By Laura Winfree
September 26, 2014
Credit: Frans Lemmens / Alamy

The ancient Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula were revered as one of humanity’s most fascinating and intelligent civilizations. They constructed immense cities, excelled in astronomy and mathematics, and created a captivating culture that still resonates today. The modern beach destination of Cancun sits on the edge of the ancient Mayan empire, surrounded by centuries-old ruins and mysterious traditions. Their shamans were spiritual leaders that performed rituals to cleanse the body and spirit, and many of the region’s natural elements, such as cacao and honey, were believed to hold special healing powers. Many of the contemporary hotels and resorts of Cancun have developed tantalizing Mayan-inspired spa treatments to harness the powers of the area’s most ancient techniques and ingredients, leading to luxurious versions of the rituals practiced by the Mayan civilization. To experience this region’s rare and unmatched blend of indigenous tradition and contemporary luxury, try one of the Mayan-inspired spa treatments at these upscale Cancun spas.

Kayanta Spa

This spa, housed at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, is named after the Mayan phrase, to be reborn. In addition to its relaxation gardens, infusion baths and plunge pools, it also offers a collection of Mayan-inspired spa treatments like a stone facial, a mother earth body wrap, and the Mayan Sanctuary Ritual that includes a seashell massage and a traditional copal energy cleansing.

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa

This 17-room luxury spa boasts an extensive menu of Mayan-inspired services. Experience treatments using traditional Mayan elixirs such as balche and xtabentun (an anis-seed and honey liquor). Sip these ancient drinks while your masseuse cleanses the body with exfoliation and handwork. Sacred herbs, cinnamon, and brown sugar leave you relaxed, and smelling delicious.

Heavenly Spa by Westin

The spa at this stunning beach resort offers a number of Mayan wellbeing treatments utilizing a blend of traditional plants and herbs, but the highlight is the outdoor Temazcal. This Mayan steam lodge is heated by volcanic rock, and dates back many centuries. Inside, you’ll undergo a meditation ceremony intended to clear the mind, purify the body, and feed the spirit.

Ya’ax Ché Spa

The spa at Sunset Royal Beach Resort has an enticing list of signature rituals that combine Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican techniques with pre-Hispanic ingredients designed to detoxify the body and promote long-term wellness. Try the 80-minute Mayan Gods Ritual for a sweet, cocoa-driven treatment (cocoa oil body scrub, cocoa mask, and rich cocoa wrap).

Nizuc Resort & Spa

This sleek and modern resort in southern Cancun is home to a breathtaking spa that blends modern technology with ancient Mayan techniques. The 30,000-square foot space, opened only this past year, features Mayan-inspired signature treatments such as the Nizuc Renewal. Enjoy a sea salt and agave scrub, followed by a massage with warm healing stones (jade; turquoise). A relaxing head massage concludes the experience.