Beverley Byrne heads to the Mexican Riviera to test out the Nizuc Resort & Spa
ESPA founder Susan Harmsworth named the five-star Nizuc Resort & Spa her favourite, and it’s easy to see why. Just fifteen minutes from Cancun airport and situated on the secluded Riviera Maya -- with its blonde beaches and peppermint-hued sea -- Nizuc was once a centre for Mayan astronomers. Now, this privately owned beachfront resort, set within a 29-acre nature reserve, welcomes everybody from Hollywood stars to world leaders seeking a celestial get away.
What’s on offer
All 274 suites and private villas in the Nizuc Resort are decorated in subtle shades of chocolate and mocha with stone floors, natural wood and the odd stylistic nod to ancient Mayan culture. Many feature monumental bathrooms, balconies with plunge pools or private gardens. The Nizuc’s five stunning swimming pools (one specifically for adults) and two secluded beaches means never having to scrabble for a sun lounger or sumptuous cabana. For families, a separate kids’ club ensures that everyone is happy.
Designed in collaboration with Harmsworth herself, The Nizuc Spa similarly melds clean, contemporary design with local tradition and materials. Girdled by a moat teeming with shoals of golden koi carp, the stylish spa is filled with light and surrounded by exotic gardens, trees and pools. The Spa also has its own very chic outdoor swimming pool surrounded by loungers, and guided hydrotherapy circuit. There’s a beauty salon with nail bar, a fitness centre, movement studio and wholefoods Spa Café, too.
The Mayans knew a thing or two about wellbeing: by observing the stars and respecting the natural world, this ancient civilisation sought to understand the rhythms of the universe and meaning of life. Echoing these philosophies, the Spa focuses on the holistic and spiritual, as well as the physical. Alongside ESPA facials and massages, the treatment menu carries Mayan Mindfulness therapies with guided meditation and rituals: increasingly popular as mental health, exhaustion and anxiety issues dominate modern life. There are 18 treatment rooms, including one Thai Cabin and two luxury villas with private pool for couples’ rituals.
Tell us about the treatments…
I tried a Mayan Cacao treatment (120 minutes, £300).
My therapist, Graziella, began with a soothing foot cleanse and massage, then applied a top-to-toe exfoliating cocoa and salt body scrub, explaining how the Mayans revered cacao for its mood-enhancing and restorative properties. After showering, I lay down for the body massage; Graziella kneading the coconut-sized knots in my neck and shoulders into submission using pure, fragrant cocoa oil. Finally, a thin stream of oil was poured onto my forehead. This mesmerising relaxation technique has been used for centuries to calm the mind -- it certainly did the trick. Emerging from the treatment in a state of serene somnambulism, I could do nothing but retire gracefully to my suite.
Guests booking a treatment over fifty minutes also receive an hour-long Nizuc Thermal Experience. I was guided by experienced therapists through the beautifully designed hydrotherapy circuit: an aromatic steam room, sauna, invigorating showers and ice lounge, all based around a vast heated pool with water jets and thermic loungers. The grand finale included a hand, neck and arm massage, mini facial and a bliss-inducing head and hair massage.
The spa has launched a holistic menu based around Mayan mindfulness with therapies including a Mindful Massage, a Mindful Facial and a Couple’s Mindful Journey. There’s also a three-day Be Mindful programme including a signature Nizuc Thermal Experience, mindful treatments plus yoga or meditation classes.
Nizuc’s six restaurants offer an opportunity to scoff your way round the world without leaving the resort. Breakfast in Café de la Playa, where you can enjoy freshly made Quesadillas to French patisseries and a healthy option counter.
At Ramona, Chef Eduardo Torres re-interprets authentic Mexican dishes with gourmet flair. Head to Ni, Nizuc’s Peruvian experience, for ceviches and tapas. If you’re feeling brave enough, try Tiraditos, a dish reflecting the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cooking; it packs a powerful flavour punch. Terra Nostra channels a sophisticated beach club vibe to showcase Italian cuisine, while Indochine has classic oriental dishes.
By day, La Punta Grill & Lounge, with its thatched roof and tropical setting is a laid- back beachside restaurant serving fresh sea food and cuts of meat. By night, soft lighting illuminates decoratively carved, intimate booths swathed in mountains of soft cushions.
For those who think that resorts are restrictive, Nizuc Resort & Spa offers a raft of activities, many complimentary, from water sports (paddle board yoga proved a giggle), snorkelling in the bizarre MUSA underwater sculpture gallery and swimming with dolphins. There are also excursions to nearby archaeological sites, such as ancient Mayan city the Chichen Itza and the Rio Secreto, a magical underground river with thousands of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites.
A deluxe garden view room at NIZUC Resort & Spa costs from £577 per room per night including taxes.