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Nov 19, 2017

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Ceiba del Mar Mexico
by Darryl Roberts
Magazine Issue: Online Only

I’m one of four Americans who’s never been to Mexico. So what better time to go, what with the Flu epidemic and drug wars raging. And sure, it’s summer, but how hot could it be?

The goal was to do nothing. Nadda. Zilch. Just lay on the beach, eat, drink and sleep. So I chose Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, 20 minutes south of Cancun, on the Riviera Maya. Why? ‘Cause they invited me.

Yeah, I’m that easy.

After checking out their website I decided that I might like to do a few things after all, like snorkel, maybe a spa treatment (or three), possibly swim a few laps in the pool... or just sit in the shallow end. But that was it. Rest of the time would be spent laying on the beach under an umbrella (I burn easily) drinking Mexican beer and eating ceviche.

With a gallon of SPF 1000 and a swimsuit, I hopped on a plane and found myself in Cancun seven hours later. To say it was warm is… and the humidity… I arrived at 8:30pm and it was 95 degrees. But the humidity was only 90%, so…

That’s okay. That’s why you go. If you want cold in summer you go to Patagonia or Siberia or San Francisco.

Actually, at Ceiba, there’s a constant ocean breeze that takes the edge off the heat. Edge is the key word. And the rooms are well air conditioned so you can escape if needed. I’m not a big fan of heat and humidity, but honestly you acclimate quickly and don’t even feel it after a few hours.

The first thing that you need to know about Ceiba is that it’s not Cancun. It’s not a place to party and throw-up in the hot tub. We left that behind us years ago (didn’t we?). This is a place to relax, unwind, and leave the rest of the world behind for awhile. You know: be adults. However, if you really need to get stupid, remember, Cancun’s only 20 minutes away.

Eat & Drink:

There are two restaurants at Ceiba: the Xtabay, located in the main (lobby) building; and the Arrecife Grill and Lounge, which is on the beach. Xtabay was closed while I was there (‘cause it’s off-season). Too bad. The menu looked more adventurous than Arrecife’s.

The food at Arrecife is good. Some of it really good. Portions are big, and the presentation is nice. The rule of thumb here is stick with the fresh, local seafood. The ceviche* is good, shrimp tacos very good, and the tuna carpaccio is also very good. If you have food allergies (like me), stick with a dish that doesn’t need to be altered. Altering is not the chef’s specialty. The waitstaff at Arrecife is excellent. Superb! If you’re like me and don’t speak a lot of Spanish, their English is very good, and their memory of what you’ve ordered in the past is excellent (sometimes scary, as even I couldn’t remember what I ate the previous day).

* The ceviche plates at Ceiba are big enough to be your main course, not the typical starter size found here in the states.

In addition to Arrecife, there’s a poolside bar so you don’t have to get your lazy ass off a lounger or outta the pool to get a drink. The choice of alcohol at the resort is good, from Mexican and imported beers to wines to top-of-the-line tequilas. Try a couple of fairly-local beers: Leon, a dark amber beer that’s crisp and not overly malty or burnt; and Montejo, a white, wheaty beer, that goes down nicely on a hot day (read: every day). The wines are expensive (due to high taxes), but the selection of both local (Mexican) and imported wines is good.


For those who love the water, Ceiba offers a number of choices: swimming (obviously), snorkeling and scuba diving excursions, free kayaks, and a free scuba dive clinic in one of the pools.

The snorkeling is pretty good. Located about 800 meters offshore is the Great Maya Reef, the second longest reef in the world. Ask your guide (from the resort’s scuba/dive shop) to take you to Pirates Point. Although the current is slightly stronger, the coral and fish are much more abundant. (Note: to help preserve the reef, they ask that you wear biodegradable sunscreen/lotion.) The onsite scuba/dive shop has everything you need in case you forget to bring your own gear.

