Weekend Warrior in Paradise
For most people, the thought of a tropical beach vacation conjures up images of lazy days spent sipping umbrella drinks while floating in a pool, topped off with indulgent dinners. For me, it’s just the opposite. When it comes a tropical vacation, I like to take advantage of the fresh salt air with early morning jogs on the beach, afternoon swims and healthy eating. So when the Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa on the Riviera Maya in Mexico invited me down for an active lifestyle “boot camp” weekend, I couldn’t refuse. The resort’s new package entitled “Food, Fashion and Fitness” immerses guests in a weekend of organic cooking classes, vigorous daily activity and a fashion show with designer Rubin Singer.
Day One had us on the beach at 7 a.m. for a boot camp with NYC-based trainer Zack Schares. Consisting of three sets of half-mile runs combined with 15 minutes of intensive calisthenics between each set, it was an exhausting and invigorating way to kick off the weekend. After a healthy breakfast of fruit, eggs with avocado, and freshly made corn tortillas, I was off to the swimming pool for freestyle swimming drills. Never having had formal swimming lessons, but a good swimmer nevertheless, I was determined to master this part of the program. And, with Zack’s help, I did.
The afternoon was spent preparing a Mexican meal at the on-site traditional Mayan village, Aldea Maya. Under the guidance of the resort’s Executive Chef Juan Pablo Loza, we prepared a gluten- and dairy-free lunch with ingredients from the resort’s organic garden. Beginning with salsa incorporating crushed pumpkin seeds (see recipe below), the meal continued with a delicious baked snapper wrapped in banana leaf.
Day Two had another 7 a.m. start. This time the Boot Camp Class was followed by an obstacle course race. To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to this portion of the program. From biking through the jungle to kayaking in the ocean, along with a quick sprint through a mud pit, the obstacle course frightened me. I hadn’t been on a bike since I was a kid. And I couldn’t fathom kayaking in the ocean. Nevertheless, Zack convinced me that I could handle this, and off I went! Biking, kayaking, running, climbing… it was an amazing experience and boosted my athletic confidence level to a new high. Later that evening, we enjoyed dinner at the Chef’s Table with fashion designer Rubin Singer as he previewed his Resort 2015 collection and entertained us with stories of his rise to fame.
The final day consisted of yet another 7 a.m. start, this time for a “mini triathlon.” With my athletic confidence renewed, I mentally prepared myself to partake in the final activity of the weekend. I easily accomplished the 500-meter ocean swim, one-mile bike through the jungle and one-mile run on the beach. The weekend was complete!
The resort itself is an intimate, secluded property nestled in the jungle of the Riviera Maya just south of Cancun along a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach. With 63 white-washed villas, three pools and a spa, this Mayan-inspired hideaway provided the perfect setting to experience one of my best weekends in recent memory.
Crushed Pumpkin Seed and Roasted Tomato Salsa from Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa. Serves 4.
1 Garlic Clove
1⁄2 Cup Toasted and Powdered Pumpkin Seeds
2 tbsp Chopped Cilantro
1 tbsp Salt
Cook the tomatoes and garlic on an ungreased “Comal” or griddle over medium heat until soft right through, while the skin is lightly charred. This method intensifies the flavor and brings out the sweetness of the tomato. Grind the garlic with the salt and tomatoes in a Molcajete (Mortar and Pestle or a blender). Add the pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve in the Molcajete or in a bowl with tortilla chips.
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