Cancun: Le Blanc Wellness & the Whale Sharks

“Muchas Gra­cias!” I kept repeat­ing with a big smile, and “June Bou­tique,” which is what “thank you” sounds like to me in the Mayan dialect near the Coban pyramid.

My four full days based in the resort mecca of Can­cun, Mex­ico were remark­able and relax­ing, and filled with plea­sures big and small — from snor­kel­ing with giant, 40–foot-long, polka-dotted fish (called whale sharks) that won’t eat you, to soak­ing with lit­tle, one-inch, imported fish (called Garra rufa) that will eat you, munch­ing on your dead skin cells for the lat­est in organic defo­li­a­tion and spa treatments.

From climb­ing the tallest Mayan pyra­mid in the Yucatan amidst lagoons to help­ing release just-hatched baby sea tur­tles, I enjoyed the huge and tiny even more because my big-name resorts had top food and spas, and paid atten­tion to the lit­tle details that make for true pampering.

My sweet mem­o­ries were forged in two vari­eties of hotel suite plans: First, a world-class, lux­ury, all-inclusive, Le Blanc Spa Resort; then, at the Fiesta Amer­i­cana Grand Coral Beach, with the largest spa in Can­cun and its highly-regarded “Euro­pean Plan,” with the Club Plan for extra luxury.

Kudos to each for their exe­cu­tion of a panoply of pam­per­ing for well being!

Le Blanc (the White) Spa Resort is the first all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Can­cun. From the start, you enjoy the lit­tle details of this big-vision site that has earned a five-diamond AAA des­ig­na­tion and inclu­sion on many top lists of all-inclusive beach resorts.

The sen­sual sojourn begins with pri­vate check-in, fea­tur­ing a savory white coconut drink and white flow­ers. Your Major Domo (but­ler) greets you by name near the ele­va­tor of your suite and asks you to choose from the room’s “Com­fort Menu” with options of pil­low type, aro­mather­apy scent for the room, and spe­cial blends of bath salts for the dou­ble Jacuzzi in your room.

The all-inclusive pack­age offers great room ser­vice for every meal if you want, or swim-up pool bars with a nearby, out­door pizza oven, or very fine din­ing at the roman­tic French Lumiere. I loved the Lumiere’s 7-course taster spe­cial meal, which changes fre­quently. Culi­nary options also include the Blanc Italia, which shares good food and la dulce vita, a superb and peace­ful Asian restau­rant, and a bright inter­con­ti­nen­tal restau­rant with sea­side views and lus­cious buffets.

Daily class offer­ings of a well­ness theme include a 7am yoga ses­sion for mind, spirit, and body. The Spa also offers a range of hydrother­apy options and sooth­ing treat­ments (out­side the all-inclusive package).

I melted dur­ing a “Mayan-inspired mas­sage” called the KuKulkan. Two masseuses worked syn­chro­nously for 80 min­utes in one of the most relax­ing treat­ments I have ever enjoyed on any continent.

Before they started, they asked me to think of a mem­ory I wanted to elim­i­nate. They burned some copal resin and fanned smoke made from burn­ing sage, rose­mary, and basil to help “purify my energies.”

Then, in an effort to “bal­ance” my spirit, mind, and body, the four hands of this skill­ful duo imi­tated the motions of the ani­mals that rep­re­sent the Mayan king­doms – the eagle of the upper king­dom, the snake of the mid­dle king­dom, and the jaguar of the underworld.

Do you remem­ber the scene in the Wiz­ard of Oz, when Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scare­crow, and Cow­ardly Lion are all coifed, groomed, primped, patched, and pol­ished to meet the Wiz­ard? I felt as if I had was being beau­ti­fully, lov­ingly prepped to meet the next morn­ing with the wiz­ards of the sea – the whale sharks.

Polka-Dotted Sharks

See­ing eye-to-eye with a polka-dotted shark and hav­ing one come at you with its mouth wide open both rank high in great under­wa­ter mem­o­ries I want to keep! These gen­tle behe­moth beau­ties, which can grow to 60 feet long, are actu­ally the largest fish in the ocean. They are fil­ter feed­ers and dine sea­son­ally on the nutri­ent rich plank­ton near the sur­face waters off Isla Mujeres, where the Gulf of Mex­ico meets the Caribbean Sea.

Some whale sharks seem to tol­er­ate curi­ous snorkel­ers, approach­ing with their long bod­ies undu­lat­ing, swish­ing in sinewy curves through the sea, carv­ing the liq­uid grace­fully. From May to mid-September the whale sharks have become a major attrac­tion for Can­cun vis­i­tors. Some days, as many as 200 can be seen swim­ming and eat­ing within a half-hour boat ride from Can­cun. We were in one of only two boats on the scene when we arrived, but almost 20 boats had gath­ered by the time we left.

After nearly two hours of under­wa­ter enthrall­ment, whale sharks had cer­tainly made a joy­ful impact on me, but I found myself won­der­ing about the Snorkeler’s view of Whale Shark’s eye and closed mouth © Lisa TE Sonne impact so many of us humans might be hav­ing on these gen­tle giants. I wanted an oppor­tu­nity to con­tribute to the con­ser­va­tion of the region’s mag­nif­i­cent under­wa­ter habitat.

That night, Le Blanc had a tur­tle release. One of the clutches of eggs res­cued weeks ear­lier had hatch­lings. I took a two-inch, green sea tur­tle baby – its limbs flap­ping like wings – and put him on the sand to return to the sea. Le Blanc is part of the Palace Resorts, and accord­ing to its Foun­da­tion report, “Every year, over 120,000 baby endan­gered sea tur­tles are released as part of one of the Palace Foun­da­tion[programs].”

I walked on the pow­dery white sand under the stars toward my Le Blanc suite, where I would immerse in a Jacuzzi bub­ble sea, think­ing how won­drous a sin­gle day can be!

And my short trip was only half over.  It was hard to leave the nur­tur­ing tran­quil­ity and won­der­ful staff and ser­vices of Le Blanc, and so tempt­ing to go out and watch whale sharks again. Yet ahead still lies the fan­tas­tic Fiesta Amer­i­cana Coral Beach Resort, with its 40,000 square foot Gem Spa, includ­ing water fea­tures and “fish ther­apy,” the world’s largest under­wa­ter museum, the tallest pyra­mid in the Yucatan, a Mayan shaman, yel­low frogs,  jun­gle zip-lining, rap­pelling into a cenote, a fresh water “Mayan por­tal to the under­world,” mon­keys in trees, and blue butterflies.

Muchas Gra­cias and “June Bou­tique” for large and small delights!