Wellness on the Macadamia Farm

macadamia tree farmFor the more adventurous eco-conscious spa-goer, an off-the-beaten-path pampering option can be found at Valhalla, a macadamia farm and spa with an environmental mission. Reachable by “chicken bus” (or car), Valhalla takes advantage of the macadamia tree’s considerable assets in the name of the global reforestation effort—its broad leaves efficiently convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, while an extensive root system helps prevent soil erosion. Since the organization’s launch in 1984, Valhalla has distributed some 200,000 macadamia trees to indigenous communities all over the country. The farm is open to the public, and visitors from cruise ships and nearby Antigua Guatemala alike flock for tours, appointment-only spa services, and the house specialty: macadamia pancakes, served with macadamia butter and blueberry jam. The simple, low-key spa offers treatments like bioenergetic massages ($50, 60 minutes) and relies on its own line, Emilia Aguirre Natural Skin Care, for face, body, and hair. “It is very important to use a macadamia-nut oil from sustainable agriculture—no chemicals, pesticides, or herbicides,” says Gottschamer. “Macadamia penetrates deeply, and it can bring chemicals into the bloodstream and cause serious damage to your health.” Gottschamer’s macadamia-based cream and oil are available for retail, and client purchases help Valhalla continue its mission. “By not cloning or grafting the trees, we are protecting this species of macadamia,” she says. “Their gene pool is open so they are healthy trees—they adapt to changes of climate and are resistant to diseases. These trees produce fruit all year round and absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide.” Check out "Might Macadamia" for more details on how your spa can incorporate the hair and skin benefits of macadamia nuts into your treatment menu.