Review of Villa Ananda: Ayurveda Health Retreat & Spa in Mexico


My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

Ayurveda, the “science of life” in Sanskrit, is more than medicine. It is a roadmap to a “good” life in every sense of the word.


When I first heard about Villa Ananda, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mean, from their website I could tell that it was an Ayurveda health spa, and that the grounds were gorgeous. The thought of having a four-handed tandem massage after morning yoga next to the ocean was definitely enticing. I’d also heard that this was the secret go-to place for supermodels and designers to recover after Fashion Week. But I’d never been anywhere that the main focus was on restoring their guests back to a state of balanced and perfect health (or where their primary focus was health – period!) I’d also never been anywhere that sat me down and listened to my long list of relatively minor health complaints and followed that with a completely customized week-long (or three-week long) list of daily spa treatments (including, if I wanted, enemas), fresh teas and food made with ingredients specially formulated to treat my body, and a prescription for relaxation and rest. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. In fact, I had one of the most fulfilling and helpful weeks of my life ahead of me.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

Me, in front of Villa Ananda

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

The two casitas are separated by a small wooden bridge, above the spa, overlooking the ocean.


Ten days before our trip, we were instructed to purchase some Ghee and Indian Triphala pills and start the “Purva Karma” routine. The purpose is to get our bodies into better shape and prepare for the “Panchakarma” that was to come. It is an “essential” process that loosens up toxins lodged in the tissues for their further elimination from the GI tract. It’s actually something that would be good for everyone to do, regularly, as a mini-detox. The instructions are pretty simple:

1) Internal Oleation: For the last five days, prior to your Panchakarma, take 2 Tablespoons of warmed ghee preferably early in the morning or late afternoon on an empty stomach. May drink ½ cup of light ginger tea. Wait two hours before taking any food. If ghee is not available, or you’re vegan, you may use flaxseed oil.

2) Diet: Follow a light diet consisting mainly of steamed vegetables, some fruits, and a few grains and seeds. Avoid refined sugars and flours, carbonated drinks, caffeinated beverages, junk foods, red meats and dairy products, except for ghee. Eat in a calm atmosphere and chew the food well. Encourage peaceful and loving sensory stimuli.

3) Triphala: Every night 1 hour before bed take 4 tablets of Triphala with ½ cup of warm water. If taking Triphala powder (it tastes awful, so I don’t recommend it), use ½ to 1 teaspoon dissolved in ½ cup of warm water. This balanced herbal blend helps to cleanse, strengthen and rejuvenate the GI tract. You can purchase Triphala at a health food store or on Amazon.

If you’re doing this at home, you’d follow with a colon cleanse or at-home enema. Yup, you read right.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

Our Arrival to Villa Ananda Health & Yoga Retreat

We arrived via a non-stop flight from NYC. We were picked up at the airport, and eagerly hopped into the rugged Jeep that would take us to the resort. Taking in sights in along the way, we cruised through the windy and beautiful roads just north of Puerto Vallarta, finally arriving at the private gated community where Villa Ananda is located. Our first thoughts (besides ‘When can we explore the area?’ and ‘Wow, there are a lot of gorgeous vacation homes around here!’) were that it looked a lot more beautiful in person than photos could ever capture. Our second observation was that the energy of the place was immediately relaxing. And not just because we’d escaped the cold and crazy of New York City, but because for decades this health resort has been restoring even their most stressed and crazed guests back to a sense of calm and serenity.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

The first thing we did was take our delicious Hibiscus tea and unpack in our Casita (which is basically a little villa on top of the spa, facing a private terrace, and looking right out over the ocean.) Here, everything smells, looks, and feels like a spa. After dinner, we went for a long walk on the beach. That night, in a bed so comfortable it rivaled the most plush and luxurious 5-star resorts in the world, sleep came easy.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

The next morning, instead of the typically constant sound of angry drivers honking with the occasional siren sprinkled in, the ocean was the first thing I heard upon waking. As we ate breakfast, we watched whales and stingrays jumping and paying in the ocean (I kid you not!), amazingly close to the shore. It reminded me how lucky I was to be the only journalist in their long history ever invited to stay at, and write about, Villa Ananda. Until now, everything had been word-of-mouth. This made me feel especially good because Mindy, the owner, saw something in me that told her I would understand what they were doing here – and why.

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 42 Comments

  1. Connie Schmidt

    I love that photo of you!

