My boyfriend and I decided to take our yearly vacation in Belize, first we stayed in the mainland, at Maruba, then for the second half stayed on Ambergris Caye or "San Pedro" as most of the locals referred to it.
Upon entering the resort area I was in awe of the beautiful palms, plants, and flowers...it was the most perfect version of a jungle you can imagine. It was literally breath taking....as we walked down the beautiful paths, Nicky (the owner, who had picked us up from the airport, and on time!) brought us to a very peculiar reception area. It wasn't your typical resort feel, it was a comfy couch with tie dyed pillows and a wooden table where we sat and waited for Melanie, his wife. We were immediately offered a complimentary Rum Punch and it was delicious! Melanie quickly checked us in and then gave us a quick tour of the property...which is much larger than I had expected. Every path you turned on there were wonderful little surprises, very kitschy seating areas, beautifully decoarated dining areas, two pools and a hot mineral bath with Asian minerals which we later found to be a bit too hot lol, but we did enjoy it for about 10 minutes before having to jump out! We were told that our room had been upgraded from a garden room to I believe a Junior room...however I might be remembering that incorrectly...anyhow; we were brought to our room which was decorated mostly in Red and very close to most of the major areas of the resort. Short walk to the reception/bar area, short walk to the pools, etc...it was very centrally located which I loved.
The Room- It was large enough to be comfortable in and have our large suitcases opened in the living room area without feeling cluttered, we were surprised by the silver painted walls, which is not what we're used to, infact all the decor of our room was quite unexpected, but interesting and beautiful at the same time, mosaic tiles in the bathroom, a very rustic bed made of wood, a gold painted living room table! Definitely different from the NY style we're used to. However, this was Maruba! Not NYC!!! And we were very pleased with the room. The AC worked great, the bed was different, yet comfortable for my boyfriend, I have back problems and am used to sleeping on a very firm mattress, but my body got used to it. Also, Gloria, the housekeeper, had decorated our room with palms and red hibiscus flowers which were beautiful. Everything about the room was great, the only two things I could say were not 100% satisfactory was the lack of a mirror in the room. There was only one full length mirror in the bathroom and no mirror outside of it, but that wasn't much of a problem. The 2nd would be the water, (shower and bathroom sink), you cannot brush your teeth with the water (I accidentally did so without realizing I shouldn't for the first few days which made me sick), but then switched to brushing with the bottled water which was fine. They also fill a thermos like bottle with purified water everyday in your room, and if you run out, you can go to the bar and have it refilled anytime. The shower didn't have much power, and the water had a funny smell to it, we also realized it felt sorta slippery on our skin. The first few days we thought we weren't washing the soap off our bodies good enough or something, but we later found out that because of the location of the resort, there were lots of minerals in the water which made it smell funny, so they heavily chlorinate the water to try to nix the smell, which is why it felt slippery. However, we also got used to the shower within a few days. It definitely was NOT a deal breaker. I almost always am disappointed with showers in any hotel, overseas or not, because I'm used to very good water and water pressure in NYC. I realized how absolutely comfortable we were when we began referring the room as "home" instead of "our room"...i.e. Ready to go home? LOL...that rarely happens while on vacation!
The pools - I really enjoyed the pools on site, they were big enough and a perfect temperature, not cold but not hot...perfectly refreshing. We would have spent more time in them if we hadn't visited in the rainy season (not because it rained, August is actually considered the dry month of the rainy season, it only rained during the night). But because after June the bugs are in full swing and we would literally constantly be fighting off mosquitoes and what they call "doctor flies" which I had never encountered before...beware, it HURTS when they sting. There's also gnats that bite, which I never even knew, because the gnats in Brooklyn don't. They leave a funny looking reverse ring worm type mark, lol. I would definitely return to Belize during the winter months or spring, before June when the bugs are not a problem. Also, if you let the bartender know you're heading to the pool, she'll come and take drink orders.
The Spa - We decided to do a mood mud massage and it was wonderful, the masseuse was amazing, obviously trained very well and she was very professional. The mud is kinda cool, so if you have a chance to make your appointment during the day when it's warmer that might be better. Toward the end of my massage (which was at night) I started feeling very cold, but the good part of an evening massage is once your done, you sit with your beau in a tub to wash eachother off, and there is no roof, so you can lay back and see the beautiful night sky full of stars. Also, I won't spoil why you should, but you should definitely take your camera if you're getting the mood mud massage. We didn't take ours and definitely regretted it!!!!
The Food - By far MY favorite part of Maruba, I'm a foodie, and have access to great restaurants in NYC. They have one chef at Maruba and I'm kicking myself right now for not remembering her name, but she was AMAZING. We were not disappointed, not once, with anything we ordered; and we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday during our stay. There is no fridge in the room nor is there a kitchen, so it's your only choice really for food, as there isn't much close by to the resort. Well, I'm glad there wasn't, because the food was DELICIOUS!!!! Even the restaurants on Ambergris Caye couldn't match up to Maruba's Chef's skills. The menu was the same everyday, however for each meal, there are an abundance of specials you can choose from. In fact, we were at the bar one day with Maruba's waitress (for lunch and dinner)/bartender, named Dara, who I could right a totally separate review for. She is the sweetest girl, and really very professional, a great waitress and bartender and became a great friend too! So we were at the bar and my boyfriend mentioned once catching Mahi Mahi (Dolphin fish) in NJ, and asked if they ever have it on the menu (as it's one of our favorites). She went to the back to talk to the chef and told us that it had been one of the specials right before we arrived and there were two filets left, and she'd save it for us for that evening's dinner. She asked how we'd like it prepared and even gave some helpful options to choose from. In fact, you can request almost anything at Maruba, even if it's not on the menu and they will do their best to accomodate. For breakfast, you've gotta try the fry jacks with the homemade jam. I'd never had fry jacks before and they were amazing!!! The best we had during our trip, as they were available in San Pedro as well, but Maruba's was buy far the tastiest.
