From my earliest memories of self, I have always been drawn to the ocean. Perched high up on the hill, at Secrets Huatulco Resort’s world class Spa facility, I can see for miles out in to its vastness. And it is there, for a moment, I am lost in my own peace. I am not thinking about my father abandoning my mother after 37 years of marriage. I am not worrying about my future career choices, nor am I fretting about money, or rather a lack there of. I’m not even thinking about what to wear for dinner that night. No, right now, I am temporarily free of all these thoughts and I am doing something I rarely am able to do; I solely exist in just this moment.
For over two hours, I have been completely pampered. This is not a life I am accustomed to, but can easily see why people develop addictions to it. The spa’s hydrotherapy loop provided a completely cleansing experience that eased me in to an 80 minute Swedish massage treatment. My body feels like jelly, and it is as content as my mind. As I turn away from this view, I am met at the door by Olga, my masseuse, who offers a glass of water infused with orange. This is pure bliss!! She walks me down the architecturally gorgeous spiral stairs to the lower level of the spa and guides me to an outside chaise situated along the infinity pool. Demurely she dismisses herself and I am returned once again, to my moment of Zen.
“Do you remember me?” I look up to see the boyishly cute smile of the waiter that served Mark and me dinner the night before at Cin Cin. His name is Noel, and I do, remember him quite clearly. I introduced Mark the previous year to Churros at Dreams Puerto Vallarta, never knowing that finding them would become a quest of his at every meal in Mexico, henceforth. Noel graciously had snuck over the night before to Tamarindo, Secret’s Mexican restaurant, and secured Mark a plate of his favourite pastries for dessert. I replied that I did, in fact, remember him. “Mark is in the lobby, and sent me for your camera” he tells me. Okay, odd request, I think to myself, but not too crazy. Just hours ago, Mark had stepped backwards off a step and severely twisted his ankle. What momentarily stumps me is why he’d send Noel to retrieve the camera, when he knew my treatment would be over any minute. My moment of quiet is fading into memory. Slowly I stand, turn towards this boy, still smiling and say “Give me 2 minutes, Noel, and I’ll walk back with you”.
I disappear in to the locker room, and quickly pull on my clothes. In the mirror, I look like an absolute mess. My hair, all over the place is quickly secured in to one of those “I really don’t care” toss up affairs. My makeup is non-existent, having melted off long ago in the steam room and the outfit I am wearing makes more sense for a gym then it does an elite spa. My crash back to reality comes quick. Back in the reception area, Noel asks for my camera again, and I tell him to wait a minute. I’m trying to arrange a tip to leave for Olga. Noel gets more insistent behind me, telling me he must take my camera to Mark. Another spa employee is bustling around looking for a bag for my still soggy swimsuit. The resulting cacophony is crazy! I thrust the camera out to Noel and this silences one voice. When the others finally die down, I look around and he is gone. I sigh, guessing I’m walking back to the hotel lobby, alone, where hopefully my camera and boyfriend both sit. My only thought at that moment: Good Grief! That better be some amazing photo!
Finally, I walk through the door to leave the spa. I am still slightly confused and mentally prepping myself for the trek back up the hill to the lobby. These thoughts are immediately mute, as I look down the walkway which is now lined with eleven individuals. Some are friends Mark and I have met along the way, others staff that have made our trip special and even more are those that I have never seen or met before. My exact words were a shaky “What’s going on?” I start walking down the path, and as I do I am approached one at a time by each person. All of them hold out and then bequeath upon me a single red rose. My heart is in my throat. It’s one of those surreal moments where you wonder “Is this really happening?”. I am excited and hopeful but I am also scared for what this is because I don’t want to believe something is happening, if it’s not. I scan the people in front of me, not seeing Mark, but I have this uncanny feeling he’s hiding around the corner, and I feel myself rushing towards there. Until I see him in front of me, I can not trust this moment to be real.
It’s a cliché that people say when you meet the right guy, you’ll know. I knew after only a couple of weeks Mark was my “right guy”. He makes me feel like I’m the only girl in his world, and there isn’t a day that goes by without us sharing laughter together. He’s held me when I’ve cried, listens when I need to deflate my frustrations, and tolerated my horrible attempts at cooking. He loves me despite my obvious flaws, and that is a state of relaxation that not even the best spa in the world can gift to you.
I round the corner now, almost at a jog, and yes, Mark is there. He calls me to him, and slowly sinks to one knee before me. He is holding the final rose, and I can see that the ring, in all its perfectness, is nestled in its deep velvet red blossoms. “Ms Alison Temple, will you become Mrs Alison Brant?” he asks in a way that makes my heart swell. Tears, well up in my eyes, and as if on cue, release themselves with my answer. Applause and cries of happiness erupt from the group, when they hear the words “Yes”. In a style so typical to us, we put the ring on the wrong hand, a flub that is fixed the next morning with a second, less public proposal on our terrace. I am laughing now, that nervous, giddy laugh you associate with adolescent school girls when a boy asks them to their first dance. It is a happiness we, as adults, forget so easily. My head is still spinning as the group of well wishers slowly dissipate into the growing twilight and we are suddenly left alone with just a bottle of champagne, and a view of the sun setting on the golden sands of Conejos Bay below. I can honestly say whatever bliss I thought I’d found inside the spa, has just been trumped by the reality of this moment outside its walls.
Later that night, over a candle-lit dinner at Castaways, Mark told me all about the planning. How he’d waited patiently for me to book my spa day, so that he could arrange everything. He’d known that he’d only have an hour or two to get the proposal just so. That afternoon, he had accompanied me to the spa, only to immediately upon dropping me off, employ Mario Mendoza, one of the resorts wonderful concierges to help him pull off his grand surprise. This was Secrets Huatulco’s first public proposal, so according to Mark’s account, the whole lobby staff was involved and ideas were flying around at an amazing speed. In the end, roses were taxied in from the local town, tables and chairs were set up on the fly and Champagne was immediately put on ice. It was only by fate, our friends returned from an excursion at just the right time to be involved. The end result was a perfect proposal on Mark’s behalf. We haven’t set a date yet, but we both know we want to have a destination wedding. We’re thinking a Dreams resort, but who knows, we enjoy our Secrets too.
Thank you Alison Temple, soon to be Mrs. Alison Brant, for sharing with us your sweet, secret surprise engagement!
Alison and I became BFF on facebook shortly before her vacation. We now private message most everyday sharing ideas for her perfect Dreams wedding and other girly nonsensical chat! I am working on her to write more travel posts. Please leave comments below to help me encourage her to share more of her travel experiences.