Travel | November 12, 2020 10:18 am

We Could All Use a Wellness Workcation in Mexico Right About Now

Safe, chill and definitely not your home couch you've been working from for the last nine months

Palmaïa Mexico review
The beach at Palmaïa.
Jake Emen

Upon my arrival to Palmaïa – The House of AïA, a sustainability and wellness-minded resort located at the tip of Playacar Beach in Playa del Carmen, I’m introduced to my “nomadic guide,” a staff member who will be on hand to take care of my every whim, a quick WhatsApp message away day or night. I’m welcomed warmly to the property, despite my concerns that I don’t look the part to match the resort’s stylistic direction — I was told I should be wearing bohemian chic attire in the evenings, though fresh off my flights, my first time on a plane or out of the country since February, I’m in relative shambles.

In short order I learn about the property’s “gifting lifestyle,” an approach towards hospitality that allows you to lock up your wallet for the duration of the stay, with everything already covered, excepting perhaps full bottles of premium booze or spa treatments. It’s like saying you’re an all-inclusive resort, but without implying the connotation of sugary frozen drinks and lukewarm buffet dinners. I have an itinerary loaded with activities from Palmaïa’s Architects of Life program to begin looking over, with thrice daily offerings including assorted types of yoga and meditation, mantras, Tibetan bowl ceremonies, ancestral dancing and Tai Chi, and other sessions which I’m left guessing at, such as “mind control” and “gong bath.”

All of this and I’m supposed to get some work done at some point. I’m staying at Palmaïa, which opened at the beginning of this year, not only to attempt to find some inner peace in the anxiety-ridden days leading up to our recent election, but also to try out the hotel’s Beachfront Work-Away package. The program is designed for digital nomads, or assorted other free spirits in bohemian chic attire, to leave the world behind for a month-long stay. 

Poolside drink
A poolside drink.
Jake Emen

Monthly visitors get to partake in the full Architects of Life wellness program and its myriad activities, as well as all meals and drinks, complimentary laundry, and a range of resort amenities, from a fitness center and water sports, to a swim-up bar and daily DJ performances at the hotel’s beach lounge. It’s part wellness retreat, part normal routine, part boho beach party, all from the confines of your beachfront suite at a swanky Mexican resort with an on-site shaman.

“We don’t have to become someone … we already are someone,” the shaman tells me during a meditation session. And I am affirmed.

Balder is more or less how you’d expect someone with his job description to be. He’s soft-spoken, with a ponytail and a long, wispy brown beard, adorned in draping white clothing, and he has friendly eyes which seem to search inside of you during conversation. “When you close your eyes, you face the most powerful force in the universe: your mind,” he said. It’s heavy conversation juxtaposed with the early morning sun rising over the clear turquoise sea and its crashing waves. Better grab a mimosa and think this one out on a lounge chair, I realize.

Meditation
This seems chill
Jake Emen

Dining at the resort matches its ethos of sustainability and wellness, with primarily plant-based dishes, including multi-course set menus for dinner, though certain offerings have meat alternatives. It flips standard protocol on its head; whereas a typical restaurant might showcase one or several vegan options, Palmaïa’s cuisine uses such fare as its foundation while allowing flexibility for those of us who are also trying to sculpt a better body and stronger mind, but would like to do so while still consuming cheese. One night’s menu might start with honeydew sashimi followed by jicama satay, but offered diners the chance to sub in pork belly for the portobello entree, if desired.

There’s kombucha stocked in the mini fridge, because of course there is. Bathroom soaps and shampoos are all-natural, and the resort is largely plastic free. It also plans on becoming entirely carbon neutral, and was designed as much as possible to be a part of the surrounding landscape —including the jungle, beach and a cenote — rather than to stand apart from it.

Oh, and the gong bath? It’s a sound journey, man, and you lie down and shut your eyes as your guide induces you into a zenned out, spacey trance by playing didgeridoos and gongs. It was fantastic. Though I definitely did not get any work done afterward.

Beach
Also very chill
Jake Emen

“The human body is perfect, but we don’t know how to connect with it,” Balder said. “Or tap into its reserves.”

The emails will have to wait then. I’m connecting with something more important than the wifi.

Hotels in the U.S. Offering Workcation Deals

When you’re ready for a workcation, but would prefer to keep your travel domestic, there’s an array of excellent choices available from coast to coast.

  • Key Largo, Florida: Guests at the Playa Largo Resort & Spa, an Autograph Collection Hotel, can turn a workcation into a “Stay & Play” package, receiving up to $350 resort credit for a stay of seven nights. The resort boasts 14 acres of beachfront property so you can snorkel and suntan your way through your daily break, before heading back to private workstations, or VIP cabanas, from which you could theoretically also work.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada: MGM Resorts is offering a “Viva Las Office” package, currently available at ARIA and Vdara. Stay for a minimum of three nights at either property and choose between packages such as The Associate, The Manager or The Executive, where suites come with early check-ins and late check-outs, executive assistants, a cabana rental and poolside massage, food and beverage credits, and discounts for hop-on jet service from JSX.
  • Nantucket, Massachusetts: The Greydon House is offering complimentary laundry service, flexible check-ins and check-outs, and waived pet fees for guests who stay for 14 or more days. Plus, you’ll receive a complimentary bottle of Prosecco each week, which feels like a fitting way to celebrate the transition from work to cation on Friday evenings.
  • Nationwide: Hyatt has launched a “Work From Hyatt” program with several dozen hotels participating for stays of a week or longer. Perks include upgraded accommodations and access to workspaces, waived resort fees, daily food and beverage credits, and amenities specific to the property of your choice, such as a complimentary pool cabana at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, or a complimentary round of golf and spa treatment at the Park Hyatt Aviara.
  • Palm Beach, Florida: The brand new White Elephant Palm Beach debuted in November as the sister property to Nantucket’s White Elephant Resort. Book a work stay for 30 days or longer and receive a 15% discount on accommodations while making use of amenities including private outdoor spaces and complimentary bicycle and BMW access, depending on your preferred mode of transportation.
  • Sacramento, California: Visit the Sawyer in Sacramento to take advantage of an extended stay package in California’s capital city. Receive 20% off stays longer than a week, with daily food and beverage credits, private spaces for work or virtual school sessions, complimentary laundry once per week, and a variety of dog-friendly perks if the pooch is coming along for the stay.
  • Washington, D.C.: The Dupont Circle hotel, a member of the Doyle Collection, reopened in October after extensive renovations. Stay for 30 days or longer and receive 50% off rates for suites or 25% off rates for other guest rooms, with other perks including complimentary parking and ongoing discounts for room service, dry cleaning and orders at the on-site Doyle bar.