A RELAXING SIESTA, or a joyful fiesta? After your wedding, we’re guessing you’ll be in the mood for both. To Mexico, then, where the sun is shining, the margaritas are flowing, and you’re free to design the type of ’moon you’ve always wanted.
Boutique resort Ceiba del Mar is nestled along the Riviera Maya just between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, in the teensy town of Puerto Morelos, away from tourism and glitz. Here, you can either while away the days lounging pool, beach- or spa-side, or spend them ziplining, riding bikes, playing tennis or indulging in water sports. As for the nights? They’re up to you.
BY DAY: Ceiba del Mar’s dreamy morning coffee service seems to have been designed with honeymooners in mind: Coffee or tea — along with pastries, milk, juice and the morning paper — is sneakily delivered through a tiny door leading from the outside wall of your room into a cabinet on the inside of your room, so you needn’t so much as slip on a robe before beginning your day with a slow cup on your private balcony. (Every room has an ocean view.) From there, you can sit for a proper breakfast at the seaside Arrecife Grill & Lounge, or head directly to the lounge chairs at the pool or beach, ordering up house-made margaritas (try the mango puree) and sweet-chili shrimp tacos for lunch, only moving for a cooling dip in the clear blue Gulf of Mexico or to visit the holistic Mayan spa. (Note: Any treatment can be designed for two inside the spa’s couples suite, complete with a private outdoor shower and Jacuzzi. We suggest the Cocoa Ritual — yum). Take a walk just 15 minutes down the beach into petite Puerto Morelos to explore the shops and cantinas, or go snorkeling or kayaking off the resort’s beach — the second largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, is just off its pier. Or speak with the hotel’s concierge; boat trips and other excursions (ziplining!) can easily be arranged.
BY NIGHT: After dinner, take a bottle of wine back to your room — or to one of those beachside lounge chairs or poolside cabanas-for-two, now lit only by the moon. Or leave Cancun to spring-breakers and head into nearby Playa del Carmen; the festive town is filled with restaurants and nightlife. Before you do, though, check with the hotel — depending on the time of year, Ceiba del Mar hosts parties complete with traditional Mexican food and drink, piñatas, and dancing under the stars.
WHAT TO EAT: You’ll want to work your way through the menus at both the seaside Arrecife and at Xtabay, overlooking the pond just off the hotel’s main entrance. Each features creative Mexican cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, and lots of fresh fish. (Do not miss the fundido, which is Oaxaca cheese melted with arrachera steak, peppers, and a mix of zesty sauces.) During the day, try not to ruin meals with the homemade guac and chips, though no one will blame you if you do.
WHERE TO STAY: Ceiba del Mar offers more than enough to keep you busy, but in a perfectly calm, quiet setting that will instill that well-deserved post-wedding tranquility. It has 81 rooms and suites, but this is your honeymoon: Book one of the seven penthouses with their nearly 800-square-foot terraces with panoramic ocean views and your very own rooftop plunge pool. Also in Puerto Morelos is Zoetry’s wellness-focused Paraiso de la Bonita, with 90 luxury suites across 14 acres of beach.
WHAT TO PACK: As many bikinis as you can fit, plus cover-ups, flip-flops, sun hats and lots of sunscreen (and bug spray, if you remember — if you don’t, friendly staffers are quick to oblige when they see you swatting). Bring sportier attire for tennis and ziplining, and some dresses for dinner or heading into town for some nightlife. And don’t forget that passport.
BEST TIMES TO GO: It’s hot year-round along the Riviera Maya, with especially high temps during July and August. The town is rarely in the line of hurricanes, and when it does rain, it passes quickly.
NEWLYWED NEWS: Ceiba del Mar’s Romance Experience includes five nights in your selected accommodations and a food plan, plus one private candlelight dinner, wine and butler service for the evening; a “Love & Indulgence” couples massage, 10 percent discount on any other spa services; and complimentary access to all amenities, including yoga and afternoon tea.
GETTING THERE: US Air flies directly into Cancun in a little over three hours, and from the airport, the resort is just a 20-minute drive. Do note: When you exit, you’ll have to wade through many an overeager would-be driver. Simply find yours, sent by the hotel, and you’re on your way.