Playa del Carmen Stories and Tips

Maya Spa at Ikal del Mar

First off, let me say that I rarely frequent hotel spas because I find them ludicrously overpriced, often mediocre, and sometimes even intimidating. But this place was different.

Set in the jungle, in a circular building constructed with a yin/yang design, it’s the centerpiece of Ikal del Mar and the reason that many people choose to come here. It’s also a place where you don’t need to spend a lot of cash to take advantage of the facilities. The steamrooms, Jacuzzi, and showers—rainfall and Swedish—are available to all guests at any time, free of charge. With the spa’s mesmerizing aroma of incense permeating the entire property, I found myself opting for far more treatments than I would have elsewhere.

Of the treatments on offer, some are traditional (Swedish massage, facials, pedicure, waxing) while others use ancient Mayan traditions, like the Temazcal bath, which takes place in a little stone igloo by the beach. Other exotic selections included the hammock massage (too risky for me!), “rebirth over water,” and the “Mayan Good Wish Ceremony,” a wedding-like ritual designed to reaffirm love.

One especially nice touch is that Ikal del Mar offers hotel guests “seeds of abundance,” a packet that can be used to secure a free 30-minute treatment in the case of rain. It’s a lovely, simple idea, based on ancient Mayan traditions. And anything you get for free always feels so good… Speaking of free, if you book a massage, you can take your pick of three locations at no extra cost: spa, beach, or jungle.

I had two massages and a facial over the course of the week, each of them excellent. The staff was courteous and very experienced, though very few of them speak English if that’s a concern.

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