The Staf - Quite possibly the best staff we've ever had the pleasure of spending time with during any of our previous vacations. Janille, the breakfast waitress, was very sweet and professional. She actually memorized how I liked my coffee after my FIRST order and would quickly grab the coffee tray as soon as she saw me approaching in the morning. The coffee at Maruba is like nothing I've ever tasted. It's soo delicious, while at home I'd have 1-2 cups in the morning I found myself drinking up to 6 at Maruba!!! She was a pleasure to talk to during my morning coffee, and gave us a bunch of tips for our trip to our upcoming trip to Ambergris Caye. She was very knowledgable about the island as she had lived and worked there in the past. Dara, the lunch and dinner waitress as well as bartender was a blast. During "work", she was very professional and what I can only describe as graceful in the way she served us. At the bar, she was great to talk to, and I think my boyfriend developed a little bit of a Belizean crush on her =] She was really just amazingly sweet and courteous. Gloria, the housekeeper, was top notch. She cleaned the room daily, fresh towels, fresh flowers, decorated the paths with hibiscus as well as our room, and would even fold my boyfriends strewn clothes daily and stack them on the bed! At the end of our trip we had a bunch of dirty clothes we wanted washed before heading out to the island and I wanted to wear a particular dress for our last dinner....I requested, and Gloria delivered, she pressed my dress and layed it out on the bed for us and delivered our washed and dried clothes perfectly folded within the same day!!! The Security, they have a few different security guards that would work nights to keep the grounds feeling safe. My boyfriend bonded with one in particular, Pedro, as they had a lot in common and would sometimes talk at night. I never really felt the need for security, however it can't hurt and made us feel safe.
The Grounds - They own a huge area, Elton, the horse stable manager actually said it was 1,000 acres, not sure if he was joking, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true. Elton helped us when we wanted to do a hike through the jungle. There are paths you can take to explore and take pictures which was fun, but that's the day I got sick and had to return to the room, so my boyfriend did it on his own. He found tracks, that looked like a pretty large animal. The jungle has lots of cats, especially Jaguars, but they only come out at night according to the staff. He took pictures during his hike which I will include. I would have definitely booked the horseback riding, but because of my back I didn't think it would be a smart decision. However, Elton was super sweet and I would have really liked to horseback ride through the jungle surrounding Maruba. They also have some areas which have collected rain water, not sure if I should call them large ponds or lakes...but there are gators in them. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any, but we did here a big splash upon coming close to one once.
Activites - We kept ourself pretty busy at Maruba, they have plenty of tours they offer, as well as the horseback riding on site and the Spa. We had booked with Vitalino Reyes before arriving for a Zipling/Cave Tubing/and Zoo trip. It was great, and our guide Gerson was very knowledgable and fun. I would definitely recommend doing all 3 of those trips. A couple that was honeymooning at Maruba did the Lamanai tour with Maruba and they loved it, got to see lots of monkeys on the river ride, and really enjoyed the Mayan ruins.
Overall, we loved our trip to Maruba and really loved the staff and the food!!! We would love to return, and probably will, but during winter or spring next time around! I'm still itching from the bug bites! I miss the friends we made already, and can't wait to see everybody again. As for the reviews that said it was expensive (regarding food and drinks), I don't agree at all. The prices are comprable to NYC, actually quite cheaper, and the quality of the food and delicious drinks are well worth the prices. When we got our bill at the end we were actually pleasantly surprised, we thought it would be a lot more.
If you want to experience a nice and quiet, romantic trip to Belize, I definitely recommend Maruba!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Prepare yourself for the ultimate experience in adventure & relaxation at Maruba Resort Jungle Spa, Belize. A short two-hour flight from Houston or Miami transports you to a place where you can fully immerse yourself in nature and truly relax. Maruba offers a great vacation escape in casual elegance.Voted the Best Boutique Spa by Spa Finder Readers’ Choice Award, and One of the Top 10 Spas in the Caribbean & Central Americas by Maco Destination Caribbean & Central America Magazine, the resort’s neo-primitive style with a touch of jungle urban flair makes it an eclectic and hip place to stay while indulging in everything a modern spa has to offer. Its restaurant boasts a nouveau jungle cuisine, best described as a fusion of “east of Paris meets the Caribbean”. Your room will be one-of-a-kind and features rich hues and textures, vaulted hardwood ceilings, mosaic tile floors, exotic fabric and beautiful carving made by local artisians. Signature bungalows offer 900 square feet of private space with an indoor lounge room, indulgent hot tubs, and incredible jungle views.Maruba is one of the first spas in Central America and offers a variety of exotic treatments which revitalize, detoxify, and reestablish the skin’s natural pH balance while leaving your skin feeling silky smooth. A must-try treatment is Maruba’s Mood Mud Massage – take your camera along for pictures! For those seeking adventure, several day tours available, such as exploring Maya Ruins, the rainforest and caves ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Maruba Resort Jungle Hotel Maskall
- Maruba Hotel Jungle
- Maruba Resort Jungle Spa Belize/Maskall