Published on March 16th, 2014


Birthday Indulgence: Piedra de Agua Hot Spring & Spa

Oh joy, yet another birthday. The truth is, when you get up here in the rarified numbers of my dodderin’ age, yet another reminder of just how long you’ve been spinning on the Planet is… arguably not all that much of a thrill.

On the other hand, I must say – when I look at it instead as… looking back on what all I managed to do in the past 365 days (Nepal, Borneo, Myanmar, etc. – and btw dear followers, trust that you WILL hear more about my adventures in the latter two countries soon) – I can only be grateful that I’m still able to romp around the world at all.

And in that spirit, I generally try to do something a bit festive, unusual, indeed (for me) uncharacteristically decadent (read: pricey) to mark my bountiful joy to simply be able to… well, do ANYTHING save wobble fore and aft in a rocking chair.

Thus, I opted for a duet of decadence to celebrate this 60-nth “cumpliaños” in my new home here on this (not so) “g-forsaken mountain top in the Andes”.

Dinner at Paladar’s

First, on the eve of my birthday I enjoyed a most lovely dinner with new Cuenca acquaintances – 3 charming lasses likewise “of a certain age” – at Paladar’s, a newly opened “dinner club” presently serving a single set dinner just two days each week.  Situated just a few blocks from my apartment amid the cobbled streets of El Centro, the restaurant features a lovely garden atrium with fountain and bar where guests gather for “social hour”.  Sufficiently mellowed by cocktails, folks then proceed to eight intimate dining rooms (each seating 4-10 guests), all lovingly restored and artfully hand painted by Cuencano artist, Fausto Merchán.


For less than $20, my birthday dinner included appetizers, wine, salad with pears, mozzarella and cashews drizzled with poppy seed dressing, a  bountiful helping of tender pork medallions accompanied by au gratin potatoes, and a sublime slice of cheesecake smothered in sweet cherry sauce.

La Piedra de Agua Spa

Ah but that delish culinary indulgence paled in comparison to the following day, when the birthday girl hopped in a cab for a 20 minute ride to the nearby town of Baños for a full afternoon of hedonistic sensual pampering at La Piedra de Agua Fuente Termal y Spa  (The Stone Water Hot Spring & Spa).


While the spa offers a wide choice of decadence levels (e.g. a mere $10 will get you access to the outdoor thermal swimming pool, mineral showers and the standard steam baths for the entire day), I opted for the full-meal-deal “Relaxation Pack” including:

  • my own private host to guide me to each uniquely sensual treat
  • outdoor thermal pool
  • standard steam bath
  • volcanic red mud pool (natural exfoliate mineral mud – you slather yourself with it, relax on a chaise to dry, then rinse off in the outdoor thermal shower)
  • volcanic blue mud pool (skin softening mineral mud – ditto slather, dry, rinse – leaving your entire body smoother than a babies bottom)
  • underground contrast pools (a languid soak in an underground, cave-like thermal pool lit by flickering candles, followed by a 30 second dunk in the adjacent frigid pool, rinse and repeat until your entire body is a limp, tingly, worthless bag of bliss)
  • underground box steam bath (with your head sticking out!)
  • Japanse pool
  • 30 minute aroma therapy massage, set in a candlelit cave (the masseuse, excellent and far more merciful than the slap-happy Thai’s that gleefully perform acrobatics whilst perched atop your bum)
  • 30 minute herb and mud pack facial (my first ever facial!)
  • champagne and fruit plate with melted chocolate dip
  • chocolate chip cheesecake (special for the birthday girl)




Seriously.  It was divine.  Indeed, my most hedonistic “Feliz Cumpleaños” ever!

About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

14 Responses to Birthday Indulgence: Piedra de Agua Hot Spring & Spa

  1. Sue Pearson says:

    Definitely the way I will spend my Birthday next year Dyanne! You took some great pics of it!!!
    Sue Pearson kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Butterfly Earrings in cold porcelain, Monarch, Blue Morph by mosaicmacheMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes Sue, quite a Piedra de Agua is quite a decadent treat, and just a 20 min. taxi from Cuenca. When is your birthday Sue? I’d love to join you there for another day of pampering.

  2. Happy birthday, Dyanne! Sounds like you celebrated well. By the way, we LOVE Paladar’s! We love owners Roger and Ricardo. Do you know them?

    And my birthday is the 26th, by the way!

    Kathy Mccullough kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Kids Make the Best Bookies: A Childhood Gambled on God and the MobMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks Kathy – and you too, have a birthday soon? Have you been to Piedra? HIGHLY recommended pamper for your special day!

      I did meet one of the Paladar owners (dunno if it was Roger or Ricardo, but he kindly gave me a tour of the upper dining rooms, etc.) – very sweet lad, and amazing what they’ve done with the place.

      Ah yes, ever so many interesting places to see and things to do here on the (not so) “g-forsaken mountain top…” 😉

  3. James says:

    Awesome that you’re getting the most out of your new city! Sounds like a wonderful dinner + spa. I’ll have to come join you next time!
    James kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Zombies, Cheese and Bacon Pillows – Can You Ever Go Home Again?My Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed James – Ecuador is like a whole ‘nuther PLANET from Vietnam, and I’m slowly exploring the many new corners of this lovely mountain top in the Andes.

      And yes, yes – do “come on down”. Would love an(y) excuse to go back to Piedra de Agua! 😉

  4. Ilene says:

    What a great way to celebrate your birthday, Dyanne! Looking forward to getting together again once we’ve completed our move. 🙂

    • Dyanne says:

      It surely was a most decadent birthday treat, Ilene – have you been to Piedra de Agua? You and Bill should go – to celebrate after you’ve moved the last of your things into your new place!

  5. Great to meet you last Wednesday. Hope to see you again soon.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes, a wonderful dinner – do drop me an email so we can arrange to meet up again some time.

  6. Gail Kuger says:

    Fabulous, luxurious! Well done.
    Gail Kuger kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Corned Beef DinnerMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yep Sis, it was quite the decadent birthday.

      Now I see… so your cookin’ up a pot of delish Corned Beef for Pat’s birthday mañana, eh? Sure wish you could teleport a plate of it here.

  7. Talon says:

    I’m so glad you decided to go ahead with it and pamper yourself proper!
    Talon kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Singapore for less than $25 a dayMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Yep, I went for the full-meal-deal – including divine massage and facial. I mean, one doesn’t turn 60-ish-ish too very often, yes? 😉

      The spa truly is a most decadent place and excellent value. Even better than the mud baths at Nha Trang in Vietnam (did you and Tigger make it to those?)

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