Maya Spa and Zahra at the EcoTulum Resorts & Spa in Tulum, Mexico
Julie Register visited this Holistic Spa and Cabaña Resort on the Maya Riviera in June 2005

Click to Enlarge Photo - Mayan Bath at Maya SpaA six-inch gap between a six-foot square of white canvas and the rough stick frame to which it is tied reveals a true-blue sky. I lazily watch wispy clouds float by. The canvas flaps rhythmically in the breeze. It shields me from the intense Yucatan sun. A golden butterfly catches my attention as it flits past. My eyes follow it to an orange flower where a hummingbird is collecting nectar. I sigh. I am totally relaxed. I am lying in a tub carved from a single tree trunk. Colorful flowers and rosemary float in the warm water that covers me. Only my face is exposed. Even though my ears are under water, I can hear the waves crashing on the beach twenty feet below the outcropping of rock where I am enjoying a Mayan Bath from the Maya Spa in Tulum, Mexico. My breath follows the rhythm of the surf.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Stool where honey is applied during from Mayan Bath at Maya SpaMinutes earlier, my therapist massaged dark amber honey into my skin while I sat on a stool on a tiny deck overlooking the bright aqua Caribbean. Massive sea grape bushes shield me from view. I get into the tub, and Maria Luisa applies mud to my hair and massages my scalp. I slide down into the water and lie flat. Maria Luisa loofahs my body and rubs my feet with stone to smooth them. I think about nothing. I am in the moment. There is no past. There is no future. There is just now, the sky, the clouds, the breeze, the butterfly, the hummingbird, me and Maria Luisa. I sigh again.

Maria Luisa tells me about the meaning the Maya associate with the colors of the flowers floating in my bath water. Red represents the East and is the unconditional love we have in our lives. Yellow represents the South and is abundance. Violet is West and is transformation. White is the North and is the place of the spirit. It is time to get out of the bath. I dry off, and Maria Luisa massages a lotion in my skin. She instructs me to gather all of the flowers from the bottom of the drained tub. She asks me to think of a wish for myself - not my family or anyone else - just me. I take a minute to find a wish, then gather the flowers and take them to the edge of the deck. I make my wish as I toss them into the sea.

Zahra - My husband and I stayed in cabaña #15 at Zahra, one of three EcoTulum resorts. The 22 Zahra rooms and cabañas are clustered on a small property between two sandy beaches. The cabañas are based on the traditional Mayan style, with thatched palm roofs, and some are raised on stilts above the sandy beach. EcoTulum offers Zahra as ideal for travelers seeking less of a rustic jungle experience, while still being able to enjoy the natural beauty of Tulum. Some rooms are sea view, while others look out onto a tropical garden patio. A few are near the restaurant. Cabaña #15 faced directly onto a beautiful beach framed by large rock outcroppings.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Zahra Reception
Zahra Reception Desk
Click to Enlarge Photo - View from Zahra Cabaña #15
Rock Outcropping in front of Cabaña #15
Click to Enlarge Photo - View from Zahra Cabaña #15
Beach in front of Cabaña #15
Click to Enlarge Photo - Zahra Cabaña #15
Cabaña #15
Click to Enlarge Photo - Inside Zahra Cabaña #15
Inside Cabaña #15
Click to Enlarge Photo - Inside Zahra Cabaña #15
Mosquito Netting
Click to Enlarge Photo - Inside Zahra Cabaña #15
Bathtub Made from Single Log

Click to Enlarge Photo - Swinging Beds behind Zahra Cabaña #15
Swinging Beds behind Zahra Cabaña #15.
Cabañas Copal has a number of these swinging beds overlooking the sea - a very relaxing, romantic place to cuddle.

While Zahra is less rustic than its sister property, Cabañas Copal, it is not your usual spa accommodation. There is no air conditioning. There is a ceiling fan, but the electricity is turned off at 11 pm. There are bugs (hence the mosquito netting). The water from the tap is not potable. Toilet paper cannot be flushed. None of these things are problems as long as you go with a spirit of adventure and are prepared. I brought a portable, battery powered fan, a flashlight, lots of extra batteries, mosquito coils, bug spray with DEET (we used them as a precaution at night, but we were not bothered by bugs at all), bottled water (a water cooler with bottled water was available in the cabaña), and toilet paper went into the trashcan.

