Nuevo Vallarta–Pevonia Spa

For those of you who know me or read most of my blog posts, you probably know that I love going to the spa–massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, etc.–I love all of it. I especially love heading to the spa when I’m on vacation and a lot of the resorts we visit have one. During our trip to Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, we were lucky to have a Pevonia spa. Pevonia spas have many locations both stateside and in most of the destinations that we visit, and since I’ve used their services before, I couldn’t wait to check them out at Dreams.

Hubby and I decided that’s how we would spend our Valentine’s Day, since we didn’t have any excursions lined up for that day. When we went to the spa to set up our appointment, we were impressed to hear that they also had a hydrotherapy circuit we would have the use of. We are BIG FANS of hydrotherapy. If you’ve never used a hydrotherapy circuit you should try it out.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve physical discomfort and promote well-being. The circuit usually has multiple hot, warm, and cold water treatments that when alternated can help reduce inflammation and heal injuries, relax the body, and just make you feel a whole lot better. I know when I finish a circuit, I’m usually more than ready to go relax for the rest of the day.IMG_1778We arrived at the spa more than an hour early so that we could use the hydrotherapy circuit before the massages we had scheduled. We started off by showering in a warm shower and then moved into the sauna. After 10 minutes in the sauna, we took a cold shower and then headed for the steam room for another 10 minutes. Once we emerged from the steam room, we were ready for the Jacuzzi, but it hadn’t yet been filled all the way for the day.

So, we took a dip in the immersion pool instead. The pool had a few stations of pressure jets that you could turn on to run for 2-minutes at a time. The foot bath was next and was actually more like a small pool itself. It was my favorite because it was just the right degree of warm for me and had strong jets that were focused on your legs and feet. I could have stayed in that pool all day.

Finally, the Jacuzzi finished filling and we were able to soak in it. A nice touch added by the spa staff was that they brought out a few ice-cold cucumber slices and placed them over our eyes while we relaxed. Afterwards, it was recommended that we relax in the lounge chairs and consume a lot of fluids until it was time for our massages.

IMG_1774Right next to the circuit was a nice little snack bar that had fruits, nuts, flavored waters –chlorophyllo (water infused with mint) was my favorite–hot teas and small cookies. Because it was Valentine’s Day, spa staff also brought us a small plates of sweets to nosh on while we waited. From there, we were taken to the massage suite. Our massages were incredible! We had signed up for the 80-minute, wine-infused oil massage and it was worth all 80 minutes.

While our entire time at the spa was pure, relaxing bliss, I couldn’t get over the fact that there were no other clients there. WE HAD THE ENTIRE PLACE TO OURSELVES. Granted, the price, even with the promotional Valentine’s rate we got,  was a little high I still never figured out why no one was there. It was Valentine’s Day for crying out loud! I thought it was a perfect way to spend the day, I just wonder why no one else thought the same.

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Riviera Maya—A Day at the Spa

Any travel day can be strenuous on you. Even for a “short trip”, you will likely have some changes from your daily routine that can throw you out of whack. Take our last trip to Riviera Maya Mexico, for instance. It was a 3 hour non-stop flight to get there. Should be a piece of cake, right? Not really. 

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6am. Factor in a 2-hour drive to our departure city the night before, and dinner, and it was already late when we arrived at the hotel. We got to bed, only to have to wake up at 3am so we could arrive at the airport 2 hours before our international flight. After an uneventful flight, in cramped seats (they were pre-reclined and had a 17 inch pitch though) we arrived in the Cancun, Mexico airport only to make our way through customs and immigration and find our shuttle. I had forgotten the part about the hour drive to the resort. Luckily, on our commute we only had to stop off at one other resort to drop people off on our way.

By the time we arrived at The Grand Palladium, we were starving and exhausted. We found one restaurant that was still open for lunch and then made our way to one of the adult “quiet” pools to wait for check-in. Yeah, even though we arrived early enough to enjoy the afternoon, we were too early for our room to be ready. Enter the pool area, Miguel! He was one of the Zentropia Spa staff and was taking reservations for spa appointments. Boy, if that wasn’t right on time for our tired bones! He was all booked for the day, but said he could schedule us in for the next morning for massages and use of the spa facilities for 3 days. We set it up for the next morning.

