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Opened in 2018, and spread out over 758 lush, protected acres along the Riviera Maya coast, Chablé Maroma is a Mexican-owned luxury resort that’s dedicated across the board to redefining wellness and paying homage to Mayan culture and traditions. As I experienced during a recent stay, this translates to everything from the easy warmth of the service and the locally-influenced design of the 70 villas to the menus of the restaurants, one of which features creative, ingredient-driven dishes developed by Chef Jorge Vallejo of Mexico City’s award-winning Quintonil. The philosophy is most evident, however, in the gorgeous eight-room spa, where guests enjoy shaman-led welcome rituals, treatments that take inspiration from elements like the sea and forest, and immersive workshops with the Spa Director in which you’ll learn about ancient Mayan healing traditions—and try your hand at them yourself.
When Cinthya Alva was a kid, she was always outside playing with the boys—and earning the scrapes and bruises that came with that. “My father finally said that if I was going to keep getting injured, I needed to learn how to heal myself,” she tells me in the stylish indoor lounge at the spa, where she now serves as Director. “So I started learning from my grandmother, who had an apothecary cabinet filled with remedies she’d make based on natural ingredients, including herbs picked not just based on the season, but even the specific time of day. Everything was so simple and natural—and it worked.”
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The traditions passed down by her grandmother ignited Alva’s lifelong passion for healing and wellness, one that she’s carried with her while working for top resort spas around the world. At every post, she would also plant herbal gardens to “honor my grandmother, and share these remedies with guests.” At Chablé., she tends to her “magic” garden the same way her grandmother did, picking plants, herbs, and flowers only when their time is right—no matter how often the chefs might beg her for some of her extra-hearty rosemary or oregano, for example. These ingredients—along with potent “mother tinctures” made only by Alva, and other products she sources from local markets—are used in guest workshops on making healing amulets and custom herbal remedies like tinctures, balms and superfood face masks; all are offered as group classes a few times a week, and as private sessions that can be organized upon request.
After our initial chat, I opted for a private session that combined the making of an amulet and a tincture. Seated in front of a low table laden with bowls of natural products, we started with Alva detailing what each represented to the ancient Mayans, and what powers they hold. Black beans, for example, have “grandfather energy from the north” and represent things like change and strength, but can also be a bit harsh, so need to be tempered with things like lentils and white beans, which have “grandmother energy,” along with their own healing properties (lentils, she notes, help encourage inspiration.) Meanwhile, star anise serves as an antiseptic and represents our wishes for the future, epazote and calendula have their own health benefits, and cinnamon represents home and family.
Next, Alva guided me first through combining several of these pieces, as well as small gemstones, into a small pouch to serve as a protective, energy-clearing charm, then showed me how to select others for topical tinctures designed to address personal skincare and well-being issues. Along with being engaging, informative, and fun, the sessions are also complimentary, included with every room rate. “You can’t put a price on this kind of medicine—it’s about sharing, and when you do that, the benefits come back to you in abundance,” Alva says. “And while we use the best products and lines here at the spa, it’s always nice to have a little bit of the grandmother inside.” Mayan herbal workshops are complimentary; villa rates start at $650.
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