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The Secrets of Joyfulness

At Rosewood Mayakoba, health is found through happiness: the acclaimed regional director of wellness Emmanuel Arroyo describe the practices that can elevate our wellbeing.

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Photo Credit: Beth Doane
Photo Credit: Beth Doane

Rosewood Mayakoba wants to change the time you go to bed.

The luxury resort along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, in harmony with the surrounding verdant jungle and white-sand beaches, is both an intoxicating coastal escape and a sanctuary to reinvigorate wellness. Drawing on traditional Ayurvedic practices, the resort’s Sense Spa promotes transformative experiences, with lessons in healing our bodies that extend well beyond the treatments.

Photo Credit: Beth Doane

One easy change to employ is with our sleep. Daniel Seymour, the resident Ayurvedic practitioner, encourages people to consider their Ayurvedic body clock, and when our energy signatures, or dosha, are more active. By honoring these internal processes and building our routine around them, we open ourselves to better energy and clearer minds.

“If we want to live a life where we are thriving, we have to really look at the habits we create. They can determine the overall quality of our life and happiness,” Seymour said.

Emmanuel Arroyo, the regional director of spa & wellness for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, is the wellness visionary behind Sense Spa. I had the pleasure of speaking with Arroyo about disconnecting from work to live a more authentic expression of our higher purpose. And one of his most important tips? Embrace joy. It was the impetus behind the spa, and the feeling they want to help guests cultivate. “The property is about joy. That’s how I would define it here,” he says.

Photo Credit: Rosewood Mayakoba

You’ve worked with many different Rosewood spas, all in unique locations with unique personalities and histories. What was your vision for this one?
It was a dream to direct it. We wanted the property to be more than a spa — we want to nourish people’s lives, even after they leave.

This culture, with the Mayan influence, is very, very proud of its roots — the entire property is rooted in tradition. There is so much wisdom in the Mayan culture, and we wanted to extract it and shape it into wellness.

To build the spa, I worked with an architect who was very familiar with the traditional ways of designing pre-Hispanic buildings, along with the resident shaman and an expert of biodynamics.

The spa is surrounded by the natural world, and embracing nature is so important for healing, so every single treatment has a connection with the sensory garden, which we built here with healing herbs. All of the treatments organically connect you with nature.

Photo Credit: Beth Doane

While your guests are interested in wellness, many of them have busy lives. How do you help them return to their personal health journey at the spa, and how do you help these benefits last after their stay?
Most of our guests come from New York, and most of them walk into the treatment rooms with phones. We want to get people to a place where they are on vacation and truly disconnected. We can treat superficial aches and pains, but stress is not coming from our muscles. It’s coming from the way we think and feel.

We focus on a journey towards resilience. Learning how to be resilient is the single greatest thing. If you are resilient, you don’t dwell on failure or loss, and your life will change dramatically. Obstacles and challenges will always be there — it’s all about how we deal with them. We spend so much time focusing on the wrong things that it’s hard to move on.

What are the key wellness takeaways from your spa that anyone can practice in their own lives?
At Rosewood, we distinguished four different pillars to help guide people to live better lives — people have to be able to find optimism, they must be resourceful, they must have a purpose in life, and they must have empathy and compassion.

When we connect to a higher purpose, everything changes.

And, marry oneself. Commit to your own happiness first.

Daniel’s Ayurvedic practices can be life-changing. Why was it important to incorporate Ayurvedic properties into the Rosewood Mayakoba spa?
Ayurveda is the first form of medicine known by man. It was the earliest form of healing and carries so many keys to wellness. The Rosewood Ayurvedic practicioner creates essential oils from that region of Mexico, so they have the greatest healing properties. They go into your blood system and then directly the limbic system, so it actually affects your emotions.

What is the largest trend in wellness you are seeing right now?
Guests are seeking more insightful experiences that provide ways for them to enhance and strengthen themselves in a holistic way — physically, mentally and emotionally. We are also seeing more alternative therapies and energy healing within the hospitality sector, as consumers continue to look for answers beyond traditional treatments.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, especially our mental health and communities. What have you noticed at the spa, and how have you met these changes?
Humans need touch. We do treatments where we put experiences before the massages to help people feel and be better. It’s not just being at a hotel, but being at home.

How will hospitality have to shift post-COVID?
Hospitality will need to turn to health safety as a priority, from increasing options for dining and meeting spaces, to technological advances in in-door air purification.

Wellness will continue to expand, and therapies to boost immunity are only the beginning of those changes. Guests will be looking for experiences and places that enrich their lives, not only during their stays, but they will seek those that provide progressive personal growth after their visits.

Photo Credit: Beth Doane

What is your favorite quote?
I have several but certainly one of my favorites is: “A man is but the product of his own thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” – Gandhi

How do you hope guests feel after they visit Sense Spa?
We focus on creating life-enriching experiences with a peripheral wellness perspective and ensure that we have a presence on all levels of the guest experience. This gives travelers even more of a reason to visit our property. Some of our most loyal guests have shared that they love coming back to a place that not only makes them feel great but that encourages them to be better.

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