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When I read that the readers of Conde Nast Traveler recently ranked the Viceroy Resort and Spa the number one in the Riviera Maya, two colleagues and I booked a three-day stay there following our conference at a mega-resort nearby.
We were greeted at the entrance with cool face cloths and fresh citrus juice before following our gracious host through the resort’s six acres of dense jungle, past verdant gardens of ferns, guava trees, swaying palms and bird song from above as well as waterfalls and a resident family of friendly spider monkeys.
We stopped at the Wayak (“Dreamer”) Spa’s entrance for a cleansing and welcoming ceremony. The resident shaman waved a smoldering copal (tree sap) wand around my shoulders and delivered his blessing, “Ah yum hunan ku evam Maya ema ho,” which translates to “let the peace of nature and the cosmos be with you.”
Continuing along the winding, narrow path, we eventually reached our secluded jungle villas, part of a major renovation and expansion of the former Tides Riviera Maya which was relaunched last year as Viceroy Riviera Maya. All 41 of the spacious villas have high-ceiling thatched palapa roofs and private patios with an outdoor shower, a chaise lounge and a handmade crocheted hammock swaying alongside the plunge pool. Inside, there’s an entertainment center and complimentary Wi-Fi.
After settling in, we returned to the intimate, candlelit palapa spa to make our appointments. The intriguing menu offers a wide range of soothing treatments that infuse Maya healing techniques and rituals into every aspect of the experience. For example, the Wayak Ritual (Ancient Mayan Massage) realigns the body through the use of a manteada, or blanket stretch, while cleansing your energy with specially chosen herbs. The Hunan Kab (Sweet Honey and Rain Massage) is given in a special jungle cabana and combines herbal bouquets, nurturing compresses and wild honey, while incorporating gentle drops of water as a subtle element for healing. For couples, the Xaman Ek uses the resort’s exclusive love oil to re-order the energy that is being harmonized with the sounds of the waterfall. The Poesia del Mar (Poetry from the Ocean) massage is inspired by the energy of the ocean and takes place on the Viceroy’s private pier. The treatment focuses on soft whispering breezes, the movement of the water, the glow of the fire and the strength of the earth. I chose the 90-minute Temazcal (steam house) ceremony in an igloo stone structure that is symbolic of Mother Nature’s womb. Using steam and healing herbs, the ceremony purifies the body and the soul and invites you to free yourself from that which you no longer need. Yoga classes take place on the beach or on the pier, where guests can be picked up by boat for snorkeling, diving and other excursions.
For breakfast and lunch, there’s the Coral Grill and Bar by the pool and the sugary white-sand beach with magnificent vistas of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. One evening we dined at the new La Marea restaurant which serves cuisine that is a delicious blend of Maya cooking and Mediterranean techniques. In addition, guests can participate in cooking classes on the beach at the Casita Maya outdoor kitchen and dine on their creations cooked in native pit ovens.
The friendly service of the entire staff made us feel so serene that we were never lured away to the restaurants and nightlife along the popular Playa del Carmen three miles away.