What is progressive these days? Seems like every day, someone new redefines themselves at the forefront of… [fill in the blank]. Not all of it is real, of course, many are holding up smoke and mirrors. However, there is something marvelously unique and simple about what Palmaïa, The House of AïA, is doing to support mind, body, soul; it’s called Progressive Wellness.
The House of AïA is not your typical cookie-cutter resort, those are usually designed to indulge people with all the things that do the body wrong in an effort to have them release, relax, and indulge. And though this may be an award winning resort, sure, it didn’t get there by pandering to the expectations of the masses. Instead, it delivers an experience that tries to galvanize a healthier spirit, happier mind, and more energetic body.
Essentially, it places plant-based cuisine at the center of an age-old, holistic system to support personal growth, health, and happiness.
Tho achieve this, one’s core being is optimally nurtured, healed, and sustained in an environment that promotes clean living, weight loss, a healthy diet, and all other associated benefits, such as clarity of thought, energy, focus, and happiness. The fact that this happens at their dreamy, natural, beachfront resort is a bit beside the point—though it doesn’t hurt.
Totally secluded within a luxury community called Playacar, just on the southern edge of Playa de Carmen, The House of AïA offers one of the best vegan lifestyles available, to anyone.
For starters, it’s is not easy to explain how good the food actually is, one has to experience it for themselves. More than just fruit and vegetables, the cuisine is an outstanding mix of flavors that span the globe, while nurturing one’s health—with almost immediate results.
The resort’s spa, meditative practices, and music programs are designed to both build out from and to sustain the foundational health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. This is what emerges by placing plant-based cuisine at the center of its programming.
To understand how it works, we need to first look at what plant-based cuisine can offer us and how the programming works to sustain and develop these inherent benefits.
It’s the simplest of acts that have the greatest impact. Eating plant-based food is riddled with inaccurate stereotypes, but one thing is for sure: it’s not easy to do well. So when it happens the benefits are palpable.
Normally, one’s daily schedule doesn’t allow for the kind of time needed to prepare fundamentally sound and delicious plant-based cuisine. The variety and complexity of techniques required take too long to apply. It becomes a full-time job, so unless you have a personal chef whose livelihood is dedicated to preparing all your meals, it’s extraordinarily rare to have the opportunity to eat as well as one does at The House of AïA. As a result, the resort creates an opportunity for exploring the huge variety of tastes available in contemporary, plant-based foods. The resulting health benefits, which then lead into the personal growth programs, are hard to ignore.
There are many packaged, vegan products out there, but the nutritional benefits tend to diminish precisely because the food is not fresh. What Palmaïa, The House of AïA, has done is create an all-inclusive experience where the barriers to entry are removed. One can eat their impressive variety of styles of freshly prepared food, all of immense quality, at any time of day, and in as much quantity as one desires (thanks to their all-inclusive model).
The food itself is exquisite, truly. Meat eating guests regularly attest that whenever they visit, they do not miss their animal products at all. They eat as much as they like, lose weight—they obviously eat less meat, which helps to ease everyone’s conscience about factory farming—and they feel outstanding!
The resort food is the foundation from which one explores the other offers available at the hotel, such as their spa, holistic practices, and musical programing, which in turn helps to sustain one’s immersion and experimentation with a plant-based diet. It becomes a perfect cycle wherein the intake of high-quality, delicious nutrients generates a positive flow into all aspects of one’s life: social, meditative, physical, psychological, and more.
A clear example, just to mention one, is the constant debate about the forms of food, given that, as we have said, it is necessary to understand that we are at a decisive moment for humanity, a moment in which we must change habits rooted in our society. The need for food with animal protein is not denied, however in the face of global warming causing increasingly worse effects on the planet, helping to reduce carbon emissions would be of great help to heal the being that keeps us alive day by day.
