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Sensi Magazine

Swept away in the Mexican Riviera

Apr 30, 2019 01:52PM ● By Dawn Garcia
I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s my madness would not be an escape from ‘reality’.”
– FRIDA KAHLO

The word Riviera evokes a feeling of being somewhere exotic where life’s stressors melt away and a little luxury and relaxation goes a long way. Stretching 200 miles of pristine México Pacific coastline, sprinkled with seaside towns and pueblos amidst lush mountains canopied with green, natural sanctuaries, golden sand, and palm leaves swaying in the breeze is Riviera Nayarit. This increasingly popular luxury destination is home to a surge of hotels, resorts, and gastronomy and
is one of the newest hotspots along the México coast. As you explore the hotels, restaurants, and lesser-known regions along the coast, you’ll want to experience the following new properties firsthand.

Celebrating the beauty of luxury and nature in perfect harmony, Imanta Resorts is committed to sustainable living. This resort nourishes the imagination, creating a sense of belonging. Here in Punta de Mita, the jungle meets the ocean as the whitecaps brush against the sandy shore. Punta de Mita is at the northern end of Banderas Bay, the largest bay in Latin America, amid breathtaking seascapes and landscapes that have been virtually unchanged since their discovery. Imanta is within 45 minutes of Puerto Vallarta International Airport, close to the Sierra de Vallejo national biosphere reserve where the region’s beauty is alive and surrounded by undisturbed wilderness.

Imanta offers farm-to-table culinary experiences, ensuring high-quality organic ingredients are locally sourced within a 100-kilometer radius, keeping in line with the Relais & Châteaux philosophy of providing an experience in every meal. Two onsite restaurants feature local ingredients grown on neighboring farms and exotic orchards. Tzamaika is a casual beach located under Imanta’s beautiful beach palapa. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (winter months only), it serves sustainably caught seafood, authentic Mexican dishes, incredible salads, wood fire pizzas, grilled meats, agua frescas, and playful cocktails utilizing local fruits. You can dine in the private pavilions. El Observatorio is an elegant rooftop bar serving tapas and drinks on an intimate terrace with stunning 360-degree views of the jungle reserve and the Pacific.

“Architecturally inspired by the magnificent beauty of the Pacific coastline and the rich cultural heritage of the area, Imanta Punta de Mita provides guests a superb measure of luxury in an unparalleled natural setting,” says Visit México in a statement that outlines the mission of all of the resort’s visual infrastructure. “Casas and casonas all offer stunning ocean and jungle views as well as private swimming pools and outdoor living areas. Fresh organic gourmet cuisine, extraordinary service, and a wide range of customized experiences make this resort a one-of-a-kind destination that will surpass the expectations of our guests.”

Imanta Punta de Mita encompasses 250 acres of tropical vegetation and a magnificent 2-mile stretch of coastline. Visually grand, it casts a large spatial net and still feels intimate, making it one of the world’s most exclusive retreats. Contiguous to the Sierra de Vallejo, a 1.65 million-acre natural preserve, Imanta Punta de Mita is uniquely situated where the mountains, jungle, ocean, beach, cliffs, canyons, and wildlife meet with a biodiverse landscape. With environmentalism at the forefront of its sustainable vision, the region won’t budge on quality, and the result is magical.

“Imanta stone” indigenous to the region, is used along with other organic materials including wood and grasses in the resort’s construction and design. Imanta also uses energy-efficient, resource-savvy, recycled and treated water systems in its gardens, and “green” roofs keep each room temperate year-round. Most casas have heat-controlled private pools.

The Mar al Cielo is a private oceanfront retreat on 11 acres of beachfront jungle paradise in Lo de Marcos, Nayarit, Mexico, that’s Ideal for couples seeking enchantment and intimacy while being in the throes of nature. Built in harmony with nature, Mar al Cielo has casas with one bed and bath, and a fully equipped kitchen with a barbecue grill. Outside is an open living room and terrace, and a semi-covered bathroom and kitchen. Amenities include a private chef, binoculars, nature guides, and spa services. With Mexican fusion breakfast, mid morning brunch, seaside snacks, and sunset dinners, the culinary options aren’t meek. For guests who love bird-watching, this region of western Mexico is known for having some of the most incredible bird species around, including orange-breasted buntings, lilac-crowned parrots, and russet-crowned motmots. Guests can also head out to the coast to see if they can spot humpback whales or take a hike along one of the many jungle trails plentiful with wildlife and butterflies. There you’ll stumble upon a secret beach at the end of the jungle path perfect for swimming.

In the heart of cobblestoned San Pancho lies the charming Hotel Cielo Rojo. San Pancho is a small traditional beach town about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. With a population of 1,000, San Pancho is where you go for a little outdoor adventuring. Within walking distance to the beach, Hotel Cielo Rojo is simple and elegant with warm, eclectic décor; serves organic cuisine; and makes certain you have personalized attention. The hotel embodies the spirit and kindness of a small Mexican town. The restaurant serves a menu exemplary of the coastal region, paying tribute to seafood and indigenous produce and offers healthy, vibrant options. The bar features a unique collection of artisanal tequila, wine, and cocktails served on a garden patio. Nearby beaches include Las Cuevas and Playa de los Muertos.

To stay beachside, go to the W Hotel, perched at the edge of Punta de Mita. Known for its Huichol-inspired design, the W Hotel Punta Mita embodies cutting-edge design and offers experiences and retreats like the secluded Wonderful Jungle escape or the Extreme Wow ocean view escape. It is situated on the Bahia de Banderas peninsula that spans 6 miles of coastal beaches and is home to some of the area’s more prestigious golf courses.

Punta de Mita is also home to some of Mexico’s most fabulous restaurants. Among them is Spice Market at the W Hotel. The restaurant is overseen by Mexican chef Ismael González and takes inspiration from the sensual Southeast Asian street food that French master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten discovered in his travels. This is fusion at its best, with everything from chicken samosas with cilantro-infused yogurt to halibut cha ca la Vong to vinegar-infused pork Vindaloo, all paired with unique handcrafted cocktails. Two other dining options are Chevicheria, a beach bar cleverly named for the blue 1950s Chevrolet 3800 truck that serves as the tail of the bar, and Venazu for pure authentic Mexican cuisine.

The area’s culture is eminent in its cuisine and magical views, rich jungles, and untarnished terrain. Whether you explore Sayulita, a surfer’s paradise, or delve into the bohemian vibe strewn throughout the region, you’ll find art galleries, relaxation, formal and informal dining, and luxurious hotels that don’t feel stuffy.

Riviera Nayarit is one of México’s new culinary and design coastal love stories. With so much beauty, architecture, nature, shoreline, history, culture, and gastronomy to explore, it should be on your bucket list.