The bohemian beach town of Tulum, Mexico isn’t exactly known for its salon services. But MayaSpa Wellness Center had manicures and pedicures on its salon menu so I decided to give it a try.
My Kind of Bohemian Town
There is one road that runs parallel to the ocean in the hotel zone of Tulum, Mexico. That road is dotted with “eco-chic” hotels, bungalows, restaurants/bars, yoga huts, and the occasional boutique. MayaSpa Wellness Center is part of the EcoTulum Resorts & Spa group. The entire area is quite rustic, with most establishments running off solar- and wind-generated power. MayaSpa isn’t exactly the sort of spa you might find back home. It’s simply an outdoor check-in desk on the side of the road and a series of open-air “rooms” outfitted with massage tables or wooden soaking tubs.
A Pedicure Without Polish
Two hours south of bustling Cancun, MayaSpa sits on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. If I had known how beautiful the setting was, I definitely would have booked a traditional Mayan Clay service in addition to my pedicure.
Obviously, as the editor of NAILS, I feel obligated to get a manicure or pedicure when I’m “on the road”, so I booked a pedicure before arriving in Tulum. Unfortunately due to some scheduling conflicts with my family, I had to cancel my original appointment and being such a laid back type of place, I “rescheduled” by walking up the beach to see when I could rebook my service. Marcela Trejo was available to give me a pedicure — a simple soak and scrub followed by a wonderful leg massage. Being that my pedicure was performed in the sand, I opted for a natural buff instead of the hassle of polish.
Now that’s what I call a view!
Massage with a View
Massage and body treatments are way more common in the resort town of Tulum, and MayaSpa offers them in quaint structures on the cliffs over the ocean. Trejo told me there is a lot of competition in the area for therapists and during the high season (November-February) business is usually steady, but it obviously dies down in the hotter/wetter months of the summer. She said most massage therapists sign three-month contracts, which they have to renegotiate at the end of the term. Like many people I met while in Tulum, Trejo was open and friendly. I only wish I would have had time for one of her body treatments before I had to return to the real world.
> The Mayan Clay treatments are obviously the way to go when in Tulum. After being coated in clay and allowing it to dry, clients are given the option of rinsing off in one of the open air tubs, or simply running down for a (naked) dip in the ocean.
> Therapists are required to get a license and at MayaSpa they work on commission. During the high season they are required to be at the spa for eight-hour shifts in case people (like me) walk up off the beach looking for an appointment.
> Without an actual indoor spa and with very few requests for pedicures, my pedicure was set up in a shaded area among palm trees and hammocks.
Mayan Clay Massage: $85
Private Temazcal (indigenous sweat lodge): $200-$250
A few baskets of products (and baggies of polish) were brought out for my pedicure. I didn’t really get a good look at any of the brands they were using.
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On the Road: Nails & Cosmetics