Why the Riviera Maya Offers More Immersive Wellness Experiences

This is the third article in a four-part series on creating more immersive experiences in the Mexican Caribbean that are equal parts wellness and culture. The first two articles explored the wellness offerings that went beyond copy-and-paste programming in Cancun and Cozumel.

This article looks at how the Riviera Maya’s (which encompasses hot spots Playa del Carmen and Tulum) proximity to the U.S., product innovation and resort development are driving the region’s ongoing popularity among wellness seekers. 

World-Renowned Wellness is Closer Than Your Clients Think 

Who says your clients must jump on a 19-hour flight to find immersive wellness experiences? While Bali, India and Thailand have made inroads among would-be wellness pros, a lot of Americans don’t have two weeks to devote to a long-haul wellness trip. 

In 2018, 705 million vacation days went unused among U.S. employees, according to the State of American Vacation 2018. Further, last-minute bookings and bleisure (leisure and business combined) trips are on the rise, making the case that many Americans, especially families, are keen to travel but are limited to shorter trips. 

Recently, Elle UK dubbed 2019 “the year of bite-sized travel,” indicating that 53 percent of global travelers report that they plan to take more weekend trips next year and that travelers are looking to squeeze more curated travel itineraries into shorter time frames.

If you have health-minded clients whose busy schedules keep them away from a wellness getaway, let them know that a world-renowned wellness destination in Riviera Maya is less than a five-hour flight away (from New York or Los Angeles). 

Not only is the region home to two of Forbes’ 2018 World's Most Luxurious Spas—SE Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya and Sense, A Rosewood Spa at Rosewood Mayakoba—as well as hundreds of other award-winning spas and wellness retreats, but all the major airline carriers offer affordable direct flights from most major U.S. cities.

And it’s not only five-star wellness getaways that await your clients in the Riviera Maya. With a strong dollar and abundance of resorts, you can easily plan a budget-friendly wellness escape for two, three or a 30-person yoga class. 

A Sense of Place 

Part one of the series introduced the burgeoning wellness trend of “transformative travel,” which relates to “personal transformation through collisions with new cultures, wellness approaches and nature,” as earmarked by Global Wellness Summit’s 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report. 

Travelers’ quest for a sense of place has prompted many spas to evolve their offerings beyond sugar scrubs and hot stone massages to incorporate more personalized treatments steeped in local culture—an approach long practiced by many of the top wellness facilities throughout the Riviera Maya. 

At this point, Mayan massages, based on ancient healing techniques or temazcals (sweat lodges), aren’t exactly unique, since you could probably procure one on most beaches in Cozumel and Cancun. 

However, what gives many of the world-class spas in the Riviera Maya an undeniable sense of place is their ability to connect guests with the local environment and culture. It isn’t hard to find a world-class spa backdropped by verdant jungles or set against turquoise waters. Some of the more famous spa facilities feature designs inspired by ancient Mayan or Mexican traditions.

And, you’re a stone’s throw from over 7,000 cenotes, natural limestone caves filled with fresh water, which the Mayans believed were entrances to the underworld and had healing properties. Your clients can even hike through the jungle with a shaman, who will bless them, before entering certain cenotes.

Considering that the wellness trends for 2019 include reconnecting with nature (a predecessor to last year’s digital detox trend); crystal-infused healing waters; and mezcal (yes, the spirit), which has doubled in sales in the past four years and is set to become the next foodie fad, you might want to expand your Riviera Maya prospecting from families to wellness wanderers. 

Our Picks

Choose one or all of the following resorts to give your clients an elevated wellness experience that not only exfoliates the skin, but provides solace, sanctuary and a cultural awakening. 

Click here to learn more about the Riviera Maya and the resorts listed below.


The key to selling truly immersive wellness travel is to craft itineraries that go well beyond the norm. When you account for the three elements of well-rounded wellness—mind, body and spirit—your planning will appeal to your clients’ five senses and help ensure that transformative travel ensues. 

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.