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It was when my spa therapist blew into a conch shell; then asked me to acknowledge north, south, east, and west to balance Earth’s energies; then whacked me with a stick of rosemary; and finally set some palo santo on fire that I knew that this was not going to be a regular spa day. No, this being Chablé, a new Mexican spa-resort 25 minutes from the historic city of Mérida, what I was in for was a vacation involving full-blown Mayan shamanic mysticism.
From the second guests arrive on the property, in a 750-acre reforested jungle on the grounds of a 19th-century hacienda, the focus is on ancient Mayan heritage. The spa itself is above a spring-fed cenote. (Sinkholes are healing in Mayan culture.) Guests meet with a spa attendant who asks a series of questions: What’s your daily routine? Are you stressed? Do you sit at a desk all day? The answers lead the attendant to suggest one of three spa journeys for the guest: the Fountain of Youth (to enhance one’s flow); the Tree of Life (to create balance); and Heaven on Earth (to inspire). My attendant told me to do the Tree of Life to bring about transformation, stability, and manifestation.
I started, like all guests, with a pretreatment hydrotherapy circuit involving Jacuzzis, a steam room, a sauna, and a cold plunge pool. Then the “journey” treatments—such as the Mayan Herbal Compress Massage (to rid the body of muscle tension), which I did—are meant to help guests on their odysseys.
Is this voodoo or does it actually do the body good? I can’t really say, but it’s worth noting that I came home super relaxed, refreshed, and healthy-feeling—not to mention espousing the Toltec wisdom I inherited from reading Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements while lazing by the spa’s granite pool. Rooms from $1,040; chableresort.com.