Located high above Puerto Vallarta on a promontory overlooking the entire community below and far out to sea, is a most unusual place – Terra Noble Spa. To call it a spa is to diminish it. Terra Noble is an artist’s retreat, a conference center, an event location and a completely hand-made complex that has graced the pages of Architectural Digest not once, but twice! Terra Noble Spa is also a center for forms of healing as well as beauty treatments, massages and native sweat lodge ceremonies. In its entirety, it is a spiritual center at the highest elevation – and a place for a most sublime massage.
Driving switchbacks up the mountain through the rain forest and, via two tunnels, through the mountain itself, you’ll find a turn-off looking more like a colonial turnpike than a modern highway. This narrow, serpentine, cobblestone drive climbs ever skyward to Jorge Rubio’s monument to hand-built architecture surrounded by an ecological reserve called “Agua Azul”. While there are hints of villas available “for those interested in a creative and healthy alternative lifestyle where you can freely grow in harmony with the universe” on world-renowned designer Jorge Rubio’s website, it is the seclusion that is most striking upon your arrival. Terra Noble Spa is a place to embrace the beauty of the natural world.
Terra Noble Spa looks as if the set designers for the Hobbit villages in the Lord of the Rings movies visited here for their inspiration. The construction is all adobe and repurposed elements incorporated as doors, windows, clerestory lights and more. Virtually everything you see is, or was, something else, yet its use here is logical, in an artistic kind of way. Terra Noble Spa is an amorphous, undulating habitat with everything but the artist’s fingerprints in the lovingly smoothed surfaces to tell you it is a unique and powerful design that begs to be caressed.
The vast patio, partly thatch-roofed and completely furnished with free-form kitchen counters, lounges and chaises that are brightly cushioned and/or inlaid in a mosaic of colorful tiles, brings the indoors outside and vice versa, until the entire area is a living space that flows from one use to another – serenely.
A twisting path steps down to the spa level from the patio, past and then below a stone hot tub which also has a view to forever, ending near the igloo-style sweat lodge and a narrow amorphous building where massages are given. It is basically one long low room entered through separate doors into narrow spaces partitioned with near transparent gauze “walls”. You are naked to fellow spa goers and the world, because the fourth wall is open to the same unbelievable view as above. Lying there looking out over that panorama you feel the power of the space as you feel the power of the masseuse working her magic.
Terra Noble Spa is a heavenly spa experience. In an age when the gilded lily principle (meaning extravagantly compounded opulence and excess is the norm) the earthy, natural feeling that emanates from every hand-made element of Terra Noble Spa is as refreshing and rejuvenating as the massage itself. You’ll forget all the fancy scents and the rubs, wraps and abrasions that are the trappings of the “modern spa experience” as you become one with the natural world of Terra Noble Spa.
To read more of my experiences in Puerto Vallarta, please visit me at Traveling Boy
To get there: American Airlines; best eats: Vista Grill; for everything else: Puerto Vallarta. For another Insider’s Look at Puerto Vallarta