A great option is to opt for a plant-based diet, which, through diverse and creative combinations, can offer all the nutrients necessary for daily life through the nobility of vegetables, without sacrificing flavor. Chef Charly, Carlos Carrión, famous for his acclaimed Charly’s Vegan Tacos “CVT” food truck, has developed different menus for the Palmaïa eco-resort, showcasing the mastery and creativity that plant-based cuisine entails.
Once we understand the importance of our diet, not only at an individual level but also collectively, we must understand that these changes, particularly speaking, entail the analysis of the various human realities, which, in order to explain them, need to be defined in relation to another reality, given that the situation exists as long as another confirms it, the sameness in relation to otherness; however, let’s talk more about their meeting point: the search for wellness.
The diverse human realities, to explain them, need to be defined in relation to another reality, given that the situation exists as long as another confirms it, the sameness in relation to otherness; however, let’s talk more about their meeting point: the search for wellness.
Jane E. Myers, a pioneer in the study of wellness, defines it as a lifestyle-oriented towards optimal health and physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, integrated in such a way that balance can be found, allowing us to live each life experience to the fullest.
From a perspective that is anything but utopian, this state of wellness must come progressively, since we cannot separate ourselves from external factors that could affect this balance. Let us remember that as social beings our decisions and actions will have a direct effect on our environment and our vitality, which will eventually push us to balance each aspect of our lives in terms of the usefulness it represents in order to access what is exposed to us as happiness, demanding constant reflection, analysis, and integration of ideas, understanding its structure within a timeless and utopian social imaginary, which does not necessarily correspond to our reality as individuals.
This wellness, this state of awareness and acceptance of the environment understood as a perspective, a completely mindful state, is nothing more than the product of a series of steps, habits, and activities that are developed progressively, beginning by defining the first approach to change, glimpsing what is most relevant at the moment.
The cuisine at The House of AïA is different . It truly establishes balance in one’s system by using very high quality, plant-based ingredients. Fresh vegan and vegetarian diets allow the body to establish a healthy baseline and regain equilibrium, i.e.- homeostasis. When that occurs weight is lost and one’s new, lighter weight is maintained effortlessly. One can even eat more than normal, as many guests do, and still lose those pounds.
The Global Burden of Disease Study (the largest epidemiological study ever made on the causes of premature deaths) “found that an unhealthy diet is now responsible for more years of poor health and deaths than any other lifestyle behavior.” The study found that we eat significantly too much processed meat, red meat, and salt. It also found we do not eat enough fibre, omega-3 fats, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and veggies. The conclusion was “that these shortcomings in our diet are causing an unprecedented spike in chronic disease.” (Source: The Proof Is in the Plants, Simon Hill) .
When one considers that eating a 100% or 85% plant-based diet has apparently very little measurable difference between them (in part because it’s almost impossible to measure the 15% difference between the two, at least with any significant statistical value), one begins to realize how eating a fundamentally plant-based diet at Palmaïa, The House of AïA, really is one of the best foundations for a healthy mind, body, and soul.
As for the long-term effects of eating plant-based diets are concerned, it depends. It is different for each person. Apparently, it has something to do with one’s blood type and lifestyle, so one should definitely consult with professionals and monitor their blood work if one plans to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet for a long time. Some people can sustain the cuisine optimally, while others need to eat animal protein, though certainly not in the vast quantities the average American consumes today.
Personally, I can vigorously attest that it’s hard to beat the way I feel after a couple of weeks of eating at The House of AïA’s. Very hard to beat!
Aside from losing weight, my system begins to flush itself out fairly quickly. I gain regularity in my stools, my complexion brightens, my energy levels are higher, my mood is more consistent, I sleep better, I feel happier, and my whole system gets into sync.
When combined with the benefits offered through The Architects of Life, The Rituals of Sound, and Atlantis, The Spa in the Jungle, it really does feel progressive in its restorative qualities.
It’s not like going to a fitness class, though they have those too, it’s much more than that. The Architect’s of Life program offers a dense collection of daily, group classes meant to explore one’s more meditative, spiritual side. By joining in, you are welcomed into one of many different environments.
