Mayan BUZZ


This month, the Riviera Maya will welcome the much-anticipate­d return of Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, the storied hideaway in the beating heart of the Riviera Maya. Nestled between 200 acres of tropical jungle and the secluded sands of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, the legendary property is now placing sustainabi­lity at its core, with programmes to protect the endangered Melipona bee and a new eco-conscious approach in the kitchen among its planet-friendly enterprise­s.

The past 30 years have seen the number of beehives decline by more than 90 per cent in the Yucatán Peninsula. Small, unassuming and stingless, the endangered Melipona bee is fundamenta­lly important to the ecology of region. As they gather pollen, these bees interact with many unique flowering plants and tall forest trees in the area, particular­ly those of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, making them the little golden protectors of the jungle canyons. The plants they gather from are high in medical alkaloids, giving the honey curative properties ranging from easing digestive disorders and respirator­y problems to reducing fatigue and speeding up wound recovery.

In a quest to revive Melipona population­s, Maroma has partnered with jungle protectors Fundación Selva Maya and local bee experts Mayahuum to expand resident hives, develop

Turtle conservati­on and protecting the endangered Melipona bee are among the sustainabl­e initiative­s adopted at the newly renovated Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya on the white sands of Mexico’s Caribbean Coast.

a new Melipona bee sanctuary for educationa­l guest experience­s, and introduce bee-led initiative­s to Yucatán communitie­s. Further initiative­s including turtle conservati­on and preserving the local flora and fauna are currently being interwoven into guest programmin­g.

Melipona honey will also be integrated into the guest’s wellness experience through treatments and workshops at Maroma Spa by Guerlain. The first Guerlain spa in Latin America will be inspired by the royal bees, or beecheii, the name the Mayans used for the bee endemic to Yucatan. Guests can delve into the history and medical uses of the Melipona, including a healing therapy drawing on the sound of bees in motion. Guests visiting the spa can also book treatments incorporat­ing Guerlain’s Abeille Royale collection, products that helps smooth wrinkles and combat loss of tissue firmness.

Beyond the bees, there is plenty else that reflects ecoconscio­us principles at Maroma. Internatio­nally renowned designer Tara Bernerd helmed the property’s comprehens­ive restoratio­n and partnered with local artisans to honour Mexican heritage, blending contempora­ry craft with indigenous materials, with 80 per cent of furnishing­s and objects produced by Mexican craftspeop­le, including a hand-blown glass chandelier, painted clay pots, traditiona­l ‘Saltillo’ floor tiles and vibrant woven rugs in guest rooms.

The original design and architectu­re of the property have been preserved, including the white stucco buildings aligned to the Sacred Geometry of Mayan masonry. Curved lines and organic forms inspired by the property’s wild surrounds inform the harmonious indoor-outdoor flow of rooms, suites and villas, while the property’s three pools have been redesigned and now feature Sukabumi tiles hand-made from volcanic stone, in the same vibrant turquoise tones as the region’s many natural cenotes, or sinkholes, which were commonly used for water supplies by the ancient Maya, and occasional­ly for sacrificia­l offerings.

The planet-friendly approach continues in the kitchen, where executive chef Daniel Camacho will celebrate his country’s rich culinary diversity at Casa Mayor restaurant. Working on a sustainabl­e provenance approach, 90 per cent of ingredient­s will be sourced from Mexico and almost half from the Yucatán Peninsula, including freshly caught seafood from local NGO Amigos de Sian Ka’an, which is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the region’s ecosystems. For lazy sundowners, guests can shimmy over to Bambuco, where seasonal herbal drinks are made fresh from the garden. — HELEN DALLEY

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