We don’t really need science or studies to tell us that the pandemic has left its scars on our psyche. We all feel it, whether we admit it or not. There’s that otherworldly sense of loss and expectation of trauma that wasn’t so palpable before; there’s fear that rises within that we can’t name; there’s something brought to the surface that had been buried; and, there are new monsters lurking, ones we didn’t think were real. Collectively, we long for the innocence of another time.
As adults we’ve become cynical and world-weary, even when we eye being buoyant tomorrow. We grope among the chaos of unknown territory both as individuals and as one energy. Yes, we can still be optimistic, ever looking forward. But, we’ve all felt it—that heaviness of post-Covid stress disorder pressing hard when we least expect it. “We’ll be fine,” we mumble, stubbornly, perhaps a little lost. And, we will.
But what about our children? What are they feeling? What has the impact been on them? As it turns out, resilient as they are, the pandemic has wounded kids, left them without the tools to turn things around, according to a variety of experts—and our own observations.
A New Spa & Wellness Program Just for Kids
Enter Four Seasons Punta Mita, a peaceful resort on the Pacific Ocean, edging the Riviera Nayarit, less than an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. Conceived from the outset to be a unique respite, one as open to healing as to pampering; one as dedicated to providing cultural, transformative experiences as much as coddled repose, this pioneering hideaway stands out. For decades it has manifested a kind of intuition that comprehended not just what its visitors wanted, but gave them what they needed, as well. Accordingly, during Covid’s more tumultuous days, the resort looked into its heart to see how it might help. When many families fled to far-flung places, when hotels were filling their villas and bigger rooms more than their suites, Four Seasons Punta Mita instituted, like many resorts, long stay programs and supported home-school initiatives.
But the keen staff noticed something along the way: Kids weren’t okay. Like their adult counterparts, children were stressed, anxious, and depressed. They had feelings, spurred by the pandemic, that were stuck deep inside. Like many adults, these kids lacked the skillset to expel them.
“KidsWell supports positive mindsets and equips kids with a variety of practices to engage with the world around them.”
In an effort to help this, Four Seasons Punta Mita combined the best philosophical parts of their kids’ club and spa, creating a new program to address the problem. KidsWell, immediately triumphant when launched, helps kids practice mindfulness while on vacation—whether for long or short-term stays. Meant to provide children with new selfcare talents to take home with them, the program offers a range of wellbeing-focused activities aimed at practicing relaxation of the mind, body, and spirit. “KidsWell supports positive mindsets and equips kids with a variety of practices to engage with the world around them,” says John O’ Sullivan, Regional Vice President and General Manager.
Under the guidance of Kids For All Seasons Manager Erika Ibarra Zepeda, who has a background in psychology and children’s studies, and more than 15 years of experience working with kids, KidsWell offers practices in stress relief, relaxation, and mindfulness. Envisioned to promote focus and self-awareness, to boost self-esteem and to encourage better sleep, all in the backdrop of Riviera Nayarit’s breathtaking natural setting, the various options run the gamut from bubble-blowing breathwork to gratitude journaling to art therapy to guided meditation. The program also includes opportunities to immerse in nature, to interact with animals and marine life—and to learn about and to connect deeply with local culture. Complimentary for kids ages five through 12, held daily between 9:00 am and 4:45 pm, with select experiences available for an additional cost, the program has been wildly successful and trumpets a new kind of souvenir for children to bring home from their holidays.
It’s All in the Details
Here’s a healthy example of just what you can expect to experience with the Kidswell program at Four Seasons Punta Mita:
• Mindful Gratitude: Kids share what they are grateful for and practice journaling to internalize feelings of gratitude they can refer back to later.
• Sensory Box: Kids experience the different sensations and textures of objects found in the destination of Riviera Nayarit such as seashells, feathers, and native leaves.
• Finding Positive Energy: Designed to help kids source positivity within themselves in times of doubt, this memorable activity also supports collaboration and teamwork.
• Rainbow Relaxation: A watercolor class that encourages kids to practice self-expression and focus during a soothing ritual.
• Bubble Blowing Breathwork: A fun breathwork activity with bubble-blowing wands in the shape of spirit animals helps kids develop healthy stress-management techniques.
• Connect with Local Wildlife: This discovery session teaches appreciation of local animals, including the sea turtle and blue-footed booby.
• Nature Walks: Kids learn to connect their senses with nature’s sights, sounds, and textures.
• Healthy Cooking Classes: This session teaches kids about mindful eating by preparing healthy snacks such as fresh guacamole.
• Meditation Pods: Pods of bean bag chairs become mindfulness incubators at this guided meditation for kids.
• DIY Bubble Bath Kits: Kids make their own custom bath bombs and bath art to relax in-room at the end of the day.
• Xocolatl Workshop: Kids create custom Mexican chocolate bars.
Becca Hensley is Editor at Large for Insider's Guide to Spas. Based in Austin, she writes regularly about travel and spas. She believes a good story draws you in like laughter in a crowded room, and challenges you to do it justice. Her work appears regularly in Austin Monthly, Travel Channel, Toronto Star and National Geographic Traveler.