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El Tamarindo Beach and Golf Resort–Costalegre, Mexico

Carretera Melaque Pto. Vallarta Cihuatlan

[Editor's Note: El Tamarindo Beach and Golf Resort is currently closed. At some point it will open again as a new Four Seasons resort—after a year or two of renovations. Here's what it used to look like.]

After shaking off its former uneasy status as a partial members–only resort, El Tamarindo is now an invigorated luxurious hidden paradise on Mexico's Pacific Coast, an exclusive golf resort where forest and ocean meet.

© Timothy Scott

Nestled within a 2,000 acre–nature preserve that hugs protected tropical waters, Tamarindo offers the best of both worlds––equally stunning beach and forest accommodations. Amid the lush jungle and rocky cliff coastline of this exclusive resort, you'll also find a full service spa offering authentic Mexican pampering, and a championship golf course featuring spectacular fairways lined with towering palms.

In a rarity for this region, traveling to Tamarindo is just as much a treat as being there, thanks to the well–paved roads that lead through the property. This whole complex was formerly part of the Yellowstone Club ownership group, but the resort now operates as an independent hotel. After check–in at the forgettable open–air lobby, you7apos;ll be escorted to one of the private bungalows scattered about the spacious grounds. The villas received a recent upgrade and are filled with new furniture. Each thatched palapa casita has hardwood floors, dual showers and sinks, colorful stucco walls and rustic folklore décor.

© El Tamarindo

The individual plunge pools on each villa's private terrace are a distinctive feature at Tamarindo. Eight beachfront bungalows face crystal blue Tenacatita Bay, each with separate plunges and whirlpools. The Palm Tree Villas are more secluded and the Double Palms include additional space for families, but neither has a full ocean view. The Garden Villas lack ocean views altogether, but have built–in sofas that will sleep two kids. And tucked farther back against a palm–shaded hillside are the 10 Forest villas.

Tamarindo's inviting infinity–edge pool is often ignored in favor of the private villa plunges but the impressive illusion of pool water melding with the Pacific should not be missed. Conveniently located near the palapa bar, it's a perfect spot to sip cocktails and catch the sunset before dinner. Hopefully the pleasant distractions of the al fresco dining and adjacent wine cellar will work wonders to mask the mediocre menu offerings at the main restaurant, La Higuera.

When wining and dining wears you out, relax on the beach or rejuvenate at the on–site spa hut with a massage or Temazcal steam bath treatment. The main beach area at Tamarindo has equipment for kayaking and snorkeling, but you'll need a car (or golf cart) to reach the other two beaches, where there's a better chance you can sunbathe in solitude. The tennis club and seasonal polo grounds are farther away as well. The resort also offers discounts at the golf course, free use of the mountain bikes, and bird observation programs. But if you must choose work over exotic bird–watching, there are public computers off the lobby and wi–fi available in the rooms.

© El Tamarindo

Although Tamarindo does offer modern conveniences like internet access, spa treatments and world–class golf, it excels at blending luxury amenities among natural surroundings, distinguishing itself as a luxury resort with a unique understated elegance. It continues to attract a wealthy clientele (that often arrives by personal yacht or plane), but now it operates as a resort rather than an offshoot of a vacation club for billionaires (which has since gone bankrupt). Indulge in its exquisite beauty and serenity now without a six–figure "vacation ownership" bill attached.

Web Address:
Total Number of Rooms: 29
Published rates: $425 to $5,550

Review by Timothy Scott

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