My Experience at an All-Inclusive Wellness Retreat in Mexico

I was understandably excited for my very first wellness retreat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’d been a while since I’d traveled – I’d been in a “hustle and grind” mindset for the past year, saving money, moving, and still finding my footing in a new city. 

At the beginning of the year, as I was writing out my intentions for 2024, I knew I wanted to get back to traveling. So when I was approached to attend the “Wellnessing Getaway” by Velas Resorts in Puerto Vallarta, I felt an immediate surge of excitement. Here was an opportunity to escape the constant, cloudy chill of the Pacific Northwest and reconnect to my wellness practice, something that had been jilted by the new move coupled with a bit of overwork and regular life stress. 

The Wellnessing Getaway seemed idyllic: an all-inclusive, beach-side Mexican resort with a weekend of substantial teachers, classes, and opportunities for connection. Maybe I was putting too much emphasis (read: pressure) on the trip, but who hasn’t done that? That’s the whole point of vacations anyway: to help us escape and erase the grand douleur of our daily existence, right? 

I’m here to tell you that, no, it won’t. Even the most finely crafted wellness itinerary won’t solve all your problems. But what it can do is give you space and clarity. It will take you out of the comfortable ruts of your daily routine. It will introduce you to a new frequency of inspiration you can’t find anywhere else. And from that space of “Adhikari,” Sanskrit for an eternal sense of studentship, that’s where the transformation happens.

wellness retreat mexico

Arrival and First Impressions

In the car on the way to Grand Velas Resort, we all hummed with chatter, meeting our fellow retreat goers, many for the first time. I chatted in the back with Lara, a fellow lifestyle journalist from Chicago. We giggled about her latest piece on TruFlex. A woman whom I came to adoringly call Miss Vicki told us about the time she took a photo with the Ramones post-interview but lamented that Joey was behind the camera and not in the shot.

By the time we pulled into the drive, I was giddy, high from the social stimulation. As we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the warm, humid air as the concierge staff whisked away our bags. The cavernous front lobby stretched toward the ocean, with lush tropical plants softening the corners.

From the minute you step into Grand Velas, you’re greeted with warmth and care. For check-in, we were seated on doughy couches and greeted with glasses of champagne. I tried to focus on providing the front desk staff with my email address while a woman from the on-site spa gave me a neck massage with rose oil. My travel-wear muscles nearly purred with happiness.

We were taken to our suite on the fifth floor, with sweeping views of the resort and the Pacific Ocean. Perched on the coffee table were artisanal chocolates, a bottle of Pinot Noir, and a gift bag from the wellness retreat. My husband immediately threw open the patio doors and stepped out into the rich ocean air. After a giddy twirl around the oversized shower, massive jacuzzi tub, and king-size bed, we turned to each other and smiled. Let the vacation begin.

wellness retreat mexico

Daily Schedule and Activities

One of the most enticing things about the Velas Wellnessing Retreat was the multitude of its classes. As a wellness writer, I’m no stranger to retreats. There were many class options, from ice baths and beach-side cycling to emotional health seminars and tea ceremonies. Grand Velas did an excellent job at taking a more holistic approach to wellness rather than just focusing on the sexier topics of fitness and nutrition. 

We practiced Kundalini yoga on the beach at sunrise. We spent one morning crafting el Ojo de Dios, or “the eye of god,” a Spanish symbol for protection and the elements. We made botanical mocktails at the swanky Koi Bar. I would say this is a perfect wellness retreat for anyone who’s looking to broaden their horizons or find a new hobby. You’ll truly get a chance to experience everything.

Another important note was the healthy amount of downtime. I’ve been on a few retreats that feel so jam-packed that you return home feeling exhausted. Velas Resorts knows what they have to offer: immaculate beachside access, plus award-winning food and dining, and they want to make sure you have time to enjoy it all. Every day felt perfectly curated for active engagement with the retreat and independent downtime.

wellness retreat mexico

Food and Drink

Another thing I have to dish about *pun intended* is the food. Every single meal we ate at Grand Velas was terrific. They feature fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and you can taste the difference. Grand Velas in Peurto Vallarta is an all-inclusive resort. That means all your food and drinks are complimentary. This makes your stay much easier and allows you to try new things guilt-free. 

Beachside cabana service means I got to laze by the beach, reading my book, while the lovely staff brought me a piña colada, tuna sashimi, and guacamole – absolutely fantastic. The 24-hour room service menu is also substantial. We would start every day with a hand-blended green juice, cappuccino, and Spanish breakfast before our day of events. 

The piece de resistance of the weekend was our Saturday night wellness dinner hosted by Mariano Garces, Chef Yogui, and Andreas Estrayer. From behind the floor-length windows of Frida, the lively Puerto Vallarta restaurant, we watched the sunset over the ocean while enjoying a phenomenal five-course meal. Each course told a story as the chefs explained the sustainable sourcing of each ingredient. TVs showcased video footage of agave harvesters, bread bakers, and shrimp fishermen throughout the restaurant. Much like the rest of the weekend, it was a holistic celebration of Mexican culture and the power of intention and care. And honestly, I’m still thinking about that avocado ice cream with seal salt and dark chocolate to this day.

Seasons of Sound: Sound Healing for All of Life's Seasons

Insights from my Mexico Wellness Retreat

So, did my five-day wellness retreat in Puerto Vallarta absolutely change my life? Kind of. But not in the way you might expect. I’m not suddenly waking up at 5 a.m. every day to meditate and do a hard HIIT workout. But I am eating more fresh, seasonal foods. The retreat didn’t erase all sense of conflict from my marriage. But it did allow us a fresh space to talk and connect like we haven’t been able to at home. 

Yes, I did a guided hydrotherapy session (which was fantastic), but I also cried in the spa after my masseur had me plant a wish inside a butterfly. Yes, I made organic prebiotics in our cooking class, but I also spent all night at the bar drinking dirty martinis with Chef Yogui, talking intimately about the balance between a bustling career and a marriage.     

Wellness isn’t about climbing endlessly toward optimization and perfection. Wellness is messy because it’s human. It’s a shame that so much of this industry is still kept from people due to misunderstanding and gatekeeping. The Velas Wellnessing Getaway is terrific because it’s a wellness retreat for real humans. Yes, you will be pushed to challenge yourself. Yes, you will be inspired. But you’ll also be allowed to take time and space for what you need and leave the rest.

 

Overall, my 5-day wellness retreat in Puerto Vallarta was everything I needed, but not exactly what I expected. I recommend Grand Velas in Puerto Vallarta to anyone who is new to yoga or wellness retreats or needs a fresh twist of inspiration for their practice. The all-inclusive setting allows you to relax and focus on the classes, while the array of offerings means you’ll never be bored. But perhaps most importantly, it’s the humans behind this experience that make it so special.

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Sierra Vandervort

Hey there 👋 I’m Sierra – welcome to my website!

I’m a writer, yoga teacher, and community builder located in the PNW.

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