Tasty Treatments

The cutting-edge spas of Los Cabos use ingredients that are good enough to eat

By: Mimi Kmet

LOS CABOS, Mexico Chocolate, coconut, lime, mango, Damiana liqueur and Corona beer. Sounds like ingredients in a tasty Mexican dinner. But here on the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where high-end spas are among the major attractions, they are as delicious on the body as they are in the body.

This area, which encompasses the tourist town of Cabo San Lucas, the 18th-century mission town of San Jose del Cabo and the 20-mile stretch in between called el corredor, has become a Mecca for spa-goers, as several luxury hotels with full-service spas have opened within the past 10 years.

While many of these facilities offer massages, body wraps, facials and body scrubs from around the world, they specialize in treatments that utilize indigenous plants and other elements known for their healing, restorative and rejuvenating effects. Moreover, their architecture and decor blend in with the desert and ocean environment around Los Cabos.

For example, Casa del Mar Beach Golf and Spa Resort harnesses the natural desert light to illuminate its Suenos del Mar Spa. The bright, airy facility is an extension of the hotel in terms of design, with a contemporary Mexican decor of soft, earthy tones and accents such as bamboo, clay pots and wicker furniture.

Suenos del Mar Spa’s newest signature treatment, the Chocolate and Mint Escape, is ideal for serious chocoholics and Girl Scout cookie gourmands. It literally bathes the body in chocolate and mint. Using ground cacao beans which were an Aztec currency and the source of a highly prized beverage consumed by emperors, noblemen and warriors the therapist starts with a half-hour, full-body exfoliation. After a shower to rinse off the grounds, a one-hour chocolate and mint massage follows. It’s topped off with hot cocoa served in a Mexican ceramic mug. For those who prefer a coffee fix, the spa’s Tropical Exfoliation uses ground coffee beans and dried coconut and is followed by a massage. This treatment helps prepare the skin for tanning. Among the signature treatments at Las Ventanas al Paraiso’s Spa at Las Ventanas is the Nopal Anti-Cellulite and Detox Wrap. Locally grown nopal, a type of cactus that produces prickly pears, is a source of vitamins and amino acids. It helps the body transfer fluids from tissue to bloodstream. After a dry-brush massage, a nopal mask cocoons the body. A full body massage follows. Afterward, a complimentary nopal-pineapple smoothie awaits.

The spa, situated in a secluded garden setting of native plants, also offers several desert-inspired therapies: The Desert Flower-Soothing and Feminine uses sea salt and floral essences to exfoliate and massage the body. The Desert Healer-Therapeutic Anti-Oxidant is a medicinal bath using sage, elephant tree, eucalyptus and chaparral and is followed by a scalp massage and a Jamaica-pineapple-chaparral tincture. And the Desert Sports-Analgesic Muscle Relaxer is a full-body loofah scrub using a blend of herbs for declogging pores; it’s followed by a sports massage.

An expansion that will nearly double the size of the Spa at Las Ventanas is under way. Details had not been finalized at press time, but completion is set for mid-2005.

Upon entering the Esperanza Hotel and Resort’s Spa at Esperanza, guests pass through the spa gruta, a seaside grotto environment with steam caves and waterfalls. Each of the seven treatment rooms comes with a private garden and an outdoor shower and soaking pool.

Your clients can start or end their spa experiences here with an agua fresca a healthy beverage made to order with indigenous plants. For example, the cantaloupe horchata cleanses the liver and kidneys, helping to alleviate digestive acidity; and the papaya and mango drink helps improve blood circulation and rehydrates the skin.

The Couple’s Clay Bake is a signature treatment at the Spa at Esperanza. It starts with a Damiana liqueur agua fresca. The liqueur is made with the damiana herb, which grows in Baja California and is used as a traditional Mexican aphrodisiac. A warm bath and a clay mask follow. After a shower to rinse off the clay, the couple receives a massage with desert sage oil.