  2. Maxine Ford

    It’s time to detoxify and get some energy back. Booking this immediately 🙂

  3. After reading your article, I can think of a new definition for Villa Ananda, 3Rs: retreat, refresh and restore!

  4. Esther Devine

    Mmmmm… I guess Panchakarma removes impurities from the body… is it better than a juice cleanse?

  5. Joan Morales

    Long article, but it was definitely worth reading. And great Ayurveda tips…

  6. Brittany West

    Just booked! On my way to removing toxins!!!

  7. Beverly Snyder

    What precautions should people take when they want to try Pancha Karma?

  8. Dollie Callahan

    Thanks for the Ayurvedic tips! Bookmarked! Will be sending this to my girlfriends!

  9. Susan Albright

    If I remember it right, I’ve read that Ayurveda puts extreme importance on the digestive system?

  10. Chrystal Simmon

    I wonder, what made you decide to look or research for Villa Ananda?! Friend recommendations?!

  11. Rosalie Sultan

    Now I understand the need to purify the body. Thanks for teaching me about Ayurvedic Panchakarma

  12. Lisa Bryson

    Thanks for this article! I needed to find a way to cleanse and detox my body.

  13. Deanna Woods

    Wow! I could really use a rejuvenating experience like that.

  14. Eloise Ferris

    I NEED a relaxing week-long detox!

  15. Genie Mackenzie

    Villa Ananda seems to have such an enchanting ambiance! 😍 😘 😚

  16. April Henry

    Looks so luxurious!

  17. Lusi Martin

    What brand is that navy and white top you’re wearing in the first photo in this article? I love it!

  18. Honey Smith

    “Plz suggest an ayurvedic remedy for my constipation, gases and acidity. Because I have these three problems all a time.
    plz plz plz plz plz tell me somthing. Because I’m very fed up.”

    • Jessi Agusta

      “This is what I do: *Drinking a cup of cold water first thing in the morning, helps.
      *Also, everyone can react different for different food we eat since we are all different, so pls experiment and see which of these food can work the best for you; all of these work for me really good–guaranteed: Carrot, Asparagus, Shitaki mushroom, Beets, Brown Rice, Basmati rice, Sweet Potato, Gobo and Swiss Chard. If really bad, have some penuts and drink cold cup of milk; hopefully, it won’t become the other extreme.
      *whenever I drink green smoothies–vitamix, in a few hours, my body forces me to go to bathroom: these are the ingredients (you may add omit however you want, but these work for me really good as well):
      Water–purified: 1 1/2 C
      Kale: about 1 C
      Broccoli: 1/2 C
      Brussel Sprout: 1 big one or 2 small ones
      Carrot: 1 small organic carrot
      Romaine Lettuce: 2-3 leaves
      Celery: 1/2 C
      Spinach: 1 C
      Swiss Chard: 1/2 C
      Aloe: 1/3 C (1 stem)
      Grape leaves: about 3 leaves
      3 ripe bananas
      Fresh rosemary, Mint and sage: 1 ts of each
      Raw garlic: 1/2 ts
      fresh Ginger: 1 ts
      Green onion: 1/2 root
      Blackberry(any fruit you like): 1/2 C
      peaches, apples: 1/2 C of each
      Sunflower seed: 1TS
      Raisins: 1TS
      Corriander seed, fennel, Chia seed : 1 ts of each
      Flax seed: 1TS
      Cinammon, Tumeric: 1 ts of each
      (if you have any of inside of Honey dew, Cantaloupe, pumpkin, Papaya seeds, you may add as well)
      I hope this help!
      Lord bless you!
      kk 🙂”

    • Wendy

      I’m no doctor so I wouldn’t be in a place to suggest any Ayurvedic remedies, but I’ve found that yoga therapy and good whole foods vegetarian diet have worked really well for me for digestive issues.

  19. Cristina Joseff

    Ayurveda is very clear about how much time it takes to do this practice. Panchakarma simply can’t be done that fast — that practice simply becomes commercialization of Panchakarma. After each therapy there is a recovery period of double the days of thereapy itself or at least 7 days.