For land activities, there’s tennis, bike riding, a gym, yoga, the Temazcal, and, or course, the Spa.

Take a (free) bike ride to Puerto Moralos, which is only 15 minutes away. It’s a quaint fishing town with a good number of small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants (which are usually the best), craft/touristy shops and ample beach access. If you haven’t had enough ceviche at Ceiba try Pelicanos, which is on the southeast corner of the town square. The “Mixto” ceviche is excellent. And, like Ceiba, the portions are big.

Tennis is, well, tennis.

In case you wanna buff-up before you hit the beach, the Ceiba gym offers a good number of weight machines, free weights and treadmill/stair/elliptical machines. It also has a separate pilates/yoga/stretch room for those into that stuff. Speaking of yoga, every morning there’s a free class on the peer. What better way to start the morning – watching the sun rise while contorting your bod into positions you’ve only seen on porn… never mind.

The Spa. If there’s one thing I never get tired of is having my muscles rearranged by a woman with strong hands. The Ceiba Spa specializes in aromatherapy holistic treatments. They first read your body energy to see where you’re blocked and/or out of balance. Then they custom blend oils to release those spots so you’re in balance and harmony.

The Spa offers a number of “Signature” treatments. I chose the TOP'NIKTE Massage (for those keeping score at home, that’s Cocoon in Mayan). It begins with a relaxing massage of 50 minutes, followed by a body wrap cocoon type, with a plush of cotton soaked in an infusion of aromatic herbs that allow your body to eliminate toxins and to absorb the benefits of the aromatic herbs. While resting, you receive a relaxing scalp treatment and a face massage. It was a totally relaxing and enjoyable experience. Other highly recommended Signature treatments are: Balsamic Mayan Massage, Fango Massage, Mayan Goddess Scrub, Scalp Muk-pol, and the special facials.

Another “interesting” experience is the Temazcal, an ancestral indigenous ritual that was created to purify and to renew the mind, body and spirit. Performed at sunset in a terra-cotta sweat lodge, the Temazcal uses hot volcanic stones with an infusion of aromatic herbs to obtain the steam. It’s basically a sweat lodge for 12, but in complete darkness. Being claustrophobic and adverse to extreme heat, I abstained from the Temazcal. But I heard it was… very hot and very dark.

Oh, and there is a beauty salon just in case you need coiffing.


Okay, it’s not a Vegas drive-thru, but Ceiba finishes a close second when it comes to hosting memorable weddings. Honestly, it’s a beautiful setting for your Destination Wedding celebration with an extensive range of indoor/outdoor event facilities that includes two customizable ballrooms, spacious terraces and lounges plus more than one-half mile of private beach. Their on-site wedding coordinator (and team) can assist with the wedding planning and performance ? overlooking everything to the last detail ? ensuring that you and your special guests experience the wedding day of your dreams. Everything from wedding invitations and floral arrangements to music and sumptuous banquets can be arranged to meet your desires. (Let’s see Vegas top that!)


For you gluttons, Ceiba offers the ultimate Luxury Gourmet Plan, which includes all a-la-Carte Meals (no restrictions), snacks and premium beverages in their restaurants/bars (top-shelf alcoholic brands are included!). I chose this plan ‘cause… well, they gave it to me. All you pay are gratuities and any extra “play” amenities not included in the plan.

Off-Premise Activity

Here’s the situation: you wanted to go to Disney World, your wife to Mexico. So now that you’re in Mexico, you’re jonesing for long lines, tacky tchotskes and screaming kids. Well, have I got the place for you: Xcaret Mexico!

Okay, I’m kidding about the long lines and tacky tchotskes.

About an hour from Ceiba, this humongous theme park slash water world slash Medieval Times dinner theater has everything for everybody. Honestly, there’s too much to cover here, so check it out here. (You could spend three days here and not see everything).

Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort

For detailed Ceiba del Mar package info click here. For accommodation details click here. For rates and availability click here.

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