The family behind Cuero Viejo Mezcal has expanded their property that sits just outside of pueblo mágico Nombre De Dios, it now includes the world’s first mezcal themed spa. The large property is like an all in one resort for mezcal lovers, with a new luxury hotel, private villas and cabanas, restaurant and mezcal bar, mezcal vinata, agave nurseries, and a weekend outdoor food hall, the locally loved Paradero Nixtalpam. The new hotel is also agave-themed, with a stunning and educational agave garden in the courtyard just outside of the rooms. Similarly, the artwork and coffee table books inside the rooms feature agaves and mezcal from Durango.
The Mezcalli Spa, located next to the hotel rooms, and a short walk from the working vinata is a one of a kind luxury spa that easily rivals the best destination spas around the world. Agave and mezcal is worked into the DNA of the spa, going way beyond the impressive decorations that feature live agave plants, printed textiles and a beautifully penca-painted massage cave. The house products -shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion- are all made using agave and all natural ingredients. At one point I considered swapping out a bottle of mezcal to bring home a bottle of lotion instead, it’s that good! The treatments also include mezcal in multiple ways: the foot soak and massage uses mezcal to revitalize the skin and soothe muscles, as do many of the other massage options. Many of the treatments close with a mezcal ritual and guests are served a copita to sip on as they integrate their experience.
For anyone who is thinking that it’s a bit of stretch to use mezcal with massage, let me reassure you that it’s actually a longstanding tradition of what we would consider ‘folk medicine,’ known to help circulation when massaged onto the skin. I remember being on another ranch in Durango with a friend who had fallen and twisted his ankle badly, and when the rancher saw my friend limping, he dropped off a coca cola bottle filled with a green liquid, it was a combination of mezcal, cannabis, and menthol, and he instructed us to massage it onto my friends ankle regularly. Not exactly the full spa experience- but the point is that the tradition of using mezcal topically is nothing new, rather it is the packaging of it into a luxury context that is.
Without a doubt the main attraction for those who want the full Mezcalli Spa experience is the Mezcaloterapia Cuero Viejo, a 90 minute experience that is next level destination spa indulgence. Wooden fermentation tanks turned into soaking tubs sit below the shade of a 300 year old tree in a glass enclosure that is perfumed with soft incense and botanicals. The water is heated up by plunging red hot volcanic rocks (just like the ones used to make mezcal) in and out of the tubs until it is pleasantly hot. Once submerged in the tanks, local botanicals from the garden are added, along with mezcal to help detox and balance the pH of the skin and body.
As you soak, you are massaged with satchels of rice with more botanicals and mezcal, creating a firm but relaxing pressure on the neck and shoulders. After the lengthy massage a mixture of agave nectar, mezcal, and bagaso (spent agave fibers from mezcal production) are mixed into an exfoliating scrub and applied to the chest, arms, shoulders and neck, and left to soak into the skin. Once the exfoliate is removed with a sponge the skin is left smooth and glowing, hydrated and cleansed. At this point a cheese board with homemade preserved and fresh fruit and a small bottle of mezcal is presented to be enjoyed as you finish soaking, and/or in the garden when you emerge. It is quite the royal treatment!
The spa also includes custom built huts for temazcal, the Indigenous sweat lodge ritual. Interestingly, the process is very similar to cooking agaves- volcanic stones are heated in a fire and placed in a small earthen pit that is then closed. In this case the people are like the agaves- absorbing the transformative energy of the heat. In fact, one could indulge in an afternoon of ‘being an agave’- transforming in the temazcal, getting a massage to break up your ‘fibers’, and then soaking in the fermentation tanks for an alchemical process.
The luxury focused spa and experiences offered are not at the expense of other sustainable options, rather, they have become a way for some production loops to be closed. Using bagaso in a body scrub and repurposing spent volcanic rocks that no longer work for agave ovens to make beautifully decorated walls may not be common ways to upcycle, but both are effective. Similarly, the colas are used as sanitizing spray around the ranch. The vertically integrated businesses on the property approach sustainability creatively, challenging the way we think about ‘spent materials,’ and showing that there are many options, even ones that include turning leftovers into coveted bath and body products.
The hotel and spa opened mid 2020 with an understandably slow start and mostly local guests. As the world starts to re-open and international visitors arrive, the unique pleasures of the world’s only mezcal spa are starting to generate an international buzz. Check out UrajanDeLuna.com for more information and prices for the hotel and spa, and use the code “mezcalistasDGO” for a 10% discount on their flagship Mezcal Therapy spa treatment.