Taninul Hotel: A Treat for Body and Soul

We discovered Taninul Hotel and spa in the Huasteca Potosina through the recommendations of family and friends who’d visited this special, lush, and splendid area of Mexico in search of adventure and the Englishman’s castle–the enchanted gardens of Edward James at Las Pozas, Xilitla.

Taninul Hotel: A Treat for Body and Soul

The hotel was built in a 300 hectare tropical jungle reserve in the early 1940s after the opening of the Ciudad VallesTampico highway in La Huasteca Potosina of Mexico. It lies only about 20 minutes’ drive (16 km) outside of Ciudad Valles in the direction of the Tamuin archaeological ruins. The name Taninul comes from the Nahuatl term meaning “where waters are born,” and the hotel pool is, in fact, built at the outlet of a wonderful natural and thermal sulfur spring. Just beyond the pool is a shallow cave populated by small, green parrots.

The pool is very relaxing. The temperature of the hot, spring waters varies in the rainy season (which is when we’ve visited the hotel), as rain water filters into the spring and can cool it down somewhat, but I’ve never felt it any cooler than the outdoor temperature of the air (which in the hot and humid summer season is often in the 30s Celsius and can get into the 40s in that area, so beware!) According to the hotel staff, the water temperature coming straight out of the earth can rise up to about 50 degree Celsius (122F).

Pool goers can smear themselves with the sulfurous mud and natural healing algae deposits that form along the pool walls and float on the water surface. They soften the skin wonderfully.When first arriving at the hotel, the smell of the sulfur from the water can be quite strong, but most people quickly get used to it. It soon becomes imperceptible. The pool is surrounded by lush vegetation and bamboo. There are tennis and volleyball courts in the extensive gardens and moss hanging from ancient trees as well as the telephone and electrical lines.

The hotel offers spa services, with a regime that consists of a swim in the pool, a mud bath in which your whole body is packed in the mud and algae for a certain period of time, a rinse in the same spring waters, then a temascal (traditional sweat lodge) detox treatment with steam and herbs, followed by a cold douse of water and a relaxing wrap in towels. The final stage of the program is a deep therapeutic massage. By that time, you’re ready to go back to your room for a long siesta.

Taninul Hotel has a total of 119 air-conditioned rooms plus 14 suites. Only the suites have TV. (What do you want TV for when you have that pool, the gardens, and the parrots?) There is no phone service in the rooms.

The restaurant, El Batey, that features an enormous mural of a traditionally dressed Huasteca beauty lounging in a hammock, serves pure Huastecan-style cuisine: regional specialties such as Huastecan enchiladas and tamales, cecina (salted beef), and chiles poblanos.