When my husband and I were first married, we chose the first day of spring for our wedding day. It came with so much excitement and I had ideas of soft spring sun with colorful spring flowers all around. It was going to be perfect! But, I forgot one important factor… we live in Ohio.
Our spring wedding day here in Ohio was actually a lot less “Disney Princess perfect” than I had hoped. The day was gray and overcast with light sleet as I entered the Church in my beautiful white dress. So, when it came time to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we wanted to escape March in Ohio and celebrate with a bright, sunny, beach vacation!
Secrets Maroma Beach, Riviera Cancun, Mexico
I will be honest with you, we didn’t choose Secrets Maroma, it chose us. What I mean by that is when we booked with Apple Vacations through our travel agent we didn’t know where we were going until about 10 am the day before we planned to leave.
As part of a discounted “Apple Square Deal,” we knew we were going to a list of about 10 adult-only, all-inclusive luxury resorts in the Mayan Riviera area but that’s all we knew until the day before we left. However, since this is a “green travel review” of the resort, I will save our experience with Apple Vacations for another post.
Booking & Making Reservations
We made all of our reservations through a local travel agent which made our planning a little easier, but we waited too long to book.
Since we planned to travel the day after Easter, we started planning the trip in the fall but didn’t complete our booking until December. By this time, flights were limited and we were unable to get a direct flight into the Cancun area.
If we go again, we will book early, no later than August or September to get good direct morning flights.
Planning for Green Travel
At this time we weren’t planning a “green vacation,” but planned to pack and bring our own eco-friendly items to make the trip as green as possible.
I was pleasantly surprised though when I checked out their website and found a Social Responsibility page. I was excited to see that the Secrets Maroma Beach has several awards and designations for eco-tourism including being Rainforest Alliance Certified.
Green-ness: Secrets Resorts takes sustainable travel and social responsibility seriously and makes constant efforts to continue to improve their eco-friendly practices across their entire family of resorts. In addition to being Rainforest Alliance Certified, they have also received recognition and awards including the Travelife Gold Award.
Related Post: “How to Pack for a Green and Eco-Friendly Vacation”
Airport & Hotel Transfers from Cancun International Airport
The Riviera Maya area of Mexico is located just south of Cancun and we flew into Cancun International Airport. The airport is bright, clean and spacious, so we felt very comfortable and safe.
Because we were concerned about recent Mexican travel safely alerts, we booked prepaid private transportation and transfer to the resort through Apple Vacations when we made our reservations, which turned out to be a very good decision. All we had to do was walk to the Apple kiosk, give them our names and reservation paperwork and within 10 minutes we were in a very nice branded SUV headed towards the resort with our friends who were also celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with us.
Although at the time we traveled there were advisories for Mexican travel, we never felt uncomfortable or unsafe, but I highly recommend making prearranged transportation arrangements. While traveling, be aware of your surroundings, take wise precautions, but don’t worry. The resort itself is very safe.
Check-In at Secrets Maroma
We were greeted at the entrance of the hotel by very smiley doormen who quickly labeled our bags before we were escorted to the check-in desk with champagne and a comforting cloth to cool ourselves from the travel. Our reservations were quickly confirmed and our rooms assigned. It was wonderful and proved the resort worthy of its 5-star rating!
High-Pressure Sales Pitch?
If you read reviews on sites like TripAdvisor or Travelocity, you’ll hear a lot of people complain of high-pressure sales by the hotel staff when you enter the hotel. We didn’t experience this at all.
We were asked several times, but the staff was always polite and we never felt pressured. My best advice? If you’re not interested in spending 90 minutes or more of your vacation in a sales pitch (we weren’t), just kindly say, “no.” We never had anyone make us feel uncomfortable about saying no and after the first day, they stopped asking.
Room & Cleanliness
The greeting concierge showed us to our room which was located on the second floor. As part of our Apple Square Deal we were assigned a junior suite with a tropical view which proved to be a very nice room! The room staff was always very helpful, polite and kind and our room was always very clean and comfortable.
