive mini bar filled with top shelf spirits and snacks. Most importantly, a Nespresso Machine and wide assortment of coffee pods would have my caffeine fix sorted come morning time!
Walking through to the bedroom, a huge king bed decorated with flowers was especially magnificent, inviting us with an adjoining sitting room and TV. The bathroom was vast and spacious, with a decently size open wardrobe, large bathtub and high pressure shower filled with high quality amenities that were restocked twice a day without fail.
The most impressive part however, was our private terrace upstairs! Walking out to the balcony and up a few stairs, was an incredible outdoor terrace for our exclusive use. A plunge pool overlooking the beach sat beside a hammock, a double sun lounge adjacent to some table and chairs, perfect for enjoying a private sunset drink.Relaxing with an afternoon nap, we woke up to the turn down service a few hours later softly knocking on the door bearing treats, comfy sleepwear and a schedule of tomorrow’s daily activities. The hotel offers an array of daily activities to entice everyone. Yoga classes, a bike tour around the grounds, cocktail classes, chefs table dinners, tequila tastings, wine tastings, cigar tastings, beach dinners, cooking classes and Mexican cantina nights were some of the events on the weekly calendar that one can engage in whilst enjoying their time at the Belmond Maroma Resort. The turn down service lit the candles around our suite, creating a calming atmosphere perfect for enjoying the Mexican holiday vibes.
The hotel had also left a delicious bottle of Mexican Cabernet Sauvignon red wine for us to enjoy, which went down a treat helping us to unwind after a day of travel. We had also been gifted an iconic Mexican tequila bottle available in their bar Freddy’s which is located at the beach. The tequila came in a blue and white ceramic patterned vessel, which was deliciously smooth with a slight sweetness and none of that fiery after burn so common to tequila.
Depending on the rate one chooses, breakfast is included. I highly recommend selecting the breakfast option as it is amazing! Served each morning in the main restaurant and outdoor terrace there is an extensive menu to select from, with sweet and savoury dishes, you can pick as many or as few as you would like! We were a little naughty and set about testing out almost everything on the menu by the end of our three-night stay.
Upon sitting down, the staff will bring you some coffee, tea or alternatively one can choose to pay a little extra for one of their freshly made juices, smoothies or a refreshing champagne mimosa.One of the signature parts of the hotel is the adorable old Mexican lady who sits at the restaurant entrance beaming a welcoming smile making fresh to order quesadillas. She has a cute little station where she hand-makes the tortilla dough, cooking it on a traditional hot plate before your eyes, stuffing it with whatever fillings you may desire. Our favourite was the traditional Mexican root plant ‘huitlacoche’ which was salty, a little like corn, shallots and mushrooms– it sounds odd but was absolutely delectable!
Every table is delivered a basket filled with toast, yoghurt, fresh sliced fruit, muesli and local tropical jams of mango, papaya and strawberry. Servers come around with a platter of mini pastries with all the usual offerings as well as a daily special. Each day we aimed to order different menu items with a mix of both sweet and savoury. The first day saw the traditional Mexican dish of Red Chilaquiles, cream, panela cheese, onion, cilantro and avocado with either eggs or chicken. Having never encountered this dish previously I was intrigued to try it and my best description would be a healthier version of breakfast nachos. It consisted of soggy corn chips mixed with tomato sauce, cheese, onion and Mexican spices topped with two large sunny side up eggs perfectly cooked with a gooey centre.The Brioche French toast with coconut milk, vanilla, tropical fruit sauce and maple was utterly incredible, definitely one of the best takes on the dish I have enjoyed! A generously big thick slice of brioche is pan fried and coated in sugar then lightly covered with a marvellous sauce of coconut milk infused with local vanilla. The mango passionfruit sauce was sweet and paired so flawlessly with the dish! The sauce was not too tart as some passionfruit sauces tend to be, and it was finished gorgeously with a refreshing sprig of mint to cut through the sweetness.
