What to Explore in Mayan Mexico


Hacienda Tres Rios
Hacienda Tres Rios offers daily programs to help restore the spirit of the Maya Renaissance.


The Mayans predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012, but we are still standing. According to Alfonso Sumano, regional director of North America, Mexico Tourism Board, the Mayans weren’t wrong; it was the interpretation that was a bit misguided.

“The Mayans never said it was the end of the world—just the end of an era,” he tells Travel Agent. For the Mayans, time was measured in stretches of almost 500 years, and in 2012 it was time for one of those stretches to end and a new one to begin, which is why 2013 should be the year that you pitch the Mayan world to your clients.

There are five states that are part of the Mayan world: Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas. “All our visitors to one of these five states are celebrating with us the beginning of a new era,” says Sumano. “If you are staying in Cancun or Riviera Maya and you come to a thematic park like Xcaret, you can witness a beautiful show on the Mayan traditions every night,” notes Sumano.

Mayan culture is deeply embedded into the daily life of these states. Original Mayan ancestors work in the communities and speak Maya. In smaller communities in the Yucatan, some speak only that and not a single word of Spanish.

Mexico this year is trying to promote its Mayan heritage by apprising people of the new era. The region is home to over 20,000 archaeological sites, less than 200 of which are open to the public. “We are gathering people to celebrate the new era, informing them about the new calendar,” says Sumano.

Late last year, the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau inaugurated Cancun’s Maya Museum. The museum houses 350 archaeological artifacts, including relics that have never been shown, as well as others that were discovered in recent excavations. Other displays in the museum were previously exhibited at different venues.

Where to Stay

The all-inclusive Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa in Playa del Carmen allows guests to explore the Maya world through approachable, authentic onsite programming, tied together as the Xcalacoco Experience. Highlights include a Sacred Maya Journey re-enactment performances; “Maya Market” with authentic cuisine; Xtabentun Maya coffee demonstrations; new onsite temazcal (sweat lodge); bike tour that observes the Xcalacoco archaeological site; new Maya spa rituals; and warrior dog tours.

The hotel has 956 Riviera Maya rooms and junior suites. Rooms are spread over 78 villas: 11 Royal Elite Ocean View, 16 Select Club Adults Only and 51 Family Section. Travel agents can direct any queries to Regional Sales Manager Heidi Verschaeve ([email protected], 011-52-984-873-4444, ext. 17967).

Another all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Hacienda Tres Rios (www.haciendatresrios.com), is celebrating the new era with five activities to awaken the senses: Wake up early and contemplate the sunrise; enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast with organic fruit from their farm; take a barefoot walk on the beach; listen to the sounds of nature; and sip a favorite beverage as the sun sets. The hotel offers daily programs to help restore the spirit of the Maya Renaissance, including culinary lessons, special dinners, xtabentun workshops, and a Maya culture exhibit.

Hacienda Tres Rios has 273 suites as well as the Ya’ax Che Spa. The Endless Luxury All-Inclusive plan allows guests the exclusive use of the Tres Rios Nature Park and the resort’s gourmet experience.

Reach out to Director of Sales Fabiola Mendez ([email protected], 011-52-984-877-2450) with queries.

The Fairmont Mayakoba (www.fairmont.com) in Playa del Carmen offers guests a variety of Maya-centric experiences, including ancient spa treatments using ingredients sacred to the Mayans, and artisanal beer tastings pairing Mexican beers with Maya-inspired “bonitas” (tapas). For younger guests, the Discovery Adventure Camp rolls out experiences such as making their first letter sign, learning Maya words, and lessons on how to become a Maya warrior.

The Fairmont Mayakoba is a luxury resort with 401 guest rooms, including lagoon and jungle-view casitas, and beach area suites.

Fairmont Mayakoba is set amid historical sites and ecological parks such as Xelha, Xcaret, Tulum, Coba, Sian Ka’an and Chichen Itza.

Agents can direct questions to Mayra Macaraig ([email protected], 954-753-1312), director of sales.

The Royal Playa del Carmen (www.realresorts.com) has introduced a new-era spa experience to honor the belief that the end of the Maya calendar marks the beginning of a period in time in which Earth and its inhabitants undergo a physical and spiritual transformation. The four-day spa experience at the SPAzul includes hydrotherapy; aromatherapy; Maya spa foot, facial, detox and massage rituals; and a honey and music therapy treatment.

Located in Riviera Maya, The Royal Playa del Carmen has 513 suites with either garden, ocean-view or oceanfront space. Rooms have in-suite double Jacuzzis and a terrace or balcony. Dining facilities run the gamut from fine restaurants to coffee houses to wine bars.

Agents can contact the sales office (011-52-998-881-7311; 998-881-7312 for groups) with any queries.

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