Where is it?
On Mexico’s Mayan Riveira, where powder-white sands are lapped by the Caribbean’s turquoise waters. Right in front of the hotel is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef in the world. Less than an hour along the road lie the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Coba, the latter of which has the highest pyramid in Yucatán.
The seventy casitas, each with a plunge pool and a thatched roof, are framed by nature, dotted sparingly as they are amongst the mangroves where blue crabs, iguanas and coati roam. The whole place pays homage to the Mayan heritage with Ceiba trees lining the paths, believed by the Mayan culture to be the bridge between heaven and earth, unifying two worlds in one and casitas named and numbered using the Mayan system – a seashell for 0, a dot for one and a bar for five. The impressive spa is vast with a steep thatched palapa roof under whose cathedral ceilings pools mimic cenotes and treatments draw on the rich Mayan culture. By the beach lie the restaurants, a huge swimming pool running parallel to the sea between them. Interiors throughout are muted allowing the vibrant surroundings to set the tone.
Diving and snorkelling are available to explore the reef right on the hotel’s doorstep where triggerfish and angel fish, butterfly fish and parrot fish swim between the impressive stag horn coral. The spa has a huge range of treatments including a Temazcal, a traditional form of Mayan cleansing, which involves being imprisoned in a hot sweat lodge with a shaman who encourages you to be reborn anew, leaving your baggage behind, through four cycles of ever increasing heat as you sing, scream, bang drums and exorcise your demons. There is the chance to do a Mezcal tasting with knowledgeable barman José Magaña who has a wealth of knowledge about this artisanal Mexican drink. Don’t miss the deliciously smoky-flavoured Tepextate, in its bright, hand-painted bottle.
Food & drink
Exceptionally good under any circumstances but, for a resort, this sets a new benchmark. Chef Jorge Vallejo, acclaimed for his Mexico City restaurant Quintonil is the consultant chef here and his dishes deliver an uncompromising modern take on Mexico’s indigenous ingredients. Expect dishes such as Duck ‘salbut’ stuffed with ‘recado negro; a dark, complex and deeply delicious sauce or a goat’s cheese custard with ‘piloncillo’ (an unrefined artisanal sugar) and lime ice cream. This is at the sleekly designed gourmet restaurant, Bu’ul (bean in Mayan, a nod to the humble ingredients that Jorge elevates on the plate). The main restaurant is Kaban where breakfasts of chilaquiles, served with pasilla sauce, sour cream, fresh cheese and onion make the perfect start to the day. But save space for their perfectly-pitched lime soup at lunchtime and, of course, the must-eat guacamole and tacos.
Some 80 minutes away are the Mayan ruins of Tulum and inland from there Coba. The latter, still largely shrouded in jungle, boasts the highest pyramid in Yucatán. Easily reached too are some of the best cenotes, which lie all over this limestone region, such as Aktunchen where you can jump down through the rocks into an underground cave and swim in crystal clear turquoise waters with only the occasional fish or stalactite to avoid.
All 70 of its villas draw on local xucun stone and tropical wood, linen with natural jute fibres, palm leaf bed heads and thatched roofs with soaring cathedral like interiors made from sustainable Sacate leaves. The peaceful, muted, interiors, designed by Paulina Moran, are enlivened by Mayan decorative touches, turquoise fabrics and a glass wall in the bathroom against which the lush jungle presses up. Bathrooms have double rain showers and an outdoor shower. All villas have plunge pools and a deck shaded by the overhanging thatch upon which an ‘eye-opener’ – a handmade woven basket with fresh pastries and warm coffee – is left at dawn.
Foodies, definitely, for its offering is superb and it delivers an impressive introduction to Mexican culinary culture. But also, lovers of marine life for its proximity to the Mesoamerican barrier reef and even those who just want to fly and flop under the cloudless skies.
When to go
The best months are between December and April, during the dry season.
Journey Latin America (020 87478315, journeylatinamerica.co.uk) is the UK’s leading specialist in travel to Latin America. A 4-night stay at Chablé Maroma starts from £3,174 per person. The price includes direct flights to Cancún with British Airways, private transfers, breakfast daily and a full day private excursion to the archaeological site of Coba and Aktun Chen ecological park.