After the last two years of turmoil, who wouldn’t benefit from some time removed from the cares of the world? Right now, one of the best places to escape is Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, the 200-mile-long stretch of Pacific coast that extends north of Puerto Vallarta. Here, the Sierra Madre Mountains meet the sea in a series of hills and bluffs topped with tropical dry forest and fringed with golden sandy beaches. Such is the beauty of the coast that on my recent trip I sometimes failed even to pick up a book from my lap, meditating instead on the waves and the scenery.
It has been more than a decade since our last anonymous editorial visit to the Riviera Nayarit, and since then, several properties have opened to compete with our longtime recommendations: the 177-room Four Seasons Punta Mita and the eight-room Casa de Mita. Foremost among them is the new One&Only Mandarina, a 105-villa resort about 90 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport.
A ceremonial gong announced our arrival. Flutes of sparkling wine in hand, we completed check-in formalities in the reception pavilion and met our butler, Alejandro. He drove us to our accommodations in a golf cart. It turned out that a cart was necessary to go just about anywhere. Each accommodation is stand-alone, spread out along a network of roads and partially concealed by forest. The steep topography requires guests to follow a winding route to any point of interest. We took one look at the resort map and resigned ourselves to a few days of being chauffeured.