Nestled on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, alluring Riviera Nayarit is an exciting work-in-progress. By David Pye, March 22, 2010
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit
Stretching more than 300 km along Mexico’s Pacific coastline, Riviera Nayarit is a masterpiece in progress. Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Riviera Nayarit stretches north from the shores of beautiful Banderas Bay to the sands of Playa Novillero, one of the longest stretches of beach in the world.
Along the way, developers are interpreting and integrating their ideas onto a blank canvas of pristine coastline marked by quaint fishing villages, historic ports and seemingly endless beaches.
Just as Riviera Maya emerged as an extension of Cancun’s mass popularity, Riviera Nayarit is a concept derived from the exhaustion of development around Puerto Vallarta. By the 1980s, development began in Nuevo Vallarta, in the adjacent state of Nayarit, just minutes away from Puerto Vallarta. A new hotel association was formed in the 1990s to promote Nuevo Vallarta and, on the wings of the 1999 opening of the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, the elaborate concept of Riviera Nayarit began to take flight.
In just a few short years, the coastline of Banderas Bay has developed at a rapid pace, from the elegance and serenity of Punta Mita to the hotel zone of Nuevo Vallarta. Just 10 minutes from Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Nuevo Vallarta has blossomed into a mature destination featuring 21 hotels and 13,000 rooms, with plenty more to come in the months and years ahead.
The majority of the Nuevo Vallarta properties offer a high-end, all-inclusive experience, including the Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort. The 267-suite property features gourmet dining and a world-class spa and is both a AAA five-diamond property and a certified Five Star Diamond Award property by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.
For its part, Grand Velas resort can also accommodate meetings for up to 500 people.
Meetings and Incentives
As part of a cross-marketing commitment, the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau works closely with the International Convention Center in Puerto Vallarta to promote meetings business, taking advantage of the new facility’s 50,000-sq.-ft. building.
Outside of Nuevo Vallarta’s hotel zone, Riviera Nayarit offers a smorgasbord of choices for every budget and traveller, from chic luxury resorts, to eco-retreats, boutique hotels and quaint B&Bs.
The coastline offers unique experiences, from championship golf and luxurious spas, to whale watching, zipline adventures, surfing, deep-sea fishing and bird watching. Other cultural experiences include an array of international cuisine, local artwork and shopping for indigenous Huichol handicrafts.
For those looking to unwind in the lap of luxury, Riviera Nayarit is developing into a high-density luxury destination, with one of the highest concentrations of luxury brand hotels and resorts in Mexico. The crown jewel of luxury is Punta Mita, a 2,718-acre gated development on a peninsula just north of Puerto Vallarta. Punta Mita is home to both the Four Seasons and St. Regis resorts, bringing world-renowned luxury to a development featuring beautiful white-sand beaches, three spas and gourmet cuisine.
“The groups market is increasingly important to us and we have increased our room allotment and focused our marketing aggressively on that segment since the beginning of the year,” says Andrea Carneiro, director of sales for the Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita. “The perfect size for us is approximately 100 rooms, and we offer a ‘run-of-resort’ option that can include upgrades to Four Seasons private villas and casitas under a single group rate.”
The Four Seasons Resort features 141 rooms, including 32 suites, a 15,472-sq.-ft. Apuane Spa and 7,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space. In addition, the resort manages the operation of two Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses, which have already ranked Punta Mita as the top golf resort destination in North America in 2008, according to Condé Nast Traveler.
The elegant St. Regis Resort features an additional 89 rooms, 31 suites and Remède Spa. Future development planned for Punta Mita includes a Mii amo destination spa, an all-suite La Solana Resort set to open in 2011 and more than 1,000 villas and residences.
In the next four years, Riviera Nayarit will add 30 new hotels, representing an 8-per-cent annual growth rate, compared to 3 per cent for the rest of Mexico.
The projects will add 6,308 new rooms by 2013, including high-end developments in Punta Raza, featuring a Park Hyatt resort, a Grand Hyatt hotel and a Robert Trent Jones championship golf course. The development surge is part of a $1.5-billion government investment that will also feature infrastructure improvements, including a new four-lane highway, a new airport, a 400-slip marina, a new water treatment plant and residential developments.
— David Pye is a Montreal-based freelance writer.