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A dozen or so people stood quietly on the beach during a brilliant golden sunset. Their eyes weren’t focused on the sky, however. Instead, they watched tiny turtle hatchlings slowly make their way along the sand to the sea. Some babies crawled about in circles, while others headed straight to the water, improving their chances of survival. The sky was free of the seabirds that tend to swoop upon turtles, and the beach was free of light and noise. These turtles had the good fortune to be born at Estrella del Mar, quite possibly the most peaceful resort in Mazatlan.
A three-mile-long beach edges the master-planned compound encompassing an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course, tennis courts, a boutique hotel and private condos and homes. There’s plenty of space for everyone on the 900-acre property in a secluded area just four miles from Mazatlan’s airport. Surrounded by coconut palms, mango groves and lagoons, Estrella del Mar is so private it’s a favorite golf retreat for President Enrique Pena Nieto.
This isn’t your typical Mazatlan escape. Unlike the city’s Zona Dorada — where banana-boat riders, parasailers and sunbathers play beside high-rise hotels — Estrella del Mar lacks motorized water toys and other man-made amusements. Nightclubs are nonexistent. Wild nights are reserved for weddings and private parties, and even those shut down by 11 p.m. Guests wander along the beach at dawn in peaceful solitude, play a round of golf or tennis and chill on the sand or beside the pool throughout the day. For those looking for more action, the many excellent restaurants in downtown Mazatlan’s buzzing Historic Center make the 30-minute trip to town well worth the effort.
The hotel’s swimming pool and sun terrace became my favorite hangout between excursions. Though not elaborate by resort standards — and blessedly music-free — it was perfect for me. There were plenty of lounges, umbrellas and groupings of tables and chairs. Guests gathered around the water at midday and again at sunset, when the hot tub was especially popular.
Recently remodeled, the hotel’s 47 rooms frame a central courtyard and fountains. Facilities include a spa, a library and a fitness center. I had an oceanfront room with balcony, where I sipped my coffee each morning while watching dolphins in the surf and boats far offshore in the open ocean.
A garden terrace outside Los Delfines restaurant was especially nice for breakfasts accompanied with tropical fruits and freshly squeezed juices. Shrimp and fresh fish are the best bets for dinner in the indoor dining room at Los Delfines, where waiters quickly learn their guests’ names and preferences.
A second restaurant, La Paloma, located on an ocean-view terrace at the golf clubhouse, is an idyllic spot to linger over midday margaritas and ceviche. It’s also a good place to mingle with the residents from the property’s villas and condos — and envy their long-term stays.
The Details:Estrella del Marwww.estrelladelmar.com