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Spa Guide

Spa of the Month, The Spa in El Bosque, Nicaragua

With so many high tech beauty treatments to choose from these days, from LED light therapy to fat-busting lasers, we can forget to go back-to-basics when it comes to beauty. Switching off (both our minds and our smartphones), getting back to nature, and taking time to be mindful and relax can do wonders for boosting wellbeing.

With this in mind, the beautifully unspoilt Rancho Santana has created its first-ever spa, set high up in a shady tree canopy to create a luxuriously tranquil retreat from daily life. Perched just down from the Ranch’s open-air yoga platform, The Spa en El Bosque completes the hotel’s wellbeing offering with natural products and an even more natural setting. It’s the perfect compliment to the variety of wholesome activities on offer, from nature walks and hikes to surf classes (the Ranch boasts five beaches) and sunset horseback rides.

Here’s the lowdown on January’s Spa of the Month, The Spa in El Bosque at Rancho Santana.


The Lowdown

Located on Nicaragua’s spectacular Emerald Coast on the vast Rancho Santana resort, The Spa in El Bosque is a huge 6,000 square foot wellness sanctuary hidden away in the rugged Nicaraguan forest. Set away from the Ranch’s main building for ultimate privacy, the entrance can be found on one of the Ranch’s main nature paths, immersing you in the whole concept of the spa as soon as you arrive: natural wellbeing. Leave your smartphone in your room (or at least in your locker after you’ve taken a few Instagram-worthy pics) and spend a morning or afternoon completely switching off for both a mental and physical detox.

Guests will be welcomed with a refreshing lemongrass-infused water or virtuous green juice (served in stylish beaten copper cups) and given plenty of time to change, shower, and take in the views on the tranquil terrace; this is all about relaxing, not rushing.

Don’t forget to make time for The Grotto, which houses the spa’s hot and cold plunge pools. Unsurprisingly, guests tend to prefer bathing in the hot pool, but if you dare to dip into the cold it can help you beat the Nicaraguan heat! Use of The Grotto is complimentary for 20 minutes (and $50 for 50 minutes thereafter) and is an invigorating way to kick-start your spa experience.

After that you’ll be escorted along the shaded hillside to your own private treatment cabana, where you can lie back and drift off to a sound of real-life chirping birds and the wind in the trees, rather than the usual CD imitation.

As for what treatment to choose, the team has curated an innovative menu of unique spa experiences using only products indigenous to Nicaragua or from the Ranch’s own garden. Whether you want to be smothered in salt and clay during the Volcanic Mud Mask ($120) for the smoothest of skin, or if you’re intrigued to see the results of a more natural anti-aging treatment with the full-body Forever Young “Spa Ritual” ($240) which combines the antioxidant power of the hibiscus flower with a firming and ultra-luxe 24k gold facial, there is sure to be some never-tried-before treatment for you.


Crafted from all-natural materials and with a strong focus on sustainability, a theme which can be found running throughout the Ranch and spa, The Spa in El Bosque has been built by a team of local artisans at the Ranch’s onsite carpentry shop, Santa Ana Madera. Each of the buildings is beautifully finished in warm shades of wood using a selection of indigenous and sustainable trees (10,000 are re-planted every year) such as Nicaraguan cedro, macho and frijolillo for an authentic look in-keeping with the back-to-nature vibe. Whilst many city hotel spas are designed as an almost secret space, hidden away underground, The Spa in El Bosque makes the most of its wild setting with an open-plan design in the main two-story pavilion and loosely slatted walls in the treatment rooms to flood the space with light. It was also the first time I had ever felt the breeze on my skin during a spa treatment!

Inside, stone walls in the hot and cold plunge pool room adds a rustic touch, whilst the stylish changings rooms are given a contemporary finish with a mix of natural and urban materials ranging from poured concrete sinks with sleek gold fittings to oversized straw baskets and fluffy sheepskin rugs. Whether you’re chilling in the relaxation lounge, dipping into the plunge pools, or being pampered with a manicure, you’ll also enjoy fantastic vistas over the treetops which are sure to help you switch off and connect with nature.


If you want the full Nicaraguan spa experience then book the spa’s signature treatment, the Campo Combo. This two-and-a-half-hours of pampering care will prep and prime your skin with products from the “campo” (countryside), meaning they’re all locally grown. It starts with an invigorating full body scrub of coffee, cacao, cashews and tobacco which are blended with the spa’s signature cedar wood and lavender scent, before you’re brushed all over with a volcanic clay mask.

In between you’ll be able to wash it all off under the trees in the outdoor shower of your cabana (don’t worry, it’s private!) before your treatment ends with a Swedish massage to ease out any knots and tension. I tried it myself and the very effective scrub (which also smelt incredible) was the perfect way to slough off any winter skin and leave me feeling oh-so-soft before hitting the beach, while the added massage felt just blissful after hours cramped up on a plane.


The spa offers a whole heap of extras so you can enjoy a complete wellbeing and beauty experience. Guests can add a relaxing head and back massages to mani-pedis, or a paraffin treatment for silky soft hands. If you’re booking a facial, why not add on a hair mask and scalp massage to add extra gloss to your locks, or finish by sipping on a CollaGen Shot for even glowier skin. The spa also boasts its own quiet and private treatment room where guests can take a fully holistic approach to their health with sessions of acupuncture, reiki, art therapy, and chiropractic. Waxing, make-up services and hair styling are also on offer; particularly useful if you’re hosting your wedding there.


Combining one of the Ranch’s activities with a couple of hours in the spa can help you reap the maximum benefits from your treatment.
To help induce sleep, book a relaxing spa treatment after a yoga class; the Nica Night Cap with its 10-minute hot tub soak, chamomile body scrub and 80-minute Relaxation Wellness Massage is designed to be particularly soothing, plus you’ll finish by sipping on a Flor de Caña rum nightcap or an alcohol-free herbal tea to help you drift off ($265), choose whichever works best for you! If you’ve opted for some of the the Ranch’s sportier activities (swimming, surfing and horse riding are all on offer), then the Athletic Deep Tissue Massage ($150 for 50 minutes or $180 for 80 minutes) or the Santana Surf ($175) will help ease aching muscles.


Rather than opting to use a big brand name for its treatments, the spa has teamed up with a local producer to make its own range of beauty products, which are in line with the Ranch’s strong ethos of sustainability and supporting the neighbouring community. The range uses only Nicaraguan ingredients such as locally sourced coconut oil, salt from nearby salt flats, volcanic clay from surrounding volcanoes, and two of the country’s most famous exports, cacao and coffee. Many ingredients also come from the Ranch itself (it has a huge garden which supplies the restaurants with organic produce) including aloe vera, hibiscus, and honey from its own hives. Although the spa just opened in January, it is already looking into being fully self-sufficient, and hopes to at some point offer guests a complete “farm-to-spa” experience using beauty ingredients gathered from the garden.

You can also pick up some of the products post-treatment for at-home pampering, including bath salts ($12) and the gorgeously smelling scrubs (the coffee and cacao, $14, will definitely perk you up during your morning shower). As the scrubs are natural and use local plants, just remember to check what you can take back home with you through customs.


Treatments at The Spa en El Bosque start from $100 for 50 minutes.
Guestrooms at Rancho Santana start from $355.00 + tax during holiday season (which falls between December 21, 2019 until Jan 4, 2020 and April 4, 2020 until April 12, 2020) and from $285.00 + tax the rest of the year, not including breakfast.

Telephone: +505 8672 0303

To book into The Spa en El Bosque or to receive a full list of treatments email [email protected] or call +505 8787 2933.

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