Junior Suite with Tropical View
Since our travel agent mentioned our 25th wedding anniversary with our reservations, the door to our room was decorated with a cloth banner wishing us a happy anniversary. (It was a nice touch and I was happy to see that it was reusable!) We also had a bottle of chilled champagne and fruit waiting for us on arrival. Then, on our last night, our turn down service included a few anniversary balloons (literally 3), an anniversary card from our concierge and a design on the bed with rose petals. The details were a nice surprise and conservative, not too wasteful. (They did help brighten our sadness over leaving the next day!)
Inside, our junior suite had a large bathroom with double sinks, a huge tiled walk-in shower with both a handheld showerhead and a rainfall ceiling mounted shower, a separate toilet area and a huge two person jetted bathtub separated from the rest of the room by both a glass door and louvered shutters on the tub side which could be opened to the room. Our king size bed was both clean and comfortable with more pillows than we would ever use with reusable cloth slippers waiting on the rug on both sides.
There was also a soft seating area with a sofa table, a large desk with chair, a huge dresser with coffee service under the large TV and a separate wardrobe containing the room safe and extra storage. Double sliding glass doors led to a terrace with soft seating and a small metal table seating for two overlooking a green area of tropical trees.
Green-ness: The little bottles of hotel shampoo and things are still offered, but they do make the effort to make them minimal and some were labeled biodegradable. We brought our own, so we didn’t use them, but I do understand that certain convenience items are expected at 5-star resorts.
Green-ness: Each block of rooms has a personal concierge with a help desk conveniently located. Our concierge, Sandra, helped us make dinner reservations, plan activities, find information to help with my dietary restrictions and most exciting, she set up an interview for me with the hotel’s environmental manager! (I plan to finish & post the interview soon!)
ALL of the resort personnel was kind, helpful and pleasant. We didn’t meet one crabby resort worker. (Really not one!) Every single employee we encountered was helpful including the maintenance man who despite speaking little English gave us directions when we were confused on how to find one of the restaurants.
Green-ness: Everyone was very accommodating and helpful. The personnel at the bars and restaurants were very willing to fill up my reusable water bottle whenever I asked, so I could avoid using the disposable plastic water bottles.
The Property & Grounds
With fountains greeting you at the entrance, the grounds at Secrets Maroma are beautiful, clean and tropical. After interviewing the resort’s environmental manager, I also learned that in addition to being diverse and labeled, all of the property is watered from the resort’s recycled water. The water is cleaned and recycled on site and the plants are watered during the cooler hours so there is less evaporation.
One other notable thing, be prepared to see some local wildlife. From iguanas inviting themselves to breakfast and coati gathering in the gardens, they make for some great pictures and entertainment!
Green-ness: There are special bins labeled “organic and non-organic” around the property. If you want to dispose of something recyclable you put it in the “organic” side and non-recycleable things (trash) goes in the “non-organic” side. Since we don’t use the same words/terms for things, I was a bit confused and had to ask. (To be honest with you, I’m still not sure I did it right!) They made a note of it, so hopefully, in the future, it will be more clearly marked for Americans.
The pools at Secrets Maroma are beautiful, clean and never feel super-crowded although, during the heat of the day, almost every chair close to the pool is claimed. So if you like to sleep in or enjoy a longer breakfast, expect chairs a little farther from the pool or at the beach.
The resort offers padded lounge chairs, a few uncovered two-person lounge beds at the pool then a bunch of really awesome two person canopy lounge beds and rocker beds around the property. They really, really know how to spoil you!
Green-ness: Plastic water bottles are being used EVERWHERE. It is very hot there and I’m sure they don’t want people becoming dehydrated, so the staff is always offering you water. The good news is they also work very hard to remove water bottles almost immediately after they are used so you don’t see any lying around to be blown into the pools or ocean. They also take great care to separate and recycle them. One evening, I personally saw an employee separating plastic bottles from the bins for recycling. Impressive!
The water is calm with a large soft, white sand beach. Each day quite a bit of seaweed washes up along the water’s edge, but the resort staff works constantly to keep it to a minimum. In our experience, the seaweed was all green and fresh, so it wasn’t ever a distraction from the beauty of the beach.
