Story and photography by Barbara Angelakis
SPAzul at THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen
SPAzul at THE ROYAL Cancun
During my recent visit to the Yucatan Peninsula to participate in the Real Resorts Mayan Festival (see story in Hotels & Resorts), I had the pleasure of staying at both THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen and THE ROYAL Cancun resorts, both having SPAzul spas. In order to immerse myself in the Mayan experience I requested ritual Mayan treatments. Of course, SPAzul offers the usual massages, bodywork, and facials that all spas offer, but in addition, they offer treatments that incorporate Mayan spiritual healing procedures. Examples is the Temazcal (a permanent structure similar to a Native American sweat lodge used by indigenous Mesoamerican peoples to purify and heal) the Nine Leaves Divine Bath (a sacred bath to treat the spiritual diseases of the soul) the Earth, Wind, Water and Fire massage treatments, and many others. That was what I wanted, something more in keeping with the reason I had traveled to Mexico.
SPAzul at THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen is located in a building separate from the main hotel. A short walk along a garden path will take you past the Temazcal and a fountain designed with three showers of water pooling underneath. The large reception area and gift shop certainly can occupy if you are early but I was anxious to relax and prepare myself before my treatment and was shown to the women’s lounge and dressing rooms.
I quickly changed into my bathing suit and entered into the impeccably clean waiting room with steam room, sauna, double Jacuzzi and cold plunge pool. Lowering myself into the Jacuzzi and letting the hot water pulse against my aching back felt wonderful and I stayed in until the water began to feel comfortable instead of hot. I exited and with trepidation dipped a toe into the cold plunge pool but thought better of it and wrapped myself in the warm terry robe and waited for my therapist. A beautiful young woman by the name of Nany collected me. She was carrying a large Caracol shell and she led me outside to the Temazcal. She asked me if I was claustrophobic and I said no, so she proceeded.
We faced each direction as she blew into the Caracol shell, each time the sound shook me to my core sending vibrations down to my toes. We bowed at the entrance of the Temazcal, said a little prayer, and asked permission of the spirits to enter. Nany invited me inside and closed the doors leaving us both in darkness except for the smoky haze of the volcanic rock burning in a pit in the center of the room. We sat on a bench circling the perimeter of the stone house and allowed the smoke to wash over us. Nany kept up a kind of chant leading me to connect with my past and release any bad experiences; to forgive those that injured me, and ask for forgiveness for those I had injured. Meanwhile the sweat is pouring out of me and I feared I might slide off the narrow bench I was so wet, but I sense this is just a diversion my mind is playing to avoid dealing with unpleasant past experiences. I allow myself to surrender to the smoke, my memories, and Nany’s words, until with a shout it is over. She carefully opens the doors and leads me outside. She bids me to bow again, this time in gratitude for my lessons learned, and we both dip our legs into the cool fountain to ground ourselves after such a moving experience.
Nany then leads me back into the spa and performs a spectacular full body massage using both river stones and herb pacs. Similar herbs were used for healing by the ancient Mayans. Once finished Nany leads me outside again, this time to the beach, just a 5 minute walk from the spa. While we face the water with arms raised, she again blows the Caracol shell and hands me a beautiful hand-made book into which I am supposed to write my thoughts and feelings. The sand beneath my feet is pure white, silky smooth, before me the water is turquoise, deepening in hue as I gaze further out. The sun is still high in the sky and I wanted to drop to my knees in wonder at this beautiful scene before me. Unfortunately, the almost 3 hour spa treatment leaves me little time before having to rush off to dress for the Mayan Festival on Isla Mujeres (see story in Hotel section) so sadly I leave the beach keeping my thoughts to myself. As a footnote, the Temazcal ceremony worked for me, clearing out the experiences of the past that had lived with me for so long. Thank you Nany.
At THE ROYAL Cancun I arrived in the evening and left the next afternoon, leaving me only a short time for a SPAzul treatment in the morning. Again the spa building was separate from the main hotel. Here I was to have a facial and Cristina was my therapist. I had the Luminous “C” & Sea Facial, which hydrates the skin and improves elasticity. Not exactly a Mayan healing treatment, but nevertheless, very effective. My skin positively glowed for days.
© January 2013 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.