Waffles with caramelised bananas, spiced pecan nuts, mango butter and chocolate from Oaxaca were nice, the banana wasn’t as caramelised as I’d hoped, simply just very very lightly blowtorched on the outside, however the Oaxaca chocolate sauce was to die for! As a die-hard chocoholic this dark thick rich pot of goodness was my idea of heaven (and I had no trouble polishing it off by itself!). Our other dish was a simple poached eggs, grilled tomato and green salad– just to keep it at the basics and a little healthy! Full to the brim with food, we took a long walk down Maroma Beach passing the various other hotels and admiring the enticing blue waves crushing the shore. The day was spent exploring the hotel and lazing on the beach. A short wander around the grounds, we spotted the 24 hour gym equipped with great facilities and an attached special health corner by the adults only pool. This little café named Cilantro Juice Bar is a calm oasis with healthy snacks, smoothies, detox teas and other healthy items, decorated with dream catchers, soft pillows and inspirational mantras.
Lying on the cosy cabanas and lounges exclusive to hotel guests along the beach, friendly staff bring towels and menus if you desire any drinks or snacks. A pleasant surprise was a waiter bearing a colourful cart filled with ice and flavourings to make complimentary fresh granitas to enjoy whilst tanning in the sunshine!
At night, the resort became an oasis of beauty, with pathways lined with candles, gardens and vines decorated with lights and little lanterns dotted around walkaways guiding the way. The main entrance was filled with candles glistening a warm glow everywhere you turn.In the evening, we headed to the beachside bar Freddy’s Tequila and Ceviche Bar for sunset drinks and nibbles prior to dinner. A few other guests were there and it was great to make some friends and hear about their experiences. They raved about the friendliness and warmth of the staff who all knew them on first name basis, as well as telling us about their excursion to the nearby Mayan ruins and Chichen Itza, one of seven wonders of the world. The hotel will more than happily arrange tours to Mayan ruins and other gorgeous places such as Tulum. I highly recommend visiting Tulum 1.5 hours north of Maroma, with its ultra beach chic vibe, zen atmosphere and cool yet unpretentious restaurants and bars.
At Freddy’s, the cocktails on the menu were delectable. We experienced a classic frozen Pina Colada ($14USD) and the house drink, Gin & Tonic “Hunucma” ($14USD) with Hendrick’s gin, coconut water, slices of cucumber, fresh mint and lime & tonic proving to be delightfully fresh. Drinks at the bar are served with delicious snacks which vary from olives, cheese and nuts to corn chips with pico de salsa and pineapple salsa.Whilst chatting to the barman, he told us about a secret rooftop vantage point to watch the sunset. We quickly grabbed our cocktails and climbed the hidden stairway just in time to enjoy the last spot of sun on the horizon and cheers away a fabulous day!The hotel has two restaurants, El Restaurante which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner where if desired guests can eat outside on the beachside terrace. The other eatery is a Mexican fusion themed El Sol which describes itself as ‘responsible contemporary Mexican cuisine in a stylish rustic setting’. For dinner, we choose to eat at El Restaurante which serves a predominantly western menu of classics with slight Mediterranean twists but executed with fine dining flair. Floor to ceiling windows boast ocean views with a mood that is calm and relaxed. As the night progressed a quartet of Mexican musicians arrived, filling the room with Spanish songs and all time classics, serenading us as we wished.
A basket filled with warm bread and butter, and a mushroom soup amuse bouche were the perfect way to start the meal. For entrees I settled on a Surf and Turf ($20USD) with braised beef short ribs, tamarind, plantain, lobster and mint gremolata. This is the classiest take on the dish I have ever seen, with a sticky sweet coated brisket melting in my mouth with a gooey richness. The three pieces of lobster were light and tender topped with the fresh mint gremolata, dotted with pickled Spanish onion and finished with a generous spread of pureed plantain. The dish was impeccable!
The other entrée was a Tortilla soup ($20USD) with avocado, tortilla, goats cheese, cream and oregano which was hand-poured by the waiter at the table. The soup was tomato based, embodying a smooth creamy texture full of flavour and subtle Mexican notes. The avocado was a little unusual in the mix, but the goats cheese puree was a yummy addition.Craving a piece of good piece of red meat I settled on the Beef tenderloin and mushrooms ($44USD) with potato purée, seasonal mushrooms, huitlacoche, truffle, green salsa, au jus. This was so delicious but after all the other preceding snacks, I was unable to finish. The beef was cooked to a wonderful medium rare, with sautéed mushrooms bearing a hint of truffle, sticky beef jus, lightly cured enoki mushrooms, plus my favourite new discovery from breakfast of huitlacoche and other exotic varieties all sitting on a bed of creamy potato.
