Belmond Maroma Resort

As happens at Belmond Maroma Spa and Resort.
It can be forgiven this time, though, as this ‘hostess’ is a red parrot. “This is Avelida, a parrot from this region, our hostess,” I’m told by the actual human hostess as she leads me through the warm leafy courtyard of the hotel. There’s other wildlife in the surrounding area too, including coatis (like raccoons), harmless small snakes, monkeys and iguanas, though, apart from the parrot, the only animal life I see during my stay here are a few cats doing exactly the right thing to do here: taking it easy.
Around an hour from Cancun, or 10 minutes outside of Playa del Carmen, Belmond Maroma Spa and Resort sits on the shores of the Yucatan peninsular in the region of Quintana Roo, looking out onto the Caribbean ocean. Turning off the main road, through a security gate, it’s reached via a long driveway that cuts through the forest. The main building has the feel of an old hacienda, built by an architect as his holiday home, with fountains, an elegant courtyard where Avelida sits on a perch, a large swimming pool and a restaurant leading down to the beach. Suites are just a short walk away, and they’re certainly worth the walk.
‘Suites’ feels like an understatement; the place where I spend two days feels more like an apartment or house. Just inside the front door, there’s a vast living room, with a writing desk, coffee machine, fridge and a little bar area, all set up around a colorfully striped sofa and chairs. Following the general worldwide trend at top hotels for helping guests ‘disconnect’, there’s no TV.

The living room connects, via large glass doors, to an outside balcony, with a couple of big comfy chairs, looking out onto palm trees, a beach and the inviting ocean. All this space for two people already feels like a luxury, but we’re just getting started.
In the other direction, the lounge links into a huge bedroom, with a central four poster bed, the white sheets decorated for our arrival with an ornate design of orange flowers. There’s a recliner/lounging bed in the room too, where you can lie back and look up at the domed red brick ceiling and big black cast iron chandelier. The effect is surprisingly homely, but on a grand luxurious scale. Colorful paintings by Mexican artists provide a bit of a modern edge. The flooring throughout is a kind of copper/terracotta marble, which feels like it comes from a Roman or Tuscan villa. There are big sea shells in little coves inside the walls. The rooms look especially pleasant and atmospheric at night, when staff come in to do an extensive turn down service, lighting candles on tall candlebras and your selection of four fragrances in the aromatherapy burner.

The bathroom’s also huge, with two sizable separate his-and-hers sink areas on either side, framed by cool lanterns, with space between the sinks for a romantic bathtub, big enough, at least, for two people. There are more candles arranged around the main tub or ‘pool’. The products provided are organic and homemade, including aromatic honey shampoo and conditioner, and oatmeal soap. Here at Belmond Maroma, one shower wouldn’t be enough, though; there are two showers inside the shower room, for showering together, should it take your fancy, and on the other side of the glass, a door leads to an outdoor shower that’s surrounded by forest (and a privacy wall).
We’re not nearly done yet. Next to the bathroom, there’s a personal gym area, with a running machine, yoga mat, and exercise ball, all of which goes guiltily underused during my stay. Outside, there’s a second lounging area, with a private plunge pool looking out onto the ocean, along with chairs, a table and, this part of the Mexican coast’s essential item, a hammock, hanging wall to wall. I explore up a small staircase to find a roof space. It’s empty, but some guests apparently use it for doing yoga, looking out onto the ocean. This is a place where I could, and do, happily spend a lot of time, not least on the balcony, drinking a good bottle of Pinot Noir and looking out over crashing waves.

“Relax your mind, your body and your spirit,” the masseuse whispers in my ear, which is pretty easy to do when there’s a hot towel around my neck and shoulders, her hands gently massaging my skull. She wafts a fragrance of eucalyptus and ginger under my nose before a quick footbath and footrub, then begins a 50-minute full body massage to a soundtrack of Indian sitars and Brian Eno’s ambient works. It’s a great, firm massage with rosemary oil, working aches from shoulders and back, head to toe, so relaxing that I think, perhaps, I briefly nod off once or twice.
We’re greeted by name again by the waiters in the evening, taking our table by the window and ordering, first, cocktails, then a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for a good wine list. My girlfriend thinks the tlayuda de pulpo Maya (Mayan octopus) might be the best she’s ever eaten, perfectly cooked, soft and delicious, and my starter of Mexican crispy brie cheese is hard to fault too, indulgent and served with guava sauce and hibiscus jelly. Good seafood is abundant on the Riviera Maya, one of the reasons I like eating here so much, so while my girlfriend goes for the chef’s recommendation of roaster snapper with sautéed potatoes, saffron aioli and fennel, I tuck into seared blackened yellowtail amberjack, with roasted veg and celeriac puree. We leave, full and happy, warmed by mescal and wine.