No matter what time of year, I dream of white sand beaches, relaxing poolside, or feeling warm air on my skin. January is always a tough month, so why not dream a little with me and my new favourite vacay spot, Punta Mita, Mexico? I will preface this blog by saying, previous to us finding Punta Mita, I was not a fan of vacationing in Mexico. Quite frankly, I was a baby – nervous about getting sick, safety, and of the many horror stories I had heard about the “Federales” and corruption. As much as the lure of kids clubs, and endless wine did draw us in a few times to the all- inclusive experience as a young family, I never returned from those vacations feeling rested and pampered but rather just, “glad to be back.” Several years ago though, we were lucky enough to have a business retreat in Punta Mita, Mexico and this is essentially when my love affair with this beautiful resort area began.
Punta de Mita is 45 minutes from the Puerta Vallarta Airport at the north end of Banderas Bay. Properties are available for rent along this coast from Nuevo Vallarta to Bucerias and everything along this coast looks colourful and authentic. We rest our heads within the gates of Punta Mita – which is a gorgeous, masterplanned community of luxury combined with the celebration of local culture. While the properties in the area are all lovely, what I truly love about Punta Mita – especially travelling with teens and young adults is that it works for everyone, it is very safe and you can allow your kids the freedom to roam without being concerned. The property is 1500 acres surrounded by ocean on three sides. Doted with three beach clubs, and two high end resorts (The Four Seasons and St. Regis) even at the busiest of times, Punta Mita feels relaxed and chill.
Today, I’m sharing the 411 on MY Punta Mita 🙂
Given that we have a family of five and that our kids are no longer little (in either age, or stature) we are always required to get two hotel rooms when on holiday. Punta Mita has been the perfect choice for us, because this entire gated community is doted with various rentals comprising of either large condos, villas, or stand alone houses which allows us the ability to have a larger space for a more reasonable price, and even have the added benefit of allowing our kids to bring a friend. If you haven’t yet travelled with your teen, having that social aspect covered has been key to guaranteeing happy, active kids on holidays! Rentals are available through various agencies, although we chose to use Luxury Retreats, a company recently purchased by AirBnB that deals with many rentals in the area. When renting through Luxury Retreats, you have an agent help you with the initial booking (which is simple and can all be done via online payment) and then once booked, you have a dedicated concierge who will help with booking chef services, reservations, tours, transport to and from the airport etc. Then, once arriving on site, you have another dedicated concierge who can coordinate any further requests, deal with issues at the property and is your contact should anything go wrong. Most rentals include housekeeping everyday, and some even offer chef services included for breakfast, which is pretty great if you have a gaggle of teens that need to be fed, and YOU want a vacay too! One thing I would emphasize is that almost all of the rentals include what is referred to as a “Premium Golf Membership” which allows access to all three beach clubs. Make sure your rental includes this!
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the Four Seasons and their reputation for beautiful properties, luxurious accommodation and amazing service. We have not stayed here with our children, but as a couple and it was everything noted above and more. The property is beautiful, situated right on the beach and secluded. During the holiday season, the resort has many activities and special events just for kids and young adults, so I would imagine you can’t go wrong if you want the hotel / resort setting.
A few others worth noting!
St. Regis Punta Mita – within the Punta Mita gates – this is a beautiful property equal to the standards of the Four Seasons. We have not stayed here personally, but have had a few delicious meals at their amazing restaurants. Visitors staying in the Punta Mita area also can access their beach club for a fee.
W Punta Mita – this property is a bit outside the town of Punta Mita, and not within the gated area either, BUT – we visited the hotel for its fantastic “Spice Market” restaurant and wished we could have returned in the day to take a better look. A chill vibe, this hotel represents that W image to a T. Because it is a little out of the way, and would require a car to travel in to town, it looks like a great place to hang your hat for a long weekend or girls trip. You could literally park yourself and not leave the resort!
Maybe the BEST thing about staying in Punta Mita is the method of transportation around the resort. Of course, you will need to arrange for transport for the 45 trip from the airport and back, BUT once you arrive – your chariot is non other than a golf cart! The golf cart is all you need once landing at your pad in Punta Mita. I love this for families with teens for several reasons. First, FREEDOM. I can’t tell you how liberating it is for both kids and parents that they can take off (16 and over) on a golf cart to the beach club of their choice, and have a little autonomy on a family vacay. If you have older teens, you recognize that they need this – they need to spread their wings a bit and this is the perfect place for them to do it safely.
Second, I love the fact that we don’t have to worry at all about cabs, drinking and driving, or renting a car and trying to drive. The town of Punta Mita is right outside the gates of the resort area and it is bustling with families, golf carts and tiny little parking stalls created just for this lifestyle. Yes, there are cars in the town but the majority are tootling around with their golf cart – many of the restaurants even offer valet for your cart (seriously, could we GET any more spoiled on vacation than to have our golf cart valeted?)
Possibly one of my most favourite things about Punta Mita!!
