With a plethora of flights landing at the international airport in Cancun, 30,000 magnificent hotel and resort rooms, close proximity to the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza and an endless stretch of white sand that is fully-replenished when a hurricane passes through, Cancun and Riviera Maya are Mexico’s top picks for a wedding, honeymoon, couples getaway or just a well-earned vacation.
The Maya, the Marriott & Mexico
Earning the prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating, JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa is one of the finest beachfront resorts in Mexico. Manicured lawns are dotted with a maze of pools, sunlight streams into a stunning lobby with its shiny marble floors and exquisite pieces of artwork and the tri-level Mayan-influenced spa is simply spectacular with an indoor pool, Jacuzzis and therapists highly trained in the art of rest and relaxation. With 448 rooms including seventy-four plush suites, the JW is adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort with balcony views of the cerulean Caribbean Sea and the melodically calm Nichupté Lagoon.
For couples who covet variety on a holiday, both resorts are connected by a walkway and offer reciprocity of services to guests staying at including seven eateries, swim-up bar at Casa Magna and a trio of gourmet restaurants and two bars at the JW. “This is a different vacation experience than a stay at an all-inclusive because it encourages our guests to explore Cancun, rather than stay at the resort all day,” said Joaquin Cruz, director sales and marketing, “Yes, the recent negative attention on Mexico has put a damper on business but it’s picking up now because tourists are realizing that Cancun is a safe city for a holiday.”
A trio of eateries tempt at the JW including the AAA Four Diamond Gustino that excels in Italian fare from lobster and black pasta to desserts that are fabulously dramatic. Sedona Grill offers mammoth choices for breakfast and at the seaside Beach Walk; passion fruit infused ceviche with a side of diced habaneros is so good you eat it with your eyes closed. Servers in sea blue shirts are happy to suggest a fruity margarita or ice cold beer to take the edge off. At the Gourmet Deli, a pairing of coconut and mango gelato is a delightful respite from the afternoon sun.
At the Casa Magna, sushi connoisseurs flock to Mikado with Teppanyaki Chefs who demonstrate their culinary magic at each table. La Capilla Argentina Steakhouse is for the carnivores in the family and those with big appetites rave about the sumptuous breakfast buffet with everything from an omelette station to Asian dumplings. For authentic Thai cuisine like delectable tom yum soup and spicy noodle dishes, Sasi Thai serves gourmet fare under thatched palapa-shaded tables. When the sun sets, performer wannabees head to Champions Sports Bar with a Karaoke microphone for those who think they can sing. Keep your eyes (and an ear) open for general manager Chris Calabrese who belts out Sinatra tunes that would make ‘Ol Blue Eyes proud.
Bigger is Better
For twosomes who will pay handsomely to spoil themselves, the Spa is unapologetically sinful with fourteen therapists, seventeen treatment rooms and host of rubdowns for women, men, couples and even kids. From traditional Mayan massages that use Mexican sand as a skin exfoliate and facials that include chocolate for skin silky soft, the massage menu is good enough to eat and too good to miss. “The best part of my job, “smiles Barbara Ybarra, spa therapist, “is when I see immediate results like a relaxed body and a brand new smile.”
Descent of the Feathered Serpent
Twice a year during the spring and autumn equinoxes at the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, a historical phenomenon is one of the most photographed images in Mexico. At the pyramid of Kukulkan, the sun is positioned directly over the equator and day and night is of approximately equal length. The perfect alignment of the pyramid with the sun causes a play of light and shadow that creates the illusion of a huge reptile slithering down the staircase of the north side of the structure, the only side whose base is decorated with snake heads.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Chichen Itza is among the most popular attractions in Mexico and well worth a day away from the resort. The complex is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm with tours lasting up to three hours.
A Package Deal
For travel through December, both Marriott resorts are selling the ‘Escape! Mayan Experience’ that includes rooms with scenic balconies, tour of Chichen Itza, spa treatments, daily $50.00 resort credit and a welcome gift . “Much of Mexico is rooted in Mayan culture,” said Chris Calabrese, general manager of both resorts, “guests who book our Mayan Experience package are in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover this cultureduring a time that is hugely important among Mayan people.” www.jwmarriottcancun.com , www.casamagnacancun.com
A Sweet Treat: Mexican Wedding Cookies (courtesy: Daisy’s Holiday Cooking by Daisy Martinez)
Makes 60 cookies
- 1¾ cups walnut pieces
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Pulse the walnuts in a food processor.
- Sift together the flour, tapioca starch, cinnamon, and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla, beat until blended and then add the dry ingredients.
- Add the walnuts and the chocolate chips and mix through the dough.
- Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Chill for 30 minutes before shaping the cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes and coat with sugar.
Get in Touch
Tourism information: www.visitmexico.com