Would you rather sweat it out at a dancehall or inside a temescal? At the latest venture from Rohan Marley, son of reggae great Bob Marley, you don’t have to choose. By Glynn Pogue
The July 2020 opening of the Fives Oceanfront Puerto Morelos also saw the debut of his RoMarley Beach House, a club where guests can chill in cocoon-like wicker nests at the ocean’s edge, savour health-focused, locally sourced Jamaican-Mexican fusion, and groove to live mariachi and reggae sets from visiting DJs. In the works: Sun House, a wellness-retreat program with sound baths, yoga, Reiki, and more.
Marley joins a crop of celebrities — like Pharrell, with Miami’s Goodtime Hotel, and Lenny Kravitz, who launched his own interiors studio Kravitz Design — venturing into the hospitality space and drawing on their personal aesthetic and lifestyle.
I recently spent a rejuvenating weekend at the Fives dining on ceviche and vegan Jamaican patties, soaking in a generous jetted tub on my balcony, and watching the sun dip below the sea from the rooftop infinity pool. The real highlight, though, was speaking with Marley about his family’s history of hospitality, the importance of wellness, and why he thinks Mexico is the perfect travel destination — particularly for those of the African diaspora.
A lot of celebrities seem to be getting into the hospitality industry. Are they really offering something more than just an endorsement?
Marley: “I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than a celebrity: I’m using my name and my likeness, but I’m also fully involved creatively and operationally. This is personal to me. I started with Marley Coffee, and now with the Beach House, I’m getting even more into food and beverage. Next could be bedding, furniture, bath and body products. My family has a history in hospitality — we transformed our house in the Bahamas into the Marley Resort & Spa. I want to deliver spaces that are welcoming, loving, healing and nurturing. This is really about human connection.”
What drew you to Mexico, and specifically Puerto Morelos — rather than more popular destinations nearby like Tulum or Playa del Carmen?
“There was definitely a cultural draw to Mexico. I found crossover in the Yucatán with Afro-Caribbean culture, and I include Mexico in my idea of pan-Africanism. It’s sacred. The African diaspora spread across the globe, and around the Caribbean, we have that energy and flavour — from the food to the colours to the people. It’s another place we can call home.
And Puerto Morelos is the most beautiful village I’ve ever seen. It’s this charming fishing community, protected by the mangroves and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. The more you go, the more you love it. We’re the only property on this part of the beach, so it’s low-key and secluded. When I’m here, I’m at peace. I wake up with the sunrise, and after sunset, I stay up and watch the stars, right on the sea.”
When big developments enter smaller communities, they can boost the economy, but can also displace residents or even jeopardise the essence of a place. Did you wrestle with that at all?
“I recognise this place existed before we got here, and it’s our duty to become a part of it, not to dictate it. Yes, I want guests to indulge at the Beach House, but I also want them to engage with, and patronise, the local community in Puerto Morelos. There are lovely little bistros and bars nearby. You can go for a walk and find incredible tacos right up the street. It’s important for us to honour the amazing vibes here by supporting local businesses and respecting the natural environment.”
Tell us more about your plans for the Sun House retreat. Why were you interested in incorporating local medicinal and healing practices?
“I believe in the Rastafari philosophy of “I and I” — the unity of the physical and metaphysical self. I’m naturally drawn to spiritual pursuits and healing methods, and you have to be led by someone who really knows what they’re doing. It needs to be based on genuine relationships with healers and herbalists. I’m working on building those partnerships here. I would never want to bastardise ancient practices by just selling something. It’s not a gimmick. Mexico has awakened me — my hope is to share this journey with guests, to bring them to a beautiful home on the beach and offer opportunities for self-discovery and growth.”
(This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com)