40 Miles Old Northern Highway, Maskall Village, Belize
By any standards, Maruba Resort Jungle Spa is an interesting sight in the middle of Belize's eastern flatland forest, located about a mile out of Maskall Village. Many visitors come from Belize's cayes just for Maruba's day spa, but if you choose to stay, a very unique experience awaits.
This is not your typical boutique hotel, made apparent in Maruba's sexy marketing campaign in which the property's "neo–primitive style" is flaunted with photos of naked, mud–painted couples (and threesomes) having the romantic escape of their lives. If you're accustomed to fancy, high–class Victorian–style service, this may not be your cup of tea. But if you're up for something different, come on in.
The resort's thick, verdant landscaping with abundant flowers and vegetation tunnels is enhanced by intriguing focal points and sculptures spread around the grounds: A tiny, glass–decorated chapel, a palapa–covered stone chess table, a pool that seems to spring from the jungle, complete with waterfalls. You'll also find a hookah lounge and a Japanese mineral bath on the birdsong–bathed, shady grounds. The spa is top–notch and relaxing, as you bathe in locally produced rainforest oils and detoxification mud.
The individually designed rooms are spread throughout the grounds for privacy and are addressed by name—Moon, Fertility, Mayan Loft, and Bondage, to name a few. Oh, and let's not forget the Maruba Opium Villa Suite. All rooms are unique and continue the eclectic motif—carved masks, mosaic tile floors, standing candles, cement fountains, tiled tubs, screened and shuttered windows, and fresh flowers on the massive feather beds and in the bathrooms. You'll either love or hate the bright, garish (sometimes animal print) color schemes, but you'll enjoy the air conditioning, medicinal hikes, horseback riding, and other excursions available to guests.
Maruba's restaurant often offers wild game (a controversial point with animal activists) in addition to standard international fare; at the bar, you will find viper rum with a warning label that reads for "real men only." Instructions on how to properly down a shot will be given by owner/bartender Nicky. Loads of packages are available, featuring tours to the reefs, nearby ruins, and other inland destinations. Of course, Maruba specializes in romance, and their wedding and honeymoon packages begin with champagne and continue with all sorts of exotic adventures.
Web Address: www.maruba–belize.com
Total Number of Rooms: 12
Published rates: $200 to $700
Review and photos by Joshua Berman.