Even on the beach, there is a beachside all-inclusive bar and wait staff on the beach to take your orders for most of the day.
Green-ness: All the bathrooms, even the oceanside restroom uses washable hand towels. I saw absolutely no paper towel waste anywhere. Although reusable towels cause the need for more washing, the hotel cleans, treats and reuses their water. Since they use groundwater at the resort, they are very conscious of their water usage and take great care because it is “so precious” to them. (Quote translated from my interview with Mariel T., Environmental Manager.)
Restaurants and Food
With 9 restaurants, several themed lunches and dinners, special poolside stands and room service, we were never hungry while staying here! All of their buffet options are wonderful with mimosas on the table and a huge assortment of foods. Even with my dietary restrictions, I had quite a few well-marked gluten-free options, salads and a fruit bar to choose from!
We didn’t have a chance to try all of the restaurants, but I really enjoyed all that we tried. The food was very good. Was it the BEST food I’ve ever had? No, but considering the huge number of people they were feeding each day and night, I was very impressed. Other than the breakfast and lunch buffet, no two restaurants or themed meals had the same foods. We tried the western themed buffet dinner, the poolside buffet and water show, and the beachside seafood lunch buffet in addition to the Hibachi, Mexican, and Italian restaurants. The quantity and variety of well-labeled food was impressive!
Green-ness: Even the poolside service was reusable. The drinks were used in nice plastic cocktail glasses and the poolside food is served with reusable silverware and plates.
The Coffee Shop: Coco Cafe
For a resort, the coffee shop is nice and the drinks are yummy! With almost 24 hour coffee, how can it be bad?
Green-ness: Only paper napkins and paper cups on the whole resort were the “to go” cups and napkins at the coffee shop, but you could request glass if you were staying close to the coffee shop and returned it. I didn’t ask, but they probably will allow you to use your own reusable coffee tumblers. I was also happy to see that there were very few straws used at the resort and they only use biodegradable, compostable straws made from plants, not oil.
Room Service — The “Secret Box”
With so many dining options, we only used room service twice: once for our anniversary breakfast in bed and once the morning we left. The “secret box” is a two-sided service box, so the staff won’t disturb you if you choose not to answer the door. When you turn on the “do not disturb” red light, your room service is placed in the box from the outside, so you can retrieve it from the inside without being disturbed (or dressed for that matter!). The staff was incredibly quiet. All of your return service is then placed back in the box to be picked up later. It was incredibly efficient and keeps the room clean too.
Green-ness: Very little waste from room service. The only notable thing is plastic wrap over the glass tops. Almost everything else is stainless covered and reusable, impressively not wasteful.
Activities & Entertainment
We were pleasantly surprised by the number of fun things to do and planned activities. All of the activities were very well done, varied and entertaining. In the morning you can bike. During the day you can use the gym, play ping-pong or billiards, take a fitness class, participate in their fun art competition, or go kayaking or boating. In the evening, there are usually two or three things to choose from including themed dinners, poolside shows, live musicians, theatre shows, club-type dancing, relaxing beach entertainment with musicians, and comedy shows.
Green-ness: In addition to the activities, the resort supports the local economy by allowing local artisans to set up vendor booths on the property on occasional evenings. The vendors are very polite, accommodating and offer beautiful handmade keepsakes and gifts.
Green-ness: The daily hotel information and activities list is updated daily and is available on the room’s tablet reader. Paper schedules were only available by request. How awesome is that?
How Green is Secrets Maroma Beach Resort? The Final Grade…
I give this resort a 4.5 out of 5 for its green-ness and a 5+ for its luxury. It is an amazing, beautiful location with a staff that spoils you rotten!
The only reason I don’t give Secrets Maroma Beach the highest rating for green-ness is because their primary focus is on luxury and not on sustainability. Don’t get me wrong, sustainability and green practices are very important to them and they work hard, but their main priority is to make sure they give everyone the most luxurious experience possible while being as green as possible. And that they do well!
Will I go back? Yes, we can’t wait!
Don’t forget to pin & share it!