Carolina gives each spa-goer a crystal to hold during treatments
at Xcanatun, a beautifully restored 18th-century hacienda six miles
north of the capital of Mexico’s state of Yucatan, Merida.
The crystal is meant to be carried from then on, she explains,
and its power can be replenished easily if you leave it out for a
day in the sun and a night under a full moon. Carolina is Mayan,
and she’s studied Mayan healing techniques with her grandfather, a
local healer, or shaman. Her quiet power inspires you to carry the
Spas in Mexico are at the forefront of the world movement toward
indigenous treatments and the use of natural products. Who, after
all, wants to travel to another country, another culture, and have
the same treatments offered by the day spa back home?
In Mexico, particularly, with the Mexicans’ affinity for
mysticism along with an ancient tradition of natural healing, it
follows that there will be a unique approach to spa offerings. But
another equally compelling draw for spas in Mexico is their
One of the newest spas to open is Maroma’s Kinan Spa. This
58-room Orient Express resort on the Mayan Riviera (22 miles south
of Cancun) was the first resort in Mexico to open a temazcal, or
ancient sweat lodge.
Kinan Spa is a spectacular indoor and outdoor collection of
treatment rooms and pools, a yoga pavilion and a treatment tower
for private massage with panoramic views of the rich Yucatecan
tropical forest and the turquoise Caribbean. (New spa suites are
scheduled to open this fall with individual massage towers.)
Your clients enter the Kinan spa through 15-foot-high
hand-carved wood gares, and a 40-foot-high palapa roof covers the
reception area and connecting hallway. Treatment rooms are
decorated with stone floors, wrought-iron wall candelabra,
wood-beamed ceilings and mahogany cabinetry.
Kinan also offers spa treatments in cabanas on the white-sand
beach, including the signature God/Goddess Rituals ($400) a
two-hour, two-handed extravaganza, which includes an herbal wrap, a
grape-seed scrub, a plunge into the sea, then a chamomile rinse and
a lomi-lomi massage.
On Mexico’s opposite coast, at the northern tip of the Bay of
Banderas (about a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta) the Four
Seasons Punta Mita’s Apuane Spa has just introduced a Mexican green
coffee slimming wrap (50 minutes, $150) to ease guests through the
shock of appearing tanless in bathing attire. A new after-sun
chilled body wrap is followed by a cool skin-soothing gel made from
Mexican lilies (50 minutes, $135). Apuane is a Huichol Indian word
describing flowing waters used in rituals. (Huichols are the
white-clad Indians who make the work-intense beaded
The Apuane Spa is entered via a dramatic open courtyard
surrounded by a thatched roof. Treatment rooms are lined around yet
another open courtyard filled with flowers and greenery. To
complement the spa’s use of local herbs, minerals and traditional
treatments, the 150-room-and-suite resort has a cultural center
where guests can read about Mexico’s traditional cultures and speak
Carved into a slate and quartz mountain overlooking a lake, El
Santuario is composed entirely of natural materials and surrounded
by 400 acres of natural preserve. The resort sits in Valle de
Bravo, a 2½-hour drive west of Mexico City. And across the lake
clients will find a 16th-century colonial town.
On the top floor of the curving resort is the 20,000-square-foot
spa, where the waterfall at the entrance is echoed in interior
“crying walls.” The spa’s main passage features a wood platform
overflowing with water, and the 15 treatment rooms all have views
of the lake or waterfall. The relaxation lounge also has lake views
and a dramatic hanging copper fireplace.
Spa-goers can choose from 60 fresh ingredients to be mixed for
treatments, including oxygen therapy, flotation, and temazcal and
janzu treatments a technique similar to watsu, in which a therapist
gently stretches the body while suspended in warm water.
At El Santuario, hiking, mountain biking and watersports add to
the spa experience. But the signature indulgence is the Yenecamu
therapy three hours on a pontoon in the lake, starting with a
Mezcal body scrub, a tequila-and-aloe body wrap and then a massage
($150 per person).
Back at Xcanatun, all of the lotions and scrubs are made from
fresh, local ingredients.
Here, the ideal treatment combination might involve a one-hour
cibche wrap using milk-soaked leaves from a tree unique to the
Yucatan reflexology and a shoulder massage ($50), with a Mayan
honey and flowers massage, and top the treatment off with a
one-hour massage using Yucatecan honey infused with the essence of
local flowers ($55).
Massage is also available in the hacienda’s 18 antique-filled
suites, and is followed by a drink of xtabentun, a Yucatecan
liqueur made of honey and herbs.
And, of course, hang onto that crystal.
Commission: 10 percent
Carretera 307, Km 51
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Four Seasons Punta Mita
Commission: 10 percent
Bahia de Banderas
Commission: 10 percent
Ex Hacienda San Gaspar Carretera,
Valle de Bravo
State of Mexico, Mexico
Commission: 10-13 percent
Km. 12, Merida-