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A Sanctuary of Wellness

Why connecting with nature is one distinguished spa director’s secret to holistic health

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Photo Credit: Krystal Chryssomallis
Photo Credit: Krystal Chryssomallis

Perched on the threshold of the Pacific in Riviera Nayarit, the recently opened Conrad Punta de Mita is envisioned as an ode to — and in harmony with — the surrounding natural beauty. The resort’s design serves as a portal into the landscape, history and rich multi-cultural identity of the region.

Accentuated by lush tropical vegetation, open corridors and contemporary coastal décor, the nature-centric aesthetic reflects a core belief of the Huichol: that transformation and personal development occur through connection to nature.

This embrace of what’s local and natural is also one brought by Aristides Carrillo, the resort’s Spa & Recreation Director.

Photo Credit: Beth Doane

Drawing on the ancient culture’s rich traditions and rituals, Carrillo has debuted unique concepts, like spa treatments that utilize the area’s locally-grown herbs, fruits, oils and spices, and a traditional temazcal experience, that allow guests to immerse themselves in Mexican culture, history and mysticism. The Conrad SPA embodies these ideals with its paradisiacal outdoor space, featuring seven cocoon treatment cabanas nestled among the vegetation and connected by a tunnel of plants and flowers.

I spoke with Carrillo about how wellness can reshape our bodies and minds, what wellness tenants guide the Conrad SPA and how people can practice these in their daily lives in order to achieve holistic wellbeing.

Beth Doane: What is the biggest wellness trend you’re seeing currently?
Aristides
Carrillo: Now more than ever, wellness has evolved from a simple appointment scheduled into a busy day to the overarching need and achievement of a deep connection with the inner self. With this new outlook, we are observing and stressing the importance of offering physical-mental-emotional experiences that yield a more well-rounded and effective wellness regiment. We are constantly participating in workshops on the importance of these deeper experiences that also emphasize the importance that good quality of rest, sleep, and nutrition have in our daily lives. This allows us to continue providing the leading and most relevant wellness trends for our guests.

Photo Credit: Krystal Chryssomallis

Doane: One of the property’s most unique features, and one of its most spiritual tributes to Indigenous culture, is a temazcal. Can you tell us more about what a temazcal is?
Carrillo:
A temazcal is a low-heat sweat lodge that originated from the pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica. The overall experience not only promotes physical wellbeing and healing, but it’s also a spiritual ritual that is performed in a very respectful and traditional way, encouraging reflection and introspection. The temazcal’s unique clay dome structure represents the womb of Mother Earth, allowing the spirit to renew and symbolically achieve the rebirth of participants.

The temazcal in Conrad Punta de Mita is located in the outdoor section of Conrad SPA, and was even blessed by a local shaman before being built. The volcanic stones used to burn the fire inside the dome are hand picked from a specific mountain range located two hours from the resort by the shaman that leads the experience. We are thrilled to bring forth the incredible health benefits from this traditional experience, which include detoxifying the body, cleansing the respiratory system, reducing fatigue, and improving endurance.

Photo Credit: Krystal Chryssomallis

Doane: I imagine that you’ve had the opportunity to explore many different wellness rituals. How do you practice wellness in your own life, and what has made the biggest difference for you?
Carrillo:
First and foremost, I’m very conscious about the way our bodies work, so I focus on my nutrition carefully. Second — and very important to me — is sleeping well, since a good rest is the base for the body to recover and have enough energy each day. Last, I practice some type of sport activity or physical exercise. It improves my physical health, but, more significantly, it relaxes and stimulates my body systems.

Doane: How have you used wellness to overcome some of the hardest challenges you’ve faced?
Carrillo:
I keep a well-rounded balance between my fast-paced work schedule and wellness regiment. I strive to dedicate a part of my day to my wellbeing by focusing on regular wellness practices, like daily physical activity, that give my mind and body a much-needed reprieve.

Photo Credit: Krystal Chryssomallis

Doane: What are three tips for practicing wellness that can guide guests when they leave the property?
Carrillo:
That is simple. First, be able to let go! At the hotel, we strive to provide a relaxing and quiet environment for our guests to unplug and unwind from their fast-paced lives. Our lobby and outdoor spa entrance ways are framed by wood structures that symbolically divide calm and chaos. They transport guests from the harsh hustle and bustle of the outside world into our paradisiacal environment. When they’re at home, guest can continue practicing this ‘pausing’ exercise with easy steps:

(1) Take occasional walks in nearby parks. There is nothing better than enjoying and embracing the outdoors.
(2) Explore new places and embrace opportunities to try new restaurants, cuisines, and other cultural experiences. There is always an opportunity to discover a new journey full of adventures.
(3) Make time and space for relaxation at home. Take care of yourself!

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