Wanting to help restore Puebla, Mexico’s historic district to its former glory, three friends—Edgar Hidalgo, Sergio de la Vega, and Alex Gehrke—came together to create Hotel Cartesiano Puebla, a luxury boutique hotel that encompasses two 16th-century colonial homes. Set in the charming colonial city founded by the Spanish in 1531, the hotel, named for the art and science of Cartesian map making, is home to Cartesiano Spa, which merges science and nature together. “Honoring the name Cartesiano, from Rene Descartes, the French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician who coined the phrase, ‘I think, therefore, I am,’ the spa offers a true mind-body, high-tech, high-touch approach,” says spa consultant Bonnie Baker, cofounder and managing partner of Satteva Spa and Wellness Concepts. In fact, it was Descartes’ work that led to the Cartesian map system that is used today. According to Baker, it was also instrumental in inspiring the spa’s overall concept. “We created a program that allows guests to create a life map for their spa experience, plotted along the Cartesian coordinate system into four principal wellness axis programs: Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Subtle Wellbeing.”
Not surprisingly, the spa’s location played an important role in its development. “Puebla is an iconic colonial city and represents Mexico’s cultural crossroads even from before the time of the Spanish arrival,” says Baker. “The city is at the foothills of two emblematic volcanos and is rich in both natural history and cultural traditions that still shape the city’s identity today.” With Descartes’ exploration and discovery in mind, the idea was to create an experience in which spa-goers could journey towards essential wellbeing. “Our spa program emphasizes the passage of time and how the past influences the present, and the future is created today,” says Baker. “Restoration is a major theme in our spa services, offering renewal on a physical, emotional, and mental level.”
According to spa director Miriam Arroyo, most guests arrive looking for a simple stress-relieving experience in the spa. “They want a spa experience that can introduce them to cultural traditions, state-of-the-art treatments, and to experience an integral physical, emotional, and soul-level state of wellbeing,” says Arroyo. Local and repeat guests are often drawn to the high-tech/high-touch treatment options, which often offer the most profound results. “When creating the spa menu, we wanted to focus on integrating the mind and the body, highlighting the mental and emotional effects on the physical body,” says Baker. “We wanted a holistic spa with natural elements and a transformative experience, yet we were drawn to the scientific approach of diagnostic equipment and high-functioning esthetics technology.” As a result, the spa utilizes the Bio-Well GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization) Camera, which allows a therapist to conduct a human energy scan using the client’s fingertips. The image is then used to customize treatments and chart their effects.
In choosing a product line for the spa, Naturopathica proved to be the perfect fit. “The line’s 21st-century wellness philosophy offers a natural synergy for the Cartesiano Spa concept,” says Baker. “Formulated entirely with natural, clean, and plant-based ingredients, Naturopathica offers modern tools and a scientific approach for mind, body, and spirit rooted in holistic and traditional practices.” According to Arroyo, the spa’s most popular treatment is the Baroque Massage ($92, 90 minutes), a restorative treatment that uses aromatherapy and deep-tissue massage to relax the body and reboot the mind. “After knowing the spa concept, the fusion of the four elements and the four programs of the wellness axis, guests want to experience the trip we propose depending on their life map,” says Arroyo. “In this case, it is the Wellbeing Rituals.” They are made up of the Cartesian Coordinates Ritual ($122, 2 hours), the Northern Alignment Ritual ($122, 2 hours), the Terra Viva Couples Ritual ($122, 2 hours), and the Bio-Energetic Balancing Ritual ($122, 2 hours).
With five full-time and eight part-time employees, the spa is able to accommodate approximately 20 clients each day. With the spa’s recent debut, Arroyo, Baker, and their team are focused on getting the word out about the spa’s unique concept. “Our immediate aim is to keep inspiring our guests to come back for new experiences,” says Baker. “We have much to expand on in our current offering, ensuring that guests identify Cartesiano Spa as a unique, special, peaceful, and transformative place, which blends the traditional healing methods together with the latest technology available in the market.”
Owners: Edgar Hidalgo, Sergio de la Vega, Alex Gehrke
Spa Director: Miriam Arroyo
Opened: January 2018
Client Base: 52% female, 48% male
Most Represented Countries: Mexico, U.S., Germany
Space: 4,230 square feet; 4 treatment rooms
Product & Equipment: Berodin Waxing, EPH&R, Jessica, Living Earth Crafts, Naturopathica, Oka-B, PM Linens, Technogym
Architect & Interior Designer: Felix Blanco (Mexico City, Mexico)
Spa Consultant: Bonnie Baker, Satteva Spa and Wellness Concepts (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)