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.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

Me, in front of Villa Ananda

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

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 taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time traveling around Europe, with pied-a-terre's in Zurich, London, Milan and Lyon, France. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 52 Comments

  1. Rachel Adams

    wow! what a great destination. thanks for the heads up 😀 will try and visit here soon.

  2. I fell in love with papaya the first time I came to Mexico. In England, it always seemed bland and boring. There, it is fresh, juicy and delicious. 🙂

  3. Katherine Swift

    When I was a little girl, the women in my family taught me the importance of “me-time.” I remember when they would all go off to the spa together, and how much more relaxed and accessible my mom was when she returned. That was only the beginning of my interest in the spa industry. Reading this article was a blast for me. I just book my flight to Mexico and I will definitely try the spa there 🙂

    • ysabelle raven

      I remember when I was little. whenever my mom and dad fight, my dad would immediately hold my mom’s hand and go somewhere. when I grew up I learned that whenever they argue on something they talk about it in a spa. and somehow when they get home it feels as though they save the world or something with the look of pleasure on their faces. and that’s how my siblings are born hahaha

  4. Isabella Jones

    I would love to do my yoga there. I can’t tell you how many times I have almost lost my cool and psychically eviscerated someone who made me mad, but instead, I took a deep breath and remained calm. The ability to react to aggression with peace has drastically improved my relations with others and decreased my stress. The more I connect to my breath, the clearer I think, and that not only makes me a better person, but also a more patient parent. Fine yoga and a very nice place like this is perfect! I will go there soon.

  5. Carla Peters

    Mexico is one of the most affordable international vacations you can take. A number of airlines that fly to Mexico have travel packages that can make the overall trip more affordable — I just booked one. A good tip is this: Trips are especially affordable when not around any major holidays, as there is less of a demand to fly there. I am really looking forward to have my vacation in Mexico 🙂

  6. Francis Lockwood

    I love Villa Ananda. Its an ideal place for a vacation within the greens of exotic Himalayas. Very nice hospitality with a personal touch. Accommodation, food, spa, surroundings, ambiance, yoga sessions, mini golf course, gym and the friendly dancing peacocks in the lawns are all superb. A ‘must visit’ place.

  7. Kimberly Shaw

    I also love mexican food aside from the beautiful attraction it has. It’s not a surprise that there are Mexican restaurants all around the world, especially in the big metropolitan cities. Most of the dishes have their own history of how they were created, like the Mole sauce, which was made at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla when the convent nuns heard that the archbishop was going to visit them. My favorite dish is called tostadas, which is a hard tortilla with beans spread over it and lettuce, tomato, cheese and cream on top; so it’s basically a salad in a tortilla. Some of the most well known Mexican dishes around the world include mole poblano, tamales, tortas and, of course, tacos.

  8. May Baker

    I spent half a year in Mexico and felt far safer than I did during my three months vacation in the US beforehand. There’s a visible police presence anywhere – the authorities don’t want bad things to happen to visitors any more than the visitors do. I will definitely go back and try Villa Ananda.

  9. I have been to Mexico two more times with family and once backpacking as a solo traveler. With every trip, I have fallen more and more in love with this beautiful country!

  10. Connie Schmidt

    I love that photo of you!

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