Km. 83 Carretera Federal #200, Quemaro, Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico
Travelers in search of space and secure seclusion by the ocean will be seduced by this stylish, colorful resort hideaway that attracts Hollywood's hottest and those who arrive in their own plane.
While you may not arrive at Las Alamandas like the multi–millionaires do (via the resort's private landing strip), you'll appreciate the same remote splendor and personalized service offered at one of Mexico's most exclusive destinations. You can hire car service for the roughly two–hour trip from either Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo, but adventurous types may choose instead to drive a rental car, with the last stretch along dirt roads that require dodging stray dogs and "free range" chickens. Once inside the guarded gates though, you'll discover a spectacular oasis situated on over 1,500 acres of lush gardens and pristine shoreline.
Las Alamandas is a thoroughly Mexican hideaway with rustic, romantic elegance that is hard to top elsewhere in the country. This self–proclaimed "Paradise Found" is the creation of Isabel Goldsmith, granddaughter of Bolivian tin king Antenor Patino. The resort's exclusive reputation has made it a favorite haven among royalty, supermodels, and celebs.
The expansive grounds include four stunning beaches, lush gardens, a lake, and river. Seven villas and a four–suite house clustered around a central plaza contain 16 comfortably sized rooms decorated with Oaxacan pottery, embroidered fabrics and custom talavera tile, all accented in a vibrant array of pinks, yellows, and reds. Villas facing the ocean have the most dramatic views, though the ones set back a bit offer more privacy on their rooftop terraces. But with an occupancy capped at 42, this discreet seaside retreat offers a secluded Latin American atmosphere for everyone. It's so secluded, in fact, that workaholics should tie up all loose ends before going on vacation—it's fitting that the hotel marketing materials say more about the landing strip specifications than about Wi–Fi (it's only available in the recreation lounge) and there are no outside telephone lines from the rooms.
If you must stay connected to the outside world, TVs are now installed in the rooms and DVD players are available, but movies look better on the large screen in the public cinema room. The Presidential Suite boasts the best ocean view and is the most versatile of the distinctive villas: it sleeps six, but can be divided into a studio and a presidential suite. It has its own large rectangular plunge pool with a view of the waves. The next categories facing the water are the Ocean Front Suite with more than 1,000 square feet and a whirlpool tub, or the two-bedroom Ocean Front Master Suite with twice as much space. With the two-level villas, the lower unit features an outdoor whirlpool and the upper has a private roof terrace.
The resort went through a major renovation in 2012, adding more suites and upgrading all of the existing ones with new furniture, linens, and private whirlpools. Newly constructed and revamped ones have double showers and walk-in closets. The suites and villas are so distinctive—all making great use of Mexican handicrafts and textiles—that it's best to browse around the website or call for guidance to choose the best option. Unless you're just going to go for the best or you're the bride to be. Then go for the expansive presidential suite pictured immediately above.
Las Alamandas prides itself on privacy, but the paparazzi are obviously in the know, considering the roster of A–list celebrities that have visited over the years: Nicholas Cage, Sting, Jennifer Aniston, John Travolta, Brad Pitt, and DeNiro, who once rented the whole place out for a holiday break. Plus a few billionaires from the other side of the globe that have arrived by yacht.
If you want to stay active doing something other than celeb–spotting (on the grounds or in the cinema room), there's plenty to keep you occupied exploring the area. You'll find a single tennis court, boogie boarding, kayaking, mountain biking, yoga, horseback riding, and boat excursions to keep you busy. Staffers will give you a tour of the grounds by ATV. But it's perfectly acceptable (and suggested) to pass on diversions in favor of poolside lounging under the shade of a thatched palapa.
The on–site meal plan is a smart choice too, given the seclusion, but the food, served on colorful Mexican pottery, sometimes takes a back seat to the stunning vistas. Everything is fresh, including plenty of seafood options and produce grown on the resort's own organic farm. Meals are offered at a six–table ocean view terrace, at your own private villa or at the Oasis dining room in the main building.
Originally this resort was more rustic and playful than luxurious, but each revamp has upped the upscale amenities and now the bright design is backed up by plenty of pampering. Few other resorts, however, can match Las Alamandas' spacious landscapes, a true sense of place, artistic vision, and personal service. Staff members will bring you a cocktail no matter where you may be relaxing on the grounds, they'll arrange special romantic dinners on a distant promontory, and point out the calmest waters along the breathtaking beachfront. For no extra change, they will even post guards to block off access to your own private beach (one of four), for couples or families in search of true seclusion by the sea. You'll receive stellar custom service while enjoying the simple pleasures of your own near-private paradise with close to a 5-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio. If your timing is right, you may even get a Hollywood star's autograph on a bar napkin or a photo with the latest supermodel doing a magazine cover shoot.
Web Address: www.alamandas.com
Total Number of Rooms: 16 rooms in eight villas
Published rates: $342 to $2,399
Review and photos by Timothy Scott