CASA TERESA – located in a dark alley in what appears to be a sketchy area of town, Casa Teresa has fed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, and Billy Crystal (we know, cause we sat next to him!) and is the most authentic Italian we have enjoyed outside of Italy. One of the only places that we have eaten WITHOUT an ocean view but I guarantee, you won’t even miss it. The open air courtyard with twinkly lights and old stone walls will win you over for sure. Make sure you make a reservation (at Christmas, make this reservation in early November) and ask to be seated outside.
SUFI – located within the gates of Punta Mita Resort, Sufi is the restaurant associated with the Porta Fortuna Beach Club. If you are staying at these villas, you have the ability to order room service from this lovely open air, ocean front restaurant, and if staying within the gates, you can enjoy it for lunch by the infinity pool, or an amazing sunset view for dinner.
BLUE SHRIMP / SI SENOR / SI SUSHI – This collection of restaurants is in the town of Punta Mita snuggled in with many other fantastic places right on the ocean. You literally can not get much closer to eating on the ocean than this! Some of the tables are located either right on the sand or adjacent to it. Specializing in fresh seafood and fresh fish, (they actually show it to you prior to cooking) with a Mexican flair, you will love any or all of these places. One thing we did notice, is that they are really set up well for larger groups and the service was fantastic.
TUNA BLANCA – Two things – save room for dessert and try the Spanish Coffee. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy an after dinner drink (I don’t), who doesn’t love a flaming performance at your table (I do!) Dessert is brought out on a gigantic surfboard decorated with spun sugar. My personal fav is the Flower Pot – but everything looks amazing. Tuna Blanca is located on the same stretch of beach as Blue Shrimp and is every bit as tasty.
PUNTA MERCEDES – New for us this year, and I believe pretty new to Punta Mita as well, we stumbled upon Punta Mercedes on our only rainy day. Rain in Punta Mita means a few bottles of amazing red wine in the afternoon and snuggling in to a great restaurant for some laughs. Punta Mercedes houses an old style wood burning pizza oven, so “when in Rome!” We enjoyed a great afternoon of pizza and wine. I understand that this is a new hot spot in Punta Mita – so advanced reservations are a must.
While there are plenty of activities such as Swimming with the Dolphins, Zip-lining and ATV adventures, vacations for our family are a time to chill – and where better to chill than at one of the three amazing beach clubs just a short golf cart up the road! Each beach club is slightly different, making it fun to mix up your beach days and the view from your lounge chair! They all offer a beach front restaurant with service right to your chair, beach butlers to clean your sunglasses or mist you (!!), pools and a cute little beach shop to scratch your shopping itch. OH – and they all offer a killer spicy margarita – I’m just sayin’ …
KAPURI BEACH CLUB – Kapuri – on Litibu Bay is the largest of the beach clubs with a huge restaurant on multiple levels and built as the main entertainment hub of Punta Mita. Kapuri not only offers daytime delights in the way of water sport rentals, a spa, pools and great waves but fantastic evening events as well. Evening offerings vary from beach bbq’s to special music events. Very family oriented, Kapuri has been home to our New Years celebrations for the past few years. There isn’t another New Years party quite like “White Nights” where families can celebrate together with fantastic music, great food and the most beautiful setting you can imagine all dressed in the pre-requisite “white.” The staff really go all out to create a special experience that works for the entire family. Our teens met a ton of other kids their ages, and even the young ones were entertained with glow in the dark face painting and roaming entertainment like jugglers and dancers.
PACIFICO BEACH CLUB (formerly Resident’s Beach Club) – recently renovated, Pacifico offers a slightly smaller version of Kapuri on the Pacific. A bit of a rockier beach, this is not as good for swimming, but a smaller and more intimate club with a little less action, if you like that. One again, water sport rentals and an amazing beach view pool are also on offer as well as a great menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
PORTA FORTUNA OR SUFI BEACH CLUB – this club opened last year and is the quietest club facing out towards the pier. It does not offer a beach, but rather a beautiful huge infinity pool, high end loungers and sun beds and a sandy beach like “floor.” You can’t get more “chill” than here. If you have teens looking for friends, this might not be the place for you – but you can send them on their way to Kapuri (in their golf cart!) and you can enjoy the solitude and intimacy of Sufi.
GOLF / TENNIS and FITNESS
For many (including my hubby) a trip is not complete without several mornings pulling your hair and exercising your patience out on the golf course. If you love to golf, Punta Mita offers 2 Jack Niklaus designed courses featuring 12 ocean-side holes with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and Banderas Bay. If tennis is your thing, they have you covered with a full tennis club, featuring 10 courts lit for night time play and a small fitness centre offering free weights, cardio equipment and a personal trainer should you want to punish yourself even more!
In addition, Punta Mita has almost 4 miles of running and walking trails throughout, which are nicely shaded in many places making them ideal for a sweet run in hot humid weather.
SO – have I convinced you? Yes – Punta Mita is a magical place – well worth the splurge. At Christmas, Punta Mita can be a little out of reach – but we have been keeping an eye on prices at other times of the year – and there is significant savings should you be a little flexible with your timing. As I look out at the snow (even though it is a surprisingly sunny and warm January day – I can’t help but dream of Punta Mita and the memories we’ve made as a family there.