I have an overstuffed suitcase filled with bikinis and workout clothes, a reservation for six days in the most remote part of the Mayan Riviera, and a straw hat bought for nine dollars at a local drugstore. I discovered the perfect Oceanside retreat in which I can abandon my â€œreal lifeâ€ and safely relax as a single traveler – Bikini Bootcamp at Amansala Resort, in Tulum, Mexico.
Eco Chic Resort:
Stepping out of the plane in Cancun, the slightly humid 84-degree weather embraced me and I gleefully peeled off my sweatshirt, giggling like a little girl who just found her best friend.Â The sun was setting by the time I arrived at the Amansala Resort (aptly named â€œpeaceful waterâ€) and the postcard-esque views were breathtakingly magnificent.
Two thoughts hit me immediately.Â The energy of the ocean and wind filled every cell of my body in a very powerful yet serene way and the entire resort is completely built in sand, ten steps from the 80-degree water. I quickly shed my sandals, never to put them on again for the next six days.
My eco-chic room fit my professional girl-meets-bohemian beach babe desires perfectly. Whatâ€™s not to love about a huge, candle-lit oceanfront cabana made of stone and straw, perky orange window benches, Frette sheets, Mayan honey toiletries, and balconies with hammocks? My inner â€˜greenâ€™ girl was thrilled about the solar powered electricity in the resort â€“ this meant IPods could be charged but no hair dryers. Beach hair is sexier anyhow.
Bikini Bootcamp Sisterhood:
Itâ€™s time to meet the other Bikini Bootcamp girls, so I locate the open-air restaurant a mere eight steps away. Everyone is vivacious, awe-inspiring, and smart. All solo travelers and beautiful women with a story to tell: an advertising exec, a therapist, a legal consultant, a clothing designer. All with different goals: to lose weight, to celebrate a birthday, to reflect on a relationship.
For myself, my goals are simple: Iâ€™m here to escape, drink margaritas and get a golden tan. The only reason I threw a journal into my suitcase last minute was because the â€œWhat to Bringâ€ instruction sheet told me to.
No Drill Sergeant at this Bootcamp:
The Bikini Bootcamp orientation was simple.Â Just be. A melodic gong lulls you from the best sleep of your life at sunrise. Organic meals are served with just-plucked produce and freshly caught fish. A menu of the dayâ€™s activities is posted on the chalkboard the night before.Â This really is summer camp for grown-ups!
Want to see the local spiritual wonders of Tulum like the Mayan Ruins and cenotes? Already planned and paid for. Yoga twice a day? Yep. Lots of beach time? Double check. Fun classes like circuit training, boxing, salsa, and African dance?Â Yes.Â Massages? Two included, more if requested. Coffee, wine and margaritas? Si, Si!
We all breathed a collective sigh of relief that everything was here for the taking but nothing was required.
As I moved through the week, with glorious beach walks in silence with new friends, fitness classes led by supportive teachers that encouraged all fitness levels, and daily frolicking in the ocean that felt like bathwater, I realized that, at Amansala Resort, I had found my heaven on earth.
Amansalaâ€™s Gift: Breathing Room for Self-Reflection:
A local, who had moved here from Massachusetts, told me that Tulum is considered a sacred spiritual center. She likened Tulum to a spiritual blender, where areas of unrest and discontent in oneâ€™s life, which generally lay dormant, are brought to the surface and churned around for the traveler to embrace as little or as much as they wish.
My journal got much more use here than I was anticipating.Â No wonder all the big yoga studios hold their retreats here.
I was transported back to being a little girl at summer camp here. How often do you feel exuberant enough to run into the ocean with all your clothes on, or vulnerable enough to talk through the night about your darkest secrets to new girlfriends?Â At Amansala Resort, I feel like the five-year-old version of myself in pigtails and flowered footie pajamas, when the world is new and everything is possible.
What Would You Do if You Found Heaven on Earth?
As I looked around on my final day, it was difficult to say goodbye to paradise. I dutifully took my cab to the airport, wistfully looking out the window with big dark sunglasses hiding my teary, red eyes.
The airport was a jarring sight, with sunburned US travelers annoyed their flights were delayed and cranky they had to rejoin civilization shortly.Â I wasnâ€™t ready to leave yet either. I made a call to the airline. â€œGive me one more day,â€ I said.
I slowly started inching my suitcase out of the packed line of travelers as Iâ€™m speaking to the booking agent. I said to a couple nearby, â€œIâ€™m going back. Iâ€™m going back for one more day.â€
The news caught on fast as to what this beach-haired, still-sandy girl was doing and the crowd broke out into applause. I was startled by their enthusiasm. But I was already wheeling my luggage out of the automatic sliding airport door to return for one more day in Heaven.
Amansalaâ€™s Bikini Bootcamp offers a six night package, from $2,135 including tax. The prices are the same year round and include accommodations based on double occupancy, all meals, two spa treatments, a clay treatment, daily yoga, fitness classes, and excursions to explore the area. Mention â€œHeavenâ€ to get $100 off.
– Co-Authored by Jennifer Dietrich