Once we did get into our room, we mustered up enough energy to go to dinner, but couldn’t stay awake long enough to even sit through the entertainment that evening. Bedtime came very early. The next morning we were more refreshed. We walked to breakfast and then headed up the beach to one of the other resorts in our complex, White Sands. They have rooms on a small lagoon and have to take gondolas to get around.After checking out their pool and restaurants, we headed back to our resort taking a different way. We found the spa on our way, and even though we were still 2 hours early, we went in. We figured we would just hang at the spa pool until our appointment.

After putting our stuff in one of the lockers, we discovered the spa had a hydrotherapy circuit. Jackpot for us! We love hydrotherapy! In that 2 hours, I think we used everything but the cold immersion tub. (It was really just too cold!) The relaxing pediluvium was one of our favorites. You walked through on rocks and pebbles with cool water jets massaging your legs.

It really helped our sore and tired feet feel better. The rest of the circuit was very relaxing. By the time we finished and headed to the infinity pool we were so relaxed, we were both ready for naps.

Salma and Nicole came to get us, they said they would be our massage therapists for the next 80 minutes. They went through aromatherapy, acupressure, lomi lomi, and shiatsu. They started with us face down and then halfway through, we flipped to face up. It was so relaxing, I think I may have dozed off a couple of times. If you ever go to a resort with a spa and massage services, make that appointment. Your body will thank you!

When our massages were finished Salma and Nicole handed us each a glass of champagne and we returned to the infinity pool.

 What a way to end a massage session! The best part is, our spa pass is still good for two more entries to the hydrotherapy circuit. You can bet we’ll be using those before we leave here!

More Costa Rica–RIU Palace

A couple of years ago, we caught an end-of-season sale on Apple Vacations to go to Costa Rica. While we had many options of excursions, we really didn’t leave the resort for much. If you want to see what we left the resort for, you can check it out here. There was so much to do at the RIU Palace!

Hubby and I love getting massages and the first thing we did was get a chair massage poolside the day we arrived. Not a bad start to vacay! We then made an appointment to visit the resort’s spa, which was a Renova Spa. We had a nice relaxing couples massage that also included hanging out afterwards in their quiet community Jacuzzi.

The next day, we discovered the beach spas set up on the beach by locals. As much as we love massages, and when we discovered that their massages were half the price of the spa, we reserved time for two more massages each, for later in the week. It sounded so relaxing to have a massage on the beach. During the beach massages, when you can hear people walking by, laughing and chatting, and the massage ladies are recruiting their next appointment from passers-by during your time, you realize that it maybe wasn’t as relaxing as it sounded.

In hindsight, I preferred the spa massage more even though it cost more.. The quiet and serenity of Renova Spa, was just what I needed on vacay.

On the beach, we were also lucky enough to have vendors who were peddling all kinds of souvenir-worthy wares. You could find anything from wood-carvings to pottery, from dresses and cover-ups to jewelry. I had a particularly good time shopping with the jewelry lady. She had so many incredible pieces, and sometimes finding the matching sets in what she had, became challenging. It took quite a bit of time to stock up on sets for my friends, but it was worth her while. I ended up buying a LOT of it!

So much, in fact, that she threw in a wood-carved vase for free! She was such a sweetie!

Later in the week, we discovered there was going to be a poolside class on carving fruits. One of our travel buddies, Paula, and I showed up for it. Wow! Could these guys carve some incredible designs!

And they did it so fast and made it look so easy! But here’s what mine turned out like:

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I’m not the craftiest one in the bunch, but I’ll keep practicing…

If I haven’t mentioned before how incredible the food is at a Riu Palace (oh wait, I have here) I must bring it up again, since we spent a lot of time dining on resort with our friends. We had a sushi restaurant where I could get Sake—I love the stuff! The Papagayo, which was the steakhouse, gave you the options of steak and lobster. It was so good, we went back twice! Saving the best for last, our themed buffet restaurant had seafood night the last night we were there.

The line for lobster tails stayed 20 people deep the entire time we were there for dinner. Luckily, hubby made friends with our waitress who admirably kept going over to the cook for more lobster, so we wouldn’t have to stand in the line. I believe he polished off 8 tails in the end. I might also add, that was ALL he ate. He loves lobster so much, he said there was no room for sides.

The last thing I discovered at our resort, that I really took a liking to were Cassava chips. Cassava is similar to a potato, but is actually what tapioca is made from. While I’m no fan of tapioca, I really enjoyed the chips.

The next time I go to Costa Rica, I do vow to leave the resort and experience more of the culture and environment. However, for this trip the Riu Palace was a great experience.