The fish was Roasted snapper, sautéed potatoes, saffron aioli, fresh herbs and fennel ($38USD). A large meaty snapper fillet expertly cooked and paired with a light green salad of thinly shaved fennel, cucumber and zucchini. The standout element here was the saffron elements whose distinctive flavour jumped off the plate screaming just as loudly as the vibrant yellow colour.
For dessert we settled on the two characteristically Mexican/ Spanish inspired dishes of The Classic Churros, duche de leche ice cream ($12USD), and Tres Leches Cake ($12USD). Two little spirals of golden deep fried dough dusted in cinnamon sugar were accompanied by two dipping sauces consisting of a smooth milky sauce and a very subtle chocolate sauce. The duche de leche ice cream was a welcome factor with moreish caramel distinctive and enchanting creaminess.
The Tres Leche Cake translates to three milks cake. The dish was a simple small rectangle of cake with a spongey texture and delectably moist thanks to its soaking with the milky sauce. Lusciously sticky and topped with piped fresh cream, the plate was decorated with dots of vanilla bean infused sauce and rich chocolate. We waddled back to our room to enjoy a dreamy night’s sleep in the luxurious king bed.
Waking up at 7.30am to a stunning sunrise over the ocean horizon gleaming into our room we set off for breakfast bright and early. Vowing to try something different for breakfast we choose the special of the day, a take on the Huevos Rancheros with corn tortilla, fried eggs, crowned with refried beans and a delectable mix of sautéed plantains, ham, peas, fresh ranchero cheese. I definitely recommend asking for any daily specials as this was one of our favourite breakfast dishes during our time.
The Maroma Pancakes, seasonal fruit, fresh ricotta, orange and maple was simple classic with three pancakes sandwiched with a layer of zesty orange infused ricotta. We opted also for a freshly made Ham and vegetable omelette with potato, fried beans and grilled local tomatoes. The Energizing muesli with maca, apple, seasonal fruit, orange, yoghurt, almonds, plantain and agave honey was similar to a bircher muesli with a combination of fruit mixed into the yoghurt, served with sugar coated plantain chips, it proved an interesting mix. Other dishes we had included the Machaca and eggs enchiladas, creamy ranchera salsa, avocado, sour cream and serrano chili. This saw enchiladas filled with an egg scramble mixture, topped with a creamy sauce that created a rich and scrumptious dish. The Donuts, passionfruit marmalade, fresh fruit, cacao and cinnamon were nice if a little simple and underwhelming, proving quite dense but still tasty. Each day our big breakfasts kept us sustained all day, and if we did feel a little peckish we opted for a small snack at Freddy’s.
If you are after an active holiday Belmond has its guests taken very well care of, with personal trainers, their fully-equipped gym, walking paths, free bikes, tennis and pools.
For those wanting to explore, Playa Del Carmen is a 20-30 minute taxi ride for around US$20. The town is hustling and touristy, filled with cafes, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops to keep you busy. I love to explore, and whilst Belmond gives you no reason to leave, it was nice to visit the town and wander down the main street Fifth Avenue.On our last morning, I was lucky enough to visit the Spa and enjoy a 50 minute deep tissue massage by one of the in-house therapists. The spa is a very tranquil place, with inspirational quotes using fresh sand printed in various areas, sweeping high ceilings, calming water features, plunge pools, hanging vines, great old fig trees, luscious overhanging green canopies, heat rooms and comfy lounges scattered around the space– it is incredibly zen. The treatment room was decorated with candles emitting a calming vibe of sensuality and warmth. It was the perfect way to end an incredible stay in a place as heavenly as this.
Nothing beats the crystal white sands of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Riviera Maya looking out to the aqua blue waves of the Caribbean ocean. Belmond Maroma goes above and beyond for a personalised touch of service and supreme luxury to make this a home away from home for guests in the ultimate paradise location. The food and drinks at Belmond are all flawlessly prepared and delicious, whilst the traditional finishes in their Spanish – Mexican style remind you that you are in a cultural oasis a little different from the everyday. A stay at the Belmond Maroma Resort delivers a relaxed atmosphere for its guests to indulge in amazing cuisine, soak up endless sunshine and rejuvenate in idyllic surrounds all with the sound of the ocean humming alongside!
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa
Carretera Cancún-Tulum, Km 51, 77710 Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, México
Phone: +52 998 872 82 00
I Ate My Way Through stayed as guests of Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa