Imanta is surrounded by jungle and ocean. // © 2012 Imanta Resorts
A narrow bumpy road through the secluded jungle, with picture signs warning of turtle and crab crossings, hints at what awaits at Imanta Resort. Arriving at a simple stone platform (the “lobby”), clients will be greeted with cold facecloths before they are shown to their room. But these are no ordinary rooms, for Imanta (which opened in late 2010) is no ordinary resort.
A 45-minute drive north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, Imanta hugs the Pacific Ocean on 250 acres of wilderness in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. There are only 10 one-bedroom casas, two three-bedroom casonas and one private treehouse villa over a hill on the far side of the property.
Each was built from stone, hand-cut by more than 50 masons from pink granite found on the property. Stunning in their design, they boast Peruvian hardwood floors, hand-woven palm grass window and door coverings, 15-foot-high ceilings and huge sliding wood doors that open to decks overlooking the turquoise sea and jungle. We loved the feel of our casa being open to the outdoors and drifted off to sleep at night with the doors open, listening to the crashing surf.
Ideal for honeymooners, the six ocean casas have small private infinity pools (four new jungle casas have outdoor showers, but no pools). The casonas, which come with full kitchens and a chef, are more suited for large families or couples vacationing together.
Guests will feel immersed in nature and in utter seclusion and privacy so it’s no wonder that Hollywood celebrities and even royalty have found their way here. That’s not to say that kids won’t be happy; the 65-foot swimming pool attached to the 10,000-square-foot Casona Jaguar will keep them busy, though Dad might gulp at the $5,400 per night price tag. Families and honeymooners alike will benefit from the hotel’s service. Should clients want anything, they simply need to dial 0 and the staff will try to accommodate their request, even if it is to fix a shoe.
Inspired by nature, artsy touches abound such as enormous bathtubs, carved from single pink granite boulders, and tree branches for towel racks. It also feels good to know that Imanta is LEED certified.
Indeed the real splendor of the place isn’t so much in the man-made structures (which, from the sea, resemble a pre-Hispanic temple) but in the natural setting itself. Overhead, almost within touching distance, frigate birds, pelicans and hawks glide by on the wind. Red ginger and hibiscus grow among a lush hilly landscape of palms and tamarind trees as far as the eye can see (Imanta’s property abuts 170,000 acres of the Sierra de Vallejo national biosphere reserve). And uneven stone paths, with tanglewood railings, lead down to a swath of private wild beach.
What to do? Lazing by the beach or the pool in a curtained double daybed tops the list. As do spa treatments — perhaps a hot stone massage under rustling palms? We enjoyed a 90-minute hike through the reserve with a machete-wielding guide, where we saw ancient Aztec baths in granite rocks, a two-foot turquoise iguana and fist-size cavities in the sand, made by land crabs that live in the mountains. The guest experiences manager can also set up other tours such as horseback riding, fishing, kitesurfing, sea kayaking and, in the winter, whale watching. In the summer and the early fall, endangered sea turtles lay their eggs on Imanta’s beach, and clients can help release the baby hatchlings to the sea.
When hunger strikes, Imanta’s two restaurants tempt the taste buds with organic food. For lunch, Imanta’s Catch restaurant on the beach serves freshly caught grilled fish. Clients can sit at a table in the sand under a thatched palapa roof and watch sandpipers skitter along the water’s edge. For dinner at Tukipa, there are no menus; the chef explains what’s available and fresh that evening — maybe lobster or red snapper with lentil ragout. While accommodations are pricey, meal costs are reasonable.
The rooftop Observatorio bar is a romantic spot, complete with daybeds, a small infinity pool, and smashing views across the jungle and Pacific Ocean. From here, clients can sip cayenne-rimmed cucumber margaritas as the sun drops below the horizon.