Presented in partnership with Marriott International

Cancun is a bustling hub of vibrant colors, delicious food, and stunning beachfront resorts. When our minds wander about our next vacation, the cerulean waters of Cancun are never far from thought. The magic of Cancun lies in its history. The region was once home to the powerful Mayan civilization whose influence can be found woven deeply into the fabric of a city we have fallen in love with. 

With only a short drive standing between stunning resorts like The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, The Renaissance Cancun Resort and Marina, Marriott Cancun Resort,  JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, and one of the Seven Wonders of the World – you’ll certainly want to find time to experience the history. Take an informative guide lead tour of the ruins, enjoy a traditional Mayan Spa treatment, or explore a local handicrafts market and get a glimpse into Mayan culture at each turn. 

Cancun Mayan Museum

Cancun Mayan Museum History of Cancun
Image Courtesy of the Cancun Mayan Museum

The Yucatan Peninsula was once dominated by the Mayan People, known as one of the most sophisticated and mysterious ancient civilizations. The Mayans had complex systems of calendar making, mathematics, and written language and by building intricate temple complexes with elaborate carved and painted decoration, the Mayans became known as the true artists of the time period. There are a number of ways to discover the history scattered throughout the region, perhaps none more informative than the Cancun Mayan Museum which houses over 350 artifacts. 

It is important to understand that while there is much information about the ancient history of the Mayans, Quintana Roo is also home to a large population of modern-day Mayan people. There is a great chance you will even hear the Mayan language spoken during your stay here.  

Mayan Ruins Near Cancun

There are many major archaeological sites easily accessible from Cancun. Each one showcasing the architectural brilliance and ingenuity of the Mayan people. As you wander through each of the ruins you’ll be in awe of the way these structures have withstood the test of time. The scale of the projects completed without the benefit of modern construction equipment feels mind-boggling. Discover the secrets of these incredible peoples with a private tour and transport arranged by the team at Marriott International and their partners. 

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Marriott History of Cancun

The most iconic of the Mayan ruins is Chichen Itza, which was voted one of the seven wonders of the world for good reason. This massive ancient city is more than just the one pyramid typically seen in Instagram photos. Take time to explore all the expansive complex has to offer, like the enormous Great Ballcourt where Mayan sportsmen used to compete at an ancient game called pitz where competitors would attempt to get a small ball through stone rings you’ll see positioned on the wall. The Observatory, called El Caracol, is where Mayan astrologers diligently tracked the movements of the sun, stars, and planets creating their complex calendar systems. Upon your return from taking a deep dive into the city’s ancient civilization, enjoy one of the many Mayan inspired spa treatments at your Marriott destination. 

Tulum 

Tulum Ruins Marriott History of Cancun

For visitors curious to explore the ruins but not interested in sacrificing a full day away from the gorgeous Caribbean beaches, look no further than Tulum. The ruins in Tulum are completely unique as they sit perched on limestone cliffs hovering just above picturesque white-sand beaches and remain the only surviving Mayan ruins set alongside the Caribbean sea. The city was once a busy seaport and hub for trading, but today is a bohemian beach paradise with a rich history and pristine coastline. Pack your swimsuit after delving into ancient history and spend your afternoon under the tropical sun with a dip in the exceptionally refreshing waters. 

Mayan Spa Services

The Mayan people were deeply spiritual. Many of their healing practices are still used throughout the world today and there is no better place to experience these traditional techniques than in their birthplace. Take part in mystical wellness programs inspired by Cancun’s ancient roots through the traditional Mayan spa services found throughout Marriott International’s Cancun resorts. 

ZAC-XIB BATH ELIXIR

The Ritz- Carlton, Cancun Zac-Xib treatment spa History of Cancun

In Mayan, the name Zac-Xib means “clean man. ”Cleanse your mind, body, and soul with this 50-minute renewing bath therapy designed to reduce muscle tension as well as mental and physical fatigue. Through the combination of essential oils and plant extracts of lemon, peppermint, and brown sugar paired with a vigorous body scrub, you can expect your stress levels to instantly decrease with this exclusive treatment.

Hunab Ku Ritual

Hanub Ku treatment Marriott Cancun

One of the most widely practiced Mayan spa rituals around the world, the Maya Abdominal Massage, uses the ancient technique of external touch to adjust a woman’s internal organs, which can shift causing reduced circulation. The Mayan people also believe that many human emotions are stored in the abdomen and that by using this reactive treatment, it helps in releasing built-up tension. A truly unique experience, you’ll also experience the art of other traditional energy releasing movements during the Hunab Ku treatment. 

Mayan Honey Facial

Mayan Honey Facial Marriott History of Cancun

Over 3,000 years ago, Milipona bees were important to the Maya civilization because of the honey they produced. Fast Forward to present day, and that same honey is still important to the region. The Mayans used the sweet honey for everything from improving your digestive health and soothing snake bites to bringing down a fever. Now one of the best ways to use it is for a Mayan Honey Facial known for reducing blemishes and inflammation. You’re even able to make this facial at home using simple pantry staples like honey, yogurt, banana, and water. 

Mayan Textiles 

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa suite

Perhaps the most consistent visual representation of Mayan influence in Cancun is the presence of woven textiles. These brightly colored works of art created primarily by the women in Mayan communities are pillar design elements in many hotels like the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa. During a recent renovation, the property placed a large focus on incorporating traditional Mayan design. Along with the vibrant textiles, the redesign included meticulously carved drawings that feature symbols of Mayan mythology. You’ll see these textiles used in everything from napkins to pillowcase and wall tapestries. 

If you are looking to purchase some of these items to take home with you, be sure to stop at one of the bustling local markets like Mercado 28 and Mercado Coral Negro. Grab an agua fresca (fresh juice) and browse the market stalls until you find the perfect piece. 

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