The couples Damiana Alegre treatment starts with an exfoliation with amaranth (a highly nutritious native grain) and sea foam gel. Afterward, a desert honey-Damiana wrap is accompanied by a scalp and foot massage. A full-body coconut oil massage follows. The treatment is topped off with Damiana Coconut Cream agua frescas and traditional Alegria pastries. The spa is also known for its facials, which use fresh local fare such as mangos, avocados and Corona beer. Apparently, the popular beverage tightens and lifts the skin and refines the pores which is why this spa uses it in its Corona Beer Facelift.

The One&Only Palmilla Resort’s One&Only Spa features individual treatment villas, each with its own garden. There are even double spa villas for couples that include rain showers, Mexican day beds and whirlpool baths.

The spa’s spicy Aztec Aromatic Ritual is a curative body wrap designed to soothe headaches, arthritis and muscle aches using an ancient recipe of spices such as clove, ginger and cinnamon. It’s followed by a 60- or 90-minute massage that uses rosemary and pine essential oils to boost circulation.

Among the spa’s other treatments are the Sublime Lime and Ginger Ritual, which includes a lime and ginger salt glow and a massage; and the Elemis Exotic Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual, which includes a coconut body polish, a milk bath, a wrap with foil, no less and a massage.

One Los Cabos property boasts its own treatment system with unique equipment. The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort and Spa’s Cactus Spa lays claim as the only such facility in Latin America that offers the Soft-Pack system, which uses a combination of herbs and can be combined with any of several body wraps.

After applying the body compound, the therapist wraps your client in a water-heated blanket. As the client lies on a heated flotation bed, it submerges into six inches of water (although the client doesn’t get wet). It’s an almost weightless environment that is designed to relieve joint pressure and sore muscles.

Among the treatments available with the Soft-Pack system is the Remineralizing and Purifying therapy, which covers the body in marine clay and marine sediments enriched with seaweed, which in turn stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation, purify the body and relieve fatigue and muscular pain.

Deals & Discounts
Some of the spa hotels in Los Cabos offer commissionable packages that include treatments. Here is a sampling:

Developed for couples, Casa del Mar Beach Golf and Spa Resort’s four-night Baja Rejuvenator package features suite accommodations, a manicure and pedicure for her, a reflexology massage for him, and a Tropical Exfoliation and massage for both. In addition, guests receive a candlelight dinner with wine, American breakfast daily, 25 percent off greens fees at El Dorado and Cabo Real Golf Courses, unlimited use of the fitness center and tennis courts, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes, and spa taxes and gratuities.

Through Oct. 12, package rates start at $2,244 per room, double; additional nights start at $347 and include breakfast. From Oct. 13 through Dec. 20, package rates start at $2,676, with extra nights starting at $445. And from Dec. 21-31, package rates start at $2,968, with additional nights starting at $512.

Las Ventanas al Paraiso’s offerings include the Discovery, Retreat and Rejuvenating packages. Each program includes a personalized treatment planning session and a customized essential oil recipe for use in the treatments. Also included are a sage foot bath with a neck and shoulder massage, an aromatherapy loofah salt glow, a scalp massage using hot neem oil (a natural, non-toxic oil from a tropical, semi-evergreen tree that strengthens and moisturizes hair), a foot reflexology, an aromatherapy facial, unlimited use of the spa and gym facilities, breakfast and dinner daily, and roundtrip airport transfers.

The three-night Discovery package also features two stretch/yoga classes and an aromatherapy body massage. Through Dec. 31, package rates start at $3,700 per couple, depending on the room type and season.

Those booking the four-night, midweek Retreat package receive the Discovery package amenities plus a personal training session, a manicure and a pedicure. The starting rate is $4,750 per couple through year-end.

Amenities in the seven-night Rejuvenating package include two personal training sessions, three stretch/ yoga classes, two aromatherapy massages, a manicure, a pedicure and a deep facial moisturizing mask. Through Dec. 31, per-couple rates start at $7,500.


Casa del Mar Beach Golf and Spa Resort

Esperanza Hotel and Resort

Las Ventanas al Paraiso

One&Only Palmilla

Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort and Spa