In the hotel business, there’s nothing like a big event to fire up the promotional marketing machine: Think Christmas, New Year’s Eve or the Super Bowl.
The end of the world and life as we know it? Sure, why not? After all, if you’re on the cusp of the Apocalypse, you might as well party like there’s no tomorrow.
At least that appears to be the case in the waning days of the so-called Long Count in the Mayan calendar, a 5,125-year cycle set to end on Dec. 21. Doomsday, it seems, is the ideal time to celebrate a last-hurrah, pull-out-the-stops and drain-the-bank-account vacation.
The reality, of course, is that reports of the world’s impending death are greatly exaggerated, or at least prone to misinterpretation.
“Despite popular beliefs that the end of the Maya calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, coincides with the end of the world, the Maya people actually view the event as a new beginning, the awakening of a period for self-reflection, rejuvenation and reconnection with nature,” said Laila Medina, spa director of Sandos Hotels & Resorts, which operates several resorts along Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
In other words, life will go on; you’ll still be able to get room service on Dec. 22, and, sorry to say, you’ll still have to pay your January credit card bill. Nevertheless, if you’re seeking a bed for the “end of the world,” here are some options:
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa: This all-inclusive resort on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen will celebrate the big day with Mayan ceremonies, “meet and greet” sessions with indigenous residents from Coba and a special Mayan breakfast on Dec. 22 (presumably subject to change if the unthinkable happens). Rates start at $220 per night.
Rosewood Mayakoba: Just up the road, this recently renovated resort is offering two Mayan-inspired packages: The 5-day Rosewood Rebirth package includes lectures, guided tours of Coba and other historic sites and a New Beginning’s Eve party on the beach for $6,400 per couple. Those with money to burn — you can’t take it with you, right? — can opt for the Ultimate New Beginning package, which augments the above with helicopter transfers and other high-end amenities for a mere $79,000 per couple.
The Curtis: Proving that doomsday doesn’t suffer from geographic limitations, Denver’s Curtis hotel offers a Party Like There’s No To-Maya package on the big day. For $12,021, you and two dozen of your friends get the entire 15 floor (26 rooms), a private party and apocalypse-worthy amenities, including freeze-dried foods, gas masks and water-purification tablets. A morning-after brunch is also included for survivors.
Palomar: Travelers who want to explore Mayan culture without going to Mexico may want to head to Philadelphia where the Palomar hotel is offering a special Local Arts package in conjunction with the Penn Museum. The deal includes accommodations, free parking and two VIP tickets to the museum’s Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit, which explores the culture’s time-driven universe through sculptures, artifacts and interactive experiences. Rates start at $239 per night.
The Waverton Hotel: End times or new beginning, this Chicago-area hotel offers families a fun way to count down the clock with its very own Mayan-themed indoor waterpark. Its End of the Mayan Calendar package includes lodging and waterpark access for four, plus Mayan-themed foods, games and craft activities. Rooms on Dec. 21 are $99 with a special 50-percent discount if you stay a second night.
Assuming, of course, you’re still around.
Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.