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20151002_173721Let me be clear to state that I do not believe the occurrence I am going to describe which took place in Mexico is a reflection on Mexico. I don’t know what the rules or regulations are in Mexico to give one permission to perform massage therapy, and I don’t know if the incident I am describing to you was a result of no rules and regulation, or lame rules and regulations being followed, or rules and regulations being broken. In any event, I am sure there is some awesome massage therapy happening somewhere in Mexico… just not in this place at this particular time. So very many things went wrong during our couples massage, I will simply put the voice recording directly following here. If you are a professional massage therapist, I’m hoping you will understand what all went wrong and WHY it was wrong.  If you don’t know why, please feel free to ask me and I will get back to you on that.

We bought a couples massage in Mexico at a 5 star resort. We paid $171.00 for the session which was a 50% off rate, and we did leave a 20% gratuity. I felt we should not punish the “therapists” who worked hard and did their best. We were brought into the lovely and clean looking spa, filled out some paperwork (good move here) and both sent to our locker rooms to remove our clothing and put on robes and slippers. We were then brought to the room that was dimly lit, had fake cloth rose petals strewn everywhere, a hot tub that was filled with cold water, two massage tables with no face cradles and pretty folded swan shaped towels and lit candles. Very romantic and pretty.

The first Massage Lady (no, I am not going to call either of them “therapists” ) came in and poured a ton of essential oils into the tub (We still think that water is warm at this point) and she then used the remote control to activate the jets. She then motioned to an entire bottle of champagne and glass glasses and said “this is for you”. What’s a couple to do? We drank some of it, fully knowing that alcohol consumption prior to deep tissue massage (which is what we ordered) was contraindicated. We added some hot water to heat the water up a bit since the water was cold and we then relaxed for about 20 minutes in the tub. All was well at this point, and I was curious more than anything about how this was going to go down.

The ladies came in and they told us to get on the tables face down. There was the swan and some other things on the table but I did get on the table prone and there was no face cradle. I’m thinking at this point, this is going to totally jack my neck. Then they came in and remove all the junk on the table, and then inserted a non adjustable face cradle that felt like 3 bricks and asked me to scoot up and put my face in the face cradle. The massage began and I knew this was going to be torture. This was a deep tissue massage and the woman was using LOADS of some lube and the pressure was zilch. I felt that my skin was barely moving. I hung in there for a while, waiting for her to check in on comfort and depth, which she did not, and so I said to her “permission, mas fuerte por favor” which means “excuse me, make it stronger please” From this point on, I got the depth, but every single technique now was a forearm smoosh. EVERY SINGLE TECHNIQUE FOR 80 MINUTES.

We got through. At the end of the session I asked Michael how his was. It was not good. As I was sitting there talking to him, we noticed on his bottom sheet which was previously not exposed there was a smudge of what looked like blood. I quickly started to look at him to make sure he was fine. He was. The stain looked like a 3 inch long by 1 inch wide schmere of blood. At this point I became very upset. We got dressed and I discretely spoke to the woman at the front desk about the blood stain. Not knowing the standards of Massage Therapy in Mexico, I did not go into my great dissatisfaction with the entire massage.

Once we got back to the hotel room, I put on my voice recorder and we reviewed our experiences. Here is what I recorded:


The whole experience was terrible. They did call us to let us know that the stain on the sheet was probably chocolate from their chocolate body mask offering, and they did offer to let us sit with our feet in their special fish tank where the fish eat the dead skin off of our feet. Ummm, No thanks. This is just a guess but I don’t think that treatment meets with normal hygienic standards.

In the end, I’m probably going to write this large chain of resorts and inform them that some serious remedial education is needed, and offer to put a team together to provide it. I won’t be paying to receive massage therapy again at this resort. They did know I was a massage therapy educator and expert from the U.S.

Jill Kristin Berkana

Founder/Director Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy and Bodywork Passionista