I’ve had a long love affair with Mexico, a land of vibrancy in color, texture, and depth. For me, it is also a hub for those seeking physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. I visit regularly to practice yoga, connect with nature, and reset my perspective. I relish diving in cenotes and taking part in ancient rituals performed in a temazcal, a carefully constructed sweat lodge used for cleansing, purifying, and connecting with the natural world, mother earth, and all of its inhabitants.
Luckily for me, some of the ancient tenets of these rituals are folded into the spa offerings at choice properties throughout Mexico. Recently, I visited Grand Velas Riviera Maya & S.E. Spa, which featured staff that have been trained and certified by Wellness For Cancer, a well-respected worldwide leader in cancer training. Before arriving, I was interested to learn how the Wellness for Cancer program was incorporated into the warp and weave of this property’s programming.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, which opened its doors in 2008, is rare in that it is an all-inclusive property that holds a AAA Five-Diamond rating. It was recently named the “Best Spa in Mexico” by the 2018 Food and Travel Reader Awards and one of the world’s most luxurious spas by Forbes Travel.
A WARM WELCOME
After a relatively quick plane ride from icy Chicago, I landed in sunny Cancún, which sits at the intersection of the wild and infamous Yucatán Peninsula and the Caribbean Sea on Mexico’s eastern coast. After picking up my rental car, I headed south for an hour on I-307 to the S.E. Spa within Grand Velas. The entrance to Grand Velas is a sight to behold. A magnificent series of moulded white slabs emerge from a pristine pool of water several city blocks long. At the midpoint of the pool is a bridge that leads to the main security gate. After receiving the OK from the guard, I cautiously made my way down the windy, jungle-flanked lane to a footbridge that led to the main spa.
When I reached the front desk, I was immediately greeted by the exuberant spa director, Maria Leticia Fernández. Her eyes beamed as she held her arms aloft to greet me with warmth and friendship. I liked her immediately. Leticia spoke quickly and with conviction, and she explained that she provides regular training to her employees to ensure they are constantly evolving to meet the needs of their clientele.
With cancer rates steadily on the rise, sophisticated, future-minded spas are responding to this market and expanding their services to accommodate this population. Individuals who are going through or recovering from cancer treatment are most in need of these treatments and services, so long as the providers are educated on technique and engagement, like Leticia and her staff. Grand Velas Riviera Maya & S.E. Spa is the place to go for individuals in treatment or recovery from cancer who don’t want to be reminded about their recovery status—they want to be treated as just another spa-goer, looking for a little rest and relaxation.
S.E. Spa does not promote some spa treatments over others for people with cancer. Rather, the spa considers the needs and desires of each client and adjusts each treatment accordingly. This is another way Leticia’s Wellness for Cancer training shines. Wellness for Cancer preaches compassion and understanding that people are not defined by their cancer—they visit spas to rest and rejuvenate like anyone else, and it’s up to facilities like S.E. Spa to be flexible in their treatments, considerate with their language, and sympathetic to each patient’s motivation for booking a stay at a spa.