Your End-of-the-World Travel Plan
The year 2012 is the end of the world as we know it, and we feel like a vacation deal.
Calm down. The world isn't really going to end on December 21, 2012—unless, of course, a billionaire supervillain steals a moon-bomb that particular week. The long-debunked "Mayan Apocalypse" is based on the ancient civilization's Long Count calendar, which reaches its 13th cycle on 12/21/12.
But a fake apocalypse is reason enough for a vacation! Several sites and hotels are using the so-called doomsday to offer deals, highlight Mayan culture, and, duh, throw parties:
• Travel advice site VirtualTourist.com compiled a list of their "Top Ten Less-Crowded Mayan Ruins and Sites"; they're tombs, temples, and excavated cities that highlight the culture's architectural prowess. The culture left relics in modern-day Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala—there are 6,000 structures alone in the Mexican city of Calakmul. In Ek Balam, there's even the 100-foot El Torre pyramid that visitors can climb. Perfect for an unobstructed view of the endtimes!
• Belize, home to many Mayan historical areas, is marketing to doomsday tourists (or just the topical ones) with the souvenir Maya 2012 Passport, which for $25 allows pass holders and one child access to 12 participating sites. Proceeds go toward site preservation, and the free kid ticket is so you can make a ritual child sacrifice while you're there. (Just kidding, Mayan human sacrifice were likely over-reported by Europeans, so you needn't make the effort for accuracy's sake.) Belize's site also list special 2012 deals throughout the country, including the Hamansi beachfront resort's "Maya End of the World Package," which includes tours of ruins, snorkeling, a "special Mayan gift," and a welcome drink. They may make light of the Mayan prophecy, but note that the package don't include a good-bye drink. Suspicious!
• Several Central American resorts are offering a "two nights free if the world doesn't end" deal, which means you're totally screwed (no freebies!) if the Mayans turned out to be right about December 21. It's good at Ka'ana Boutique Resort and Acanto Hotel in Playa Del Carmen. Outside of the Mayans old stomping grounds, it's all about the party: There are bashes planned everywhere from the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, California, to Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in the Caribbean.
• Finally, one Northwest hotel is jumping on the "We're all gonna die!" bandwagon because, why not? Hotel Lucia in Portland ties their Take a Leap package to the a Mayan prophecy thusly: "What better way to go out with a bang than by bungee jumping off a 20-story private bridge high above a majestic class V river in the middle of a beautiful emerald green forest?" That bungee jump is off a private span in Amboy, Washington, and is followed by dinner at the hotel's in-house restaurant, Imperial, run by a James Beard Award- and Iron Chef America-winning chef.
Happy apocalypse, all!