CUERNAVACA, MEXICO - Group sex and group spas have one thing in common – you never know who to thank. Who was that woman whipping me with those limp, wet branches that surprisingly, made me feel so good?
You never get introduced to the person administrating all those good feelings when you spa with a group of people in Mexico. You just hope the person next to you has a gentle touch.
Like the woman sitting with me in the traditional temazcal, a bowl shaped room made of clay that dates back to the Aztec period. As an old priest chanted and the darkened room filled with steam, the woman whom I’d never seen before began slapping me with the branches and joined the priest moaning the chants.
Soon everyone was moaning – with delight – thanks to the soothing effects of the steam, created when an attendant poured water on some volcanic rocks.
These Aztec spa treatments, I discovered, quickly become an endurance test, with everyone else in the temazcal waiting for one person to wave the white flag, or in this case white towel, and leave.
That person was a lady from France, who couldn’t take it any longer and left – with a lot of other people following her. Soon the whole group was standing outside gasping for breath and pouring cold water over their overheated bodies.
What we had all just experienced was one of the oldest spa treatments in the world – a therapy consisting of pre-Hispanic medicine used by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago.
Left: The grounds offer some relaxing escapes from the real world. Right: The decorations around the complex help put a smile on your face.
It’s now back in fashion at a chic spa complex called Mision del Sol Spa and Resort, located in this handsome colonial town that has been a playground for the rich and powerful throughout Mexico’s history.
The Aztec treatment is designed to purify the body and soul, hence the priest, and it has become the signature treatment at this world renowned spa where people come from around the world to enjoy some unusual therapy.
Everything is done for a reason here. For instance, you are made to sweat because it helps detoxify the body, cleanse the respiratory system and induces total relaxation.
At least that’s what I think the therapist told me. I was too tired after the temazcal treatment to really listen closely.
Mision del Sol came into existence eight years ago with a mission to promote a balance between body, mind and spirit. It quickly earned a reputation for accomplishing its goals and recruited high profile wellness figures, including Dr. Deepak Chopra, to help guests achieve the full benefits during their visit.
Few people go away from here unhappy.
But this is not your usual spa. Here they take their craft seriously and besides treatments guests are encouraged to attend workshops, conferences and classes to understand the benefits of coming here.
The owners couldn’t have picked a better spot for the spa. Cuernavaca has been making people feel good for years. This is Mexico City’s resort town. It’s just 50 miles from the capital and people escape the confusion of Mexico City for the tranquility of Cuernavaca on weekends and holidays.
This city’s network of natural hot springs, fed by nearby volcanic mountains, is what people come here for. Mision del Sol has tapped into those springs and now its guests are reaping the benefits.
But it’s not just the spa that makes guests feel good at Mision del Sol. The resort’s walled complex is an Eden that makes you want to kick off your shoes and relax beside the huge multi-colored pool where yoga, tai chi and meditation classes are held each morning.
The spa compound is made up of 12 all-natural adobe villas which contain 40 luxurious rooms. The emphasis here is on the environment so each of the villas is solar heated and the room amenities are all made from natural products.
Even the fruit served in the spa’s open air restaurant is grown on property so it conforms to the strict standards employed here.
The spa offers more than 60 treatments, some foreign to most North American spa regulars. Treatments like Reiki, which is based on the principle of Chi or universal energy and helps promote healing through methods rooted in ancient spiritual traditions.
And one called Liminik - electromagnetic energy (photons) that are used to reorganize and expand cellular revitalization. But the one that is most popular is the four-handed massage, which features two therapists working in choreographed harmony.
Talk about knowing who to thank!
As advertised, two therapists synchroniz their techniques and their hands and fingers danced over the body and create a symphony of pleasure. The four-hand treatment is no gimmick. By working together the two therapists are supposed to enhance the nervous and lymphatic systems, thus creating immediate physical and mental re-activation. The one-hour session was mind-bogglingly wonderful and left me in a state of euphoria.
Some of the other unique treatments the spa is recognized for include craniosacral therapy, based on the study of cranial bones; crystal therapy, where quartz crystals are placed on different parts of the body; polarity therapy, which includes therapeutic touches in different body zones to balance energy fields; and floral holistic, healing based on flowers, trees and herbs.
There is no better place than Mision del Sol to conduct the latter treatment. The grounds are filled with enchanting hidden gardens where guests can seek peaceful refuge or enjoy one of the amazing treatments.
At many wellness centers the meals can be uneventful but at Mision del Sol healthy dishes are enhanced with Mexican spices, leaving a lasting impression. Fresh fish dishes come swimming in light sauces delicately spiced with chilies.
The spa also stimulates your sense of adventure with day trips to mythical Aztec towns like Teotihuacan, Malinalco, Xochicalco and Tepoztlan, the ancient centre for alternative medicine where guests get to expand their levels of awareness. Mision del Sol is a place that must be visited to be truly appreciated.