This Seaside Spa’s 7-Step ‘Water Ceremony’ Harnesses the Healing Power of Water

Photo: Stocksy/Lumina
When you think of traveling to Mexico, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s going on a culinary excursion to tantalize your taste buds with regional cuisines, swimming in the ocean alongside the vibrant aquatic wildlife, or exploring markets for handcrafted souvenirs.

As much as we love an active itinerary and exploring everything that local cultures have to offer, we also strongly advocate for building in a low and slow moment—or even a full getaway—dedicated to self-care. That said, if you can’t resist a luxurious spa treatment and are heading south of the border in search of some serious R&R, the SE Spa Water Ceremony at Grand Velas Riviera Maya should definitely be on your radar.

This deluxe hydrotherapy offering—which, BTW, is complimentary with any spa booking at the award-winning resort—also entails hot and cold exposure plus much-beloved spa staples like a sauna and a clay room.

Why the water ceremony experience at Grand Velas Riviera Maya is hydrotherapy at its best

If you’re new to hydrotherapy (aka water therapy), you’ll want to *immerse* yourself ASAP given its impressive health and wellness benefits. Per a 2014 review in the North American Journal of Medicine and Science, hydrotherapy is widely used to boost immune function, relieve pain, and improve conditions as diverse as fatigue and anxiety to asthma and high cholesterol.

The seven-step water ceremony is designed to restore, revitalize, and reinvigorate your mind, body, and senses. Here’s the play-by-play (or rather, the splish-by-splash):


After settling into your cozy robe, you'll start by sweating things out in a dry heated cedar room. According to a 2018 review in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, considerable evidence “suggest[s] that sauna bathing can induce profound physiological effects.” Short-term exposure to intense heat raises the temperature of the skin and body, activating the autonomic nervous system. Potential benefits include everything from reduced stress, enhanced cardiovascular function, and increased blood flow to the skin (resulting in a lit-from-within glow).

Color Therapy Steam Room

Not so fast—you’re not done sweating yet. Color therapy and clarifying and energizing eucalyptus oil complement this second schvitz with sensorial delights.

Clay Room

Natural clays have been used the world over for centuries and are traditionally used to facilitate healing, whether applied topically or used to build spa rooms.

Ice Room

Cold exposure—via experiences such as this ice room and ice baths à la Wim Hof—can help with pain relief, blood flow, swelling, and soreness. Experts and cold-therapy aficionados also prize it for additional benefits like higher energy levels, better sleep, and increased focus.

Sensation Showers

Cleanse, baby, cleanse.

Hot Tub and Cold Plunge

Hot and cold therapies are a stellar duo to reap a double dose of wellness benefits. As the Mayo Clinic explains, rotating the two allows you to simultaneously loosen muscles (with heat) and and reduce inflammation (with cold exposure), boosting the potential for serious relief from aches and pains. Perhaps you already do this at home with ice packs and hot compresses—but since we’re talking about full-body plunges here, expect to come out of the water with some extra pep in your step and feeling lighter and looser from head to toe.

Sensation Pool

Last but not least, the sensory pool boasts delightful touches including a pebble walkway, bubble beds, and knot-busting neck massage jets. You can also swim a few laps if you so prefer—but it’s totally fine, and absolutely encouraged, to simply rest and recover.

Each of these steps lasts for three to 15 minutes (which you can modify based on your preferences), comprising an immersive experience of detox bliss. Plus, your moment of zen doesn’t need to end once you step out of the sensation pool. You’re invited to continue your journey by laying back on a souped-up, heated lounge chair and cover your eyes with cool cucumbers.

If you end up dozing off, we don’t blame you. But if you ask us, the water ceremony is an absolute dream in and of itself.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Mooventhan, A, and L Nivethitha. “Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body.” North American journal of medical sciences vol. 6,5 (2014): 199-209. doi:10.4103/1947-2714.132935
  2. Hussain, Joy, and Marc Cohen. “Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2018 1857413. 24 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/1857413
  3. Hussain, Joy, and Marc Cohen. “Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2018 1857413. 24 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1155/2018/1857413
  4. Malanga, Gerard A et al. “Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate medicine vol. 127,1 (2015): 57-65. doi:10.1080/00325481.2015.992719

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