RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO - This magical Pacific Coast retreat continues to draw famous faces in search of sun and surf, beguiled by some of Mexico’s most visually stirring settings. Little wonder so many Instagram-loving stars - Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez, Joe Jonas, Kendra Wilkinson and the Kardashian clan - do their fair share of holidaying on these shores.
A breezy drive north of Puerto Vallarta, spanning 380 kilometres along the Pacific Ocean, the region offers lively beaches and charming surf towns. It’s becoming a staple for Hollywood based A-listers, an alternative to the Cabo San Lucas party scene and luring a more laid back crowd than Cancun.
You don’t have to be a rock star to be treated like royalty at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Staff here treat every guest as if they were William and Kate on a beach break. This AAA Five Diamond property sees return clientele year- after-year, flocking back for the consummate service and sprawling, residential style suites. Long time devotees build camaraderie with the Velas team, giving the three-tiered infinity pool a block party feel come sunset. As this destination is all about saltwater, you’ll need at least three swimsuits - a sporty one for sailing, a stay-put number for swimming, and a barely there style for sunbathing.
Left: The stunning pool is for romantics only! Right: The beach scene here is amazing!
If you’re more the don’t-make-me-lift-a-finger-type, find your sweet spot at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit’s brand new Wellness Suites. Housekeeping keeps everything spotless and every savoury and sweet nibble is included in your rate - from your in-suite fridge to all meals on property. Designed for travellers seeking an all-encompassing wellness retreat, these 12 new suites debuted just this past December to much fanfare.
Upon arrival to the two storey, 1750 sq. ft. suite, a personal Spa Concierge briefs you on a bevy of locally inspired spa treatments and health offerings. She customizes your in-suite fitness amenity options, which can include anything from a yoga mat, kettle bells, resistance bands to a Recumbent Lifecycle Exercise Bike. The most strenuous part of check in? Choosing between cactus and amaranth from the indigenous soap menu.
The wow effect comes when you are whisked to the upper terrace of the suite; catch your breath upon taking in drool-worthy views of Banderas Bay. A rhythmic massage accented with natural oceanic sounds on your penthouse patio, ah bliss. Nothing is sweeter than bedtime in this suite - the bedside Alchimia Apothecary Aromatherapy Kit is a gateway to total nocturnal relaxation. Your California king is dressed in top-of-class Nikken Kenko bedding to boot.
Left: Kids are welcome guests at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Middle: Spa treatment at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit are simply the best in Mexico. Right: The food relies heavily on area ingredients and techniques.
Built by Eduardo Vela Ruiz, founder and president of Velas Resorts, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit has won multiple awards from Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure. Accolades are due to the dining here, a departure from the all-inclusive model of bog standard buffet fare. The resort offers exquisite fare across three signature restaurants celebrating world cuisine. The standout is Frida, named for one of Mexico's most loved artists, Frida Kahlo. Dishes evoke the deep roots of Mexican heritage. From fire-roasted salmon al pastor to duck breast marinated in local honey, this is gourmet á la carte at its best. Piaf is another strong offering, serving classic French cuisine with an innovative twist: think Bourguignon escargots and grilled rib eye marinated in smoke oil. In the mood for soulful Mediterranean? Lucca’s sea bass with Sicilian crust will satisfy your craving. The Romanesque design of this restaurant is ideal for amorous dinners with perfectly paired wines.
Executive Chef Claudio Hotter may have his legion of fans, but one of the biggest draws to the resort in recent years is a man known more for sequins than ceviche. Three time World dance Champion Louis van Amstel has been thrilling fitness buffs with his LaBlast dance fitness retreats. Van Amstel, the CEO of LaBlast, brings his signature mojo to the morning sessions, a thrill to fans of his nine stunning seasons on “Dancing with the Stars” paired with the likes of Kelly Osbourne, Lisa Rinna, and Priscilla Presley. Based on dances seen on ‘Dancing with the Stars’, LaBlast has been a total hit stateside. You don’t need any experience to join in on the fun; this genre-defying workout samples inspirational musicians from every era.
Left: The resort offers lots of fine dining options. Right: The resort's spa promotes relaxation.
While working your Mamba is certainly one option, Riviera Nayarit’s ravishing, unspooling coastline is also a beacon to privacy seeking pairs. Canoodling couples like Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler basked in sweet solitude while Leighton Meester and Adam Brody took in the sights and sounds of Sayulita. If romance is on your mind, Casa Vela is an adults only haven offering a more intimate scale than sister resort Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Nestled in a posh golf community with a La Jolla feel, this 80-room hotel is a statement in quiet luxury. Each hacienda-style suite is adorned with vivid Mexican textiles and sculptures, offering private patios and plunge pools.
There’s such an effortless, carefree way of life here. High marks for linen shirts, minus points for mobile phones at dinner. Leave status handbags at home – a basket is much more chic. Should you need a clutch, the resort has a Handbag Bar where, for no extra fee, guests may borrow one of 20 featured purses, from designers like Carolina Herrera, Michael Kors and Adolfo Domínguez. Need chandelier earrings for a last minute black tie invitation? Casa Vela’s Rent a Rock program allows guests to borrow exquisite pieces of jewelry. A vacation is an opportunity to reinvent yourself; stepping away from the daily grind. If a golf and spa getaway with zero kids club temper tantrums in sight is your idea of heaven, Casa Velas is waiting.