It’s a resort that sits right where 80 acres of Riviera Nayarit’s rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean, immersed in nature and with nods to Indigenous culture. Befitting the setting, wellness is sacred here, and under a canopy of large Higuera trees, the spa at the One&Only Mandarina is a special place. It is overseen by the resort’s Director of Wellness and Guest Experience Alejandro Ortiz, and in this exclusive interview, we learn about the spa’s architecture and offerings, and how they can be traced back to the cultural roots of Mexico.
Meet Alejandro Ortiz
GLH: For our readers who may not know you, could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you came to join the One&Only Mandarina?
Alejandro Ortiz: My name is Alejandro Ortiz and I am the Director of Wellness and Guest Experience at the One&Only Mandarina and Global Wellness Day Ambassador for Mexico. After having created some of the most unique and memorable experiences in some of the most progressive and dynamic hospitality destinations around the world, I decided to return to Riviera Nayarit to join the pre-opening team of what is set to be the best resort in Latin America.
GLH: The spa, as we understand, draws on the nature and cultural roots of Mexico. Can you tell us why? What was the thought process behind?
Alejandro Ortiz: There is substantial scientific evidence that shows the healing power of nature and guests are seeking out more and more immersion in “Deep Nature,” especially in this era of lockdowns and physical distancing – the need to connect with nature is very strong. Also, according to Wellness Travel Reports, the desire amongst travelers to be immersed in local, indigenous cultural experiences is the number one luxury travel trend worldwide.
GLH: In terms of architecture, how does the spa come together with nature?
Alejandro Ortiz: The spa is inspired by the Huichol tribe sacred geometry and the layout is based on an eight-pointed star, which according to the Huichol cosmovision, represents rebirth, renewal and spiritual regeneration. The eight-pointed star is formed from overlapping two squares which creates duality: spiritual and material. One square represents the Four Elements, each element pointing to our different facilities (e.g. fire pointing to the Temazcal). The other square represents our Existence (Spirit, Mind, Soul & Body) also pointing to our facilities, which in balance, both squares represent connection to nature, essentially to everything.
GLH: Can you tell us about your collaboration with Tata Harper Skin Care? Why that choice?
Alejandro Ortiz: Besides being a pioneer in natural non-toxic products and an award-winning skincare line, this collaboration allowed us to be the first and only spa in the world to introduce Tata Harper´s Multi-Sensory Wellness Journey, a holistic wellness immersion that curates knowledge form eastern wisdom, ayurvedic practices, western science and cutting-edge green technology setting us apart from any other spa concept.
GLH: According to you, what role does wellness play in a hotel stay? Does it really add to the experience and how?
Alejandro Ortiz: For the worldly travelers, ultra-luxury no longer means opulence but rather a longer health-related quality of life or, in other words, the ultimate luxury now is wellness. Therefore, the role of wellness in a hotel stay is no longer about a spa or a fitness center, but rather the impact the experience at the property has on the guest’s wellbeing. To place the wellbeing of travelers at center stage, we have thought one step ahead when developing a wellness-centric property, creating social spaces that inspire connectedness and engagement through result-driven, multi-day programs,and implementing evidence-based programs bridging the gap between what the ancient wisdom already knew for centuries with scientifically validated explanations.
GLH: If you were to recommend a treatment at the Mandarina Spa, which one would it be and why?
Alejandro Ortiz: It’s very difficult to have a favorite treatment as all the treatments are perfectly designed with the same goal in mind: “Awaken your higher energy and align your soul for the deepest levels of meditation, relaxation and healing.” Sometimes you will feel the need to reconnect with indigenous traditions, other times you will feel you need a complete journey of self-discovery, or perhaps a desire to get an immersive clean facial. If I had to choose one as my favorite it would be the Wirikuta Sacred Purification Transformational Healing Journey.
This journey is the Huichol´s sacred healing legend transformed into a beautifully choreographed treatment. Two therapists and four hands working in tune with your body where each hand represents an element of the mother earth and you the main character of this extraordinary saga.
GLH: And finally, if you had to plan a perfect itinerary in Riviera Nayarit, where would you go and what would you eat? Do you have any secret addresses you’d like to share?
Alejandro Ortiz: It would start in La Tovara National Park, in the San Blas mangrove ecological region cruising along the river. Then I would drive to San Pancho where I would eat in one of the different eclectic restaurants within the beachside town. And finally, I would end up in the neighboring town of Sayulita to do some shopping and enjoy some drinks in one of the many unique and welcoming bars.
For more exclusive interviews, stay tuned!