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Vida Saludable

by Becca Hensley

With a friendly, creative spirit in its cities and vitamin D-enriching sunny days on its coastlines, Mexico has long been a place we go to unwind, try something new or reset to thrive again.

While its contagious laid-back vibe grounds us, the nation’s rich culture keeps us engaged. Add in good-for-you, homegrown plants (avocados, chilis and coconuts, to name a few) and a heritage of indigenous healing and it’s little wonder Mexico draws wellness seekers one and all.

From a landmark destination spa just south of San Diego to an Asian-inspired den of tranquility on the Riviera Maya, these healing oases offer a multitude of possibilities.

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
Crowning a perfect hill in the exquisite colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, an elegant artists’ colony in central Mexico’s highlands, the Rosewood reflects the city’s essence in its architecture, ambiance and offerings. Its Sense, A Rosewood Spa, awash in Mexican healing traditions and mindful of local ingredients, offers myriad rituals borrowed from the local Otomi people, many that rely on astrophysical connections. (Try the Otho Zana New Moon massage for legs and feet that honors new beginnings.)

But the cosmopolitan retreat hotel takes wellness outdoors, too. Revel in such ruminative activities as the Beauty and Bougainvillea workshop, which takes place in the Rosewood Garden. Honoring the curing flower ubiquitously grown (and used medicinally) around the city, the workshop shows guests how to make remedial soups, tonics, scrubs and masks from its petals.

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
With the most dramatic entrance in all of Los Cabos (through an unexpected tunnel hewed from dark rock that opens to jaw-dropping ocean vistas), this resort wonderland carved into cliffs feels a world away. Composed of saltwater meditation pools, Waldorf Astoria Spa at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal—Luna y Mar summons the restorative spirit of the destination offering both conventional spa treatments and wellness opportunities that harness the powers of curanderismo, local Mexican folk healing.

Indulge in experiences such as an Intention Ceremony, which cleanses and resets energy, with plants and flower essences, or yield to a Moon Phase ritual, created to complement the various phases of the moon both literally and metaphorically. The quarterly transformative Wellness Weekend Experience puts it all together with spa treatments, private breathing exercises, mindfulness workshops, intention work and plenty of downtime.

Palmaïa – The House of AïA
Meant to awaken every sense and guide guests to a curative place of inner enlightenment, tranquility and heart-opening bliss, this unique, intimate retreat near Playa del Carmen has an in-house healer and a team of Nomadic Guides who design insightful experiences and attend to guests during their stay.

Paying homage to nature’s healing powers, culling from the mysteries of the jungle that fringes it and the ocean waters it faces, Palmaïa – The House of AïA provides numerous ways to go deeper: music rituals, cacao ceremonies, sound baths, vibrational healing, yoga, meditation, plant-based meals, dance therapies, temazcal experiences—among other pleasurable pursuits. A jungle spa, swim-up suites, energy healing and the assurance that 70 percent of the property’s original landscape was kept untouched during construction seals the deal.

Banyan Tree, Mayakoba
Just biking around the Riviera Maya Mayakoba enclave that houses Banyan Tree Mayakoba can be transformative. A nature reserve, replete with wildlife (watch for the silly anteater-like coati and colossal iguanas), mangrove forests, undulating canals, lagoons, twisting pathways and sugary beaches, it tempts visitors to stay within resort borders.

The hotel, Asian-intoned and well-being-driven, features stand-alone thatched roof villas (reminiscent of the brand’s flagship hotel in Phuket)— each with a personal pool. The Sanctuary Spa Pool Villas capture prime real estate on the lagoon, offering dedicated wellness menus and unlimited spa treatments to occupants. For those with trouble sleeping, Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s new Wellbeing Sanctuary offers a full-fledged sleep program conceived in concert with a well-being host. Solutions such as ocean breath meditation by the sea and pre-sleep bath and body rituals help bring on the zzzzs.

Rancho La Puerta
The prototype for contemporary wellness retreats, The Ranch may have seemed quirky, cultish and offbeat to some when it opened in 1940 as a yoga-driven fitness farm, cradled in mountainous Tecate, an hour south of San Diego. Nevertheless, it quickly attracted Hollywood glitterati and other celebrities, as well as health buffs angling for repose.

Eighty years later, still family-owned, elegantly evolved (but with the same soul and targeted goals to support mind, body and spirit betterment), The Ranch unfolds across 4,000 acres of unspoiled terrain, some of that garden-dotted and crisscrossed by hiking paths.

Dreamy white casitas with colorful interiors and Mexican art set a mood, an organic garden proffers healthy meals, a spa beckons and instructors lead an astonishing array of 80 classes and workshops from Pilates to aquatics to cooking. Curate your own program with three-, four-, seven- or 21-day packages.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Clinching wellness motifs and celebrating Mexican culture since 1999, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, situated about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta and just south of the characteristic surfing town of Sayulita, only gets better with age. Constantly reconceiving, rejigging and repolishing (its pre-Hispanic-themed Apuane Spa has been renovated recently along with many other property features), the stellar sanctuary on the Pacific Coast incorporates both nature and local culture in its offerings.

Become meditative as you learn to bead in a Huichol workshop, pedal through an Ocean View Spin Class, sweat and pump it at Beach Boot Camp, balance atop a paddleboard during Aqua Forza and get centered during Hatha Yoga on “The Rock,” a promontory that hovers above the waves.

More curative things to come in November, when Naviva, A Four Seasons Resort opens five minutes away. Geared to connect guests with the terrain, it will brandish luxury tents with private plunge pools, outdoor soaking tubs and an authentic Mexican tamazcal experience.

Rancho Pescadero
As if it were brushstrokes on a landscape artist’s canvas, Rancho Pescadero mirrors the unique Baja region ecosystem that surrounds it. The property incorporates desert, dunes, tree-fringed paths and a secluded beach from which whales can often be spied. In Todos Santos, one of Mexico’s 36 unique towns designated a Pueblo Magico, about an hour from Los Cabos, the resort reopens in October with 103 suites and oceanfront villas. Key to its reimagined redo, Ranch Pescadero has passionately embraced both sustainability and wellness, catering to what they believe will be a more conscientious clientele.

Driven by a wellness philosophy born from the wisdom of indigenous plants, the spa features an apothecary with an adjacent garden—where guests can pluck herbs for house-made tinctures, scrubs and oils—as well as freestanding treatment nests, cocoons of tranquility. Native cacao ceremonies, guided meditations, intention-candle workshops, breathwork and yoga spur guests to inner illumination, while an ethnobotanical culinary concept that invites guests to forage for their own meal ingredients nourishes both body and spirit.

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