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Though partially shrouded by dark-gray clouds, the October sky was also streaked with gold and tangerine hues. The magnificent sunset cast a soft glow on the white sand below — including spotlights on 60 baby turtles clumsily scrambling toward the waves lapping against Las Cuevas Beach in Punta Mita, Mexico.
Offered seasonally, the sea turtle release program at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita seeks to stabilize the population of Olive Ridley species largely found on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, including at the resort’s Banderas Bay location.
Enrique Alejos, the property’s on-site cultural concierge, had explained to our group that the turtles — clocking in at 8 hours old, as they were born that morning in the resort’s hatchery — would grow up to 3 feet and 100 pounds, and would return to the same beach in 15 years to lay their own eggs. By supporting the state-regulated program (about $45 per person), guests are protecting these precious eggs from threats such as poachers, marine pollution and natural predators.
According to Alejos, once the baby turtles are released, they instinctively follow the sunlight to the ocean. With a rush of parental love, my partner, Ben, and I shouted words of encouragement — “Slow and steady wins the race!” — to the turtles that hesitated in their journey. When the coast was finally clear, we all cheered, feeling grateful to have played a small part in the hotel’s conservation efforts.
The experience was special — so much so that Ben and I vowed we would return to Four Seasons Punta Mita 15 years to the day, with our own little ones in tow, to throw a homecoming fiesta for the turtles we had released. Indeed, despite checking into the five-star hotel only a couple hours earlier, we were already planning a future trip.
2019 will mark two decades of exceptional stays for the 400-acre resort, and its ongoing renovation is projected to be complete by the year’s end. (A revamp of the guestrooms will begin in the coming months and will be contained to one building at a time.) During our stay, construction was well underway for the new, upscale Dos Catrinas concept that will replace former signature restaurant Ketsi. Set to open by mid-January, the two-story venue will serve elevated Mexican cuisine and span a dining area, a lounge space and two bars.
In the meantime, guests have plenty of other dining options to enjoy, from a pop-up taco stand at the stunning infinity-edge Nuna pool to the all-day, beachfront Bahia by Richard Sandoval restaurant that touts a seafood-forward menu. Though we came to Mexico with every intention of upholding a tacos-and-guacamole-only diet, we were pleasantly surprised to discover Aramara.
The dinner venue serves Asian cuisine with local influences, and it quickly became our favorite restaurant on property. Highlights included an enoki mushroom and carrot salad accompanied by a New York strip steak that we cooked at the table on a piping-hot rock; lobster udon in a yellow curry broth with yuzu oil and Asian herbs; and Mexican sangria, which contained large ice cubes ingeniously made of wine.
Tequila was another expectation for our Mexico vacation — one that was undeniably met, thanks to Four Seasons Punta Mita’s tequila-blending experience. Cultural concierge Alejos leads the two-hour program (about $158 per person) and impresses attendees with his in-depth knowledge of the 50 aromas that reveal “the whole enchilada” of tequila. After tasting from five different barrels, we blended our own concoction to take home, replete with a chic bottle sealed shut by red wax.
Even my superb massage at the resort’s Apuane Spa — which was renovated in January 2017 — featured tequila. Paying homage to Mexico’s ancestral use of tequila in medicine, the Punta Mita Tequila Stone treatment mixes the spirit with sage oil for tension relief. Meanwhile, Ben opted for the Hakali treatment, which takes the healing properties of nopal, or cactus, to calm and rejuvenate the body.
But if tequila — or massages — aren’t exactly a client’s cup of tea, there’s still plenty to do at the resort. Teens, for one, will be thrilled to find a new space to call their own: The Container. Guests must be 13 to 19 years old to enter the colorful indoor-outdoor area, which features video games, virtual reality, air hockey, foosball, pingpong, dodgeball, basketball and more — all offered complimentary. Meanwhile, younger kids can take advantage of the Kids For All Seasons program’s supervised playroom, outdoor playground and wide array of activities.
A lazy river, sandwiched between jungle-like foliage, welcomes guests of all ages, while the resort’s third and final pool destination is adults-only. Called Tamai, the secluded and stylish space consists of two main pools, two plunge pools, a whirlpool, private cabanas and a full bar that offers a food menu with everything from sushi and caviar to paninis and empanadas.
And if guests are up for the challenge, they can participate in the resort’s AquaForza fitness activity here or at the main Nuna pool (location depends on group size). Ben and I rose out of bed early to tackle the hourlong high-intensity interval training class atop boards floating in the water — an effort we rewarded with ample indulgence in the subsequent days.
With so much packed into a weekend stay at Four Seasons Punta Mita, retreating to a comfortable and peaceful guestroom each night (and for sun-and-cerveza-induced cat naps) was essential. Thirty-one suites and 177 casita-style guestrooms comprise the resort; each features a marble bathroom with a soaking tub and a separate shower, and a private terrace or balcony.
Our 645-square-foot Casita Room served as prime real estate for catching the sunrise or sunset over the Pacific Ocean, and it was perfectly sized for the two of us. But in 15 years, the long-awaited return of our hard-shelled friends, along with our own expanded family, will be cause for celebration — and a fine excuse to spring for a suite. The DetailsFour Seasons Resort Punta Mitawww.fourseasons.com/puntamita