When Hollywood Goes to Mexico

A telenovela star and three stressed out Hollywood-types find peace with ancient Mayan ceremony at the Tides Riviera Maya

By Susie Albin-Najera
Published on LatinoLA: March 1, 2010

When Hollywood Goes to Mexico

Hollywood can be a stressful place and not always as glamorous as it's portrayed on television. Writers have constant pressure to write, while producers have constant pressure to deliver and actors have constant pressure to perform (and find work, for that matter). And there are times when you need to just stop and take a break.

Recently, we were invited by Fernando Carrillo to join him in Mexico for some potential business opportunities that could showcase the spectacular beauty of Canc??n and the Riviera Maya. Fernando Carrillo is an internationally recognized telenovela star who has graced enough Spanish magazine covers to capture the attention of millions. Regardless that he lives a wild (and sometimes controversial) life, people still flock to this dramatic and charismatic telenovela star wherever he goes. And when we arrived into Canc??n, I told him about the special plans to 'wind down'.

Through my resourceful contacts at Mexico Boutique Hotels, Sylvie Laitre and Rocio Martinez Quintal, I was introduced to The Tides Riviera Maya in the Playa Del Carmen area in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, 45 minutes south of the Canc??n airport. Mexico Boutique Hotels is a private collection of exclusive, handpicked boutique hotels in Mexico meeting the highest standards of service and levels of excellence possible. Since we were already going to be in the area for business, a review was imminent.

We (as in comedic actor/writer Rick Najera, comedy producer/director Scott Montoya, Fernando Carrillo and I) followed the signs to The Tides from the main stretch of highway leading to the ocean. By the looks of the road going in, you would have never imagined you were heading to a super-secluded tropical paradise and one of the 'Top 3 Resorts in Mexico' as per Cond?® Nast Traveler's 2009 Readers' Choice Awards.

When we arrived to the outdoor lobby, The Tides General Manager, Pedro Lara and Spa Director, Cinthya Alva graciously greeted us. Their energy was calm and good. Ours was very much stressed out.

The setting was the type of paradise that you would imagine in a colorful dream accompanied by a song like The Flower Duet by Lakm?®, outside with nature in a warm climate with a soft breeze, among a long stretch of white sandy beach, vivid turquoise waters and the sweet sound of birds chirping blissfully among the trees. No BlackBerrys buzzing (we turned them off), no kids crying (we left them with Grandma). Just you and the earth as one. Modern had met primitive.

Following introductions, we headed over to the infinity pool overlooking the turquoise ocean, then over to the Temascal structure (a purification of both the body and the spirit). Fernando was like a kid in a candy store and wanted to explore everything, but we took our time. We continued down the path on our tour and were treated to a frozen fruit shish kabob, customary for any guest of the resort upon arrival.

We headed on the path that led to the lush jungle refuge abound with monkeys, tropical birds and iguanas. Pedro showed us The Tide's unique jungle retreats: the Writers Retreat, the Readers Retreat and the Artists Retreat, each of which designated areas inspire creativity, expression and healing.

This was the perfect place for stressed-out industry folks. Soon we passed by the Mayan kitchen, a hut with a hole in the dirt used for cooking or roasting and then passed through the sacred Mayan Fertility House, where fertility ceremonies are performed for eager conceivers. I had to get out of there quick. Three kids are enough for me.

Finally we arrived to The Maya Spa, set in the lush jungle, which offered the widest and most unique selection of services I've seen. At the start of our Ancient Mayan Ceremony, they had us remove our shoes, stretch out our arms and close our eyes, then outlined our bodies with burning copal (a type of resin produced from tree sap used by the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica cultures as ceremonially burned incense).

Next, they brushed us from head to toe with a sage-like herb called ruda to rid any bad energy. Side note: all the herbs used in the spa and resort are grown in their own herb garden located steps away from the spa. I was then led to the women's side of the spa and the boys to their side. Inside Cinthya, the spa director, greeted me with a fresh juice infusion of Jamaica flower, lime juice and apple and with sincere conviction, went on to describe each area of the spa.

After a sufficient steaming, I went to the designated massage area smack dab in the middle of the jungle encircled only by thin mesh. Cinthya, who had studied healing massage methods from a Shaman in a remote village, began the ceremony by rubbing a raw egg all over my body. Remember this was a Mayan massage with ancient remedies and the egg symbolized the removal of any bad energy or pain lurking in the body. I think I had enough stress to turn that raw egg into a hard-boiled one. Next she brushed me lightly with the aromatic herbs to cleanse and take away more stress along with 'cupping' on my back. The cupping was like a suction movement in a snake-like formation applied on the back to take away any remaining stress and replace it with good energy.

Along with the organic sounds from Mother Nature, the next hour of ritual of the Ancient Mayan Ceremony consisted of a light massage complemented by a combination of herbs and organic coconut oil from Tizimin, a small Mayan village. It was relaxing, tranquil, serene, quiet and was the perfect time to let go of old energy and receive new, positive energy. I never wanted it to end.

After the service, feeling cleansed, rejuvenated and renewed, all of us met back in the lounge outside the spa, where we talked at length about the experience. Both Rick and Scott said they felt completely detoxed, relaxed and stress-free. And you really could tell it in their faces. The serene effects of the massage affected Fernando so heavily that he fell asleep on the massage bed and snored so loud, he probably upset a few monkeys in the trees.

What I liked most about the Ancient Mayan Ceremony, even more than the massage, was the jungle environment, the all-natural, aromatic atmosphere and the all around good aura. Experiencing this type of massage in the jungle was also a first for all of us.

The Maya Spa at The Tides Riviera Maya is a destination spa and a true haven. Although we did not take part in the Temascal treatment, I would recommend experiencing it during a full moon as you will receive the full energy benefits and most spiritual experience possible. We eventually woke Fernando from his deep slumber and were soon on our way to our next adventure

For more information on The Tides Riviera Maya or other properties, visit the official site of Mexico Boutique Hotels: www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com.

For more stories on Mexico, visit www.themexicoreport.com.

About Susie Albin-Najera:
Susie Albin-Najera is a freelance writer and a public relations and marketing consultant specializing in the Hispanic market.
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