By Marilyn Diggs
April 29, 2008

A shy knock on the door and a smiling face greets me with a tray holding a terracotta vase, herbs, grainy salt and a glass of thick juice. As I down the yummy antioxidant juice, I follow the instructions tied with a ribbon around the vase, to prepare for my herbal bath – an Afro-Brazilian cleansing ritual. So begins my back-to-nature activities to care for my body, mind and spirit in the Mantiqueira Mountains, just 3 hours from São Paulo.

A recommendation and a visit to the webpage convinced me to see the Ponto de Luz (Point of Light) hotel and spa for myself. Founded in 1994, it was the first holistic spa in Brazil and satisfied guests report it is the best. The owner, Ma Dhyan Bhayva, pioneered alternative therapies and today has professional therapists not only practicing millennium treatments like Oriental massages, but also employing recent technology such as the Beamer Light Pen (see photo below), a technique using colored light on meridians and chakras. Today, Ponto de Luz is associated with the ABCSpas – Brazilian Association of Naturist Clinics and Spas – and is known for its emphasis on relaxation and meditation.

At breakfast, while relishing homemade linseed bread and pumpkin cake, I meet the Brazilian owner, Bhavya, as she is known today. I learn that she is the daughter of a successful multi-national chewing gum distributer. She was supposed to take over the business after college, but her counter-cultural nature led her in another direction. Majoring in sociology and political science during Brazil’s dictatorship years, the idealist sought change as a student activist in the late 1960s. Later, after studies with an Indian master and some extensive soul-searching, Bhavya understood that change comes from the inside out.

At the reception I’m handed an agenda for hiking, holistic workout classes, meditation and therapeutic sessions. After a struggle to choose from the extensive therapy menu, I go with watsu (shiatsu in the heated swimming pool), an amazing back-to-the womb experience. Aromatherapy in the hot tub bath (ofur) is another favorite. With my spa day planned I relax and discover what lay outside the country lodge and beyond my terraced room. Trails take me to green carpeted vistas, waterfalls, an Indian temple, orchards and the organic vegetable garden that supplies the naturalist meals.

Unlike the horror stories of spa mini-portions, guests choose between the buffet and Prato Luz, a tasty balanced diet prepared by dieticians (you can ask for seconds). Three healthy meals plus an afternoon snack keep energy flowing.

After a refreshing and relaxing day, the sound of the waterfall lulls me to sleep. No TV, no phones, no radios, no traffic. It’s almost a mantra. I find harmony within myself and meditate until I doze off, dreaming of tomorrow’s herbal bath.

Hotel Ponto de Luz
Estrada do Sertãozinho
Joanópolis, São Paulo
Phones: 4539-9382/ 4539-3112

More information
A comfortable, air-conditioned van service takes guests to and from the spa.
“Overnight Spa” package is an ideal getaway for executives or agenda-filled people.

Marilyn Diggs is an American living in Brazil for over twenty years. She is a freelance writer, artist, lecturer and author of nine books – two about Brazilian art history. As an art reporter and travel writer she has two monthly columns in Sunday News, Brazil’s English language newspaper that circulates in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. She has written for the Miami Herald and Museum International , a UNESCO publication. Marilyn has a degree in Latin American Studies and is often contracted by intercultural training services to give talks on expat challenges.

Previous articles by Marilyn:

Around South America: Puyuhuapi – Chile’s Patagonian Secret
Around South America: Looking for Adventure in Chile’s Patagonia
Around South America: Road Trip through a Forgotten Land – Aisn, Chile
Conquering Cape Horn
Around Brazil: Hang-Gliding Over Rio
Around Brazil: Sailing in Paraty
Santiago: Gateway to the Chilean Experience
The Enchanting Easter Island
Nature and Nurturing in Chile’s Lake Region
Chilean Patagonia: Going to the Ends of the Earth
Around Brazil: Adventure in the Pantanal and Bonito Part 2
Around Brazil: Adventure in the Pantanal and Bonito Part 1
Spending the Night in the Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu
Brazil: Happy Moonlit Trails To You
Brazil: Paradise Found – Fernando de Noronha

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