Water Ritual

 At Villa’s Nuevo Vallarta resort, the spa gets reinvented

By: Kenneth Shapiro

The Villa Group has found its niche when it comes to both luxury and family resorts in Mexico. In Los Cabos and Nuevo Vallarta, its Villa La Estancia brand caters to upscale guests, while its Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa del Arco resorts are designed for families. Now, the company seems to have taken aim at a new niche — the spa market.

Following its success with the Desert Spa at Villa del Arco in Los Cabos, The Villa Group decided to rebrand its spa at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos in Nuevo Vallarta, and renamed it the Tatewari Spa. Carlos Aquino, corporate director for The Villa Group, said the change is long overdue.

“We realized we had this beautiful spa, but we forgot to give it an identity,” he said. “The product was great all along, but we needed to make the concept clearer to guests.”

The 17,000-square-foot spa is named after a Mexican Indian deity related to “spiritual growth and a state of extreme peace and relaxation,” according to the spa’s press materials. The ancient Tatewari water ritual was meant to “heal the earth and keep nature balanced.”

The spa’s design plays on this theme with distinctive regional touches. The 14 treatment rooms and two exclusive VIP suites with a private Jacuzzi and shower, are all decorated with accents meant to be reminiscent of the ancient indigenous culture. A spa visit begins at the hydrotherapy center. This water circuit is similar to those found in European spas, and features a Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, sauna, steam room and cascading shower with multiple side jets. The high, domed ceiling above the Jacuzzi, along with the stone and tile work, subtly echoes ancient hammam spas of the Middle East, helping guests feel like they have entered a serene sanctuary. Best of all, guests can choose to take advantage of this part of the facilities alone through a Tatewari Water Ritual package for only $15.

Treatments are carefully thought out as well. The Tatewari Signature Spa Experience is a 55-minute complete face and body massage. The Sea Escape Stone Facial and Body Treatment includes a stone massage combined with the Repechage Four Layer Facial, which the spa proudly touts as “the best facial of the century.” I don’t know about that, but it certainly was one of the better treatments I’ve experienced. There are also wraps that feature fresh seaweed and tepezcphiote, a local herb used as an analgesic in cases of extreme sunburn. There are many other facial, massage and wrap combinations as well.

“Without a doubt, this is the best spa in all of Vallarta,” said Yolanda Amador, spa director. “Maybe one of the best in all of Mexico.”

Amador is based in Mexico City and has been in the health-and-beauty business for years. She said her confidence in the Tatewari Spa

is not simply idle boasting; she has visited all of the spas in the Puerto and Nuevo Vallarta area and many other spas throughout the country and the world.

“I go to all of them,” she said. “And this spa has really raised the bar in Vallarta.”

On my visit, the only negative I found was that the process was a bit confusing for those not used to a spa experience. For instance, bathing suits in the hydrotherapy area are optional, but that was not made clear. Also, while the service and treatments were excellent, there was very little verbal interaction with the masseuse. I don’t enjoy a lot of chit chat during a massage, but there were times when it was unclear if the therapist understood what I was saying.

Still, generally these communication issues are to be expected with a newly trained staff, and may not be a factor for future guests.

The Tatewari Spa also has a beauty salon, and under Amador’s direction, the salon and the spa use the Repechage line of skin-care products — it’s the only spa in Vallarta to do so. This line has the slogan “Beauty From the Sea,” and all its products use seaweed as an ingredient, further enhancing the “water ritual” theme of the Tatewari Spa.

Wellness Weeks

Clients interested in health and wellness may enjoy another new program at Villa de Palmar Flamingos. Called Wellness Weeks, the concept is to bring experts in a wide variety of fields to the resort to interact with guests, including experts in stress management, weight control and culinary arts, as well as dermatology, cardiology, orthopedics, internal medicine and holistic healing.

“We’ve found that many travelers will plan their vacations around health-and-wellness events,” Aquino said. “We’ve received extremely positive remarks on our inaugural event held in September, and plan to continue these on a regular basis.”

Last year’s Wellness Week included such classes as Yoga for Back Strength, Your Healthy Heart and Men’s Health: What to Focus on for the Over 40. Naturally, the Tatewari Spa figures prominently in the week’s activities as well.

This year’s Wellness Week will be held in early December, and details are currently being finalized.

Hotel Amenities

Indulgences at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos, Nuevo Vallarta, go well beyond the newly branded spa. The 275-suite hotel is nearly identical to The Villa Group’s newer properties in Los Cabos. It features large guestrooms (most all Deluxe and Junior suites) with ocean views, marble floors, a whirlpool tub (except in Junior Suites) and a separate dining area and terrace.

The Deluxe Studios feature a good-size kitchenette, while larger suites have complete kitchens with a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher and even a laundry room. Other in-room amenities include air conditioning, flat-screen television, Internet access and more.

The hotel also features three restaurants, a sprawling multi-level pool, a fitness center and a small shopping center where guests can get supplies and souvenirs. There’s also a Jacuzzi fronting the ocean with a fire pit next to it that proved extremely popular at sunset.

“The important thing for agents to understand is that, even though this hotel shares its name with our Flamingos hotel in Cabo, this hotel is newer and more upscale,” said Aquino. “Families are welcome here, just as in Cabo, but they are going to have a more upscale experience.”

Next door, the Villa La Estancia, Nuevo Vallarta, is nearing completion. This 245-suite hotel will be a couples-preferred, upscale gem along the lines of its namesake in Los Cabos.

Both hotels are located right on the beach of Banderas Bay, 20 minutes from the airport and downtown Puerto Vallarta. The Villa Group has already shown it knows how to create great hotels, and with the addition of the Tatewari Spa, the company has added a new dimension to its growing list of accomplishments.



Villa del Palmar Flamingos Beach Resort & Spa, Nuevo Vallarta

Commission: 10 percent


Even as The Villa Group gets ready for the official opening of its eighth hotel — Villa La Estancia, Nuevo Vallarta — scheduled for October, it has turned its attention to other areas of Mexico. The Villa del Palmar and Villa La Estancia brands will extend to Cancun and Loreto, with openings expected in 2010.