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


My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico


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 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.


  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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