Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

The spa at the Conrad Punta de Mita in the Riviera Nayarit has everything you’d expect from a luxury resort. There’s a well-appointed locker room, pillow-soft white robes, a serene relaxation area, several plunge pools, and natural thatched canopies, where guests can nosh on fresh fruit after their treatment.

But nestled just beyond the outdoor showers and spa pool is an intriguing domed-shaped structure where guests can take part in unique wellness experience: Temazcal ceremonies.

Led by an authentic shaman, this Mayan sweat lodge ritual has been used by indigenous people in Mesoamerica for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years for spiritual and medicinal purposes. The ancient cleansing ceremony is steeped in Mexican heritage, giving travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in an experience that’s as much about local culture as it is about wellness.

The temazcal at the Conrad Punta de Mita is the first of its kind for the entire Hilton brand. Here’s what to expect from this distinctive spa treatment, along with tips on making the most of your experience in the sweat lodge.

What happens at a temazcal?

During a temazcal ceremony, guests sit within a dome-shaped hut made from earthen clay for a roughly two-hour long steam bath. The ritual is led by a shaman, who splashes water over hot volcanic rocks in the center of the dome to create steam and leads guests in chanting and meditation. The cleansing ritual is believed to have healing powers for the mind, body, and spirit.

The Conrad Punta de Mita offers an authentic temazcal experience infused with modern spa touches for couples and small groups. Wearing a bathing suit and a fluffy robe, you’ll spend a few moments settling in at the resort spa’s relaxation room, where a sculpture featuring a foggy sphere drenched in running water can help soothe the mind.

The sound of the shaman blowing a conch shell horn means it’s time to head outside for the ceremony. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a display of ceremonial tools, like painted drums, conch shells, and large clay buckets, outside of a distinctive dome.

The shaman kicks off the treatment by cleaning participants’ energy using smoke from copal, a type of aromatic tree resin. You’ll stand with your arms outstretched as the shaman blows puffs of smoke around your body and utters gentle prayers for your well-being.

Then, you’ll take a seat at the semi-circle bench and grab a clipboard with a pen and paper to journal about the things you’d like the temazcal experience to help you work through (such as conflict in your romantic relationship, inner turmoil, past traumas, or anything else that’s making it difficult to find inner peace). On the opposite side of the paper, you’ll note your hopes for what the ceremony will bring you (like healing, happiness, or gratitude), then you’ll fold it up and toss it into a nearby fire that’s already heating up the rocks for the temazcal.

These exercises help put you in the right state of mind for what comes next: the steam bath ritual. You and the other participants will gather within the dome—a shape that symbolizes the womb and rebirth—and sit in a circle on the bench or in the sand. Using a shovel made from a set of antlers, the shaman loads volcanic rocks from the fire to a pit in the center of the dome, then shuts the cream-colored curtains draped over the entryway to seal the structure. Herbal steam engulfs the space as the shaman dunks a large bundle of fresh rosemary into a bucket of water and splashes it over the hot rocks.

Once the bucket is empty and the room is hot enough to make sweat pour out of your body, the shaman continues the ritual with chanting and drumming. It’s intended to remind your body and soul of the rituals your ancestors may have gone through several generations ago. The shaman also poses introspective questions, like “What are your fears?,” to the group. You can opt to share your thoughts aloud within the sacred lodge, or contemplate your answers silently—either way, it’s a moving experience.

This ritual is repeated for a total of four sessions, each one getting progressively hotter, sweatier, and emotionally deeper than the last. The ceremony concludes with the participants screaming at the top of their lungs (an act that’s surprisingly therapeutic, especially when done collectively), leaving the sweat lodge, sipping iced cacao drinks, and tossing a pinch of the herbs on the smoldering fire.

Afterward, the Conrad Punta de Mita invites guests to rinse the sweat off their bodies in spacious outdoor showers and rehydrate with fresh fruit, hibiscus tea, and cold water in the poolside cabanas. The serenity of the outdoor spa area makes the perfect setting to process the temazcal experience and notice its effects on your physical body, as well as your inner well-being.

What are the benefits of a temazcal?

The benefits of a temazcal are equal parts spiritual and physical, making for a truly holistic wellness experience. Traditionally, the temazcal is thought to cleanse the mind, body, and spirit through heat, sweat, and spiritual rituals. It has also been used for medicinal purposes to help with childbirth and heal certain diseases.

There are some scientifically proven benefits of thermal therapies like temazcal, as well. Research has shown it can provide a protective effect on the skin, relieve muscle soreness after a workout, improve circulation, and provide relief from symptoms of the common cold, among other benefits.

But on a more individual level, you may find that the challenges of enduring time in a quiet, dark space filled with nothing but hot steam and your thoughts leaves your body feeling relaxed or invigorated. You may feel a weight lifted from your shoulders after journaling about your stressors and finding ways to work through them in the sacred lodge under the compassionate guidance of the shaman. The temazcal is a deeply personal experience that’s designed to enhance your wellness wherever you most need it.

Tips for your first temazcal experience

The temazcal ceremony is an incredibly rewarding wellness treatment, but sweating it out in a hot room for a couple of hours can be intense. Going to the ritual prepared can help make it a positive experience, though. Here are some temazcal tips for first-timers:

  • Hydrate: You’re going to lose a ton of sweat in the temazcal, so be sure to drink a decent amount of water before and after the ceremony. Maybe skip the mimosa at breakfast, as well.
  • Put something in your belly: Having a light meal an hour before the temazcal can give your body the energy it needs to endure the heat and steam. After the ceremony, refuel with some refreshing fruit or nuts.
  • Get introspective: The temazcal wellness experience at the Conrad Punta de Mita can be an opportunity to work through anything that’s on your mind. Taking a few moments to center yourself through journaling, meditation, or another mindfulness technique can help put you in the right headspace.
  • Take breaks: While people are typically encouraged to stay in the temazcal for the entire experience, you can (and should) take breaks from the heat when your body needs them. You can rejoin the ceremony once you’re ready.
  • Keep an open mind: This wellness ritual is steeped in ancient traditions, and while you might not know the intricate details about every part of the ritual and its symbolism, keeping your mind and heart open can help you make the most of the experience.
  • Pair it with other wellness treatments: Getting a massage, body wrap, facial, or another wellness treatment can deepen your sense of relaxation after the temazcal. The Conrad’s spa menu also includes a range of treatments inspired by indigenous traditions, so you can continue your cultural wellness journey.

About the Conrad Punta de Mita

Open since September 2020, the Conrad Punta de Mita is a relatively new property in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, about 45 minutes away from Puerto Vallarta International Airport. It features a two-mile stretch of pristine beach, separate pool areas for adults and children, four restaurants, a cafe, and a spa. There’s also an agave studio, where guests can enjoy expert-led tastings of tequila, mezcal, raicilla, and sotol.

The resort’s luxe accommodations brim with modern Mexico design themes and artistic symbols from Huichol culture, like dreamy animal sculptures and paintings. Guests can choose from a range of accommodation options, including cozy guest rooms, family residences equipped with full kitchens and living spaces, and gorgeous suites outfitted with private plunge pools—perfect for a midnight splash or a floating brunch in the morning. All rooms face toward the ocean, so you’ll enjoy picture-perfect views throughout your stay.

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