Peninsula Pleasures

Western Mexico is becoming a hot spot for resort developments aimed at high-end travelers seeking such amenities as championship golf courses and exclusive spas. Los Cabos’ trend of building top-tier hotels, spas and golf courses in resort communities such as Cabo Real and Cabo del Sol is working its way down Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

By: Lori Tenny

Western Mexico is becoming a hot spot for resort developments aimed at high-end travelers seeking such amenities as championship golf courses and exclusive spas. Los Cabos’ trend of building top-tier hotels, spas and golf courses in resort communities such as Cabo Real and Cabo del Sol is working its way down Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

As the Puerto Vallarta area expands its lineup of upscale properties, Punta Mita, a private, gated golf resort community set on a peninsula in the state of Nayarit, is lifting the region’s status as a destination of choice for the discriminating market.

Five Properties

Set on the northern tip of Banderas Bay 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, the development first surfaced in 1999 with the opening of the 140-room Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, featuring a Jack-Nicklaus designed golf course and a spa offering a comprehensive list of unique treatments.

Plans for the 1,500-acre Punta Mita development call for a total of five luxury, boutique-style properties and three championship golf courses, in addition to residential units that will be complemented by additional facilities.

The latest company to sign on to the project is Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which unveiled plans in August to build a 70-room property north of the Four Seasons that will also include residential villas.

Rosewood’s entry will further elevate Punta Mita’s status as a premier resort community in Mexico, according to Brock Squire, owner of the franchise for Coldwell Banker Previews International Punta Mita, the sales agent for the Punta Mita development.

“If the Four Seasons has a target audience of the top 5%, then Rosewood probably has a target audience of the top 2%, and they’ve proven that in Los Cabos with Las Ventanas [al Paraiso],” he said, referring to the company’s 68-suite resort and spa that has become a standout on the Sea of Cortes at the tip of the Baja Peninsula.

The Rosewood Resort at Punta Mita is intended to be a sister property to Las Ventanas al Paraiso, offering the same upscale brand of hospitality in a unique ambience that incorporates the distinctive scenic, ecological and cultural features of the region.

Distinguishing features of the property will include 700-square-foot guest units with fireplaces and plunge pools; an exclusive spa; and a small village with retail stores, a gourmet shop, a delicatessen and a bakery. The property will also have two pools (one for adults and one for children) and three restaurants.

Rosewood plans to break ground on the project in November and open the resort by fall 2004.

Squire said Dine, the Mexican real estate firm that owns and operates Punta Mita, is in negotiations with a Southern California developer for the third property, which will be a 200-suite resort the largest of the development. That deal is expected to close later this year, with the resort scheduled to open in approximately two years. Dine expects the fourth and fifth hotels at Punta Mita to be developed within the next three to four years.

Main Courses

The two additional golf courses at Punta Mita will include another Jack Nicklaus-designed layout, which will commence construction when the 200-suite hotel breaks ground, and a Greg Norman-designed course, which will be developed in conjunction with the fourth hotel.

Squire said that, like the Four Seasons Golf Club Punta Mita, the second course will be a Signature Jack Nicklaus facility, which is the premier level of the three brands Nicklaus attaches to his layouts.

The course at the Four Seasons is a 19-hole facility spread over 200 acres of the peninsula, with eight holes bordering the bay or the ocean. There are ocean views from everywhere on the course, and the trademark feature is the extra 19th hole, which sits on a small offshore island. Duffers access the island via a rocky pathway at low tide or on amphibious golf carts at high tide. Squire said all of the elements of Punta Mita are being developed in an ecologically sensitive manner, and properties are designed to complement the environment.

“It’s very low density. Nothing over two stories or over tree height is allowed anywhere in the project,” he said. “There are 1,500 acres of land in Punta Mita, and the hotels will be a minimum half-mile away from each other. Some will be several miles away.”

According to Squire, Punta Mita sets itself apart from other resort communities in Mexico with distinctive scenery, high-level infrastructure and a variety of recreational pursuits.

“It’s the beauty of the peninsula there are 9.5 miles of coastline at Punta Mita the quality of the infrastructure, which is absolutely top-of-the-line, and the level of activities available for everyone to participate in,” he said.

Family Business

With the new developments, Punta Mita expects the United States to continue to be its main market, Squire said, adding that upscale couples and families, including a number of celebrities, have represented the bulk of business since the Four Seasons debuted in 1999.

“When the Four Seasons opened, they anticipated more couples than families, but what has transpired is that the bar bill is one of the lowest of all of the Four Seasons hotels, which has indicated that it is more of a family resort,” he said.

As a result, the property opened Kids for All Seasons. The complimentary program, aimed at children ages 5 to 12, features indoor and outdoor activities, a welcome gift, milk and cookies at bedtime and child-size robes. “There are a lot of families who come to Punta Mita because of all of the things to do tennis, golf, horseback riding, surfing, sailing, kayaking and deep-sea fishing,” Squire said.

Despite the family appeal, couples will find plenty of privacy, according to Squire.

“There are great little getaways around the project and within the existing [Four Seasons] hotel,” he said.

Aside from the numerous recreational diversions, such as excursions in the nearby Sierra Mountains, Punta Mita also promotes cultural endeavors. In particular, the Cultural Center at the Four Seasons features exhibitions, lectures and tastings focusing on everything from Mexican culinary traditions and tequila to the area’s ecology and Huichol Indian heritage.

For information on Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, call 800-819-5053. Web site: www.fourseasons.com.

For Rosewood Resort at Punta Mita, call 888-ROSEWOOD. Web site: www.rosewoodhotels.com.

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