Maya Mania

Families soak in savings and sun at Hotel Marina El Cid

By: Dawna L. Robertson

Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort in the Yucatan Peninsula is catering to parents and children through June 30 with its Maya Discovery Family Adventure Package. Offering discounts of up to 30 percent, this action-packed plan covers a trio of excursions. Travelers can immerse themselves in cultural and ecological wonders, while exploring the region’s ancient civilization, pristine beaches and vibrant underwater life.

Located between the Cancun International Airport and chic eateries and shops of Playa del Carmen, the 342-room Hotel Marina El Cid spans 617 acres. Completed last December, a $50 million expansion has added new junior suites, a beachfront bar, convention center and spa. Other amenities include a 22,000-square-foot freeform pool, four restaurants, four bars, 120-slip private marina, Kids’ Club and comprehensive activities program.

The Maya Discovery Family Adventure includes three exciting expeditions for $150 per person, as an add-on to the all-inclusive rate. When booked separately, the trio of treks would run $215 per person.

The Arrecife Day Trip covers a sailing cruise to the white sandy shores of Playa Maroma, cited by the Travel Channel as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. There, travelers spend the afternoon swimming, snorkeling and kayaking through the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

The second excursion, a snorkeling trip, explores vibrant underwater life in the protected Puerto Morelos National Reef Park. Located 500 yards offshore from Hotel Marina El Cid, Puerto Morelos is the world’s second largest barrier reef system. Visitors enjoy up-close views of exotic sea life, including brightly colored tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays, purple sea fans and coral.

A final excursion, the Chichen Itza Day Trip, transports visitors to these famous Maya ruins. Recently named one of the wonders of the world, the temples and pyramids are more than 1,500 years old. Chichen Itza’s main attraction is the central pyramid, the massive El Castillo (the castle).

While Europe was still in the Dark Ages, the advanced Maya civilization had mapped the heavens, developed a writing system and mastered mathematics. Without metal tools or the wheel, they built vast cities in the jungle with pyramids, like El Castillo, showing an amazing degree of architectural diversity and perfection.

The Maya Discovery Family Adventure Package is valid for guests who pre-book and pre-pay for a junior, one-, two- or three-bedroom suite. Each of the excursions includes transportation and lunch.

The Chichen Itza tour leaves from the hotel lobby, while the snorkeling and sailing tours depart from the El Cid Marina, located one block from the resort. In addition to catamaran and snorkeling tours, the full-service marina offers sportfishing expeditions, organized fishing tournaments, private trips, water sports and a dive center.

Hotel Marina El Cid is set along 1,969 feet of Mexican Caribbean beachfront. Its low-rise buildings surround a magnificent 22,000-square-foot freeform pool. The resort’s suites mix Mexican Colonial and contemporary architectural design. Each of the new, elegantly appointed junior suites has contemporary decor, a king bed, a queen Murphy bed, kitchenette and private balcony with views of vibrant tropical gardens or the Caribbean Sea. In-room amenities include luxury bedding and linens, wireless Internet access, satellite TV, air conditioning and a mini-bar stocked with snacks and cold beverages.

For larger families, Hotel Marina El Cid also houses one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. Each has a spacious living and dining area, fully-equipped kitchen and private terrace with Jacuzzi. For all guests, room service is available 24 hours daily.

With four restaurants and four bars, Hotel Marina El Cid serves up culinary options ranging from casual to gourmet. The newly expanded, family-friendly Hacienda Arrecife celebrates the traditional hacienda in grand style with brightly colored walls, original Mexican art and gourmet Mexican cuisine accompanied by a selection of more than 100 different tequilas.

Guests dine indoors or al fresco at the casual, family-style La Alhambra, showcasing a gourmet buffet and freshly prepared dishes to please all ages and palates. El Alcazar is a favorite for romantic dinners and special occasions, with its chic decor and a creative blend of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Situated on El Cid’s private marina next to the resort, La Marina presents fresh seafood and stunning sunset views overlooking Puerto Morelos Bay. Also outdoors, the new Scaramanga Moon & Beach Lounge invites guests to linger with cocktails, carpaccios, cool ocean breezes and live music.

Hotel Marina El Cid’s Kid’s Club entertains with supervised activities daily, such as snorkeling lessons, Spanish cooking classes and games. Most activities take place around the central 22,000-square-foot pool, featuring a waterfall and water slide. The resort’s teen program features supervised trips to Cancun’s popular nightspots, windsurfing lessons, kayaking tours and bike trips to Puerto Morelos. Activities change bi-weekly for added variety.