Luxury Properties Are Reshaping the Hotel Scene in Riviera Nayarit

W Punta de Mita

Luxury properties continue to shape the hotel scene on the Riviera Nayarit.

W Punta de Mita opened in November of 2016, and is making its own mark in a segment that already has some heavy-hitters.

The focus of the 119-room W Hotels property is design. Inspiration comes from the local Huichol people and the surf culture prevalent in the Banderas Bay and town of Sayulita. Quirky touches include surfboard headboards and a giant Huichol-inspired mosaic walkway.

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Food and beverage offerings include Spice Market and Chevycheria, a converted 1950’s Chevrolet truck dispensing signature ceviche and craft libations. Mesa 1 is a private table on a man-made lake, open for one daily seating.

“Mesa Uno is a completely customized dining experience,” general manager Brian Segrave tells Travel Agent. "It’s set on a small island that faces west. You have beautiful sunsets and a unique menu. It’s become extremely popular. Guests come back and rebook it."

Guests loyal to the W Hotels brand in general are forming a strong client base for the Punta de Mita outpost.

W Punta de Mita

W Punta de Mita "Living Room"

“We have amazing properties in the Maldives, Bali and Koh Samui. Guests who are familiar with those locations are thrilled to see that we are open here. It’s a destination they can get to a lot easier. They can do a three or four-day trip here,” he says.

Additional features of W Punta de Mita include a 4,000 square-foot AWAY Spa.

“The spa is aligned next to the jungle area, almost enveloped in it," Segrave says. We’ve developed some customized treatments inspired by the local culture.

Surfing is at the core of the Riviera Nayarit region that surrounds the W Punta de Mita. The property’s Wave Surf Shop offers surf lessons, snorkeling and diving trips.

“We’re on a beautiful sandy beach that’s been known for years as a superb surfing location," he says. "Right in front of the W are some of best waves you can catch in all of Mexico. The beach break splits, one side is for beginners, another is for more advanced surfers. You can go out as a beginner. Our guys will get you vertical on a surfboard." 

The property is twenty minutes from the art and surfing colony of Sayulita. The town’s small galleries, handicraft shops and open-air dining attract guests for day trips. 

“Having worked in Mexico City and now Nayarit, I can say that it’s very different. This part of Mexico is a lot more relaxed. What I didn’t know until I got here is how spectacular it is. This part of the world has so much to offer the visitor, with its beaches, surfing and hideaways,” Segrave says.

Indeed. The Riviera Nayarit’s two hundred miles of beach serve as a backdrop for a myriad of activities. Attractions include deep sea fishing; golfing on world-class courses; hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains; horseback riding excursions as well as surf and standup paddleboard lessons.

From December through April, baby whales cavort in Banderas Bay. Baby turtle rescues take place in November. And throughout the year, visitors can take small motorboat tours into the mangroves to see the birds and crocodiles at La Tovara Park.

“In ten years, [Riviera Nayarit] evolved from an extension of Puerto Vallarta to a destination of distinction," Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau tells Travel Agent. "Only the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita received a AAA Five Diamond rating before 2007, but now the destination has four AAA Five Diamond hotels, 11 AAA Four Diamond hotels, one AAA Five Diamond restaurant and six AAA Four Diamond restaurants." 

W Punta de Mita

W Punta de Mita guestroom

In addition to the accolades, variety is a key ingredient to success in the luxury market these days.

“Look at our guest demographic," Segrave says. "It’s the super-luxury segment. We already have the internationally-branded players such as Four Seasons and St. Regis here. And W now has a heightened awareness of where we sit in that segment. What we do is color outside the lines. We’re more into the current lifestyle focus on design, fashion and music. Our guests have a certain affinity to those sort of things, versus the more classical brands of hospitality.” 

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts is another company bringing its brand appeal to the region. Rosewood Mandarina will open on the Riviera Nayarit in 2019. It joins a lineup in Mexico that already includes Rosewood Mayakoba, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, and the recently opened Rosewood Puebla.

Rosewood Mandarina will offer 130 guestrooms, suites and villas with mountain and ocean views. Plans call for three restaurants and bars, three pools, a fitness center and spa with 10 treatment rooms in addition to event space. 

Like the W Punta de Mita, the new Rosewood will draw heavily on Huichol influences.

“The announcement of Rosewood Mandarina further underlines the brand’s commitment to expanding its presence in Mexico,” Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, tells us. "Rosewood Mandarina will transport travelers to a piece of Mexico that has remained largely untouched, and we look forward to helping guests discover the region. With an integral focus on the elements, Mandarina will be the perfect destination for travelers who are seeking to connect with nature."

Celebrating its tenth year, the Riviera Nayarit is clearly in development mode. But, its relative small scale remains a top selling point.

“When you look at the volume going into Riviera Maya and the Yucatan, it’s [a] huge [difference]. This part of the world is nothing like that. It’s a more bespoke experience,” Segrave says.

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