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

Travel

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.

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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.

Pre-Arrival

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: 79 Comments

  1. Lynn Saunders

    I went here before alone because I felt like I was at the brink of going crazy because of stress. It was the best decision I’ve ever made!

  2. Kelley Patton

    The vacations you always take are really nice. It must be great to always be stress-free because you get to go on nice places like this.

  3. Ada Rodriquez

    Villa Ananda is amazing. I went there once with my husband and it was really worth it. I had to book way ahead of time though since they don’t really admit a lot of people all at once. I understand that because it would really ruin the experience. It was the perfect place to unwind though. It was more than just relaxing! I felt like I was in heaven to be honest. I felt like all the worries I had just went away and I just felt so good and I didn’t want to leave. Except for the fact that I was starving already because the food was…. Ugh.

    • Kaitlyn Liddell

      Hhahaha, was the food really that bad?! 😂

  4. Jenny Palmer

    Their detoxification program must be really great. I bet they only radiate positive chakras there!

  5. The pictures are very nice. I bet they really don’t do justice on how beautiful the place really is!

  6. Mexico is LOOOOVEEE.❤️ Would rate it a 10 out of 10 and would go back 100%!

  7. This place isn’t exactly for “treatment”. You know how meditation actually helps your overall health? That’s how the Ayurvedic treatment also works. It relaxes you and helps you “find your center”. There’s also a study that quiet time or quiet places boost brain productivity. There’s something about relaxing activities and places that help us do better when we go back to our normal and busy lives. Villa Ananda is really amazing in doing their job. Hope I could go here in the future.

    • Chloe skertchly

      You’re right, that makes a lot of sense. I guess it’s the ‘bad energy’ that makes us unhealthy anyway.

  8. ANGEL

    Does this mean that they don’t book a lot of people? What if a group like my friends go there?

  9. When was incense relaxing? They smell like odd smoke…😵

  10. The herbs and the oils really are the key to this. I’m a firm believer that these herbs are not only therapeutic, but also has healing properties.

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