HEALTHY GETAWAYS–THE ART OF WELLNESS
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After several long weeks at the office, including a few too many bagels and slices of birthday cake, the invitation to experience June Wellness, an annual retreat at Hotel Mousai in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico—complete with morning yoga classes, a meditation, and green drinks delivered to my room daily—sounded like a dream come true. The description of the retreat beckoned me: “… a luxury wellness experience dedicated to igniting your inner muse and deepening your connection with yourself, nature and others while enhancing your authentic beauty both inside and out.” I wanted to detox, “reboot,” and refresh, and what better locale to do it in than a world-class hotel poised between the crystal-blue Pacific and lush rainforest of Puerta Vallarta?
As the golden entrance gates opened
to the resort and the taxi climbed the winding drive to the doors of Hotel Mousai’s lobby, my cares seem to melt away almost immediately. The tranquil energy of Puerta Vallarta is a world away from that of my Los Angeles home. As I stepped out of the taxi, the balmy tropical air surrounded me as a butler greeted me at the door with a healthy drink served in a martini glass—crushed ice, ginger, lime juice, and honey, and garnished with fresh mint (something that every guest is welcomed with). I was shown to my room and given a tour of the amenities—a deck with an ocean view, a hot tub, and hammock that invited me to curl up with a book and listen to the gently crashing waves. The “smart” rooms also include an iPad on which guests can turn off/on and adjust lighting, change channels on the flatscreen TV, and open and close the window shades from their beds—and even a “smart” toilet complete with heated seat, bidet, and air dryer.
The contemporary décor made me feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland on a magical health makeover journey—from the marble-floored lobby adorned with giant chess pieces to the bright, primary colored furnishings, and large silver decorative letters in my room urging me to RELAX. Each room is designed as a kind of work of art, or separate “exhibit” that illustrates the themes “the game of life” and “the art of relaxation.”
The hotel’s designers worked closely with Karoll S. Gonzales, creator of the June Wellness program and founder of Mindfulhabits, a project dedicated to active and healthy living that inspired the program. Gonzales’ influence is seen in several large stone Buddhas that greet visitors on the grounds that she had imported after a trip to Asia. Gonzales has practiced yoga for many years, is a longtime vegetarian
(although she does offer meat choices on her healthy menus), and has completed courses in Ayurveda, detox, raw cuisine, super foods, and sports nutrition. “Mindfulness is my personal philosophy,” says Gonzales. “I created this philosophy after studying yoga, and it became a journey that has empowered me to be happy, to understand what feels good physically and mentally.”
Gonzales takes pride in bringing like-minded people together who have the same wellness goals and intentions. “Most guests stay about a week, but keep in touch with us through social media all year and even share healthy recipes through Facebook or Instagram,” she says.
June Wellness guests can have muscles massaged at Hotel Mousai’s luxurious Spa Imagine, which offers an incredible menu of services—all of which I wanted to try. I finally decided on the Lemon Slimming Treatment, designed to reduce bloat, which features a massage and wrap designed to flush out toxins. I believe it counteracted weeks of overindulgence and stress. Chakra-balancing treatments using essential oils that target specific energy centers of the body are a unique offering. Guests also enjoy unlimited access to the state-of-the-art hydrotherapy circuit at the spa that includes a cold plunge pool, sauna, steam room, and pressure massage shower.
Located on the upper level of the hotel, the gym offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding tropical hills that made me actually want to spend time on the elliptical machine and treadmill. Personal training sessions are offered, if desired, as part of the Wellness package.
In line with the hotel’s décor, each plate served is like a work of art. The all-inclusive package includes meals in every restaurant on the property, all of which feature healthier menu alternatives. Bocados STK offers a nutrient-dense smoothie menu (June Wellness participants are encouraged to drink one every day), while Hiroshi, located just off the main lobby, serves a fantastic “Mexican sushi” with thinly sliced jalepeños, in addition to traditional choices. The rooftop bar and restaurant has stunning ocean views and a drop-off pool—it is definitely the place to go to lounge with a drink, get a sunkissed glow during the day, and watch the neon sunsets at night. Room service is also available 24 hours.
Throughout the month of June, lectures and workshops are offered that encourage a healthy lifestyle and balance for the mind, body, and soul. Special classes include power yoga, vinyasa flow, pilates, dance, and cooking. Kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, running, hiking, and racquet sports including squash and tennis, are available year-round.
On the last day of my four-day stay, I attended a June Wellness meditation on the “orange deck,” a tranquil outdoor space with a large, bright-orange tree that provided a serene, surreal focal point. A yogi led the class in a Buddhist chant and encouraged us to join in a free-form dance at the end of the class—a perfect ending to a healthy journey. I left feeling relaxed and inspired, with a little less bloat and a lot less stress.
For more information, go to hotelmousai.com.