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WEB EXCLUSIVE: The Spa at Pico Bonito’s Design Honors Honduran Culture

LA CEIBA, HONDURAS—Sitting on 40 acres of tropical wilderness in the Pico Bonito National Park, the second largest national park, is The Lodge & Spa at Pico Bonito, a luxury eco-lodge here.

Cozy cabin accommodations are anything but rustic in this rainforest destination, with wood from the trees found in the forest and comfort amenities such as a private bathroom with shower, louvered and screened windows, two ceiling fans and private veranda with a hammock.

“The cabins sit on stilts to give nature the freedom to grow as it pleases. We keep the trails to the cabins clean and the surroundings free of branches. It’s every naturalist’s dream getaway,” said Samir Saab, CEO, ProHotel International, the hotel’s management company.

Situated on the Caribbean coast of Honduras near La Ceiba, it is the resort’s newly revamped spa that takes the spotlight by honoring the country’s rich indigenous culture through a focus on creating an oasis infused with local traditions.

“We wanted to preserve the virgin habitat for the animals and maximize energies from the earth,” said Saab. “We also wanted to create a natural sanctuary where our guests could experience a rebirth of themselves through our treatments.”

The Pico Bonito Spa is steeped in pre-Hispanic indigenous healing culture and traditions, using all-natural ingredients and essential oils in the aromatherapy services, facials and massage therapy. In addition, the ingredients used in the treatments are homegrown. There is a small, circular herb garden, and natural ingredients are also found around the hotel’s natural surroundings.

“We take what we need from nature and replace it by replanting. We take care of our home and our home takes care of us,” said Saab.

ProHotel International served as the designer of the new spa and Saab led the team. When the company took over management of the lodge, there wasn’t a spa and it was tasked with drafting the concept and design of the spa.

“We oversaw everything from beginning to end and we continue working with the spa and its staff to make sure we provide the best service to our guests. It was a full-scale job and it took us about four to five months to complete,” he said. “There were also some complications along the way as the rainy season lasted longer than expected and October had some big floods.”

Built by the flowing waters of the Conrinto River, the project took shape with a goal of creating a circular area with holistic dwellings and a water feature in the center.

“We wanted the spa area to be in a circular form because we wanted to keep in touch with the spiritual beliefs of flowing energy. You see, spiritually speaking, circles symbolize unity. If we look at the sky, we’ll notice the sun, moon and stars are in circular forms and each holds a different type of energy,” he said. “Our eyes can be thought of being circular and through them we also transmit energy such as when we smile, are upset, stressed, etc. So, we created a circular setting to welcome the natural flow of energy from the mountains and our natural surroundings and use that energy to bring peace and relaxation to our guests.”

Saab took inspiration for the spa’s design from the earth and the locals’ love and respect for nature, working with architects to ensure the project wasn’t invasive or damaging to the area.

“We wanted our spa to keep the natural look of a lost haven in the woods, using local resources and local people to work on the construction of the spa huts. That was very important for us, to hire locally. It’s all about the energy we put into the structure. It brings good energy because we are helping one another,” he said. “Our spa is to serve as a reminder to our guests that we continue to treasure Honduras’ community, and by incorporating the ancient temazcal in our spa facilities, we believe we are transmitting that idea. The temazcal, a dome-shaped structure, represents Mother Earth’s womb and any person receiving a treatment is symbolically returning to the womb and are reborn.”