South of the Border
Located in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, just 15 minutes outside of historic Puerto Vallarta, Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort is helping to transform what is fast-becoming a preferred destination in its own right. Opened in April of 2003, the beachfront resort features one of the largest and most luxurious spas in the area. The mission of Spa Grand Velas is to provide guests with a sacred space devoted to total wellness and tranquility. According to spa director Diana Mestre, the spa's location is ideal. "Having Grand Velas Spa located in Nuevo Vallarta offers, in itself, an attractive, inviting vacation alternative for many travelers who search for the perfect balance between wellness, relaxation, culture, adventure, and fun," she says.
CAPTURING THE DESTINATIONWith a palapa-style entrance, the 17,350-square-foot spa has 20 treatments rooms and two couples rooms. For alfresco treatments, the oceanfront Sabai Center, an outdoor palapa-style spa, offers three cabins with ocean views. The word sabai means "happiness" in Thai. Designed by Ricardo Elias of Elias & Elias Architects in Guadalajara, Mexico, the spa is a study in contemporary architecture with authentic Mexican accents. "Grand Velas is unique because the right investment and right planning occurred before the project was born," says Mestre. "Besides the investment of several million dollars, there was a vision of balancing the elements of wood, metal, fire, wind, and water as the central theme. There was also a connection to nature and the absolute conviction that what we offer at Grand Velas is a memorable experience for the body, mind, and soul."
Palm trees and stunning ocean vistas set the tone for a Mexican spa getaway. A 23,600-square-foot infinity-edge pool takes center stage.
CATERING TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITYThe spa attracts a high-end, international clientele. "Grand Velas has positioned itself strongly with the very affluent Mexican and Latin American market, but I have to say that we have a mix of sixty percent American and Canadian, thirty-five percent Mexican and Latin American, and five percent European," says Mestre. According to her, catering to an international clientele requires that the staff be better prepared and have a grasp of the English language. French is also helpful. "They need to understand the different cultures and what is expected, appreciated, and tolerated," says Mestre. "American guests may feel closer to the country experience if the staff addresses them by 'Mr.' or 'Ms.' followed by their first names, implying greater contact and appreciation. For Latin American guests, the protocol is to address them by 'Señor' or 'Señorita' and their last names."
A bird’s-eye view of the resort, including the oceanfront Sabai Center, highlights the calm beauty of the Mexican Coast.
CREATING A TREATMENT COLLECTIONA spa concierge is available to make appointments and offer assistance. Prior to their treatments, guests can take advantage of the Hydrotherapy Ritual area, which features a steam room, sauna, Swiss shower, and hot and cool lagoon plunges.
For a more interesting menu, Mestre classifies the treatments into seven unique collections: Wellness, Nirvana, New Skin, Aqua, Vital Body, Prestige, and Relaxing. The Wellness collection features massage modalities that improve health and well-being. Treatments in the Nirvana collection are balancing therapies based on millenary oriental, aboriginal, and modern concepts of wellness. Exfoliating treatments that restore and revitalize fall under the New Skin category. The Aqua collection includes bath therapies that provide wellness through water. Wraps and body treatments are part of the Vital Body collection, and facials are designated as part of the Prestige collection. The Relaxing collection is made up of salon services, such as manicures, pedicures, and more. "By classifying treatments as collections, we've had a great deal of unique requests that exceeded the normal spa statistics," says Mestre. "As we well know, massages are the most popular treatments, but guests come to Grand Velas to experience the other, not-so-traditional therapies."
The spa's Hydrotherapy Ritual Area, where guests can relax prior to their treatments.
Featuring an eclectic blend of skincare lines, the spa carriesDecléor, Germaine de Capuccini, Phytomer, and Repêchage. The more popular treatments, says Mestre, include Aromatherapy Massage ($89, 50 minutes); Samunprai ($99, 80 minutes), a traditional Thai therapy that releases muscular tension with soft rolling movements using a hot pack or herbal poultice; Luscious Avocado Yogurt Wrap ($69, 50 minutes); Revitase Neck and Face Lift ($149, 80 minutes); and Tropical Bath With Flower Petals ($49, 25 minutes). Although the spa industry is relatively new in Mexico with fewer regulations, the business is beginning to change. Says Mestre, "In general, I think spas are becoming more and more globalized in their mission and intention."