The cabañas are very close together. Without air conditioning, we left every window open. Other guests were fond of chatting on the swinging beds behind our cabaña. At first, we were worried that they would stay up talking late into the night. However, no one seemed to stay up later than we did.

We had a great time. No electronic gizmos - no laptop (there is an Internet cafe and wireless internet access if you need it), no phone, no TV, no radio. We spent our time sitting on the beach, reading, swimming in the sea, going to the Maya Spa, eating and talking to each other - a true luxury.

Maya Spa - The Maya Spa is as unique as the rest of EcoTulum. The facilities are rustic. Treatments are performed in huts. Since the Maya Spa is located in Cabañas Copal, which is clothing-optional, a person or two who opted for no clothing may be encountered on your way to the spa. We only encountered two such couples - one lying on the beach between Zahra and Azulik and another snorkeling.

The Maya Spa opened about 2 1/2 years ago. Its first therapist, Daniel Pool Pech, is an authentic Mayan shaman. He learned his techniques through his dreams, where lights came to take him where he was shown massage, energy, and herbal therapies. He is often told that through him, a spirit heals a person of some illness or disease. That set the tone for the spa. The other therapists specialize in energy healing, indigenous physical and spiritual healing techniques, medicinal plants, crystal therapy, lucid dreaming, reiki, and more. Services include the usual and unusual:

Massage

  • Relaxing Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Reflexology
  • Hot Stone Massage
  • Touch for Two Couples Massage
  • Ancient Thai Massage
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Stress Cure

Esthetic Treatments

  • Relaxing Facial
  • Pedicure - Manicure
  • Hair Treatments

Body Wraps

  • Meditation Wrap
  • Aromatic Mud Wrap
  • Aloe Vera Wrap
  • Seaweed Wrap

Yoga

  • Free Yoga Classes
  • Yoga and Visualization

Mayan Services

  • Mayan Clay Massage
  • Mayan Na Lu´um Massage
  • Mayan Baths
  • Myan Energy Cleansing
  • Mayan Weddings
  • Mayan Healing Massage
  • Mayan Massage
  • Mayan Astrology and Corn Readings

Spiritual Treatments

  • Raindrop Therapy
  • Astrology for Healing
  • Sound Healing
  • Reiki
  • Sensurama
  • Holistic
  • Cosmic Weddings
  • Crystal Healings
  • Temazcal

Dry Floatation Tank

  • Chamber of Flotation
  • Dream Yoga
  • Lucid Dream Class

Jeff opted for the usual - Swedish Massage with Roxana, which he thoroughly enjoyed. I opted for the unusual - Mayan Healing Massage with Daniel, the local Mayan shaman. Daniel did not speak much English and I speak no Spanish. In spite of that, we managed to communicate just fine. Daniel asked me to start face down for the massage. He started with a chant and energy work. He massaged my back, legs and arms and did what I would guess is similar to a chiropractic adjustment. While on my back, he massaged my arms and legs and midsection. Here he did an internal organ massage. I had one of those in Thailand and found it to be very unpleasant - probably because I tensed up. This time, I forced myself to be un-tense. Daniel put pressure on my abdomen with one hand and moved my legs around with the other. It was not unpleasant. When the massage was done, I felt great. I felt straighter and good in my abdomen (I guess I didn't realize I needed improvement there). As I write this three days after the massage, I still feel the same way. I have never had the effects of any massage last this long. I highly recommend a massage with Daniel.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Maya Spa
Entrance to the Maya Spa
Click to Enlarge Photo - Map of Maya Spa near Zahra Reception
Map of the Maya Spa
Click to Enlarge Photo - Maya Spa Reception
Maya Spa Reception
Click to Enlarge Photo - Massage Huts at Maya Spa
Maya Spa Massage Huts
Healing Massage with Daniel*
Daniel Pool Pech, a Mayan Shaman
Click to Enlarge Photo - Temazcal at Ecotulum Resorts & Spa
Temazcal
Click to Enlarge Photo - Meditation at Maya Spa*
Meditation
Yoga*
Yoga

