Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

As tourist destinations and facilities gradually reopen across Mexico, travelers are looking for experiences that are most conducive to the new socially distant travel reality. As the travel landscape begins to evolve, boutique hotels and wellness experiences might prove more desirable when easing back into travel.

The words "boutique" and "wellness" tend to go together, especially in Mexico. Boutique hotels, by nature, are smaller, more intimate and feel much more personal. Wellness has been a booming travel trend for years now, but a new heightened focus on sanitation and safety will reshape the way travelers look at overall health and wellness. 

"What's going to happen in this new decade is that ... we're going to see a filtering system of what is truly boutique and what is not," said Ariela Kiradjian, co-founder and COO of Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA), an organization that provides resources for boutique hotels around the world. Most recently BLLA unveiled the BLLA Collective, a social media platform for boutique hotels and businesses. 

"Boutique isn't for the masses," she added, which is very much a benefit these days. "It's for someone who wants a specialized experience that no one else is getting."

Mexico is not new to the boutique hotel market. From boho beach bungalows to ecofriendly treehouse lodges, desert oases and historic city houses-turned-hotels, Mexico has a genre of boutique hotel for just about everyone. In the age of Covid-19, when travelers are looking for experiences that are scaled down, with a greater emphasis on intimacy and attention to detail, boutique hotels are poised to have a new moment.

"People want something different, especially in a Covid world," Kiradjian said. "They want independently owned businesses and more intimate experiences. It's more personal. Maybe the owner is even on property. It humanizes a hotel in a way that a big brand just could never do."

"More corporate travelers are starting to request boutique hotels, and travel advisors want to get more up to snuff on who these owners are and how they operate," added Frances Kiradjian, co-founder and CEO of BLLA. 

Where boutique hotels excel, particularly in Mexico, is in the wellness space. Wellness travel was a trend even before the pandemic. The Global Wellness Institute estimates wellness travel at $639 billion, with a growth rate of 6.5% per year. Going forward the healthy lifestyle travel niche is going to continue to be a priority. 

"What Mexico does really well is wellness," said Ariela Kiradjian. "We all seem to care about our health; it's just how the world is changing. Again, here we go with that balance between comfort and wellness."

Opportunities for wellness

Los Cabos reopened to tourism on June 15, and since then has been highlighting wellness opportunities for travelers looking to maintain health and safety while also indulging in relaxing moments.

For example, just outside of the village of Santiago, just 35 miles from San Jose del Cabo, is the 25-foot Cascada Sol del Mayo Waterfall, accessed via a hike offering canyon views.

About an hour and a half from Cabo San Lucas, travelers can find El Charro Thermal Springs and Pools. These naturally formed hot springs were created from thousands of years of volcanic eruptions and seismic activity.

Over on Mexico's Caribbean side, wellness seekers can experience the region of Maya Ka'an, which offers its own wellness experiences. Maya Ka'an is a handful of contemporary Mayan communities within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected natural area in the Mexican Caribbean. There are nine communities within the Maya Ka'an, where travelers can connect with the Mayan people who are direct descendants of the ancient civilization. For example, local families will take visitors through healing ceremonies with traditional medicine, dance, music and herbal plants. There are plenty of opportunities to get outside in this region, as well, from hiking and biking to kayaking, fishing and snorkeling.

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