es­cape A trop­i­cal idyll on the Riviera Maya.

Hit the beach and the jun­gle in Mex­ico’s Riviera Maya.

Elle (Canada) - - #Storyboard - By Christina Reynolds

In Mayan mythol­ogy, there is a leg­end about two war­rior-prince broth­ers: One is saintly and the other is a nasty rogue. The pair fight to the death over a woman, but the gods bring them back to life as trees. To­day, in the Mex­i­can Riviera’s wild man­grove forests, the two trees grow in­ter­twined. The chechen tree is poi­sonous—it oozes sap that can se­verely burn skin—but the chaca tree pro­duces a nec­tar that can treat and soothe the wounds. At Grand Ve­las Riviera Maya Re­sort, just over an hour’s drive south of Cancún, you will find only the sooth­ing chaca tree grow­ing in large pots be­neath the lobby’s im­mense vaulted ceil­ings. Yet there is a sim­i­lar sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship—this one is all good—go­ing on at the property, where you es­sen­tially get two re­sorts in one.

There is, of course, a beau­ti­ful beach­front with infinity pools look­ing out to the ocean, which is dot­ted with kite surfers and snorkellers. The “Grand Class” suites even have their own pri­vate plunge pools. Choos­ing one seems like a #no­brainer—un­til you check out the “Zen Grand” suites, which are tucked two kilo­me­tres back in the jun­gle. Each suite comes with a pri­vate ter­race that looks out onto an aquatic gar­den filled with blooming lily pads. Nearby are more infinity pools sur­rounded by fan palms and other lush green­ery. The ad­join­ing spa’s sev­en­stage hy­dro­ther­mal wa­ter world is also a big draw.

You can ex­plore the laid-back jun­gle scene on raised ma­hogany walk­ways. Ev­ery time I take a stroll on the wooden paths, I feel like a posh cast­away who has landed on a luxe version of Robin­son Cru­soe’s is­land. In­stead of all-in­clu­sive, it’s very all-ex­clu­sive. And a quick shut­tle ride keeps you di­rectly con­nected to the high-en­ergy beach.

With just 30 per­cent of the 32-hectare site de­vel­oped, it feels like you’re in a pri­vate, un­touched oa­sis. In ad­di­tion to the wild man­grove for­est, which pro­tects the lo­cal ecosys­tem from hur­ri­canes, there are fresh­wa­ter pools fed by an un­der­ground river sys­tem. So it’s no sur­prise that a melodic avian sound­track fol­lows you every­where. Th­ese are the kinds of sounds that in­duce re­lax­ing al­pha waves in even the most Type A of brains. Aside from par­rots and other birds, there are white-tailed deer, spi­der mon­keys and the oc­ca­sional jaguar, property rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jorge Ruiz tells me. “So is that why most of the for­est is off lim­its to guests?” I ask. “Have you heard about aluxes?” he re­sponds. “Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal lore, th­ese are jun­gle sprites or elves that pro­tect you in the for­est. Some peo­ple still make shrines and of­fer­ings to them.” When I ask him if he be­lieves in the crea­tures, he re­sponds with a big mis­chievous smile. “You never know,” he says. “This area is still very un­ex­plored.”

Clock­wise, from left: The en­trance to Grand Ve­las Riviera Maya Re­sort; the Zen Gar­den pool; the ma­hogany walk­ways; one of the infinity pools by the beach

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