The Mayan Mystique

More than 3,000 years ago, the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico was home to the Mayans, an inspiring people known for impressive architecture, sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems, and a magical connection to their gods and the Earth. There, imposing pyramids and temples, such as those found at Chichen Itza, Coba, and Tulum, were built as places where the Mayans could worship, interact, and commune with nature. Today, the region features a rather different landscape that is dotted with luxurious oceanside hotels and resorts that run from Cancun in the north down through Tulum and further south. But the Mayan influence is still evident in the area’s architecture, cuisine, activities, and spas, notably at Kayantá Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun. The spa’s name is inspired by the Mayan word ká a yaán tah, which means “to be reborn.” “The name not only speaks to our destination, it is also a perfect description of the feeling of renewal that our guests experience after partaking in any of our treatments,” says spa director Viorica Coman.

This local influence is readily apparent throughout the 5,219-square-foot spa. Each of the eight treatment rooms has a Mayan name. The names of the two Vichy shower rooms, CHÁAK and CH´AAJ, mean “rain” and “drop of rain.” EEK, which means “star,” refers to the facial room. The YAAJ couple’s room is meant to evoke the “commitment of true love.” The LOOL “flower” and ÓOM “foam” rooms are multifunctional and offer access to private hot tubs. The K´IIN “sun” room is used for massages and facials, and the UJ “moon” room is used exclusively for massage. The menu is equally inspired and “perfectly combines the healing techniques of the world’s ancient civilizations and authentic Mayan-inspired treatments,” says Coman.

This year is one of renewal on the Mayan calendar. (The current calendar ends on December 21.) As such, several themed treatments have recently been introduced that will only be available in 2012. The Mayan Sea Shell Massage ($245, 80 minutes) is performed in a beachfront palapa and includes a smudging with medicinal plants and copal tree resin followed by a foot exfoliation and a massage using hot seashells. The Mayan Reborn Bath ($150, 50 minutes) includes a foot cleansing followed by a massage incorporating Mayan tools, such as coconut shells and seashells, as well as eucalyptus and rosemary. The Mayan Healing Ritual ($250, 80 minutes) involves a soak in a tub steeped in medicinal herbs, wood, and annatto seeds; an exfoliation; and a face mask prepared with cactus.

Beyond these new treatments, several other Mayan experiences complete the menu, including the Lol-Ha Bath ($145, 50 minutes), a traditional Mayan flower bath, and the Zac-Xib Bath Elixir ($145, 50 minutes), an exfoliating service for men. The spa also stands out for its skincare offerings using the state-of-the-art Arasys Nano Perfector, a machine that infuses electrons into the skin and provides dramatic results, enticing guests as the only spa in Cancun using this system. And though the menu is extensive, “I personally believe that the caring service of our staff is what really sets us apart from the competition,” says Coman, whose team is made up of 25 full-time employees who can accommodate up to 100 services daily.

Though the intriguing menu and exceptional spa team help to keep the spa full, Coman and her colleagues work hard to keep clients coming through the doors. Spa collateral pieces can be found throughout the hotel, and the spa is promoted in the daily newsletter. Plus, Kayantá Spa offers monthly themed specials, and some of the hotel packages include a resort credit that can be used at the spa. The retail area also encourages visits from hotel guests with its charming gift items and products used in the treatment rooms. It also features a selection of suncare, including COOLA and Hampton Sun, which is particularly enticing to those who are about to head to the beach to relax beneath the hot Mexican rays.

Up next for the spa will be a redesign of the marketing collateral, as well as updates to the menu and a focus on bringing in more group business. But the mentality that has kept the spa successful since it opened in 2004 will always remain the same. Says Coman, “We are focused on providing a service of excellence, which occurs by flawlessly catering to each of our guests’ needs.”


Owner: Familia Molina 

Spa Director: Viorica Coman 

Opened: 2004




75% female

25% male



5,219 square feet;
8 treatment rooms



U.S., Mexico, Japan






aromatherapy, body treatments, couples’ treatments, facials, fitness, hand and foot treatments, hydrotherapy, massage, outdoor treatments, Pilates, prenatal services, reflexology, salon services, tai chi, waxing,



Signature Kayantá Massage ($245, 80 minutes), the Signature Kayantá Facial ($250, 1 hour 40 minutes), the Signature Kayantá Herbal Body Scrub ($170, 50 minutes), and the Signature Kayantá Body Wrap ($210, 80 minutes)



Signature Kayantá Couples Massage ($490, 80 minutes)



COOLA, Éminence Organic Skin Care, Guinot Paris, Hampton Sun, Laboratory of Flowers, Skin Authority



Arasys Nano Perfector, EarthLight, Sorisa