RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO—Palmaïa – The House of AïA originally opened in January, offering guests unique holistic programming and vegan-friendly menus. With the stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, its programming may be more needed by guests than ever.
“As someone who leads a plant-based lifestyle, I wanted to design a property that reflects the kind of lifestyle I lead,” said Alex Ferri, CEO/founder. “It is well known that the most important action one can take to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to adapt a plant-based diet. We are too many people on this planet to be consuming resources the way we are, and we all need to collectively make decisions that will benefit future generations.”
He continued, “I also found that over the past 10 years there was nowhere I had found around the world that gave a quality and sophisticated experience with culinary variety to people who only are plant-based… The best I found were half-hearted options added to a menu, or I could only travel to select cities like L.A. and New York City on vacation because in general they have amazing restaurants to choose from. No resort in the world offers the variety and quality that we are currently offering. I also want to encourage anyone to try really good plant-based food so they can discover that vegan is not different, it’s just really good and easy food without the cholesterol, etc.”
All of Palmaïa’s suites are free of animal products in their amenities and furnishings. Palmaïa’s restaurants include 100% plant-based menus with animal protein add-on options. This philosophy goes hand in hand with the principles that bind Palmaïa and offers guests a sustainable way of dining while away from home, according to Ferri.
On the holistic side, the resort has several programs for guests to get in tune with life. “Our Architects of Life program, run by our guides and healers, delivers various forms of yoga, astrology, gong baths, ancient plant rituals, tai chi, cacao ceremonies, sun gazing, spiritual meditation and more,” said Ferri. “The Rituals of Sound program is an impressive daily line-up of deep fusion electronic DJs, live acoustic artists and interactive music acts.”
Palmaïa also actively participates in a “gifting culture” and all guests enjoy complimentary access to 24-hour room service, unrestricted access to four restaurants on property (all with parallel plant-based menus), pool and beachside service, bike share, nightly turndowns and a personal butler—or “Nomadic Guide”—to attend to guests’ needs during their stay.
With the COVID-19 pandemic closing the resort for several months, the staff took the opportunity to make enhancements to its health and wellness programming. “We have always placed high attention to detail regarding cleanliness, but like all hospitality organizations, have invested in measures to ensure our cleaning procedures are of the highest standard possible,” said Ferri. “We also launched our Nomadic Travel Pods, which enable a group of friends and/or family to reunite without the worry of being around strangers—they can book a full floor to themselves to enjoy even further privacy and many more added benefits so they can enjoy a sanctuary within a sanctuary, and remain among themselves with no interaction with other groups, if that is what they prefer.”
During the pandemic, the resort also helped locals who were struggling by creating the No Home Without Food program, a complimentary plant-based meal service to provide healthy food to families in need in the Tulum and Riviera Maya region. The program delivered nutrient-rich food to approximately 2,000 people every day.
“This pandemic has proved to be difficult for everyone, and we thought it was important to help those in need,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the community that had lost so much of its livelihood could still eat healthily and had something to look forward to. Throughout our time operating the food truck, we helped 1,500 families a day in Tulum. If we are to have quality people, we must have a quality society, and for that, we all need to contribute and invest.”
Ferri believes that health and wellness resorts will be more important than ever after the pandemic. “Health and wellness have always been paramount at our property, which is why we have our Architects of Life, Rituals of Sound, and plant-based dining programs, all of which are designed to establish or strengthen our guests’ connection to nature and their connection between their own body and mind,” he said. “We want people to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, while also feeling like they’re a part of an accepting community.”
He continued, “This was important to us upon opening in January 2020, but of course the pandemic has made people revisit what is important to them, which largely is their health and well-being. We’re here to help people recover from the physical and mental duress the last few months have placed on everyone. We are also here to show people how easy it can be to live healthy… After all, the pandemic, in my view, more than anything, has taught us the severity of the health crisis we have on our hands. The majority of illness and deaths are caused by environmental factors, i.e. diet, so changing what one puts on one’s plate can be literally life changing.”