Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis
Additional photo by Grand Velas Spa Riviera Nayarit
Leading Spa of the World at Grand Velas
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
On my recent brief visit to Puerto Vallarta, a luxury playground on the West coast of Mexico, I was treated to a spa visit at the five-star Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, one of the three luxury Velas Hotel properties in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico vicinity and a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’.
What made this spa experience a stand-out is not only the beautiful property which encloses it, but the seven step hour-long hydrothermal circuit offered complimentary to each guest before their treatment. When signing up for a session, you are encouraged to bring your bathing suit, everything else is provided including non-skid slippers.
After navigating the stunning lobby of Grand Velas to reach the spa, I signed in and was shown to the dressing rooms where I changed into my bathing suit. A smiling attendant collected me and communicating in sign language (unfortunately my Spanish is non-existent, as was her English) she led me on an hour-long water journey that began with a bi-thermal pressure shower. From there I was led into the sauna for 10-15 minutes (my choice) where she placed cucumber slices and a cool towel over my eyes. When I was well-warmed my smiling attendant encouraged me to sit outside the sauna and splash ice crystals – from a huge bowl of crushed ice nestled in a corner of the anti-room - down my head and rub it over my face and body to close and tighten the pores opened by the sauna. I must admit that I am a coward and cheated somewhat but watched in awe as the women following me in the ritual actually did as she was told. Once the screaming stopped - only kidding - we were both laughing by that time and ready to proceed.
Together we were shown to a eucalyptus-scented steam room with rainbow colored changing lights and pin dot led lights in the ceiling. The shadowy colors moving with the bursts of steam led to an other-worldly experience. After another 10 minutes we again showered, separately of course, but in each case carefully monitored by our smiling guide. We were then led to luxuriate in the large, warm, comfy Jacuzzi where we both begged to stay longer than the allotted time. But once ensconced in big warm towels, what awaited us was worth leaving the Jacuzzi for; it was a special foot Jacuzzi that we both enjoyed and which gave us a chance to chat and compare notes on the area and what we each had seen and done since our arrival. (see Dinner in the Sky)
Now comes the part of the story I am ashamed to narrate; the hot and cold lagoons! My new found friend did as she was told and plunged into the cold pool and even stood under the waterfall of cold water while I cowardly dunked my toe and declined further immersion. Next to the cold lagoon was the lovely warm pool also featuring a waterfall which we both luxuriated in until our smiling guide said it was time to get ready for my treatment. After divesting the bathing suit and yet again showering I was led to relax on a chaise lounge with a warm neck wrap applied to lessen any remaining tension prior to my selected treatment.
I had selected the Ancestral Stone Massage hot rock treatment purported to be an ancient therapy using obsidian in combination with the usual river rocks that are normally used alone. Obsidian is an esteemed mineral having healing properties known in traditional indigenous medicine. For the entire list of treatments offered by the spa visit the direct link: http://www.luxuryspamexico.com/resourcefiles/pdf/Menu_SPA_GVRN_2014_122014.pdf
After one completes the hydrothermal circuit and before treatments begins you are offered a choice of herbs picked from the hotel’s own garden. Once your favored herb is selected, crushed to release its odors and inhaled, you are given a candle to light your way into its healing properties. The ritual revolves around transformation with the butterfly as a symbol. Once you have surrendered to the ancient wisdom the treatment begins. This involved preparation sets the stage for the maximum benefit to be gained from the treatment. My hot rock massage was different than others I have had as the therapist used a rolling motion covering the entire body from head to toe with long strokes and digging the edges of the obsidian into the body’s power points. It was very effective after the hydrotherapy buildup and I left the spa feeling as if I was floating. By the time I returned to my room at the five-star, adult-only, all inclusive Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, all I wanted to do was crawl into the soft, comfy bed and chill out.
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