Sunday, July 5, 2009

Morelos, Mexico: An Idyllic Wellness & Cultural Destination

After an extensive tour of the intensely green and mountainous state of Morelos I can say with confidence that you can leave your beach towel at home and head to the central highlands for an authentic and SAFE trip to the heart of Mexico. Tucked in the center of the country, just one hour south of the capitol, lies a region with an overabundance of flora and fauna alongside breathtaking historic haciendas, ancient pyramids, natural thermal springs, and picturesque colonial towns. Morelos also offers extensive and sophisticated culinary options as well, that fuse the many indigenous ingredients found locally, such as flowers, fruit, chiles and coco with a European flair. Luckily for the inhabitants of the state coined “the eternal Spring of Mexico”, the sun shines almost every day and temperatures range from 65 to 77 degrees.

Here are some highlights of the journey:

Hacienda San Gabriela de las Palmas: Dreamlike Historic Hacienda

A stunning historic hacienda constructed in 1529 that has been artfully refurbished into a deluxe hotel by a film set designer, this hotel has an astonishing history that instantly takes guests back to a bygone era. Accommodations are all different (and large!) and several suites have private dipping pools, Jacuzzis or outdoor terraces. Grounds include lush gardens, an outdoor swimming pool, horse stables, paddle court, a soothing spa and a temazcal (sweat-bath). All this considered, one of the best things to do is to relax and taken in scenery at one of the many outdoor terraces. The spa, located in a separate garden area, cleverly makes use of indoor/outdoor spaces allowing guests to instantly feel at peace in nature. They offer a variety of treatments, all using organic natural remedies made in-house, specially designed for the integration of harmony between mind, body and spirit.

Las Mañanitas: Iconic Mexican Hotel with Stunning Spa

Las Mañanitas in Cuernavaca is an iconic hotel in Mexico and its old warm charm, friendly staff, exquisite restaurant and large accommodations with either a private patio or terrace are only part of the reasons why. The hotel’s newly opened Orlane spa, the first in Mexico, is hands down sensational! It offers an impressive range of treatments to include a selection of exotic regional ‘water and earth’ therapies to help one relax, detox and balance. It’s large glass walls overlooking an outdoor pool and gardens, glowing yellow onyx walls, and large spaces that integrate natural wood and stone with contemporary spa cabins and facilities make a true zen-like experience.

Xochicalco: Heart of Mesoamerican Astrology

One of the greatest archeological sites in Morelos, located 38 kilometers from Cuernavaca, Xochicalco (the place of the house flowers in Nahuatl dialect) was the meeting place for high priests from all Mesoamerican cultures to study astrology, make calendar adjustments, and perform religious ceremonies. With fascinating structures, relieves and sculptures still in place, visitors can only feel a sense of bewilderment to the evidence of such advanced cultures that were prominent in these lands circa 600 AD. Although only 15 percent of this site has been excavated, the pyramid of Quet-zal-cóatl, astrological observatory, temazcal, ball court and main plaza can be visited. The museum is situated nearby; housing an excellent collection of artifacts and a complete model of the site. Its building was designed to save energy by using techniques based on native architecture. The result is an award winning example of “green” Mexican architecture.

Traditional & Herbal Medicine Museum: A Journey Through Mexicos’s Botanical History

Formerly the vacation home of Emperor Maximiliano de Hasburgo, this villa and extensive gardens turned museum is a true treasure trove of medicinal, edible and spice plants, cacti, orchids and ornamental plants that showcase the many uses of flora in Mexican culture. A tour with one of the museums’ botanists is a must! Ranging from seeds to bark, to leaves, to flowers and more, the use of plants both in the past and present in Mexico are absolutely fascinating. Workshops on how to make ointments, soaps and dyes using all natural ingredients are available upon request.

Posada del Tepozteco: Tepotzlan’s Green Hotel

With an almost eerie mystical feel, Tepoztlán has been inhabited since 1300 B.C. and the juxtaposition between the colonial center in the valley and enigmatic pyramid to Ometochtli situation high in the mountains that surround the town, make an for an enchanting experience. Posada del Tepozteco, which has a spectacular view of the town’s main cathedral, is a hotel with a heart. The owner, an architect from Mexico City, has incorporated green architecture and energy saving infrastructure throughout the property. From the organic vegetables grown onsite to the solar heated pool, guests with who are environmentally conscious will feel at home here. A very special attribute is the temazcal ritual offered at this hotel. The Shaman, a world renown herbalist and healer, guides participants through an genuine cleansing experience, unlike any available in the area.

Sitio Sagrado: An Over the Top Spa Experience

A little piece of heaven located outside colonial town of Tepoztlán, with views of the majestic mountain range, Sitio Sagrado or “Scared Space”, was created to offer a retreat to nature in a harmonious environment. All 23 accommodations at the hotel have magnificent views of the gardens and the National Park of Tepoztlán. Rooms have a fresh feel that is part Mediterranean and part contemporary Mexican with a nod to local indigenous culture. The hotel’s extraordinary 2,000 square meter Hydra Spa gives homage to our planet and all natural elements that make life possible. The spa has a ‘women only’ area to include soaking pool, lounge and treatment cabins that is perfect for groups. The facility’s general area has over eight treatment cabins that include large indoor or outdoor private spaces for couple massages and treatments. Unique to Sitio Sagrado’s spa is an aquatic “senses” experience where guests travel from one subterranean space to the next and experience audio visuals, music, underwater massage, aromatherapy, and lastly a full body exfoliation. Temzacal treatments/rituals are also available to include vow renewal ceremonies were couples are dressed in all white and experience a reconnection to love guided by a local shaman.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Flor Escape called “The Mystic Triangle” to Morelos this fall!