There’s the Mexico resort we see advertised to the masses and there’s the Mexico resort waiting to be discovered by the rest of us
With all due respect to the tourists and spring breakers who travel to Mexico for the amped up, non-stop, fun-in-the-sun party scene – this may not appeal. And for the elitist of the elite who travel to Mexico for the grandiose, pretentious exclusivity a limited reserve credit card can buy – this may not be for you either.
But for the traveler who likes exclusivity without the pretention, a friendly pool scene with a DJ but not a beer pong game in sight and sipping a margarita (or two) on a private stretch of beach watching the pelicans fly over while deciding between the ceviche or the fresh made guacamole (or both), then this is for you.
Turns out, there is a Mexico for those who want fun without chaos and exclusivity without snooty. Tucked away on the Pacific coast of Riviera Nayarit, is the beachside area of Punta de Mita. Known as Mexico’s best break beach, the area has long been a haven for surfers. Located within a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport, the area is also home to some of Mexico’s best fishing.
The quaint, tranquil beach town has a number of resorts and one that stands out is the W Punta de Mita. The boutique resort touts the world’s most exclusive restaurant, Mesa1, with ‘1’ table seating a night yet is comfortable and friendly and offers bars and restaurants for every vibe, mood and preference.
The magic number is 700,000
Without a doubt, the 700,000 hand-laid mosaic tiles that come together to form a 460-foot-long piece of walkable art not only makes a good first impression, but it also leaves a lasting one. The artwork begins in the famed ‘Living Room’ of the open-air hotel lobby and rises and falls – representing the highs and lows of life – and ends at the beach.
Recently voted one of Mexico’s best resorts in 2021, the 119-room resort is undeniably a W resort with its vibrant décor and signature style that combines surfy kitsch with local Huichol-inspired influences. Because the resort is small and quaint, there is a coziness to the resort with walking paths instead of high-rise towers. Built into an ancient seaside forest, there is a unique jungle-like feel as you listen to the waves crash on the shore.
The W appeals to a not-quite-bell-curve crowd of mature, quiet couples, young families, and millennials who’ve outgrown the rowdy crowd. They all mesh in a festive atmosphere that encourages the W’s signature tagline of, ‘Whatever, Whenever.’ There are quiet cabanas to read, nap and nosh, there are vibrant places with taco bars, and then there is the ceviche. Made to order, it becomes the “thing” that bonds guests as everyone ponders which of the seven dishes or daily special to try. Whatever you want, whenever you want it.
Detox, Retox, Repeat
When you want to get away while being away, there is no better place than the 4,000 square foot AWAY Spa. The spa is a jungle refuge set among figs and ferns with multi-levels of hydrotherapy pools. After a morning yoga session on a wooden deck surrounded by trees and songbirds, guests can enjoy a back massage while peering through the glass floor watching the koi swim.
For those who want more adrenaline, the surf boards and instructors for beginners await. W’s private beach ensures surfers of all levels have the waves to themselves. For those seeking the privacy of an adult pool – there’s that option too, complete with see-through wall facing the ocean.
When and if guests are ready to venture off the property, there is plenty to experience nearby. The ‘pueblo magico’ town of Sayulita is known for its cultural and historic significance along with its famous surfing beaches. The bustling village is filled with boutique shops and local cuisine and makes for a fun day trip.
Nature and animal lovers won’t want to miss the La Patrona Polo and Equestrian Club. With Swiss-constructed arenas, paddocks and stables, the competition horses have one of the world’s best environments with a vet hospital and exercise pool on site. The Beach Club is a few kilometers away with pristine white beaches, open-air bars and restaurants and not recommended to simply stop for a brief visit. This is easily its own destination and well worth a day or half-day excursion.
As the world reawakens, well-informed travelers able to adapt will have better experiences. It is not just menus that are only accessible by QR codes – arrival through customs in Mexico requires US travelers to download the codes, input their health and travel data on the spot – the reliability on smart devices is another step toward global health and safety.
For travelers ready to dip their toes in other collective ponds, Punta de Mita is a destination worth considering. The W resort has COVID-19 protocols in place and a designated area with healthcare professionals who will administer tests on site. US travelers require a negative test result prior to re-entering the states and the W makes that requirement easy so the toughest decision will be where to detox and retox for the day.
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Cover photo courtesy W Punta de Mita, Mexico
Haven Lindsey resides in Taos, NM. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. She was recognized by NPR for her solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Haven’s children’s book, ‘The Blue Dog and The White Horse Adventures on A Texas Ranch’ about the friendship between her dog and a horse, is available on Amazon. She is currently writing the second book in the series.