A Wild Telenovela Star and Three Stressed out Hollywood-Types Find Peace at The Tides with Ancient Mayan Ceremony

Private massage beds overlooking the ocean

The MEXICO Report
SPA Review

By Susie Albin-Najera

Hollywood can be a stressful place and not always as glamorous as it’s portrayed on television. Writers have constant pressure to write, while producers have constant pressure to deliver and actors have constant pressure to perform (and find work, for that matter). And there are times when you need to just stop and take a break.

Fernando Carrillo

Recently, we were invited by Fernando Carrillo to join him in Mexico for some potential business opportunities, ones that could showcase the spectacular beauty of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Fernando Carrillo is an internationally recognized telenovela star who has graced enough Spanish magazine covers to capture the attention of millions. Regardless that he lives a wild (and sometimes controversial) life, people still flock to this dramatic and charismatic telenovela star wherever he goes. And when we arrived into Cancun, I told him about the special plans to ‘wind down’.

Through my resourceful contacts at Mexico Boutique Hotels, Sylvie Laitre and Rocio Martinez Quintal, I was introduced to The Tides Riviera Maya in the Playa Del Carmen area in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, 45 minutes south of the Cancun airport. Mexico Boutique Hotels is a private collection of exclusive, handpicked boutique hotels in Mexico meeting the highest standards of service and levels of excellence possible. Since we were already going to be in the area for business, a review was imminent.

Najera, Carrillo, Alva, Montoya, Albin-Najera

We (as in comedic actor/writer Rick Najera, comedy producer/director Scott Montoya, Fernando Carrillo and I) followed the signs to The Tides from the main stretch of highway leading to the ocean.  By the looks of the road going in, you would have never imagined you were heading to a super secluded tropical paradise and one of the ‘Top 3 Resorts in Mexico’ as per Condé Nast Traveler’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards.

The Tides Riviera Maya General Manager Pedro Lara

When we arrived to the outdoor lobby, The Tides General Manager, Pedro Lara and Spa Director, Cinthya Alva graciously greeted us. Their energy was calm and good.  Ours was very much stressed out.

The setting was the type of paradise that you would imagine in a colorful dream accompanied by a song like The Flower Duet by Lakmé, outside with nature in a warm climate with a soft breeze, among a long stretch of white sandy beach, vivid turquoise waters and the sweet sound of birds chirping blissfully among the trees. No BlackBerrys buzzing (we turned them off), no kids crying (we left them with Grandma). Just you and the earth as one. Modern had met primitive.

Temascal at The Tides

Following introductions, we headed over to the infinity pool overlooking the turquoise ocean, then over to the Temascal structure (a purification of both the body and the spirit). Fernando was like a kid in a candy store and wanted to explore everything, but we took our time. We continued down the path on our tour and were treated to a frozen fruit shish kabob, customary for any guest of the resort upon arrival.

We headed on the path that led to the lush jungle refuge abound with monkeys, tropical birds and iguanas.  Pedro showed us The Tide’s unique jungle retreats: the Writers Retreat, the Readers Retreat and the Artists Retreat, each of which designated areas inspire creativity, expression and healing.

The Writers Retreat

This was the perfect place for stressed-out industry folks. Soon we passed by the Mayan kitchen, a hut with a hole in the dirt used for cooking or roasting and then passed through the sacred Mayan Fertility House, where fertility ceremonies are performed for eager conceivers.  I had to get out of there quick. Three kids are enough for me.

The Mayan Fertility House

Finally we arrived to The Maya Spa, set in the lush jungle, which offered the widest and most unique selection of services I’ve seen. At the start of our Ancient Mayan Ceremony, they had us remove our shoes, stretch out our arms and close our eyes, then outlined our bodies with burning copal (a type of resin produced from tree sap used by the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica cultures as ceremonially burned incense).

The Maya Spa at The Tides

Next, they brushed us from head to toe with a sage-like herb called ruda to rid any bad energy.  Side note: all the herbs used in the spa and resort are grown in their own herb garden located steps away from the spa.

I was then led to the women’s side of the spa and the boys to their side . Inside Cinthya, the spa director, greeted me with a fresh juice infusion of Jamaica flower, lime juice and apple and with sincere conviction, went on to describe each area of the spa.

