Mexico: Destination Bliss
Spas, Healthy Retreats and Peaceful Sanctuaries
Part of the beauty of Mexico—besides, well, the beauty of Mexico—is that each region has a decidedly diverse flavor. Go to the Riviera Maya, where towns like Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun hold court, and you can swim in the crystal-clear Caribbean and explore ancient Mayan ruins. The Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific Ocean is home to rugged coastlines, tasty waves and slow-paced towns perfect for relaxing. Lively waters and geological formations take center stage in Baja California, attracting celebrities and locals alike.
Within these differing landscapes and vibes, the shorelines around the country are rife with spas, health-minded retreats and peaceful sanctuaries dedicated to your physical and psychic well-being. Here are a few special ones to place on your personal wish list.
Fairmont Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen
Once upon a time, Playa del Carmen was a tiny little sea town with funky mama-y-papa restaurants, boutique hotels and endless stretches of beach. While the town has developed considerably in recent years, you can still find pockets of tranquility. Most notable is the Fairmont Mayakoba, a hidden oasis waiting to be discovered within a 47-acre gated resort community lined with canals and mangroves.
In addition to the Greg Norman-designed golf course and the Richard Sandoval-inspired culinary scene, you’ll find the Willow Stream Spa set amid a tropical jungle on natural lagoons. The spa offers a range of treatments that nod to the ancient Mayan culture. To wit: the 90-minute Cha-Chaac Rain Ritual, based on the Mayan rain ritual, includes a traditional blessing, burning of copal incense, a mask of cornmeal, clay and oats, exfoliation with an Ayate cloth, a warm overhead rainwater rinse, and a sage oil massage. Another favorite ritual is the Honey in the Heart, which uses honey produced by the local Melipona bee, a harmless endangered species. In addition to Zumba and cardio samba lessons, the resort offers Vinyasa, Hatha and Iyengar yoga. You can also take day trips to nearby Mayan historical sites and ecological parks and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichén Itzá.
To many, a visit to Amansala is an annual ritual that provides a renewed sense of purpose. You may return yearly yourself once you experience the resort’s twice daily yoga, beachside runs, outdoor massages and freshly caught seafood. Home to the Bikini Bootcamp, Amansala (a fusion of the Sanskrit words for water and peace) has a vibe that is decidedly funky, with driftwood, mosaic tile and river rocks scattered throughout. At Amansala Chica, its adjacent sister property, you can partake in a six-night cleanse, which includes two days of raw eating, daily massages and meditation, spa treatments, body sculpting and cooking classes. And when you tire of Saluting the Sun, you can visit some of ancient Tulum, the cliff-side ruins that are an Instagrammer’s dream.
Haramara Retreat, Riviera Nayarit
Swiss Family Robinson meets enlightenment at Haramara, a fanciful retreat hidden in a tropical jungle on a hillside between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the magnificent rugged coast of the Pacific Ocean. The resort attracts serious spiritual devotees from around the world, thanks to a range of retreats with different teachers throughout the year. One highlight is the seven-day Ayurvedic cleanse, which includes yoga and meditation, a four-handed tandem massage, shirodhara (warm oil dripped on the forehead to soothe the nervous system) and herbal steam baths. If you tire of all that pampering, the staff is happy to arrange nearby horseback riding, kayaking, surfing lessons or sailing trips. Guests stay in high-end bamboo huts filled with luxurious amenities, but no electrical outlets, making the star-lit night pop in the tropical darkness.
CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta
Nestled idyllically between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay, this resort invites your entire family to rest and relax. While the kids race around the luxury property’s expansive beach, infinity pool and horse stables, you can spend your time at the 22,000 square-foot Ohtli Spa. Treatments incorporate ancient healing techniques and shamanistic rituals from the Huichol Indians, a reclusive tribe living in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Some of the options are definitely out of the ordinary: Rebirth Therapy, for example, is performed in a pool of warm water, where you will be guided through a series of soft, rhythmic movements designed to relax your mind, muscle tissue and joints. The Fire Opal Balancing Stone Therapy begins with a traditional Huichol incantation for peace before the therapist places fire opals along your body, using smooth warm basalt stones to massage your aching muscles. Those interested in more decadent experiences can opt for the Chocolate Soak, a full body chocolate scrub followed by hydrotherapy; or the Champagne and Roses, which mixes champagne crystals and rose petals.