The Yucatan Times paid a visit to The T’ai Spa in north Merida and had a chat with Manola Perez, owner and director of this Spa and Wellness Center.
TYT: Why has Wellness become such an important part of the tourism industry nowadays?
MP: At this moment, people have a very stressful way of life, a fast paced rhythm of work and live constantly in a hurry, these are the common denominators in societies throughout the world these days, and people are questioning themselves, why am I always running like crazy? Why can’t I have a brief moment in space and time to relax and enjoy life?
And that is the reason why many people are looking for a change in their way of life, and more than one is taking the alternative of Wellness. In fact, many people have made wellness a vital part of their everyday life, and when they go on vacation, they want to have that same moment of wellness, which means an optimum, holistic and balanced state of health.
TYT: You mean Wellness has become a part of many people’s lives?
MP: Exactly, Wellness has become a medicine for all those people that live in constant stress.
Statistically, Monday is the day of the week when most people commit suicide in the world, and this is due to the stressful way of life most human beings are experiencing today.
So, when people look for Wellness during their vacation, they are looking for a time of relaxation, a time to carry out healthy activities, to co-exist with nature, maybe a time to experience part of the destination’s culture in a fun and positive way, but what they always seek is to maintain their good health during their trip.
For example, Yucatán is currently a very well positioned state in terms of Medical Tourism, some tourists might come to enjoy the local culture, nature, gastronomy and entertainment; and once they are here, they decide to live a Wellness experience because they are aware that it is good for their health.
But talking specifically about Wellness Tourism, we have two types of tourists:
- The Wellness traveler whose main goal is to travel exclusively to live a wellness experience.
Right now, Tulum, Quintana Roo is one of the more trendy destinations for this purpose. There are places along the beach where guests can enjoy 5-day retreats featuring yoga classes, vegan food, meditation, massages and other health related activities.
There is a place called “Rancho La Puerta” in Tecate, Baja California, that is probably the most important Wellness Center in all of Mexico.
- And the second type of Wellness traveler is the one that seeks for Wellness related activities for a few days during their vacation. Some of them want healthy food restaurants during their whole trip.
While traveling, most people don’t eat well when they have to make a connection to catch a second flight, they also consume alcohol during this moment of their vacation to ease the stress, and so they seek a few days of relaxation and health during their trip.
But we have also the business travelers who are used to exercise every morning and eat healthy food at home. Many of them are coming to Yucatan because the state is positioning itself as one of the most important convention destinations nationwide. And so, many of these travelers come to Mérida for a week or so, and that could be a great opportunity for all health related businesses, such as Spas, gyms, natural products shops or healthy food restaurants.
Talking about healthy food, many of the most important and renowned restaurants in Merida now feature a “special healthy menu” as part of their main menu.
There is currently a boom of “Organic Stores” in Mérida, where people can buy natural cosmetic products, or food items for vegetarians, vegans or people allergic to gluten.
That is why Wellness is part of Medical Tourism, because people are looking to take care and preserve their health.
TYT: Why is the Yucatan positioning as a World Class Wellness Tourism destination?
MP: One of the main reasons is due to its traditions and culture. For example herbal, ritual, spiritual, traditions. And our state as a destination provides the perfect scenario for a Wellness trip: for example, the tourist wakes up early in the morning, eats a healthy natural breakfast with lots of fruits and juices; then goes to visit an archaeological site, where the cultural experience is good for his mind and body, and then, after a hot afternoon under the sun of the Yucatan, walking through Mayan ruins, the traveler returns tired; and what could be better at that moment than a good relaxing massage before going to dinner.
Mexico is so well positioned as a Wellness World Class destination that the Global Wellness Forum 2015 took place in Mexico City last November. Global Wellness is the most important international organization in this industry.
During this forum it was stated that Mexico goes all the way back to Pre-Hispanic times as a Wellness destination; with the use of things such as the Temazcales, herbolaria for gastronomic purposes as well as for spiritual and healing rituals. And many tourists are coming to Mexico today with that situation in mind.
According to Global Wellness, Mexico is a global and regional wellness tourism powerhouse: ranking number 11 worldwide and with a market more than four times larger ($10.5 billion) than the number two regional market, Brazil ($2.5 billion). Mexico attracts almost 1 in 2 wellness tourism “dollars” spent across the whole region.
TYT: Do you consider that the Wellness industry in Yucatan is influenced by the Mayan culture?
Absolutely, as a matter of fact at The T’ai Spa Centro (located in downtown Mérida) we are trying to provide Wellness services featuring endemic herbs and ingredients, so our customers can enjoy an experience that in some way gets them close to our culture and traditions.
We have a ritual called Sac-Nicté that is inspired in the legend of Sac-Nicté, in which we use mayflower essence, salt from Celestún, local honeybee and coconut oil from San Crisanto.
And we are also focusing in trying to help the Mayan communities by using natural products manufactured by these talented local people.
So, we are providing a unique service, with a traditional Mayan culture influence, featuring organic and natural products, manufactured by local Yucatecan people in order to make our customers live a one of a kind experience.
Also at Tai Boutique, we absolutely avoid any chemical or artificial products.
TYT: What kind of Wellness services are provided at The T’ai Spa?
MP: We have a wide array of services from manicure and pedicure, to a variety of massages.
We provide a personalized service featuring different ingredients and products according to the customer needs. And as I said before, we are proud of using 100% local products.
Here at The T’ai Spa we have our own organic garden, where we grow different herbs that are used to provide our Wellness services with our own homemade exfoliants and essences. We grow rosemary, basil, aloe vera, lavender, cedron and other fragrant and medicinal plants.
We make our own blends of herbs and flowers and we create our own unique products, and the customers appreciate that very much.
But another important aspect, is the fact that at The T’ai Spa we work with International Organizations, we are part of the Green Spa Network, which is an association that seeks that spas are sustainable and environmentally responsible. We use only ecologic and biodegradable cleaning products and have become a recycle center as well.
And through this organization our staff is in constant training. Last year we took part of their “Global Mentorship Program” and we were the only “Day Spa” and the only Mexican establishment that attended this convention.
Our mentor for six months was the Director of the Ritz Carlton Aruba Hotel. And this year I was invited to participate as a coach; and I’m going to be coaching the manager of a Spa in Brazil.
And being part of Green Spa Network has helped us significantly in many ways, but also to get in contact with other Spas, that in the end result in finding other ways to provide a service of excellence to our customers.
But personally, what I can tell you that gets The T’ai Spa ahead of the competition is our people. Because besides the training by Green Spa Network, we also train our staff in Customer Service Practices. We have our own high standard protocols and methodologies, and we work hard on putting them to practice every day.
We have a “Spa Consultant” that works with us, her name is Nancy and she is an Expat living in Merida. She has been a huge help for us to improve our quality of service.
TYT: Anything else you would like to add?
MP: Finally, I would like to add that, besides our services we currently provide our customers with the opportunity of getting involved in other activities such as workshops and courses. For example next week we are having an essences workshop, free admission, all you need to do is to register on our website (15 spaces available), the workshops will take place on April 26th at 6 pm and April 27th at 10 am; and we are doing this because we want to create awareness and culture among our local community regarding Wellness.
At The T’ai Spa our philosophy is that we are committed with the client, not just the day we provide a service, but every day.
The T’ai Spa
Address: Av. Shután Medina 138,
Residencial Montecristo, 97133 Mérida, Yuc.
Phone: 01 (999) 944 5063
Working hours: Mon – Sat 10am to 8pm
The Tai Spa Boutique: Calle 62 no 425 (between 49 and 51) Centro.
Interview by Alejandro Azcárate for The Yucatan Times.
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