Lot 4–H, Cond. Maestro Ramal, Carretera Federal 200, km 19.5 Punta de Mita, Nayarit
Opened in 2008 as the second resort in the exclusive mixed-use gated complex north of Puerto Vallarta, the St. Regis Punta Mita offers a less sprawling layout than its nearby competitor, plus its signature St. Regis butler service will appeal to those seeking understated luxury and customized personal service.
Your introduction to the St. Regis Punta Mita unfolds in a welcoming "You've arrived" fashion as your vacation gets started. Upon entry, the property reveals itself in sensuous curves that hug the circular driveway and offer glimpses of ocean vistas. Upon arrival at the lobby and handing car keys to a valet if needed, you're greeted with a chilled facecloth and a welcome drink. There is no bustling luggage scene as is typical in many lobbies. Instead, arrival is a civilized sit-down process seamlessly conducted while you take in the view.
A shimmering reflecting pool flanked by mature palm trees makes a series of steps from the hillside lobby down to one of three infinity pools and the Pacific Ocean. When it's time to head to your room, your dedicated butler will likely be driving the cart and showing you how everything works. He or she will then be on call throughout your stay.
At 22 acres, the St. Regis is less sprawling than the Four Seasons, so you're less likely to see golf carts whizzing around the property apart from checking in and out. Unless your mobility is limited, you can get to where you need to go on foot. This contributes to an atmosphere of appealing hushed elegance. The resort has a long stretch of beach to itself though, with several restaurants, bars, and suites with their own pool facing the ocean past the lawns.
This Punta Mita beach has lovely soft white sand rather than the dark gold sand typically found along the Bahia de Banderas. It is also somewhat rocky and windswept though apart from a section at the very end, so if you're looking for a well–groomed beach you may be disappointed. It looks gorgeous from the hammock or lounge chair though and nature lovers will appreciate proximity to the UNESCO World Biosphere of Las Marietas Islands as well as the opportunity to spot migrating whales and dolphins offshore. There's an activity kiosk where you can rent kayaks or paddleboards to go exploring.
The dining scene is one of the resort highlights. The St. Regis offers a choice of multiple restaurants as well as private in–room dining. The resort's signature restaurant, Carolina, is the only AAA Five Diamond dining experience in Punta de Mita.
At the other end of the scale is the fun and casual Mita Mary Boat Bistro. The bar and kitchen are actually inside the hull of an old blue and white painted boat, with chairs scattered around the sandy beach area so you can get a real toes-in-the-sand experience. Naturally it serves lots of grilled seafood and cocktails that are fun and fruity. It's a popular spot to watch the sun go down and then enjoy conversation with good food under string lights by the ocean.
Two other restaurants have an ocean view from a bit further back. The Sea Breeze Restaurant was under renovation during my visit and will emerge looking brighter and better. It sits above the Beach Club pool and serves all meals when occupancy is high. Next to the resort's family pool is the casual Las Marietas, featuring regional Mexican specialties and excellent breakfasts. There's an indoor dining area that has a greenhouse feel with its glass walls, but even more chairs and tables situated on the lawn that faces the palm trees and sea.
Last, there's an upscale Mexican option for dinner only in the lobby complex and a small vegetarian bar by the beach open during the day. Service was excellent at every outlet during my short stay and the menus are varied enough to keep things interesting for a week-long vacation.
My one quibble with this Marriott property is that they don't seem to be doing much to address sustainability issues apart from a nod to locally sourced ingredients here and there in the restaurants. They are still foisting a dozen single-use water bottles per day (or more) on each guest—at every dining outlet, poolside, and on the beach. There's no place to fill up your own bottle with purified water anywhere on the property to stay hydrated, even at the gym.
The St. Regis has a comparatively smaller kid's scene than the Four Seasons, which many couples traveling without any will view as a plus. This resort appears to draw more of a couples and business crowd. The absence of the rumpus of pint–size clientele contributes to an atmosphere of sedate tranquility in common areas. The family pool is the largest one by far, but you don't give up much else when retreating to the adults-only one: it has a similar ocean view and lounge chair options. Those seeking even more seclusion can retreat to a private poolside cabana (at a hefty additional cost).
Tranquility is also the motto at the large Remede Spa complex, which features traditional treatments as well as locally inspired signature therapies. The spa facilities include nine treatment rooms, a spa suite, plus sauna and steam bath areas with exterior and interior lounges for relaxation. All my tension was gone after some time in those areas and a signature Abhyanga massage with ayurvedic essential oils, complete with plenty of concentrated kneading to loosen muscles and improve circulation.
The recreational options include two Jack Nicklaus golf courses that are known as some of the best in Mexico, only open to Punta Mita residents and guests. You also have access to the Punta Mita tennis center, reached by bike or golf cart. The gym here is excellent, with extensive cardiovascular equipment and weights. The resort often has scheduled activities such as aqua aerobics, yoga, spinning, guided snorkeling, and cooking/bartending classes. Those seeking nightlife or shopping can request a shuttle or taxi into Puerto Vallarta or Bucerias.
The St. Regis Butler service sets this luxury beach resort apart from many others and leads to a lot of business from returning visitors. Butlers greet arriving guests, assist with orientation, unpack suitcases if desired, and assure that room preparations are customized to your satisfaction. Functioning as dedicated personal assistants, they manage an array of guest requests or even run quick errands. Plus, they have fully jumped into the modern age: you can communicate with them when needed via Whatsapp.
The luxurious accommodations include 120 rooms and suites decorated in traditional style, the main category being large deluxe rooms with spacious bathrooms and a sizable furnished balcony. Most of them have an outdoor shower in addition to an indoor one, plus a big soaking tub and double sinks. Rooms feature Saltillo floor tiles, two televisions, a large walk–in closet and cotton bathrobes, and slippers. Padded headboards are behind the very comfortable beds with an array of pillows and there's an armchair with ottoman in addition to a desk. There's a minibar and coffee maker in each room, though you can have the butler bring fresh-brewed coffee or tea in the morning at a designated time.
There are 31 suites if you want to upgrade, in various configurations, and most of these have an ocean view. Suites include a private outdoor plunge pool and/or a whirlpool. Some of the best ones face the ocean directly, including the three-bedroom Presidential Villa with 3,100 square feet of space.
The property's style is Mediterranean–inspired with the Moorish drama of soaring beamed ceilings, archways, and wrought iron infused with European details such as pewter and crystal. Mexican detailing makes an appearance in delicate embroidered linens from Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Wireless high–speed Internet is reliable throughout the property and recent upgrades have made charging outlets more plentiful and accessible.
Despite Punta Mita's many natural and man-made recreational opportunities, ultimately, the area is more about retreat than diversion. Most guests spend their days relaxing at the beach, on their balcony with a view, or at one of the three pools, with an occasional jaunt to play golf or get a spa treatment. All the while, the English-speaking staff at St. Regis Punta Mita ensures that every guest feels like a V.I.P.
Web Address: www.marriott.com
Total Number of Rooms: 130
Rates: $900 to $8,995
Review and photos by editor Timothy Scott.