Before we even left for Mexico, I’d heard that the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Spa was amazing and I was looking forward to trying it out. Yet it is one of those things that until you experience it yourself, you can’t really imagine what would make one spa so special. I soon discovered for myself why they won all their awards and kicked off our family vacation with the best spa experience of my life — what a way to kick off a trip!
Now I love a real spa experience. To me, if I’m going to spend money for a massage, I want a full experience — robe, relaxation room, steam room, jacuzzi…the works. A local Massage Envy may be great for working out the kinks, but it is not really relaxing. And on vacation, relaxation is what it is all about at a resort like the Grand Velas.
The experience at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Spa was perfection from start to finish. I was greeted in reception with a water and a cold cloth to cool my face. Next, I was brought into the inner sanctum to fill out my health questionnaire and provided another refreshing beverage with filling chia seeds. After confirming my service selection, I was then ushered downstairs to begin my Water Journey.
The Water Journey features separate hydrotherapy facilities for men and women and is included with any treatment of 50 minutes or more. The Journey itself takes about an hour and is composed of seven different water experiences. This experience is a big part of why The Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya was voted “Best Spa in the World” by Virtuoso in 2010.
The Riviera Maya Spa Water Journey is designed for relaxation and calm, with chaise lounges edging a hydrotherapy pool in a jungle-like setting. The level of service is unsurpassed as you are personally escorted from station to station, with fresh towels, cold water and healthy snacks available throughout the 45-90 minutes you spend immersed in this experience.
The Journey starts off with a sauna for five to ten minutes and in between stations are warm and cold showers. After the sauna, the Ice Room was a welcome and rejuvenating shock with a chilly freshness and ice coated towels to cool your body. Other offerings include a color steam room, which is almost like stepping into a space ship with pinpoint LED lights in the ceiling and a circular bench around the perimeter. In the Clay Room, you can coat your face and body with exfoliating clay and an aloe vera gel before spraying off and moving on.
After I finished with these steps, it was time to move on to the hydrotherapy pool. When they told me that the first step was to walk across the sensory pebble pathway nearly knee deep in warm water and then turn and walk back in the parallel walkway in cold water, I thought, no way. I don’t like stepping into cold water. And I was supposed to do this three times? My first few steps had me gasping but by the time I reached the end my legs were tingling and felt fantastic so I decided to keep going.
After that, I moved into the main pool, which featured shoulder-high massaging jets, jets to hit the lower back and legs, and a water bubble bed. After all that I couldn’t have been more relaxed so instead of using the jacuzzi and cold plunge pool, I decided to relax and read until it was time for my treatment.
When my time came, I was again escorted up to one of the 42 treatment suites, where I was to receive a Bacal Massage. Utilizing Mayan traditions, this treatment started by soaking my feet into a basin of rice or seeds, while breathing in incense, which was surprisingly relaxing. The Bacal Massage was a combination of a scrub and a massage. The scrub utilized dry corn and honey to exfoliate and soften the skin, followed by a gentle essential oil massage using corn cobs to apply pressure. I was worried that the 50 minutes would go too quickly and it wouldn’t be relaxing but I was dead wrong. The massage was so relaxing that I nearly fell asleep.
When I finally emerged in a haze of relaxation, I finished up my journey with a Vitamin C shower and came out feeling refreshed. It is easy to see how the Spas at Velas Resorts have won numerous industry awards, including Most Excellent Spa Hotel by Condé Nast Johansens, Virtuoso’s Best Spa in the World, Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Award for Best Spa Hotel, a SpaFinder Readers’ Choice, and Travel + Leisure’s Best Spas, among others. It was by far the best spa experience I’ve had to date and can’t recommend it highly enough.
If you get a chance to go, you may want to book in advance to get your ideal time. And, be sure to leave plenty of time (at least an hour) before your massage to enjoy the water journey experience — it is worth it, trust me! If you really can’t break away for that long (but remember, there is a kids club!), the Grand Velas Riviera Maya also offers poolside massages either at your chair or in the relaxing cabanas. They even offer express massages for kids poolside. My daughter and her cousin were in heaven after theirs!
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Note: My spa service was complimentary for purposes of this review. However, I would have booked a service anyway and almost everyone in our party had some sort of spa experience and all were highly recommended.