    • Anila William

      I agree that Ayurveda is very clear about what panchakarma is, and I’d add that present-day literature and marketing materials that are selling it as something other than what it is. It’s unfortunate that it has become this fad. I see the same thing happening with Yoga. People, particularly in the West, are selling asana as Yoga, when in reality they are just selling asana, which is just one of the eight limbs of the whole practice. I cringe when I hear the term “Yoga class” when all they’re doing is getting together for an hour of asana. I wish people just called it what it is: “asana class.” Ultimately, this incorrect terminology has the effect of diluting the true meaning of Yoga and confuses people. The upside is that more people get into the practice in the first place and a percentage of those people will discover the true meaning. The others will gain something as well, just not nearly what they could be getting if they had the real thing.

  20. Nancy Smith

    Something else you may want to include in your article: Panchakarma contains two Sanskrit words ‘Pancha’, which means five, and ‘Karma’ which means action. Together it means ‘five actions’ which shows clearly what Panchakarma actually is: an Ayurvedic treatment consisting of five different actions which clean the body from any kind of toxic material.

  21. Maria Bruce

    Panchakarma removes impurities from the body, but is it better than a juice cleanse?

  22. Quin Meri

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’d like to experience it too!

  23. Ana Brose

    I’ve heard about Pancha Karma but I don’t really understand how it works. Thanks for the great article!

  24. Jenifer Jeni

    Timely! I’m so stressed out at work. I think I need this badly!

  25. Are there “negative” side effects?

    • Well, sometimes when you detox you feel a bit sick as the toxins are leaving you. It’s like a J-curve, then you feel way better. I didn’t experience this though.

  26. Courtney Floxen

    Your travels and adventures were amazing!! I love your website and everything that you stand for. 🙂

  27. Rosina McMillian

    What a wonderful experience you have. Hi Hilary! I just found your website and I can’t wait to explore and hopefully get some awesome tips. I want to travel on my own because I love learning about the culture of different countries, meeting other people and having new experiences. I think if we’re looking for a quiet place, beautiful view, peaceful, then this is the place to stay. Loved reading your article today!

  28. Jenny Garett

    Villa Ananda looks like it’s truly a secret piece of paradise. Looks like everything about your stay there was fabulous. Full sensation experiences with beautiful views, waking up with the beautiful sound of waves, and excellent massages for relaxing from top to toe. The whole experience is very serene and relaxing. You’re living the dream and I’m looking forward to reading more from your travels and future plans.

  29. Christina Brown

    Beautiful! I would love to experience the tranquility of the space that will surround me in this lavish vacation sanctuary.

  30. Gabby Williams

    Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 Years ago, I was able to experience Ayurvedic and Pancha Karma practices. The practices were so unique because the training is “real.” Our trainers encouraged us to get our hands dirty. I, together with friends, put our whole heart into what we’re doing, we bonded as group and learned to work as a therapeutic team. I think it’s time we did another trip — this time at Villa Ananda!!

  31. Great article! Villa Ananda is many things: peaceful and relaxing; place for fitness, wellness and comfort; and a place to sweat, meditate and heal 😉

  32. A good friend of mine invited me to Villa Ananda to refresh, retreat and try “healing” services, after reading this article (she forwarded this to me). I don’t have any serious conditions but I am definitely going to join because A) it looks super amazing from the description and photos, and B) I am def over-stressed, from working at my computer and the volunteer projects I’ve been working on.

    I’ve been detoxing regularly, using herbs and following strict vegetarian diet. But I know I needed to cleanse and more importantly, regenerate. I hope the “Pancha Karma” Ayurvedic treatments will help me. I’m going to load up our trip with Ayurvedic treatments as much as I can.

  33. Love this article! Very detailed and wonderful photos! But I wonder if Nasya treatment was helpful? I mean, did the treatment lessen your migraine attacks?

    • Yes! It was super helpful. Ayurveda works like magic — I felt the healthiest I have ever felt (in my whole life!) while staying there. No joke.

  34. I just messaged this article to a supermodel friend and she said that Donna Karan goes here every year after fashion week. I’m definitely booking this!

  35. Francis Woods

    I don’t think words could ever do this place justice! It would take an extended stay for me to even realize all of the amenities offered at Ayurveda. Their innovative form of healing with an emphasis on the inner self makes me want to board a plane today and stay for at least a week!

  36. Jen Spillane

    Wow, this place sounds like a dream! I love that they focus on healing from the inside and on building a foundation for a healthy lifestyle that guests can carry forth into their day-to-day lives.

  37. I could really use this. I want to see what I'm like after a relaxing week-long detox. I wonder if I'll have a lot more energy and mental clarity. It will certainly be an interesting experiment! I'm going to get some girlfriends together and we can all go together. Will be fun – thanks for the tips!

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