Associate editor Lori Tenny stayed at Hosteria Las Quintas
Resort & Spa outside Mexico City. Her report follows.
CUERNAVACA, Mexico -- Mexico is gaining ground as a destination
of choice for seasoned spa goers and first-timers looking to
discover the benefits of a spa vacation.
The extent of my
experience with spas in Mexico had gone no further than a quick
facial at a beach resort until I ventured into Cuernavaca on the
tail end of a recent trip to Mexico City.
Often referred to as the "city of eternal spring" for its
beautiful climate, Cuernavaca and its outlying areas are home to
four spas, one of which is Hosteria Las Quintas. During my
two-night stay here, the lures of a Mexican spa vacation became
Hosteria Las Quintas is a peaceful garden retreat with cozy
accommodations, high-end spa services at reasonable rates and
provides the opportunity to explore the area's natural, historic
and cultural attractions as part of the experience. A key selling
point is accessibility for vacationers as well as business
travelers who want to wind down after a trip to Mexico City.
From Benito Juarez International Airport, I took advantage of
the daily scheduled service on Pullman de Morelos air-conditioned
motorcoaches. I left behind the urban sprawl and was transported on
a 1.5-hour scenic drive along mountain roads into the serenity of
the lush, subtropical Morelos Valley. Five minutes by cab from the
bus station in Cuernavaca, Hosteria Las Quintas is the closest spa
property to the center of town, but it is tucked behind stone walls
that give it a sense of isolation and seclusion.
The property is centered around a garden area filled with
colorful flowers, plants and trees, most of which are labeled for
the curious, and exotic birds, fountains and modern sculpture by
artist Victor Hugo Castaneda. Accommodations at the 60-room
property are situated in two-story Spanish colonial-style
All of the spacious rooms at the property have a unique
character, with such features as tile floors, iron bannisters and
terraces; some of the units have fireplaces or Jacuzzis. The
property is in the final stages of renovating many of the older
units. Each will sport new bathrooms, lighter wood detailing,
brighter decors and amenities such as reading lights and hair
After settling in, I was whisked off to the spa to set up my
treatments and receive an orientation on the facility. The goal is
to waste no time in making guests feel pampered, according to
Orlando Hidalgo, owner of the spa. "Everything here is centered
around de-stressing," Hidalgo said. "We try to give every client a
massage the day they arrive."
The spa features treatment rooms, a sauna, a steamroom, a hair
salon and a gym. Just outside the facility are an inviting pool and
Jacuzzi. I perused the dizzying array of spa services available:
algae wraps, aromatherapy, body scrubs, reflexology, manicures,
Swedish and shiatsu massage and thalassotherapy underwater massage,
to name a few.
The experience here could range from relieving aching muscles
with a massage to taking in a multiday spa package that includes a
medical evaluation, a fitness and body composition analysis and a
selection of massages, facials, body treatments and beauty
services. The fitness analysis alone is a 20-page report on topics
such as fat ratio to lean mass, complete with a specially designed
With a limited amount of time, I only scratched the surface of
the options list, but it was enough to leave me rejuvenated. Aside
from an excellent Swedish massage that helped to weed out the knots
in my muscles, a tingling body scrub was a refreshing treatment
using an application of sea salt, oatmeal, apricot and honey to
gently exfoliate the skin. I also booked a fangotherapy treatment,
utilizing a relaxing body wrap of Dead Sea mud designed to release
toxins, relieve muscle pain and oxygenate and mineralize the
The spa staff and technicians were considerate and professional,
offering personalized service with each treatment instead of an
assembly line approach. All therapists are licensed in Mexico and
participate in a continuing education program. "You can't fool
people," Hidalgo said. "We have to offer high-quality service to
satisfy our clientele."
Aside from the treatments, the spa experience at Hosteria Las
Quintas sets itself apart by giving clients the opportunity to
immerse themselves in the natural surroundings and culture of the
region The spa's Eco-Fitness packages include daily off-site tours
that return in time for lunch and afternoon spa services.
Among the excursions are visits to the cities of Cuernavaca and
Taxco, the pyramids of Tepoztlan, the lagoons of Zempoala, the
archaeological site of Xochicalco, the natural river of Las Estacas
and the caverns of Cacahuamilpa.
Despite the array of services and programs offered at Hosteria
Las Quintas, clients choose their level of activity and involvement
based on personal needs. There are no rules that require guests to
stick to spa cuisine, for example.
While the chef has developed a creative spa cuisine menu, it was
hard not to splurge on the standard fare, which included excellent
selections such as salmon with caviar in a saffron white wine
sauce. The restaurant also has a comprehensive wine list and a
display of roughly 60 fine tequilas, many of which are special
reserves not found in stores.
Before the spa opened in 1994, Hosteria Las Quintas had been
hosting travelers since 1965, so there is no lack of experience in
servicing guests beyond spa treatments.
The property enjoys a healthy repeat clientele, according to
general manager Salvador Castaneda. "We have guests who have been
coming back regularly for 30 years," he said.
Spa business at the property is on the rise, according to
Hidalgo, with approximately 500 spa packages sold in 1997. Hidalgo
said 95% of the spa clientele at the property is American, with an
average age range from early to mid-30s. "The U.S. already has the
mentality that a spa is for everyone, not just for the elite," he