Lodge score: W Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
W Punta de Mita is the epitome of a luxurious beach hideaway. This indigenous-inspired escape in Riviera Nayarit, one of Mexico’s most sought-after spots, pays homage to the bold, living traditions of the native Huichol indigenous people and the local bohemian surfing culture. For the ultimate in peace and quiet, I flew to Puerto Vallarta and made my way north to uncover the hidden gem of the Riviera Nayarit.
The hotel is a festival of color balanced with the calm sky, water and lush flora
Arriving at W Punta de Mita is not the same as arriving at a five-star resort. It’s a runway for a feast for the senses. Mexican feast, if you will. Upon arrival, I was driven through two gates under a canopy of exotic green and yellow leaves and then taken to a tuk-tuk that took me to a lively open-air lobby adorned with hanging chairs swaying in the wind.
I walked a Camino Huichol walkway made up of over 700,000 mosaic tiles to judge the resort’s layout from above. A sea of bubbling pools and romantic cabanas echoed to my right, the waves of the Pacific Ocean echoed to my front, and to my left couples were drinking coconuts in a converted 1950s Chevrolet truck. This W requires business to step aside and focus on pleasure.
Rooms and suites
An artistic surfboard headboard frames a king-size bed with a W signature
The property has 119 guest villas, each with splashes of warm color, surf-inspired artwork, artisanal Mexican tile floors, and beds with surfboard or pierced sheet metal headboards that mimic the type of local churches. I stayed in a spectacular ocean view room. Number 1109, a minute’s walk from reception. The room is on the lake and is a hiding place within a hiding place. It had its own terrace with a large day bed in front of the house and a closed terrace with an open roof, pink wicker chair and swing at the entrance. Both offered a more private way to catch vitamin D.
Entrance to and from the villa itself via floor to ceiling sash windows invited in the sea light, sights and smells and helped the space stand out from other Ws, especially townhouses which are generally darker and feel like a glamor club. The bohemian surfer style of the W Punta de Mita is accentuated by the locally inspired decor I discovered in a delightful little shop called Revolución Del Sueño in downtown Sayulita. The comfortable king-size bed was decorated with a traditional Mexican throw and matching pillows.
That does not mean that W supporters who trust familiarity with the product will be completely turned away. All the staples are here; Fans will find characteristic W ‘Bliss’ care products, modern technical lighting, a Nespresso coffee machine, a 24-hour service “whenever, wherever” and lots of bold W aesthetics. This is still the W, only on a beach vacation.
to eat and drink
Venazú is an all day dining (including brunch) restaurant overlooking the fantastic sea
If you’ve spent the day rippling waves or touring the Riviera Nayarit, the good news is that W Punta de Mita has plenty of options for refueling. There are seven restaurants and bars to choose from, not to mention a plethora of local businesses nearby ready to cater to your needs.
The spice market is inspired by the street markets and food stalls that Jean-Georges experienced in Southeast Asia. The British may remember the one in W Leicester Square a few years ago. Expect pan-Asian dishes that are served family-style in a relaxed, yet seductive atmosphere. Typical dishes include Bao rolls with pork belly, spicy chicken samosas, and homemade ginger rice.
Geographically, the Riviera Nayarit is perfect for seafood, so I’ve opted for “Catch of the Day” more than once without disappointment. You can enjoy fresh fish at W Punta de Mita at Chevycheria, a 1950s Chevy truck that overlooks the beach. They serve ceviches made to order as well as craft mezcal cocktails, and don’t forget that guac! Back in the main building, Venazú is the all-day dining restaurant where I enjoyed my catch of the day with a glass of Casa Madero White. Dessert is also a treat, the Flan De Café De Olla was housed under a dome that you break open like a piñata.
If you have the time, there is also Salero, a seafood market, which encourages diners to choose fresh catch, cooked in every style, including the regional zarandeado – a local specialty. And for something very special, how about literally a table at Mesa1? This exclusive table experience from the chef happens to be on its own island and offers only one night. So if you are thinking of a proposal or a very intimate party, this is it.
The AWAY Spa offer is located in a separate area with its own outdoor pools with jungle fantasy motifs and different temperatures
When it comes to tropical destinations, many think of weddings. W Punta de Mita is ideal for that special day, whether it’s an intimate ceremony by the sea or a banquet reception for 200 people in the gardens under the orange sunset. For those looking for illegitimate activities, there are some fabulous options – including surfing and spa. The on-site WAVE Surf Shop offers private surf lessons, a range of non-motorized water sports rentals, and excursions on the water, from sailing and snorkeling to luxury catamaran charters and humpback whale watching tours.
The 4,000 square meter AWAY Spa is absolute luxury. Here you will find a wide range of W treatments to pamper your body. There are locally inspired facials, massages, and body treatments that use local ingredients like cacti and agaves, as well as ancient Huichol healing practices to promote general wellbeing. The blue agave, for example, combines the powerful antioxidant in butter form with a massage. Afterward, enjoy the verdant sanctuary, which is easily one of the most Instagram-like spots on the ground (if you like a pretty photo, make sure to inquire about the ‘Instagram Concierge Service’).
The AWAY Spa Pools are a contrast to what is on the beach. The WET Deck has Monte Carlo vibes with private cabanas, DJs and also the lively Chevycheria. Farther out is WET Too which I preferred as it was quieter with an adults only pool and hot tub. Overall, even at full capacity, there is more than enough water space that everyone can enjoy at a sufficient social distance.
To do in the area
Choose a dolphin experience that puts the dolphins’ wellbeing first. Photo credit: Vallarta Adventures
Punta de Mita is on the Riviera Nayarit, about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. There is so much to do that a few paragraphs are not enough. First-time visitors are advised to go to the village of Sayulita, about 15 minutes’ drive away. It’s a popular spot for local surfers and has plenty of boutiques, bars, and restaurants for walking ashore. Nearby, be sure to check out San Francisco, aka San Pancho, a laid-back hipster beach town with colorful Volkswagen Beetles parked in front of organic cafes.
As an animal lover, I have registered with Dallarta Adventures, one of the most renowned excursion and adventure companies in the region, as a dolphin trainer for this day. I took a behind-the-scenes tour where I learned about these incredibly intelligent creatures and marine animals in the state and, of course, ended up swimming with dolphins under the watchful eye of experienced trainer Rafa. The animals are looked after so amazingly and if you are planning on going for an encounter be sure to support an Ethical and Humane Conservation certified company like Vallarta Adventures.
The property is 45 minutes from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta. Once in Punta de Mita, taxis are the easiest way to get around. Rental cars are also a popular option and the W has free parking.
Address: 8.5 Km Punta de Mita Highway, Costa Banderas Development, 63734 Punta de Mita, Nay., Mexico
Phone: +52 329 226 8333
Images courtesy of W Punta de Mita unless otherwise noted.