Copal

Massage beds in the jungle

After a sufficient steaming, I went to the designated massage area smack dab in the middle of the jungle encircled only by thin mesh. Cinthya, who had studied healing massage methods from a Shaman in a remote village, began the ceremony by rubbing a raw egg all over my body. Remember this was a Mayan massage with ancient remedies and the egg symbolized the removal of any bad energy or pain lurking in the body. I think I had enough stress to turn that raw egg into a hard-boiled one.

Next she brushed me lightly with the aromatic herbs to cleanse and take away more stress along with ‘cupping’ on my back. The cupping was like a suction movement in a snake-like formation applied on the back to take away any remaining stress and replace it with good energy.

Burning copal, candles, ruda (sage), organic coconut oil and the "egg"

Along with the organic sounds from Mother Nature, the next hour of ritual of the Ancient Mayan Ceremony consisted of a light massage complemented by a combination of herbs and organic coconut oil from Tizimin, a small Mayan village.  It was relaxing, tranquil, serene, quiet and was the perfect time to let go of old energy and receive new, positive energy. I never wanted it to end.

After the service, feeling cleansed, rejuvenated and renewed, all of us met back in the lounge outside the spa, where we talked at length about the experience. Both Rick and Scott said they felt completely detoxed, relaxed and stress-free. And you really could tell it in their faces. The serene effects of the massage affected Fernando so heavily that he fell asleep on the massage bed and snored so loud, he probably upset a few monkeys in the trees.

What I liked most about the Ancient Mayan Ceremony, even more than the massage, was the jungle environment, the all-natural, aromatic atmosphere and the all around good aura.  Experiencing this type of massage in the jungle was also a first for all of us.

The Maya Spa at The Tides Riviera Maya is a destination spa and a true haven. Although we did not take part in the Temascal treatment, I would recommend experiencing it during a full moon as you will receive the full energy benefits and most spiritual experience possible.

We eventually woke Fernando from his deep slumber and were soon on our way to our next adventure…

Mexico Boutique Hotels: www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com

The Tides Riviera Maya: http://www.tidesrivieramaya.com/

The Maya Spa: http://www.tidesrivieramaya.com/spa/

Believe it or not, I took all of these photos on site at The Tides.
The Tides logo courtesy of The Tides.

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Susie Albin-Najera
Susie Albin-Najera is the creator and editor of The Mexico Report, an award winning travel blog showcasing news, deals and resources for the modern traveler. Najera is a writer, author, travel blogger, marketing and public relations specialist and producer. Najera serves on the host committee for Maestro Cares, founded by singer Marc Anthony and producer Henry Cardenas; and on the advisory board for Corazon de Vida, providing aid to children in Mexico. She is also the creator of 'The Real Heroes of Mexico' showcasing community heroes in Mexico and producer of Latino Thought Makers. Najera has been recognized by the Mexican Consulate and Mexico Tourism Board for fostering positive relations between countries and her dedication to showcasing Mexico as a premiere destination. She can be reached at info@themexicoreport.com

5 comments for “A Wild Telenovela Star and Three Stressed out Hollywood-Types Find Peace at The Tides with Ancient Mayan Ceremony

  1. 2010-03-10 at 4:34 am

    Boutique hotels differentiate themselves from larger chain/branded hotels and motels by providing personalized accommodation and services / facilities. Sometimes known as “design hotels” or “lifestyle hotels”

  2. 2010-02-24 at 8:48 pm

    Incredible! Please keep these coming! I felt I was right there with you guys. The visuals (pics) are also a huge plus. I could hear Fernando snoring all the way in Texas! LOL!

  3. Iwalani
    2010-02-24 at 11:57 am

    Wow! I want to go! This sounds muy fantastico! Thank you for these articles…it prepares us for our upcoming trip to Baja again.

  4. Wallyce Todd
    2010-02-23 at 9:57 pm

    mmmmm-mmmm, I wanna go because you helped me “feel” the place with your words and pictures….

  5. 2010-02-23 at 3:43 pm

    Susie! You describe the atmosphere so well. I lived in Playa for a year and, although I never visited The Tides, the ambient you described is exactly the way it is. Bummer you didn´t try out the Temascal, it´s an intense experience that´s totally worth it.
    Thanks for sharing this with us!

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