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About 20 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende is La Gruta Spa. Literally translated as “the grotto,” La Gruta is a natural hot spring known for its serenity and healing mineral waters, and it has become one of the top must-see destinations in the area.
La Gruta offers three pools from which to choose, and all are naturally heated. However, the “real” pool — and, in my opinion, the best — is located down a long, narrow cave path accessible only through La Gruta’s main outdoor pool. The water’s temperature rises and visibility decreases to only a few feet from its steam-filled corridor. At the end of the path is a large dome-shaped cave with a spout of spring water gushing from its rocky ceiling. Visitors usually line up and take turns getting massaged by the falling water.
Beyond the thermal springs, La Gruta’s grounds overflow with lush gardens and spaces for sunbathing or picnicking. There is also a large temescal (a traditional Mexican steam bath); a small boutique shop in case someone forgets a swimsuit or towel (La Gruta does not supply these); and a restaurant and bar for an afternoon refresh.
Massages and aromatherapy treatments are also available on-site at La Gruta, at a spa located away from the main pools and restaurant, allowing for a more secluded feel. The spa is set up for both single and couples massages, which run about $40 per person.
When hunger sets in, visitors looking for a bite will find a small patio with an unassuming vibe at La Gruta’s restaurant, which offers an excellent chicken mole, healthful sandwiches, salads, fruit, omelets and other fast, simple meals as well as traditional Mexican classics. All food is reasonably priced and tasty. I suggest trying the carrot juice, which is fresh and delicious.
Visitors can expect explorable nooks and crannies, garden areas with potted wildflowers, shady trees and patio setups with tables, chairs and umbrellas. There are changing rooms and lockers available; lockers are free but require a refundable deposit.
Admission to La Gruta is about $8 for an all-day pass. Savvy agents should recommend that clients start early; let them know to claim a poolside lounge chair post-haste, because these tend to fill up later in the afternoon.
La Gruta is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located 7 miles from the city along the San Miguel/Dolores Hidalgo road.
It's also worth noting to clients that La Gruta is just around the bend from the town of Atotonilco El Alto, which is known for the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico.”
Though it’s debatable if La Gruta possesses actual healing powers, it’s undeniable that the thermally heated pools are peaceful and magical in their own way.