Heat Treatment

“Steam building” at sweat lodges and temazcals

Ikal del MarSo-called sweat lodges are important elements of some age-old traditions among indigenous peoples all over the world, where the basic idea is for small groups to enter a heated chamber and participate in a ritual to purify and heal the body and spirit.

A number of resort spas offer Native American sweat lodges and temazcals (the Mexican analogue), so that anyone with a robust constitution can partake of these rituals. They work as team-building activities, too: After more than an hour inside the intense heat, a group will be bonded together in a new way.

Not everyone will enjoy the activity; therefore, it is important to ensure participants won’t mind being ensconced in a small, hot space for a lengthy spiritual ceremony.

At the 111-room Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa (www.bishopslodge.com) in Santa Fe, N.M., a sweat lodge by the river can fit up to 12 guests. The new Skana spa at the 94-room Lodge at Turning Stone (www.turning-stone.com) in Verona, N.Y., has a sweat lodge that seats 15.

At temazcals in the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, Mexico, healers lay herbs on hot rocks, then pour water over them to create scented, therapeutic steam. Temazcals holding up to 10 guests are found at the 30-room Ikal del Mar (above, www.ikaldelmar.com), 90-room Paraiso de la Bonita (www.paraisodelabonita.com) and 96-room Azul Blue Hotel + Spa (www.karismahotels.com).