The spa trend in Mexico, particularly in vacation hot spots like Puerto Vallarta, shows no signs of slowing. From elegant resort spas scented with essence of orange and bergamot to Aztec-inspired day spas, each has its own personality and signature treatments. Competition keeps creativity high, with an ever-changing menu of new treatments, many using native products like sage, chocolate, aloe vera, and even tequila. Here are our favorites.
A Spa for All Seasons: Punta Mita Apuane Spa
Professional service is the hallmark of this exclusive spa. An excellent kid's club allows you to enjoy spa treatments, knowing that your children are thoroughly engaged. The gym is first rate. An inspirational experience is a traditional temazcal ceremony, which takes place in a little building on a knoll near the sea.
Treatments are among the most expensive in the area, but everything is top drawer. Native products are used almost exclusively; the Punta Mita massage combines tequila and locally grown sage. And refreshing lime is mixed with tequila and salt for a margarita body scrub. www.fourseasons.com/puntamita
Body Treatments: Exfoliation; massage (9 types); Vichy hydrotherapy; wraps and scrubs (8 types); temazcal sweat lodge.
Beauty Treatments: Facials (7 types); manicure; pedicure; hair/ scalp treatment.
Prices: Body treatments $85–$197; facials $98–$215; hair: $46–$100; manicure or pedicure $66–$92; waxing $27–$85.
Packages: Couples treatments such as Like Water for Chocolate—a chocolate scrub and facial; a hot-stone massage; and servings of fruit, chocolate fondue, and champagne.
Room with a View: Terra Noble
Your cares begin to melt away as soon as you enter the rustic, garden-surrounded property of this day-spa aerie overlooking Banderas Bay. Familiar and unpretentious, Terra Noble is more accessible pricewise than some of the area's more elegant spas. After-treatment teas are served on an outdoor patio with a great sea view. Two-hour temazcal sweat lodge rituals cleanse on three levels: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Or recharge with clay and painting classes and Tarot readings. www.terranoble.com
Body Treatments: Reflexology; massage; several wraps and scrubs; temazcal sweat lodge; yoga/meditation.
Beauty Treatments: Facials; manicure; pedicure.
Packages: A few economical packages such as the Stress Recovery (a sea-salt body scrub, a massage, and a facial), for $145.
Prices: Body treatments $50–$65; manicure/pedicure $25–$30.
New and Worth Noting: Ohtli Spa, CasaMagna Marriott
The modern yet organic-looking Ohtli spa and its attached, high-tech gym offer 22,000 square feet of elegant pampering. You can relax before or between treatments in the lounge, with a glass of water infused with love in the form of pink quartz crystals and messages of love in 13 languages. Come early to load up on this liquid love and to enjoy the cold pool, steam, sauna, and other elements of the separate men's and women's spa facilities.
Inspiration for this tasteful, soothing spa came from indigenous cultures. Treatment rooms are adorned with Huichol art and interior gardens to maintain a spiritual and nature-oriented mood. Many of the treatments—like the coconut exfoliation with deep-tissue massage—use local ingredients. The signature exfoliation treatment contains agave, cornmeal, and sea salt. www.marriott.com
Body Treatments & Services: Exfoliation (8 kinds); wraps (7 kinds); massage (10 kinds).
Beauty Treatments: Facials (6 kinds); manicure; pedicure; waxing; children's treatments.
Prices: Body treatments $75–$155; facials $105–$150; hair $25–$90; manicure or pedicure $27–$90; waxing $25–$75.
Packages: Mother and daughter ice cream pedicure; other packages offered seasonally.
Something for Everybody: Paradise Village Palenque Spa
On a peninsula between the beach and marina, this modern Maya temple of glass and marble is a cool, sweet-smelling oasis with separate wings for men and women; each is equipped with private hydrotherapy tubs, whirlpools, saunas, and steam rooms. The coed gym has state-of-the-art equipment and views of the ocean, plus aerobics classes in a separate studio and an indoor lap pool.
Spa designer Diana Mestre, an old hand in these parts, brings together ancient healing arts and the latest technologies. The reasonably priced therapy selections are extensive, from an anti-cellulite seaweed wrap to milk baths with honey, amaranth, and orange oil or the raindrop aromatherapy massage, employing clove, sage, bergamot, and other essential oils. www.paradisevillage.com
Body Treatments: Aromatherapy; facials; electro-acuscope anti-pain & stress therapy; Reiki; exfoliation; hot-stone massage; hydrotherapy; wraps, scrubs, and body treatments (14 types); reflexology; shiatsu.
Beauty Treatments: Facials (10 types), manicure, pedicure.
Prices: Body treatments $40–$119; facials $40–$119; manicure/pedicure $23–$69; hair $35–$92; waxing $9–$63.
Packages: A wide variety of packages that allow switching treatments in an equivalent price bracket. The basic plan combines three 50-minute treatments: marine body scrub, holistic massage, and hydrating facial.
Drama Queen: Gran Velas
The spa at Nuevo Vallarta's most elegant all-inclusive has dramatic architectural lines and plenty of marble, stone, teak, and tile. The 16,500-square-foot facility has 20 treatment rooms, and ample steam, sauna, and whirlpools. Lounge in the comfortable chaises in the "plunge lagoon" (with warm and cold pools) between or after treatments.
Reading the extensive menu of treatments can take hours—highlights are the chocolate, gold, or avocado wraps, Thai massage, European facial, cinnamon sage foot scrub, and the challenging buttocks sculpt-lift. Adjoining the spa is an impressive fitness facility. www.grandvelas.com
Body Treatments: Reflexology; massage (18 types); shiatsu; Vichy shower; exfoliation; wraps, scrubs, baths, and body treatments (32 types).
Beauty Treatments: Facials (12+); manicure; pedicure; hair care; waxing; makeup.
Prices: Body treatments: $58–$178; facials: $89–$148; manicure/pedicure: $20–$89; hair care: $29–$89; waxing: $29–$58; makeup: $78.
Packages: Happy Bride, Just for Men, and Detox Ritual packages, plus 10% discount for three or more treatments; otherwise, no packages.