This article is from the July 1998 The Mexico File newsletter.
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Mexico's Newest Spa

by "Mexico" Mike Nelson

A prolific travel writer, "Mexico" Mike Nelson is the author of Spas and Hot Springs of Mexico (Roads Scholar Press, ISBN 1889489263, 1977). Two of his books, including this one, were reviewed in the February 1988 issue of Mexico File. To contact the author email him at or visit his web site at

The new spa at the El Cid Mazatlan is an excellent amenities spa. After spending several days there, I heartily endorse it. However, neither I, nor the spa operators, want to mislead you as to what it is. This was one thing I appreciated about the management. They are honest and businesslike and run their spa the same way. It is a very good amenities or resort spa, but it is not for everyone. If you're looking for excellent spa services combined with a luxury resort on a beach, with golf, tennis and sailing, this is a perfect choice. One thing they offer that the other spas don't is a kid-friendly atmosphere. Since it is a big resort with a varied clientele, they can occupy children (pre-teen and teenagers) with planned activities while the parents get away and de-stress.

The spa manager, Sandy Russell, is a bundle of energy and makes sure that each guest is treated with personal service. The massages were universally good. Angelica gives a medium pressure massage that will appeal to most people. Since I visited them, they have added a new masseuse who was trained in the U.S. and Europe and is, of course, bilingual. The massages by the beach, especially the moonlight massage, should prove to be a favorite. I certainly liked it. Jacuzzi lovers will be impressed with their outdoor, coed jacuzzi. It was hot, the jets were strong and they were at the right placement for the shoulders and back muscles — one of the best in Mexico.

The seaweed wrap was good. Quality products are used like Pevonia from Sweden and Miguette brand mud from Mexico. The workout room had top-notch equipment like Cybex, Lifecycle and Biocycle, with several stations of weights and resistance machines. While I was there, there was no waiting.

The aerobics classes are a specialty. Besides low-impact aerobics, they had a special program called "box aerobics." The instructors were trained by "Thomas the Promise," from the U.S. The concept is that you use the movements of boxing (including gloves and jump ropes!) as a workout. Besides Yoga, Tai-Chi is offered.

If you are a golfer or a tennis buff, you will have plenty of company. In fact, golf, including a John Jacobs Golf School, has been the mainstay of this resort hotel for years. If you are a sailor, or want to be, you will love it here. Stewart, at the Marina El Cid, offers sunset cruises on a comfortable sailboat that can seat six. He also has a resort sailing course that will teach you enough to sail around the bay while you are there. Maybe it will whet your appetite for sailing around the world, or maybe it will just wet your windbreaker. Either way, you should give him a shot at making you happy. He is certified to teach you to sail around the world if the bug bites you.

OK, so what is missing from this spa? Perhaps that is not a fair question. It is what it is and doesn't try to be anything else. If you are looking for some spa services and exercise and de-stressing in a beach resort atmosphere, then this is your place. If you are looking for the "spa experience," then you will not be happy here. While the Yoga and Tai-Chi do offer some holistic atmosphere, this is not a holistic spa. Since meals are not included, it is not a weight-loss spa either.

Costs are among the most reasonable in Mexico. All packages include round trip airport transfers and superior rooms. Taxes are included in the price.

Spa Packages

The Spa Package — unlimited use of weight and cardiovascular equipment, use of the spa garden with steam and jacuzzi and aerobics, water aerobics, Tai-chi, Yoga or meditation classes and one hour a day of spa services. Cost: $340 (double) for 3 nights, $570 for 5 nights and $800 for 7 nights. Single rates are $512, $846 and $1,179.

Relax Package — all of the above plus one hour a day of golf, tennis or sailing lesson (which takes 2 hours, so figure you will get 3 lessons in a 7 night stay). Cost: 3 nights (double) are $455, 5 nights $742 and 7 nights $1030. Single rates are $627, $1018, $1,421.

Sport Package — all of the above plus a one day trimaran sail excursion and a one day trip to the sea turtle biological reserve or Copola, an old mining town. I hope they will soon offer a trip to Teacapan, my favorite out of the way place. Cost: 3 nights (double) $570, 5 nights $892, 7 nights $1202. Single rates are $742, $1145, $1582.

Hotel Facts

The El Cid Mega Resort has been a favorite of mine for years. With 1,320 rooms and suites, eight restaurants, thirteen tennis courts, all on the beach, plus a marina and a condo tower, it should have something for everyone. Make reservations through Spa World Reservation Service, 1-800-321-4622, The local hotel phone is (01) 69-1333, fax, 13-1253.

Getting There

Mazatlan is accessible by many carriers and charters, with good deals to be found from America West, which despite their name, flies from most U.S. cities as well as Vancouver, Canada. If you are driving from Arizona, it is a one day drive via the highway 15 toll road.