The end of the (Maya) world as we know it? Why not feel fine at one of these spas?
- Last Updated: 1:05 AM, November 13, 2012
- Posted: 1:14 PM, November 12, 2012
While doomsdayers predict the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, based on the “end date” of the Maya calendar shown in ancient hieroglyphics, experts say these inscriptions point instead to the culmination of a 5,000-plus-year cycle of time — and the beginning of a new one.
So, what better time to visit Cancun — with its wealth of Maya culture and traditions — and experience one of the many renewing, transformative spa treatments that are influenced by ancient customs and use indigenous ingredients.
And hey, if the apocalypse does come, at least you’ll be relaxed and looking fabulous!
This jewel of a spa, set inside the stylish ME Cancun hotel, prides itself on using Yucatan ingredients in treatments — ground Maya blue corn, Caribbean ginger, locally produced honey and herbs — rather than pre-packaged lotions and potions. That’s especially appealing when it comes to facials, where going the natural, organic route always seems like the better option. For the Yhi Shine Face, the therapist uses a tailor-made mix of honey, lavender, grapes, arnica and calendula to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize — resulting in skin that looks healthy, dewy and, fortunately (despite the treatment name) not at all shiny. Best is the awesome accompanying scalp rub, which leaves you all tingly and refreshed. 50 min. Yhi Shine Face, approx. $127; yhispa.com.
Thalasso Center & Spa
Set along a quiet stretch of beach in Puerto Morelos at the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita hotel, far removed from Cancun’s chaotic hotel zone, this freestanding spa is dedicated primarily to Thalassotherapy (in which purified seawater is used to heal and restore the body). The outdoor saltwater pool is an ideal way to ease yourself into the holistic 80-minute Mayan Massage, which involves lots of vigorous rubbing, kneading and stretching, and even a slightly painful suction-cup treatment on your back that supposedly draws out toxins. Also part of the treatment: an abdominal massage, an ancient Maya therapy where your organs are moved around into their proper place to help with digestion (always a good thing when in Mexico). Mayan Massage, $250; zoetryresorts.com
Heavenly Spa by Westin
Looking for something a bit different, a bit more authentic? Try the Temazcal, a Mesoamerican purifying ritual that takes place in what is, in essence, a sweat lodge. The two-hour ceremony, led by an experienced guide, is meant to cleanse both your body (through sweating) and your mind (through chanting, singing and prayer). Duck to enter through the Hobbit-sized door of the stone hut; inside the dark, low-ceilinged, womb-like space (women indeed used to give birth in Temazcals), a pit in the center is gradually loaded with red-hot rocks. Then the door is closed, plunging you into total blackness. The guide leads you through a series of recitations, all the while beating the rocks with wet herbs to release steam and a heady herbal scent. A little freaky? Yes, but you might come away with a deeper understanding of things. And if nothing else, you’ll have lost a few pounds. Temazcal, $200; starwoodhotels.com .
Coral Beach Gem Spa
If we could marry a spa, we would choose to be joined in holy union with this one. Upon entering this gorgeous 43,000-square-foot spa in the Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, you’ll spot the huge “sensory pool” framed at one end by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean. Cascading water beats you about the head and neck (in a good way); geysers popping up from below massage your feet; beds of bubbles support and massage your entire body. That’s before you even start the 120-minute Mayan God’s Ritual with Tiger-Eye Stone, a very long name for a very awesome treatment that pampers you from head to toe. It begins with a body exfoliation using copal (the resin from a native tree, said by the Maya to revitalize the spirit), followed by a body wrap and facial. And don’t forget to take home the stone that represents your chakra. Mayan God’s Ritual, $376; gemspacancun.com .
Bar none, our favorite massage experience. The four-hand Kukulkan Massage is like no other rubdown, with two therapists stroking and manipulating your body in a continuous, rhythmic manner that mimics the movements of three sacred Maya animals. Long, smooth, S-shaped strokes represent the serpent (of the earth); there’s also the walk of the jaguar (of the underworld) and the eagle (of the heavens). As for the benefits, the Kukulkan claims to release muscular tension, physical blockage and stress — it does all that and so much more: it’s pretty much spoiled us for all other rubdowns. Kukulkan Massage, $205, leblancsparesort.com .
Follow Jennifer Ceaser at twitter.com/mzjulius.