The Ocean Tent is where they practice yoga or morning breath work directly in front of the Caribbean’s famed blue waters. It’s a breath of heaven to emerge from a deep slumber and find yourself on a wooden deck facing Cozumel. The island shelters the mainland shore and creates a divine pocket where the water is much calmer than 50 miles further south, in Tulum. As a result, the color crescendos into an electric turquoise blue recognized the world over.
The Jungle Deck is where they hold cacao ceremonies, sound baths, and many other classes designed to sustain the spirit as one explores the deeper nuances of consciousness. This is the heart of the resort. When you arrive you are often greeted by a personal growth guide who kindly asks you to remove your shoes. The deck itself is submerged among the trees, which grow out of it and create an atmosphere of gentle safety.
Initially designed as an entry point for beginner’s, The Architect’s of Life has in fact grown to accommodate any level of practice. The direct involvement of the teachers and personal growth guides allows for everyone’s experience to reach the appropriate depth. It can be as simple or as advanced as one wants.
There is also a giant, bamboo mushroom nestled along the mangroves facing the wild beach. Designed to blend into the landscape, it provides a refreshing shelter from the sun during the hotter months. Dubbed the Psychedelic Mushroom, it boasts a sweeping view of the sea and wild beach. This is where they hold art classes, Qi Gong, and other exercises meant to awaken the senses and capacity for perception.
Finally, there is also the wooden-floored, Japanese-themed hall upstairs at the Atlas Club. It creates a space for gatherings on rainy days. Impeccably styled to augment the senses, one feels a soaring sense of peace with its sweeping views over of the Jungle canopy, creating a feeling of ultimate triumph and travel leisure atmosphere.
Using a combination of modern, international treatments and ancient Mayan wisdom, Atlantis is a unique gem of a resort spa that helps restore one’s health by focusing on awakening everyone’s capacity to achieve self-healing. Some spa treatments are specially designed to help with different conditions and/or stages of life, whether during pregnancy or during childhood. These are treatments tailored to the healing needs of the person.
This is a place to nourish oneself through a pampering massage or powerful rituals like the storied Temazcal, a Mexican sweat lodge originating from the lost pages of history.
At times, Atlantis can feel more like an outdoor adventure, without the castle hot springs, but chock full of magical vibes thanks to the freshwater cenotes in the heart of the jungle’s foliage. The water seeps all around and washes away impurities through the always impeccable consistency and professionalism of the healers’ hands.
Mandalas decorate the external walls of the treatment cabins, called temples. These resonate fiercely when you walk by, reminding you of the powerfully sacred traditions that abound.
We are not all destined to be monks on the mountain, but the wisdom of the mountain carries all in its shadow.
Progressive Wellness states that one does not need to eat sticks and twigs to be healthy and sound. A critical part of this is nourishing oneself through music, dance, and sharing a great drink with friends.
The House of AïA offers a laid back atmosphere, where guests can join the music by beating some drums, dancing to fusion beats, or just sitting back and enjoying the turntables being played by excellent local and visiting DJs.
The feeling of replenishment that is delivered through this kind of camaraderie and laughter is as old as time itself. Some say music is older than language, helping us connect with our true emotions and intentions. It’s a powerful crowning on the day’s adventures to congregate by the fire pit that sits on the white sand beach, sheltered by the Uva de Mar foliage (literally, Sea Grape bushes).
After all, the goal of being sound of mind, body and soul is to be happy and by following a Progressive Wellness lifestyle, it’s finally within reach in a way that is truly sustainable and lasting, here at Palmaia, The House of AïA.
A few months before I visited Palmaïa, The House of AïA, I tried meditation. With all the stress that I accumulate on a day to
We’re delighted to see more people and businesses adopting a vegan lifestyle these days, and although some might see it as a fashionable strategy, Palmaïa’s plant-based proposal does not