A World Away

How a celebrated spa director adapts traditional practices for modern-day wellness

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A rare blend of whimsy and refinement, W Punta de Mita straddles Mexico’s sea and jungle. Among the lush greenery, the resort boasts celebrations of the artistry of the indigenous Huichol peoples and the stunning natural landscape. The result is refreshing. It’s a twist on what we expect from luxury, sporting bright colors and bold mosaics — and it brings that same playful, transportive spirit to its approach to wellness. At the AWAY Spa, which feels more like a tropical refuge, nature is the inspiration and the surrounding. Treatment beds even offer glass floor cutouts that overlook fishponds, for guests to be submerged in the natural world while relaxing.

Photo Credit: W Punta de Mita

To learn more about how to maximize our personal wellness, I spoke with Spa Director Jennifer Miranda about the small changes we can make to feel better every day, why she loves working in wellness, and the traditional Mexican resin that has healing and spiritual properties.

Doane: How has practicing wellness helped you in your personal life?
Miranda: It totally changed my life, from being able to choose and maintain a healthy diet to having a good quality of sleep at night. It has given me the opportunity to feel well, energized and calm most of the time, especially by knowing how to listen to my body, mind and even my soul. But the best experience is to be able to share what I know with the people that surround me and see a good impact in their daily lives.

Doane: When did you first know you wanted to work in the wellness field?
In my 20’s, I started practicing yoga, and it opened a window for me to explore wellness. I fell in love with the spa industry, not only because you create magical and special moments with each guest, but also for everything you can transmit with your hands, like comfort and relief.

Doane: What was the inspiration behind the experiences you provide at AWAY Spa?
Our guests can disconnect or reconnect, show up solo or with the crew. We give our guests what they want and how they want it. The menu mixes different options to personalize every experience.

Doane: Why do you think it’s so important now for people to take time to slow down and relax?
Miranda: Reducing stress translates to a longer and healthier life.

Doane: What are wellness tips that people can practice at home?
Know your body. Take as much free time as you can to just do nothing. Try to make your dinners using natural ingredients.

But most importantly, make small changes in your personal routine. Consider getting a massage once a month. Make sure to drink enough water. Enjoy a 20 minute aromatherapy session. All of that can have a huge impact, internally and externally, in every one of us.

Doane: The Mexican culture has so many fascinating and beautiful beliefs and practices. What has resonated most with you?
The use of copal resin. The copal is extracted from trees that measure from four to 30 meters. They are mainly found in the Michoacán, Oaxaca and Chiapas states. It is known as an aromatic resin.

Pre-Hispanic civilizations, such as the Aztecs and Mayans, placed it in a clay incense burner as food for the gods. In this ritual, the copal was offered to the four cardinal points and to the Sun to guarantee the protection of the people. They also used it in various ceremonies, such as Temazcal, and to make protective or purifying remedies and incense.

In present time, it is placed in the offerings of the Day of the Dead as a purifier, which allows the spirits of our loved ones to visit us without risk.

The scent of copal is known to be therapeutic. Indigenous communities still use the different types of copal to cure headaches, diseases caused by cold or humidity, stomachaches, toothaches, uterine pain, skin burns, fever, and breathing problems.

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