Riviera Nayarit’s Hamara Retreat is a yoga-oriented property with no electricity. // © 2014 Haramara Retreat
Feature image (above): The adults-only, 80-room Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta is designed to resemble a Spanish hacienda.// © 2014 Casa Velas
It is common knowledge that Mexico has plenty of beautiful, big-box, brand name resort hotels. But not every traveler wants to super-size their vacation, and Mexico also excels when it comes to smaller properties with lots of style and personality.
Here are a few of the best boutique-style properties on the beaches of Mexico.
Casa Velas, Puerto Vallarta
Casa Velas, an 80-room property in Puerto Vallarta, is an adults-only getaway designed to evoke a Spanish hacienda. Golfers will love its location on the greens of Marina Vallarta’s 18-hole golf course. The hotel also has a spa, an AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurant and its own sequestered ocean club; some rooms have private pools and Jacuzzis. Among the most unique offerings at Casa Velas is the handbag bar, which provides female travelers with a “loaner” designer handbag at no extra charge.
Esencia, Playa del Carmen
Set on 50 acres, the 29-room Esencia is set on what was once the private holiday retreat of an Italian duchess. Now a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Esencia still exudes the feel of a private oasis, with cottages and suites that include private pools, as well as a small spa that offers treatments with traditional herbs. The restaurant, Sal y Fuego, serves contemporary cuisine with Mexican flair, often using traditional Mesoamerican cooking methods that include simmering food in banana leaves beneath the earth.
Grupo Habita, Acapulco and Playa del Carmen
Grupo Habita, Mexico City’s stylish leader in boutique concepts, has several properties along prime spots of coastline. In Acapulco, Boca Chica offers a healthy dose of retro-chic, with 36 guestrooms decorated with both current and vintage furnishings, plus large hammocks. The property is steps from popular La Caleta Beach — although the casual-chic bar and pool area are so good that you may never head toward the sand. In Playa del Carmen, Grupo Habita is represented by Deseo [Hotel + Lounge], which has a popular lounge area set on a raised, open-air platform. Guestrooms are equipped with their own beach kits.
Haramara Retreat, Riviera Nayarit
Spread across 12 acres in the Riviera Nayarit’s Sierra Madre foothills, Haramara Retreat is a yoga-oriented resort that offers classes, along with accommodations, in secluded cabanas with open-air showers. Handcrafted yoga “shalas” are designed to allow visitors to relax as they enjoy the views, while the open-air “jungle spa” and dining room were also created to make the most of the region’s natural beauty. With no electricity used at the property, it’s an ideal place to reconnect with nature.
Hotel Cacao, Playa del Carmen
One of Mexico’s newest boutique beach hotels, the 60-room Hotel Cacao in Playa del Carmen describes its style as “hippie chic,” with contemporary decor and a rooftop bar.
Hotel La Semilla, Playa del Carmen
A member of Design Hotels group, the nine-room Hotel La Semilla in Playa del Carmen features vintage Mexican furniture and unique decorative finds from flea markets and other sources. A garden, terrace and open-concept kitchen round out the offerings.
La Casa Que Canta, Zihuatanejo
This 25-room La Casa Que Canta, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has suites with balconies and 180-degree views of the bay. Guests are never far from a beautiful waterfront view, whether relaxing in the saltwater or infinity pool, or savoring modern Mexican cuisine and fresh seafood at Mar y Cielo restaurant.
Papaya Playa Project, Tulum
Thatch-roofed cabanas, casitas with private terraces, holistic activities and an array of international guest DJs help set the decidedly hip-but-natural tone at Papaya Playa Project. The property is the result of a partnership between Emilio Heredia, owner of the Papaya Playa Beach Bungalow Resort, and Design Hotels. A peaceful resort with an urban touch, the property features an amphitheater on the beach where guests participate in stage presentations of fashion, music and lectures. There are also classes in yoga, tai chi and meditation.
Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, Isla Mujeres
While AMResorts is best known for its portfolio of celebrated, large all-inclusive properties, the company’s portfolio also includes several smaller-scale hotels within the Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts brand. The newest is the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres, a 35-room property that offers private yacht transfers from Cancun and an ocean view.