What is it that makes a Spa experience unique?

What is it that makes a Spa experience unique? After all, even high-end Spas with very capable therapists often amount to nothing more than a dreamily-named standard rental space in an office building, equipped with the obligatory candles, massage tables and perhaps a fountain in the corner to create a certain ambiance. While these venues can fill the need for those 50-80 minutes of bliss and indulgence we so desperately crave in today’s hectic world, they often abruptly eject us back on to the busy street to try to make up for lost time on our agendas.

SPA Experience

So where do we find that true, all-encompassing Spa experience, that interlude with the divine sensation where we lose touch with reality and focus only on ourselves and our wellbeing?

-Leaving the country is a good start.

Now I realize that this isn’t an option for your lunch break, or even for a Saturday morning. But if we’re seeking the ultimate Spa escape, we have to go all-out and shoot for the stars. And what if shooting for the stars translated only into an affordable plane ticket? I know people who pay more to slip away to Vegas for a weekend, and come back more fatigued and worn out than ever. Why not grab your passport and cross the border to return gorgeous and revitalized?

I’m talking about Mexico, because one place I consider an authentically sublime Spa experience is the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit on the country’s Pacific Coast. While it’s not only a Spa Resort, the Spa element of the property is unmistakable, and it’s actual Spa is close to 17,000 square feet of tranquil relaxation in its purest form. To complement the Spa experience is a sophisticated luxury beach resort with some of the best food I have ever tasted. Plus, it’s All-Inclusive– something unheard of in a resort of this category.

What I love about the Spa is that they make it feel like your interlude there has no beginning and no end. To be sure, you enter and leave the facilities, but when that entails a walk from your ocean-view suite down a breezy corridor and back, you are essentially staying in the same place as the Spa and there is no abrupt ending or rude awakening. The suites also have elements that echo the Spa, like luxury bath products and jacuzzis, and the sound of the waves is extra-soothing both day and night.

Once you arrive in the Spa reception area- an expansive, light, marble-floored space whose only noise is the gentle sound of water falling down a full-wall slate fountain- you are lead to the locker areas where the pampering begins. Plush robes and Spa sandals replace your clothing except for a bathing suit  nderneath. After a revitalizing shower, an attendant leads you to in to the hydrotherapy areas, where your eyes take in the hot and cold plunge lagoons, hydro-reflexology stations, and neat row of pristine lounge chairs and bar of icy pitchers of Spa refreshments. Low, 3-foot-wide stone bowls hold circular arrangements of fresh local flower petals; these mandalas are hand-picked and created daily by the staff.

SPA Retreats

The hydrotherapy is a guided, scientifically-planned circuit, with the perfect time dedicated to each element: sauna with refreshing herbal water face and body spritzer, herbal steam room with eucalyptus oils, a waterfall-like pressure shower or dip in the plunge lagoon, session in the Jacuzzi

with a Spa beverage, and seated hydro-reflexology on the soles of your feet, concluding with a vigorous multi-jet Swiss Shower.

Once cloaked in your robe again, you are lead to a lounge chair where an herbal compress is placed on your neck and cold cucumber slices are laid on your closed eyelids, followed by a cool compress. There you rest for several minutes until a soft voice advises you that it is time for your Spa treatment.

For this you may select from a menu of over 60 treatments- the most advanced health and beauty practices from Europe and around the world. Of particular interest to me was the Huichol Ceremony section of the menu, because those treatments reflect the cultural heritage of this area of Mexico. The Huichol people are a Pre-Colonial tribe who create beautiful intricate artwork and have vast knowledge of the healing arts.

I chose a Cora Massage, a highly energetic massage that incorporates various elements of scent, sound and touch. Its promise to relieve tension was fulfilled, beginning with a warm wood-scented oil and compresses of fresh herbs. The sounds of natural instruments like the Kaitsa, Rain Stick and Winchas really did awaken my perceptions. This for me was the height of bliss- an interlude in another time and space. The massage concluded with a gentle ringing of cymbals, and when I was able to gather myself together to float out of the treatment room, my therapist Milli was waiting with a cup of tea.

She lead me back to the lounge area, where again I was allowed to dream beneath the cool slices of cucumber before rising at my own pace and showering with heavenly-scented products. Once back in the reception area, you are free to nibble on fruits and nuts or take a ribbon-wrapped package of these Spa edibles with you.

If you are seeking an integral, authentic Spa experience or wonder what the world’s best Spas are like, I whole-heartedly recommend this Spa, and traveling the distance to enjoy it (either with friends, family or on a solo trip). I personally consider it an investment in my health and mental wellbeing.

Grand Velas in the Riviera Nayarit’s standard rates include the suite of your choice and all meals and beverages. You can then choose your Spa experience á la carte or select a Spa-inclusive package. The resort even offers structured, comprehensive Spa packages called Spa Personal Experiences, which include certain treatments and classes depending on your program goals.

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