photos and story by Lisa Truesdale
Like a lush oasis in a parched desert, Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa rises up in the distance, seemingly out of nowhere, with the crystal-blue waters of Danzante Bay sparkling just beyond. Rounding the corner and viewing such a welcoming paradise set the perfect stage for my Wellness Week adventure outside Loreto in beautiful Baja, Mexico.
We began each morning with “soft yoga” in the private pavilion on the beach. Since we were visiting during the resort’s Wellness Week, classes were led by visiting instructor Beth Manos. The view from my mat couldn’t have been more different than the one I usually have inside my regular yoga studio. Yes, Downward Dog and Warrior Pose are even more refreshing and rewarding with such a stunning seaside backdrop. Even when it’s not Wellness Week at Villa del Palmar, staff instructors offer regular yoga practice in the pavilion—just check the schedule of daily resort events that’s conveniently delivered to your door every evening.
After a light breakfast, it was off to Sábila Spa, one of the highlights of the property. The spacious, award-winning, 39,000-sq.-ft. space offers massages, facials, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, and an on-site meditation room. The wet area, boasting a peaceful mountain view through a towering wall of windows on the second floor, is open for daily hydrotherapy detox. Our helpful spa valet led us through each station as we experienced the dry sauna, the wet sauna, the cold-plunge pool, the whirlpool, and the Swiss shower—my favorite – with water coming at me from every direction. (The daily detox regimen is included for guests on the all-inclusive plan. For others, it’s $12 U.S. per day.)
“Sábila” means “aloe vera,” and the spa director, Claudine Riemer, is a fountain of knowledge about aloe and its time-tested benefits. Upon request, your spa valet will prepare a soak in one of the soothing aloe tubs, where you slather cooling, fresh-cut aloe all over your body. Or, you can ask to have the aloe cut to order and delivered for use in your in-room jetted tub. Claudine also arranges for short informational workshops about aloe, where she demonstrates how to cut it from the numerous aloe plants on the property and the best ways to prepare it for home use to help soothe sunburns. Her staff will also prepare and administer aloe treatments for guests who spent a little too much time in the sun.
The fully equipped fitness center is on the first floor of the spa—the ideal location, since we all know it’s easier to complete a grueling workout (especially on vacation) if you know you’ll be rewarded with a relaxing spa treatment afterwards. The Fitball and Circuit Training instructor for Wellness Week was visiting fitness trainer Rebecca Broxterman, but the fitness staff also offers daily sessions. If you’re up for some outdoor adventure instead of indoor training, head down to the private beach and ask for one of the resort’s paddleboards, kayaks, or pedal boats so you can explore the tranquil bay.
If you’re longing to go farther out into the Sea of Cortez, the resort-based Danzante Tours offers sport-fishing excursions, ATV tours, and four-hour boat rides to neighboring islands, complete with SCUBA diving and a box lunch enjoyed on an island beach. We were treated to the latter, and although Baja’s Aquarium just off the coast of that beach served up plenty of colorful sea life for the divers among us, the highlight of the trip was surely the hundreds of bottlenose dolphins jumping out of the water around our boat and the one whale—well past “normal whale season”—who put on quite a show.
Whether you’re a golfer or not, Villa del Palmar’s TPC Danzante Bay golf course, designed by Rees Jones is a must, even if you simply hike up to check out the incredible, see-it-to-believe-it vista from the 17th hole, gazing out over the rugged cliffs to the Sea of Cortez below. Resort staff can offer advice about the best times and routes for non-golfers to go exploring so they don’t get pinged with errant golf balls (or disturb the golfers’ concentration). A word of warning: Once you make it to the 17th, you’ll need at least 15 minutes to fully recover from the view that quite literally takes your breath away.
During our free time, when we weren’t lounging by one of the resort’s five pools (which, when viewed together from high above, form the shape of a beautiful sea turtle), we were dining on wellness options in one of the three on-site restaurants. The people in our group had a variety of dietary restrictions, but the staff was always up for the challenge, effortlessly (and deliciously!) accommodating gluten-free, vegetarian, or Paleo requests. The seafood tastes just-caught, the fruits and veggies are ultra-fresh, and the refreshing and inventive cocktails are always made- to-order.
In 2020, Villa del Palmar is offering two separate Yoga & Golf Retreats—March 10-14 and December 1-5. The highlights of these four-night, five-day adventures are yoga classes with internationally known instructor Emily McMichael and golf clinics with golf pro Danny Garcia on TPC Danzante Bay, the #1 golf course in Mexico. Guests booking this package also get a 50-minute massage at Sábila Spa, delicious healthy meals, and unlimited kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking.
And, rather than specific Wellness Weeks in 2020, Villa del Palmar is offering special Wellness Vacation Packages through May 31, complete with yoga and fitness classes, a massage, a cucumber mini facial, hiking experiences, and more.
For more information on Villa de Palmar
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Lisa Truesdale is a full-time freelance writer based in Colorado. She writes regularly about travel and tourism, food and drink, and health and wellness, for a variety of regional, national and international publications.