Budget Travel: Best Spas in Latin America

While the thought of springing for a spa treatment may automatically trigger your frugal side, which wastes no time in telling you that no way can you afford such a splurge, this is not necessarily the case when you’re on vacation.

In fact, the really good news is that there are plenty of places at popular Latin America destinations where it actually costs less to pamper yourself with a massage, body wrap or facial, than it does for the same treatment at home.

And spa services in Mexico, Costa Rica, and elsewhere often present a surprising way to experience the culture in a deeper fashion, since at many spas a good number of treatments incorporate native plants and herbs into their oils and body lotions as well as local techniques into their techniques.

In Mexico, I once had a massage that started with a whole egg held over my head so the therapist could determine the “balance in my meridians” and ended with a pulsating strike of her hand that she said was 100% Mayan. Whether or not the egg or stroke was authentic wasn’t that important; in the end, I felt pretty good. And that’s all that mattered.

At some spas, the treatments are good enough to eat: you can be slathered from head to toe in an inch-thick layer of chocolate or scrubbed vigorously with coffee granules that will do more to boost your spirits than any Starbucks grande could ever hope to.

You don’t have to spend a lot – or travel far, for that matter – to get that decadent feel. Here are nine spas in Latin America to give you some ideas.

Lisa Rogak is a freelance writer and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is "And Nothing But The Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert."

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