Welcome to WELL Q+A. As the former CMO and COO of Spafinder, I’ve had the great fortune to visit hundreds of wellness resorts and destination spas throughout the world.
Wellness travel is my passion. In this column, you’ll meet some special people I’ve come across in the “wellness world” — both in travel and the lifestyle.From resort owners and General Managers to treatment practitioners, entrepreneurs who create products and people who deliver services, I aim to get a snapshot of what’s on their minds.
In my first Q&A, you will meet Rocco Bova, GM of Chablé Yucatán.
In March 2017, I landed at the Mėrida International Airport for a three-day business trip (which was really too pleasurable to be called business). I was visiting the newly opened property, Chablė Yucatán in Chocholá. As I walked out of the baggage area, I was greeted by a very friendly Italian man with a huge smile on his face who turned out to be Rocco Bova. This was his first week as the new GM and I had the privilege of experiencing Chablė Yucatán by his side.
From my swim in the crystal clear cenote to our tequila and chocolate tasting (Chablé Yucatán has one of the world’s largest collections of tequila), from my cooking class with Dona Maria and her daughter (amazing tortillas!) to a four-hand massage (incredible!), from the Maya Garden (so moving to see the rituals performed) to an amazing indoor cycling class — I was entranced by how Chablé Yucatán is “redefining wellness.”
Three years later, Chablė Yucatán is thriving under Rocco’s leadership and I hope you’ll have the chance to experience it one day. Until then, enjoy this Q&A with Rocco. And if you visit, please make sure to say “hola” to him for me!
Rocco: I am of Italian origin and have been in love with working since the age of 13 (yes this was when I had my first job in a bar). Since then, my curiosity and thirst for knowledge have taken me to work and live in 11 different countries and manage some of the best properties in the world. I consider myself blessed and one that believes in Karma.
R: I do what I do because of the opportunities one has when working in hospitality. You meet the most incredible people and I’m able to do what I love (travel) for work. My job also allows me to share my passion for wellness with others through nature, traditions, community, architecture and culinary experiences. We are trying to redefine wellness…How many people can say they are so lucky?
R: Let’s see… how do I limit it to just three?
Sustainability and nature: Our head gardener and his team are a group of humble people upkeeping the resort’s most valuable asset — nature.They are the most amazing people and what they do day–in–and–day–out to protect and preserve natural resources and reduce our environmental impact at Chablé Yucatán is truly impressive.
We host an endangered species: We worked with a government agency to transfer over 50 species of cacti to our property. All these cacti are indigenous of the peninsula of Yucatán. If we hadn’t done this, they would be lost. So now, our gardeners are taking care of them and hopefully will continue to farm and reproduce them so as not to lose them forever.
A secret cenote: We have a second cenote (natural sinkhole) which is difficult and also a little dangerous to access. We have plans to find a way for our guests to enjoy this mystical and sacred place.
R: At home, I am blessed to have a wonderful wife who is also a nutritionist (among many other things). We eat fresh food every day, we believe nutrition is at the base of wellness. I exercise daily by using weights, jumping rope, and enjoying the trampoline. We, personally, do not take any medicine. Instead, we cure ourselves with essential oils and natural remedies. Finally, I make sure I work in an environment that includes nature — for me, this is the best source of energy.
R: A young girl, while at university some 30 years back told me, ‘’better to repent than to regret.” This phrase is still stuck in my head and is a philosophy I try to live by every day.
R: My strong will to not give up. Actually, I find myself busier than before and richer in knowledge I wouldn’t be able to acquire if I didn’t have this time.
R: I met two of my angels.Two that showed me the way. I wish you do too.
About Rocco Bova:
Rocco Bova, an Italian-born hotelier, is a passionate, energetic and enthusiastic professional, with experience from classic hotels to cutting-edge design, from business city properties to resorts operations and from golf resorts to destination wellness with over 25 years of experience. Currently, Rocco is the GM of Chable’ Yucatan, a multi-award-winning luxury wellness resort set in the Yucatan jungle of Mexico.