A Sense-Sational Send-off

Virgin America and the Live Aqua Resort are a match made in paradise By: Crystal Lie
Goo Goo Dolls helped celebrate Virgin’s first Cancun flights. // © 2011 Virgin America
Goo Goo Dolls helped celebrate Virgin’s first Cancun flights. // © 2011 Virgin America

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The Details

Live Aqua Cancun

Virgin America
On Jan. 19, I was among one of the invitees present to celebrate Virgin America's "VH1 Countdown to Cancun" inaugural flight. Our Mexican getaway began even before we boarded the plane -- with a preflight reception consisting of fresh horchata, Bavarian cream-filled churros and chorizo breakfast burritos -- we all knew we were in for a treat.

Once onboard, with margaritas in hand, VH1 began their taping of its show "Top 20 Video Countdown," followed by a live, in-flight performance by the Grammy-nominated alternative rock band, the Goo Goo Dolls. While such celebrity performances are not regularly offered, passengers will find Virgin America's touch-screen entertainment system, Red, no less engaging. With hundreds of content options, including VH1's music video library, a 3,000 MP3 music catalog, 30 films, live television and video games, guests never have to have a dull moment.

As our festive flight came to an end, we were whisked away to continue our journey at the all-inclusive Live Aqua luxury resort, which operates under an innovative concept: tantalize all the senses.

"Virgin America is known for its stylish approach to design and for reinventing the travel experience with innovative amenities, beautiful mood-lit cabins and small touches aimed at offering a more pleasant flying experience," said Patricia Condon, the airline's public relations and events manager. "It made perfect sense to partner our launch with a resort like Live Aqua Cancun, which is also focused on revamping the total guest experience -- with interesting design, dramatic lighting and interior spaces, aromatherapy sensory experience throughout the property and, of course, full-service pampering."

All the Small Things
From the moment I arrived at the resort, the taste of ice-cold mint tea, the soothing soundscapes crafted by the in-house DJ, Gotardo Dorado, and the mood-setting aromas of spearmint, eucalyptus and lavender, warmly greeted our senses. I was delighted to find that each guestroom also had personal aromatherapy kits consisting of locally made scented soaps and a selection of essential oils to burn according to the different times of the day.

With each of the 371 guestrooms facing the ocean, the stunning views and sounds of the Caribbean coupled with the scents in the room set the stage for tranquility and relaxation.

Guests will find that Live Aqua's mission does not stop with just engaging the senses alone.

"The purpose of the resort is to create memories and give people stories to tell when they go back home," said Flor Blanco, Live Aqua's director of sales. "We offer opportunities to connect with the basics in nature."

One such opportunity comes from the resort's certification as a sea turtle nursery. During nesting season, children have the opportunity to use their senses to engage with the life around them by helping to relocate eggs laid on the beach as well as release baby sea turtles by the moonlight.

In addition to families and couples, groups will also find amenities at Live Aqua to suit their needs.

"Cancun is one of the best destinations for large parties," said Blanco. "At Live Aqua, we can comfortably accommodate groups of up to 600 people, providing them with a different set of exciting, themed itineraries each time."

The Spa Gets Serious
The cornerstone of our stay at Live Aqua was its otherworldly spa experience.

Hidden from sight behind thick mangroves in the middle of the property is the temazcal, a ceremonial sauna resembling an igloo made from brick and clay. Following traditional healing methods used by indigenous Mexicans, our 90-minute temazcal experience began with meditation and an offering to the four elements before stepping into the pitch-black, domed structure with our shaman. Once inside, heated volcanic rocks were placed in the center pit before being repeatedly doused with water. Under the gradually increasing heat and humidity, our shaman guided our minds through the dark, calling attention to our emotions rather than our physical state.

In addition to the temazcal, Live Aqua's world fusion spa offers multisensory treatments -- featuring aromatherapy and ingredients such as chocolate and avocado -- rooted in Maya culture as well as relaxation techniques from Sweden,
Japan, Australia and India.

Indeed, Live Aqua is a destination in itself and, with the new direct service on Virgin America from Los Angeles, experiencing it and the rest of Cancun will be even easier.
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