The Heart Suite can accommodate couples.
Health and beauty practices of the ancient Maya may be the last
word in spa treatments along the Riviera Maya, but a thousand miles
away on the west coast of Mexico, a spa is unveiling the wellness
secrets of a different indigenous culture.
The Spa Ohtli in Puerto Vallarta opened earlier this year with
shamanistic treatments from the Huichol Indians, a reclusive tribe
living in the surrounding sierra. Although their traditional yarn
paintings and beadwork are sold in local shops, this is the first
time their remedies for balancing the body’s energy have been
introduced in a spa. Ohtli is the largest spa in the resort,
measuring 22,000 square feet, and located in the CasaMagna Marriott
Ohtli means “path” or “journey” to peace and perfection and it
began for me when I stepped down a dramatic staircase leading into
a wide, open reception area with a black-and-white waterfall and a
fragrant aroma. I was ushered into a small sitting room and drank
the spa’s signature Aqua de Amor (Water of Love) to prep me for the
The Ohtli Spa hydrotherapy circuit
includes foot baths and plunge pools.
Ready to try something new, I chose the Fire Opal Balancing Stone
Therapy, a Huichol healing ritual. As I gazed down on bead art of a
deer and peyote buttons, sacred symbols of the Huichols, spa
manager Rosalia Flandes placed fire opals on my back, followed by a
deep, warm full-body massage with heated, shiny black obsidian
stones. After 80 minutes, I felt full of energy and ready for the
Flandes explained that besides Huichol, the massages also
incorporate elements of Aztec, Thai, Tibetan and Western polarity
therapy. There’s even contemporary Rebirth Therapy on the menu,
which is carried out in a pool of warm water.
Dry skin from overexposure to the Texas sun prompted me to sign
up for a hydrating facial the next day. This had no indigenous
ingredients but was good nevertheless, and used French creams and
gels and a tiny wand that spread ions to the epidermis. Other spa
treatments promised toning, moisturizing and elimination of muscle
stiffness with a litany of tropical fruits.
The jazziest facility is the Heart Suite, which can accommodate
couples, a girlfriends’ night out or celebrities seeking
The Huichol treatments are part of the Marriott’s “Family
Secrets” program launched last year to give hotel guests a
behind-the-scenes look at local culture and traditions. Since the
resort is in Mexico’s main tequila-producing state, it includes
tequila packages featuring tastings of the hotel’s own brand plus
an overview of the 60 other brands that are served on the premises.
The award-winning chef also offers group and one-on-one cooking
classes preparing classic regional dishes. Then there is the art
walk along the boardwalk with a resident sculptor. I had the chance
to do all these, too, but to me the spa experience was the icing on
CasaMagna Marriott Hotel
Rates: Massages range from $65-$140; facials, $85-$130. Body
wraps start at $60.Check with hotel for packages.
During the low season, hotel rates start at $189; suites from
$379. Rates increase by 10 percent during the high winter