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.


10 Things to Bring

One thing to remember when traveling to remote areas is that if you forget something, you can’t easily re-purchase it. This fact is especially true at Villa Ananda, where they don’t want you to leave the property (it apparently interferes with the detox process). While Villa Ananda provides shampoo and conditioner, it’s one of the very few areas where they fall short. The products, in refillable bottles, are (I’m sad to say) very cheap, watered down and smell like harsh chemicals. Further, neither the ‘shampoo’ or the ‘body wash’ come close to getting all that sesame oil out of your hair. I would highly recommend bringing the following:

  1. Your hair will be drenched in oil. Bring a good oil-fighting shampoo and conditioner — and lots of it! Hair elastics, too.
  2. Bar soap, as this isn’t provided.
  3. Mosquito repellant.
  4. Sunscreen, toothpaste, etc. — all the regular stuff. You won’t be able to get more.
  5. Sweet snacks (to cheat on your diet).
  6. DVD’s or ripped movies on your laptop (because there’s no TV!)
  7. Lots of reading material (because the only books lying around Villa Ananda are Ayurvedic health books).
  8. Neoprene socks for walking on the beach (there are a lot of little rocks and shells).
  9. Binoculars (for whale watching, if it’s that season).
  10. Clothing you don’t care about, because they’ll get oil stains on them.
My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

The entrance to Villa Ananda

Healthy Meals

The first three days of Panchakarma generally are light fasting with pureed vegetable and herb soup. Breakfast, for the entire trip, was sliced and sautéed pear or apple in ghee with chunks of dates (if I begged), almonds and spices, or quinoa with almonds and spices. Lunch and dinner were either Kitchari (an Indian dish with basmati rice, mung beans and spices), or steamed vegetables with spinach and pine nuts in a coriander coconut sauce with red quinoa.

Each vegan meal is prefaced with ginger, digestive tea and customized herbs based on your dosha. The herbs definitely don’t taste good — in fact, it’s pretty hard to choke them down most of the time — but they’re good for you, and it’s an essential part of the detox process. At Villa Ananda, you should expect healthy, but very repetitive meals. And I mean very, very repetitive and very, very simple. No sweets are allowed, for the most part. That includes fruit. So if you have a sweet tooth (they are gong to kill me for saying this), I recommend you bring some sweets with you — and hide them well! Meals are savory, and you can pretty much guess what you’ll be getting tomorrow — the same as today!

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

The woman who was staying in the other casita works at the New York Times. She said that the last time she visited, she lost about 20 pounds. Amazingly, I didn’t lose any weight that week, but I could see how a person easily could. Just make sure to keep up the healthy vegan diet when you get home — that’s the trick in it. She followed shortly after by letting us know that Thanksgiving did her in and she gained it all back. Sounds like an excuse to come back if I ever heard one!

The upside of this is that, in my case, I had been dealing with a food allergy that was causing a rash on my legs. Because my diet was so minimal in terms of what went into it, my rash went away by the time I left, eight days later. Of course, once I left Villa Ananda and started eating normally again it returned. However, because of the simple diet at Villa Ananda, I was able to narrow down the cause (I knew I hadn’t had soy or corn all week, for example) and finally pinpoint my allergy.

My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico

Oh yes; lest I forget: alcohol and sex were officially off the menu, as they are both too draining. (Ok, ok, so that last one I may have cheated on with my hubby. At least now I can say ‘I cheated with my hubby’! Ok, that was cheesy.)

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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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