Dining - The restaurant/bar at Zahra is open all day long and offers a nice variety on the menu including many vegetarian items. We also enjoyed the restaurant at Cabañas Copal. We found all of the meals at the EcoTulum Resorts very good. Fish, shrimp and seafood ceviche were our favorites. We ate fruit and vegetables and had ice in our drinks (things I have avoided on previous trips to Mexico) with no problems at all.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Zahra Restaurant
Dining at Zahra
Click to Enlarge Photo - Copal Restaurant*
Dining at Cabañas Copal

Azulik and Copal - The Other EcoTulum Resorts - Azulik offers 15 luxury hardwood villas with a spectacular sea view. This is a clothing-optional resort...perfect for honeymooners and couples seeking a relaxing, romantic vacation. Cabañas Copal offers 47 eco-rustic, candlelit, clothing-optional cabañas in the tropical jungle by the sea, ideal for the traveler who enjoys a rustic and ecological hotel in a natural environment.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Beach Between Zahra and Azulik at Ecotulum Resorts & Spa*
Beach Between Zahra and Azulik
Click to Enlarge Photo - Azulik cabaña at Ecotulum Resorts & Spa*
Azulik Villa
Click to Enlarge Photo - Elevated walkway at Azulik cabaña at Ecotulum Resorts & Spa*
Boardwalk connecting Azulik and Cabañas Copal
Click to Enlarge Photo - Stool where honey is applied during from Mayan Bath at Maya Spa
Cabañas Copal

The Mayan Ruins at Tulum - We spent one afternoon at the Tulum ruins, a wonderful archeological site only a few miles from Zahra. It was fairly crowded, and I knew it would have been better to visit when it first opens - before tour busses get there. We drove. Parking was $6 USD. We entered, stopped by a booth next to the large marketplace and bought what we thought was an entrance ticket for ~$2 USD per person. It turned out to be a ticket for the tram that runs the half mile between the market and the actual site. Guides are available for ~$35 USD - worth it, in my opinion. Find another couple or two to split the cost with. Once at the site, entrance tickets cost ~$4 USD per person (Mexican pesos only). They have done a lot of work on the site since I was there a few years ago. More areas are roped off, and it looks better cared for.

Click to Enlarge Photo - Entrance to Tulum Archeological Zone
Walled Entance to Tulum
Click to Enlarge Photo - Tulum Archeological Zone
Tulum
Click to Enlarge Photo - Tulum Archeological Zone
Temple of the Descending God
On the façade is a figure sculpted head down. The walls inside show traces of the original pigments applied by the Maya.
Click to Enlarge Photo - Tulum Archeological Zone
The Castillo

Tulum is a walled city that stands on a bluff facing the Caribbean. In the early 1900's, the city was named Tulum, which means "Wall" in Maya. It was originally called Zama or "to dawn." The earliest date lifted from the site is A.D. 564 (the inscription on a stele) which places Tulum within the Classic period although its heyday was much later (1200 - 1521 A.D.) during the Late Post-classic period. Tulum was a major link in the Maya's extensive trade network. Both maritime and land routes converged here.

Contact and Resources

Contact
EcoTulum Resorts & Spa
• Address:
Tulum, Quintana Roo
Mexico
• Phone:
+877-532-6737 (toll free US & Canada)
+604-628-7077 (international)
Email
EcoTulum Web Site
Maya Spa Web Site
Zahra Web Site
Azulik Web Site
Cabañas Copal Web Site

More Spas from Cancun to Tulum
Mexico Spa Directory


The Cenotes of the Riviera Maya

THE definitive guide and information on snorkeling, cenote diving, and cave diving the Riviera Maya with 200+ color photos, maps and directions to the cenotes, and useful information on how to travel and safely dive the Riviera Maya area.
more information

Incidents of Travel in Yucatan

First published in 1843, a travelogue from one of the first tourists to the Yucatan.

Travels in Mexico & the Caribbean: Merida, Cancun & Belize

DVD includes a tour of Chichen Itza and Uxmal, Cancun, Akumel, Isla Mujeres, Tulum and more.

Akumal - Paradise in Mexico on the Mayan Riviera

DVD introduces the charming village of Akumal 65 miles south of Cancun. It features beautiful lagoon snorkeling, exciting ruin treks, bike tours, catamaran rides, sea turtles hatching in Half Moon Bay and more.


Jiffy Phrasebook Spanish

Photos copyright 2005, Julie Register
except those marked * which have been provided by EcoTulum Resorts & Spa