“We have a very special guest blogger today, Melanie Reffes, who wrote a review of JW Marriott Cancun Resort in Mexico while on a trip to the Riviera Maya! Melanie Reffes is a seasoned travel journalist specializing in the Caribbean and Riviera Maya. She is the Caribbean editor for JaxFax magazine and much-published in the USA, Canada and throughout the Caribbean. When she’s not racing through airports, you’ll find her in her Montreal garden growing the hottest scotch bonnet peppers this side of Montego Bay.” – Sean
Steeped in history and a big draw for tourists, Mexico is getting ready to mark the Maya solar calendar which will usher in a new era on December 21. For centuries, the Mayans have anticipated this cosmic cycle and already have started to roll out the red carpet for travelers heading south to experience the sights, sounds, flavors and history of Mexico.
With plenty of Delta flights arriving into the Cancun International Airport , thirty thousand hotel rooms, close proximity to the Mayan ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza and an endless stretch of white sand that is replenished when a hurricane passes through, it’s no wonder Riviera Maya and Cancun are Mexico’s top hot spots.
Diamonds on the Beach
What a great pleasure it was resting my head on an uber-comfy bed in one of the grandest resorts in Mexico. Earning the prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating, JW Marriott Cancun Resort is a showstopper with manicured lawns that are dotted with a maze of pools, sunlight that floats into a magnificent lobby with its shiny marble floors and exquisite pieces of artwork and a tri-level Mayan-influenced spa that is simply spectacular with seventeen treatment rooms, an indoor pool, Jacuzzis and fourteen therapists highly trained in the art of rest and relaxation.
From traditional Mayan massages that use Mexican sand as a skin exfoliate and facials that include a seaweed mask that is rich in antioxidants to Mexican chocolate that leaves skin silky soft, the massage menu is good enough to eat and too good to miss. Open from 6 am for early birds who want to use the fitness center, the Spa also offers a menu of treatments for couples and children.
With 448 rooms including seventy-four plush suites, the JW is adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort with 450 rooms and thirty suites all with balcony views of the cerulean Caribbean Sea and melodically calm Nichupté Lagoon. Both resorts are connected by a walkway and offer reciprocity of services to guests staying at both including gourmet eateries and funky bars.
And finishing a novel while resting on a beach chair, shopping in Cancun or exploring the nearby Mayan ruins, a trio of eateries tempt at the JW including the gourmet Gustino with Italian fare from lobster with black pasta to desserts that are fabulously dramatic. The Sedona Grill offers a mammoth buffet for breakfast and at the seaside Beach Walk; passion fruit ceviche with a side of diced habaneros is so good you’ll eat it with your eyes closed. When the sun sets over the Caribbean Sea, a glass of cognac in the lobby bar while a local singer entertains reminds us why we booked a vacation in the first place.
Descent of the Feathered Serpent
Twice a year during the spring and autumn equinox, a remarkable historical phenomenon can be seen at the treasured Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. At the pyramid of Kukulkan, the sun is positioned directly over the equator resulting in day and night lasting an equal number of hours. The next equinox on September 20 will see thousands of visitors waiting in awe in front of the pyramid to marvel at the shadow which appears as a great feathered serpent, one of the most important gods for the ancient Mayans. The perfect alignment of the pyramid with the sun creates the illusion of a huge reptile slithering down the staircase of the north side of the structure, the only side whose base is adorned with snake heads.
Crowds and vendors aside, the shadow is breathtaking and worth the pilgrimage from any one of the resorts in Riviera Maya and Cancun. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, Chichen Itza is open daily from 8 am to 5pm with tours lasting up to three hours. At night, the light show is awesome and a big hit with photography buffs.
- Melanie Reffes