By Bob Schulman
Wandering around the thatched-roof walkways of this sprawling resort on the Mexican Caribbean you get an idea of what it must have been like in the Mayan cities that once flourished in the jungles here. Only instead of pyramids scattered around the two-mile-long site there are hotels – five of them, with over 2,700 rooms – and instead of a ceremonial center there's a convention center. And a disco.
Also sprinkled along the resort's powdery white beaches are 24 restaurants, 19 bars, five swimming pools, three theaters and a state-of-the-art spa.
Welcome to the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, the Barcelo hotel chain's Mayan-inspired masterpiece on the Riviera Maya.
An immense tile painting of the great Mayan god Kukulcan greets guests checking in at the most luxurious of the resort's five hotels, the 756-suite Maya Palace Deluxe. Next in descending opulence comes a pairing of the Maya Tropical and the Maya Colonial, and then another pairing, the Maya Beach and the Maya Caribe. All five properties are all-inclusive (which means you can eat and drink as much as you can hold during your stay, and it's all included in a flat rate for your room).
The Barcelo's restaurants – including a good number of gourmet quality – range from large buffet rooms to more intimate dining spots where the cuisine comes from Mexico, Asia, France, Italy, Brazil and the Caribbean. Yes, you can also get a cheeseburger or a hot dog with fries if that's your pleasure.
Some parts of the resort cater to youngsters, including special clubs and game rooms, while others are adult-friendly. In other sections, couples who come here to tie the knot – some 500 a year – can say their I do's along the beach or in the romantic setting of a gazebo surrounded by blue lights.
Guests needing a workout or a rubdown after a long day of soaking up the rays can drop by the resort's 16,000-square-foot spa and wellness center. In the spa area, you're invited to sample an innovative concept in treatments called “U Spa” in which guests receive specialized treatments based on their specific needs.
The Maya Beach Resort is one of more than 180 Barcelo hotels in 17 countries around the world.
More info: Visit www.barcelo.com.
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