Chablé Spa, Mérida

Set near ancient Mayan ruins, sacred sites and sleepy villages, Chablé Resort & Spa in the village town of Chocholá, welcomes spa aficionados to 40 deluxe villas with private pools in the heart of the Mayan forest.

The stunning spa is imagined as a hedonistic and utterly private retreat, the hacienda’s centerpiece is its incredible spa built beside a “cenote” – natural cave formations, fed by natural underground springs and are believed to be sacred to the Mayans. The cenote, the energy center of the Spa, is considered a power source by the Mayans.

Spa philosophy is based on a duality of the eternal dance between two opposing forces, which strengthen each other. Shamanism combined with luxury, ancient healing techniques with modern science. The extensive spa menu provides a broad range of Journeys. Begin with a beautiful Mayan initiation ceremony, including a sage cleansing and Mayan blessings, meander to your teak cube perched above the cenote and begin the calming Journey. The menu is filled with pages of  unusual ‘experiences’ like the three temescal, the pre-Hispanic Mexican version of a sweat lodge combined with ceremonies performed by local shamans and Janzu water massage. Several stand alone buildings contain a saltwater-filled ‘floatarium’ and a hydrotherapy circuit which includes three plunge pools and a steam room cave covered with gold tiles. Yoga is offered daily on the banks of the cenote or beneath the canopy of a massive tree hung with flickering lanterns.

As the central concept of Mayan cosmology, the Tree of Life is a sacred symbol representing two remote worlds, Heaven and Earth, united by the Human Being. The Tree of Life honors the quintessential nature of duality in life and portrays the body as a bridge or transitional point between the tangible and intangible worlds. Through the spa treatments, guests are invited to find a balancing space within, a space where harmony, introspection and stability reside.

Even if you aren’t a ‘spa junkie’ the exotic blend of options and sense of calmness will lure you back each day to the Chablé Spa. This is a spot where you should indulge in the spa treatments, roam the magnificent grounds, unplug, and then…take time to visit the splendid Mayan ruins and historic colonial capital of Mérida. I spent a leisurely week and am ready to return to indulge and dig deeper into the mysteries of the Mayans.


  • Truly one of the best spa experiences I’ve enjoyed.

Herb Bouquets

Olive Oil Legend, Puglia!

My recent Journey, taken only in July, due to the cooking schedule of David Tanis at Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School; otherwise, I would not recommend Italian travel in the blistering hot month of July, unless perhaps you are on a lake or a yacht prowling the seductively blue Adriatic Seas.

Antica Masseria Brancati

Ambitious schedules and heat left me limp each day on this overland Journey. I was raised in heat and spent many childhood afternoons stretched out on a sofa with a cold compress on my forehead, nursing a nosebleed due to the extreme temperatures. Hot weather, we are incompatible.

But give me an afternoon under the enormous branches of a shady Stone Pine, and if you must, more chilled Prosecco, countless Italian delicacies and I can manage the heat. We arrived at Antica Masseria Brancati in Ostuni via a winding dirt road, flanked by perfectly stacked rock walls and surrounded by hundreds of massive olive trees. Eventually, I learned at least 800 of the trees are considered Monument Olives due to the age – 2000 – 3000 years old, planted when Jesus was roaming the fields. Brilliantly hued bougainvillea draped and dangled over the white washed walls of the beautiful masseria. A long stone path leads to the main Villa, chapel and garden in the central courtyard of Antica Masseria Brancati.

Seven generations of Corrado Rodio’s family have managed the Olive Oil farm, which includes an amazing underground museum room with olive mill tools that date back centuries. Large plots of the ancient gnarled trees are planted as the Romans originally planted them, 60 Roman feet between each tree planted in a specific grid. Many of the ancient trees, which still produce olives, have been given colorful descriptive names. The Old Man (Grande Vecchio) is bent and twisted three times around itself, and rests on a column of stones, like an old man and his walking stick. Nearby, the tree of Adam & Eve each have a very distinctive face, a likening of a serpent and of course, an apple. Corrado is extremely proud of the farm and its heritage and has incorporated olive oil tasting into the experience, he beams in sharing his family story.

We enjoyed a specially prepared lunch by Alma di Bari, who learned to cook at the apron of her grandmother; she glowed in her descriptions of each dish. And thankfully she will be passing on her recipes to her children, traditions are treasured still in some areas of the world.

Alma di Barri

Puglia is spilling with locals instilled with a passion and pride in their endeavors, whether it is an olive farm, a fisherman or a chef. Alma thought nothing of hand rolling the special Fricelli pasta that morning.

Olive Oil tasting, who knew it would result in a job offer!

Initially, Corrado seemed shy, his English and our Italian was a pretty good match, as he enthusiastically conducted a scientific olive oil tasting. It was abundantly clear in his beaming face that I correctly identified the deep fragrance of green grassy fields, spices and a distinct fruit in different cups of the oil. At conclusion, his smile and laughter confirmed that indeed, I was being offered a job! We then spotted the colossal tall wooden ladders used for picking, perhaps we will return after the harvest.

Notice, my notebook, I am a serious student!

Notice, my notebook, I am a serious student!

The enormous Stone Pine provided shade and the chirping cicadas bestowed the soundtrack of summer, as our poetic guide Michaela noted…I modified his poetry to the Symphony of Summer.Ancient Olive Trees

My tins of specific extra virgin – Salentino and Coratina Olive Oil have arrived, come for an official tasting, I’ve been deemed certified by a legend of Olive Oil, Corrado Rodio.

Of course, we can organize this for you as well on your next visit to Puglia. Trust me, two dozen words of Italian will get you through any hot summer day beneath a massive Stone Pine.