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HOTELS & SPAS

Meeting a shaman in Mexico

December 5, 2013
Entrance to the Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso

When I signed up to meet a shaman in Mexico for a spa ritual at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort, I wasn’t sure what to expect…

To me, spa treatments are sybaritic rather than spiritual. Yet, despite my skepticism, I impulsively signed up for the 90-minute Path of the Shaman ritual at the spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Not knowing exactly what to expect (and admittedly feeling 
nervous), here I was—waiting for what the spa brochure 
described as “an ancient cleansing ritual performed by a Shaman healer in a private sanctuary.”

Do you know what a Shaman actually is? Neither did I.

So I googled it: A person who acts as an intermediary between the natural and spiritual worlds.

Not only had I never before met a Shaman but—being treated by a male spa therapist was an intimidating “first” for me as well.

How bad could it be? The ritual, consistent with the resort’s overall philosophy of creating “a sense of place” for its guests, appealed to my senses on many levels.

The treatments at The Spa at Las Ventanas al Paraiso are based on indigenous Mexican traditions from Baja, blending ancient medicine and holistic therapies. All the natural products and techniques used are based on the four elements: earth, water, fire and air—intended to detoxify the body and mind, and restore equilibrium.

The spa had undergone a major transformation since I had been there several years ago. The newly renovated outdoor lobby offered relaxed seating under a huge palapa. I later found out that the impressive rock fountain, which serves as it centerpiece, was the first rock removed from the site when construction of the resort began in 1996.

Blue lanterns swayed in the breeze overhead as I was warmly greeted by a hostess, who offered me a 
refreshing and tasty green drink, a mix of tomatillo, avocado, cilantro, orange and honey. I filled out the customary form, checking off my health history and treatment preferences. Then I slowly began to unwind, unsure whether it was the herbal brew, the setting, or the comment I overhead from a departing guest that set my mind at ease.

“I’m floating,” she said as she left.

After changing into a comfortable robe and slippers, I was led to an interior palapa area with a circle of thickly padded lounge chairs. The verdant setting looked like a lush, desert garden. The use of curved walls added architectural interest. The warm sun dappled through the roof of woven palm leaves and I closed my eyes for a few minutes until my Shaman arrived.

“I’m Martin,” he said and shook my hand.

The etiquette of spas eludes me to this day. To talk or not to talk? My friend, Donna, a spa maven, told me that people do what they want. “It’s up to you,” she says.

In this case, I was even more confused, “Do you even attempt to make small talk with a Shaman?” I wondered—and then I decided to keep talk to a minimum and go with the proverbial flow.

Martin led me into an airy treatment room, and left as I unrobed and wiggled under the cool sheets of the massage table. I soon smelled the fragrant smoke of copal, an incense of sage, eucalyptus, star anise and chaparral (intended to cleanse and purify) that enveloped me. Martin brushed my body with some fresh herbs as prehispanic Mexican music played in the background.

Utilizing ancient techniques, he gently massaged my body, beginning with his hands and then using stones and bamboo branches.

“What is he doing? What is he using?” I thought. But as he slowly worked on my torso, neck, arms and limbs, my anxieties and concerns seemed to melt away, transporting me from anxious to serene.

And when Martin deftly applied a sugar cane elixir to my body—a symbol of purification—I began to surrender to the overwhelming feelings of peace, calm and relaxation.

“Mrs. Levine, How do you feel?” he asked. Ninety minutes seemed to pass in moments, anchoring me in a state somewhere between nirvana and slumber. “Great,” I said, barely able to speak.

When Martin left the room, though feeling like melted wax, I somehow managed to slip on my robe and slippers and amble to the quiet lounge area—hoping not to break the magical spell. I fell into a plush lounge and probably fell asleep until I was awakened by the gentle sounds of a marimba.

“So how was it?” my husband asked when I returned to our room. “I’m floating,” I managed to mutter; hardly realizing I was echoing the same words I had heard earlier. But now those words were mine. And yes, I believe in Shamans.

The apres-spa relaxation area

Lounges under the palapa in the relaxation area of the spa (Photo Credit: Rosewood)

Do you believe in Shamans?


IF YOU GO:

Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico offers 71 spacious suites with exquisite handcrafted furnishings on a sprawling waterfront property; three signature dining choices (including an authentic Mexican menu inspired by the distinct regions of Mexico at The Restaurant, The Sea Grill featuring ‘La Marisqueria’, the Tequila, Ceviche and Sushi Bar); and a luxury spa managed by a Shaman, who trained with Huicholes in Nayarit and a Mayan priest in Chiapas.

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