Travel + Leisure (USA)
Mexico is fertile ground for a set of new wellnessfocused resorts that are firmly rooted in a sense of place.
WHEN IT COMES to hotel yoga sessions, I’ve learned to keep my expectations low. The kind of practices I’ve experienced at luxury resorts have been rudimentary at best, despite the often beautiful settings. But on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, along the Caribbean Sea, I found something wholly different. For the first morning of a four-night visit last spring, I had signed up for a hatha class with my instructor, Jesus Aguilar, at the just-opened Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection (auberge resorts.com; doubles from $899). In a sunlight-filled studio, Aguilar expertly guided me through an intense series of poses, stretches, and strength moves that left me so invigorated I booked a session every morning for the rest of my stay. It turned out yoga was just the beginning. Etéreo’s wellness program, which takes a deep dive into local health traditions, offers treatments like the Mayan Full Moon Ceremony, which is held every 28 days in honor of Ixchel, goddess of the moon, and is conducted by a shaman known as Yaotekatl, who leads guests in lunar meditation. In the Sana spa (sana is a Spanish term that roughly translates to “in healthy spirit”), the building’s ethereal curves are meant to evoke nearby cenotes. Treatments incorporate ingredients chosen by the resort’s botanist, who works with healing herbs and flowers (like rosemary, geranium, calendula, and palo santo) that are still used by local communities as home remedies. Before guests arrive, Yaotekatl cleanses every room by making an offering to the cardinal points of ancient Mayan religion—north, west, east, center, and south—to promote a sense of balance and well-being. Etéreo is just one example of Mexican resorts that are embracing a newfound sense of place. In fact, the country was T+L’s most recent Destination of the Year, and the momentum continues this fall with the debut of three other standout properties: Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo (four seasons.com; doubles from $1,200), which is spearheading a rewilding effort
along the coast; Casa Chablé (chable hotels.com; doubles from $723), located just south of Tulum in the Sian Ka’an
Biosphere Reserve; and the Waldorf Astoria Cancun (hilton.com; doubles from $624), where the 21-treatment-room spa is set amid a 100-acre protected mangrove forest. On my last day at Etéreo, I convinced my woo-woo-averse husband to join me in an hour-long sound-therapy session. As luck would have it, Aguilar is also a sound practitioner, and he moved between gongs, chimes, shakers, and singing bowls, all set against a soundtrack of chants. It left us in a meditative state, the vibrations connecting us to this Edenic slice of Mexico’s wildly beautiful Yucatán.