If you believe the Mayas, the end of the world is near. At least that's how some people have interpreted the fact that when the Mesoamericans conceived their Long Count calendar more than 5,000 years ago, it happened to stop at Dec. 21, 2012.
Others believe the end of the Maya calendar simply refers to the coming of a major global physical or spiritual transmogrification, marking the start of a new era. Whichever camp you fall into, if you don't want to be sitting at home in your recliner when the big day comes, consider heading to one of the many hotels that are marking the date with special Maya-themed deals and packages. We've highlighted a handful of examples both in the heart of Maya country and beyond.
Mexico and Central America
Fairmont Mayakoba and Rosewood Mayakoba Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Dates vary
These sister properties on the beautiful Riviera Maya are honoring the Maya civilization's rich culture with several packages featuring special spa treatments (think healing herbs and bathing rituals), authentic tasting menus (showcasing ingredients such as yucca, verdolaga and chayote) and other on-property events (traditional music and dance, lectures, etc.).
Cuixmala Jalisco, Mexico, Dec. 15-22
Stressing about the apocalypse can tie your body in knots, so what better way to relax than a weeklong yoga retreat on a tranquil 25,000-acre estate whose name translates to "soul's resting place." Yogini Maya Fiennes will lead classes focused on helping you awaken your kundalini (yogic life force) and your progression into the new age. After you've perfected your downward facing dog, join the beach party commemorating the conclusion of the Maya calendar on Dec. 21.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa Cancun, Mexico, Through Dec. 21
At this top-rated resort surrounded on two sides by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the offerings include two tickets to Chichen Itza to explore the archaeological remains of the ancient Maya city dating back more than 1,300 years as well as Maya-inspired couple's spa treatments, be it the body exfoliation incorporating honey and ground corn or a massage performed according to the historic beliefs of energy flow.
Azul Beach Hotel, Azul Sensatori Hotel and Azul Fives Hotel Riviera Maya, Mexico, Through Dec. 31
These three family-focused Azul Hotels by Karisma are letting the kiddos get in on the fun with the new Mini Mayans program they introduced this year. The free activities include cooking classes in which budding chefs learn to make tortillas and chocolate milk using Maya ingredients and utensils, a chance to make a 2013 calendar while learning about the Mayas' unique numbering system and storytelling performances while dressed in Maya costumes.
Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort Hopkins, Belize, Through Dec. 31
Given its proximity to several major Maya sites, this boutique eco-resort on Belize's central coast has introduced an end-of-the-world package that's out of this world. In addition to a Maya-themed gift and Maya meals whipped up by the hotel's chefs, it includes five Maya-inspired day trips, from climbing the pyramids at Xunantunich and Cahal Pech to lunching with a local Maya family.
The Curtis, Denver, Book by Dec. 11
If the world is going to end, why not go out with a bang? That's the thinking behind the "Party Like There's No To-Maya" package at this trendy downtown Denver lodging. For a one-time offering, interested parties can rent out the entire 15th floor (26 rooms) on Dec.21 for a blowout with all of their friends and family. In addition to food and drink, you get limousine transport for all of your guests, the services of a professional tattoo artist, an in-room amenity kit with gas masks, anti-radiation tablets and freeze-dried food, and, just in case you make it through the night, free breakfast at the onsite restaurant the following morning.
The Keating, San Diego, Through Dec. 21
This Southern California boutique hotel's "End of the World" package, which starts at $666 a night, focuses on "crucial survival tips" and "last-ditch relaxation." For instance, you'll train to be able to outrun zombies at a fitness boot camp, enjoy a "last supper" at the hotel's signature restaurant and receive complimentary en-suite movies when predawn panic robs you of sleep.
Hotel Palomar, Philadelphia, Through Jan. 13
In honor of the "Maya 2012 -- Lords of Times" exhibition at the nearby Penn Museum, which explores everything from where the predictions of the impending apocalypse originated to theories on what will happen once December 21 gets here, the Hotel Palomar has introduced a package that includes valet parking, VIP tickets to the exhibit, and, ironically, late checkout.
Hotel Maya, Long Beach, Calif., Ongoing
This chic waterfront hotel doesn't have to do much to mark the occasion, because, as its name implies, it already embraces Maya culture -- from the vibrant color scheme to menu items at its onsite restaurant. The hotel is, however, running a yearlong "The Year to Go Mayan" sweepstakes that offer entrants the chance to win free weekend stays as well as a grand prize trip to the heart of Maya country in Yucatan, Mexico. Other special offerings include a themed dinner show, complete with authentic music and cuisine, on Nov. 14 as well as an End of the World Party on Dec. 21. You can even track the remaining time on the Maya calendar, down to the day, hour, minute and second, on the hotel's website.