ESCAPE TO MAYAN ENCHANTMENT
Azure waters lap pristine sugar soft sand as far as the eye can see. Solitude and tranquility are yours. Protected by a thriving coral reef system, the Riviera Maya offers over forty of Mexico’s most unspoiled beaches. Tulum and Punta Allen are favorites for both locals and tourists. Whether it’s relaxing, sunbathing, snorkeling, diving or picnicking you’re looking for, this is the place to be.
While I’ve been to this stretch of Quintana Roo many times over the years, I’ve never encountered a more luxurious yet authentically Mexican resort that pampers and caters to your every need yet remains true to its culture, flavors and hospitality we all cherish in Mexico. No stone is left unturned especially in the Ventus Platinum Club, where your amenities include your choice of pillows, aromatherapy, personal butler service, and of course gastronomy from around the globe. The lush jungles, mangroves and natural tropical oases of the area have been lovingly left in their “pura vida” form to enhance your experience where the ambiance is a happy harmonic marriage of upscale and tranquil Mother Nature. The balance is sublime! The feeling of Ventos is ultimate relaxation blended with total upscale luxury, suitable for families, couples, reunions and weddings. Whether it’s a long weekend or two weeks, this is a unique destination. If you’re seeking entertainment, high octane sizzling nightlife, options range from Broadway musicals to traditional Mexican folk-dancing.
SUSTAINABILITY AND MOTHER EARTH
This paradisiacal place is surrounded by mangroves and marvelous wonders. The owners and staff realize part of their job is to be good stewards on planet earth. That is why sustainability is at the top of the list of priorities, making El Cid a leader in the world of sustainability.
Every year from May to September they watch over and aid in the nesting and birth of around 550 sea turtles of 3 different species: Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill.
They have secured an area of almost 6 square miles for the protection and safe nesting of the American white ibis and 4 heron species.
As part of their commitment with the environment, Hotel Marina el Cid Foundation, reuses millions of gallons of water every year and recycles more than 12 tons of waste.
At their “vivero Caribe Paradise” plant nursery the cultivate native plant species such as 4 types of mangroves and, throughout the year they have preserved and taken care of a total of over 56 acres of mangroves distributed in 5 areas of the hotel.
Every year, El Cid Foundation promotes health brigades in order to maintain the well-being of their personnel.
When you stay at El Cid, you are indirectly supporting this responsible philosophy of wellness and kindness.
The place to stay is Ventus at Marina El Cid Spa and Beach Resort in Riviera Maya. This little slice of heaven showcases a tropical paradise, divine cuisine, tranquility, a world-class Mayan-oriented spa and rich Mexican hospitality, service and ambience. This is the latest addition to the El Cid family of seven resorts, a name synonymous with quality and excellence. With resorts in Cozumel, Mazatlan, and the Riviera Maya, El Cid showcases Mexico at its finest. This resort is nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, minutes from the quaint fishing village of Puerto Morelos. As a snorkeler and writer who cherishes Mayan antiquities, this resorts’ location has it all…about an hour drive from Tulum and right near the Puerto Morelos National Reef Park.
Luxury and sophistication characterize every detail of the resort’s amenities. Pools include children’s only, or a tranquil adults-only area…all landscaped to tropical perfection. The El Cocay Spa features Temazcal, a Mayan-inspired steam bath experience, along with traditional healing remedies and exotic ocean-front massage cabanas. Authentic Mexican hospitality and smiles enhance every minute of your stay. The world-class restaurants showcase gastronomy from around the globe: Ile-de-France (French), Mercado de Dolores (Mexican), El Alcazar (Asian-Mediterranean fusion), and La Marina (fresh seafood), just to name a few of the 13 possibilities. Barriga llena, corazon contento! I cherished the gazpacho, the flan and the memorable catch-of-the-day. Don’t miss the chocolate mousse or ceviche! With 30 years of experience all over the world, Executive Chef Eduardo Nieves is a gastronomical genius. The attention to freshness with fish straight from the sea and locally grown ingredients means each culinary adventure is new and different. No corners are cut … it is the highest quality cuisine with stunning harmonic and artistic presentations you want to photograph before you eat. It is no wonder Trip Advisor has handed El Cid the best destination in Mexico award for families four years in a row.
In addition to the sizzling rainbow parfait of activities at the resort, there’s an abundance of scintillating opportunities in the area. Here is some of my travel diary:
Day 1: Eco-tourism for every ability
The region’s network of underground rivers, lagoons, cenotes and jungles provide the ideal surroundings in which to experience nature. Scuba diving, mountain biking, bird watching, snorkeling, trekking, tubing, kayaking are just a few of the cutting-edge activities available throughout the area. Bird watchers are delighted to learn the region has over 345 species of feathered creatures. Outstanding eco-tourism companies offer a wide variety of packages. On one tour, trekkers can experience the beauty and intimacy of a real Mayan village before setting out on an invigorating yet moderate jungle hike suitable for all ages and abilities. Tourists may opt to rappel on the mountains near the lagoons, swim in cenotes, canoe or simply quietly soak up some of Mother Nature’s pristine beauty.
Day 2: Mayan Archeological Ruins
While a tourist mecca today, the Riviera Maya was the central trading and cultural center for the ancient Mayans. There are a wide range of ruin sites to explore, including Coba, Muyil and Tulum, which many view as the world’s most panoramic view of antiquity. The “walled city” (Tulum) is built on a seaside cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. Attracting tourists from around the world, Tulum has more than 60 well preserved structures. Older but equally significant is Coba, a Mayan city that once had 50,000 inhabitants.
Day 3: Snorkeling and Diving
With the second largest reef system in the world, the Riviera Maya is blessed with hundreds of species of fish. Moreover, your snorkeling or diving holiday can be from many points along the expansive coastline. Another increasingly popular site for diving is the vast network of underground rivers. Many divers are drawn to the cenotes, which are filled with tranquil water. Considered sacred by the Mayans, more than 50 cenotes have been identified as suitable for diving and snorkeling. With no current and great visibility, the underground rivers and swimming holes attract divers from around the globe who want a unique experience and a glimpse of an ancient culture. Rich as a delicately woven tapestry of the ancients, this is a timeless destination waiting to be discovered.
Day 4: El Cocay Spa
After touring, elevate and indulge all your senses in the many facets of this world-class spa. Body, mind and soul are totally refreshed and balanced, with techniques you’ll long remember. I’m already planning a return visit.
Over a dozen Mayan-oriented massages exist to choose from – all recalling the power and magic of traditional healers. For starters, I experienced the signature temazcal sacred bath to cleanse and detox the body and mind and purify the spirit. My shaman prepared a blend of fresh herbs and steam. Then came the Kukulcan Massage on the beach, based on the legend of the great Mayan god, Quetzacoatl. The signature treatment is exhilarating.
The Ventus is stellar for a long weekend or for a month. It combines every element for enduring memory insurance for years to come.
REED’S RATINGS: ESCAPE TO MAYAN ENCHANTMENT
* Exquisite cuisine and restaurants with gastronomy from around the world
* Tranquil paradise with pristine beaches and lush landscaping
* World-class Mayan-inspired spa
* Impeccable Mexican hospitality and ambience
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Jody Reed is formerly a writer at the White House and TV Consumer Reporter. A 17-year veteran travel writer, she is published regionally and nationally and is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writer’s Association.