By Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer

On a golf vacation at the new St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Mexico, you get Punta Mita Golf Club’s two great Jack Nicklaus golf courses, fine dining, plenty of pampering and killer sunsets.
PUNTA DE MITA, Nayarit, Mexico – They don’t just give you the key to your room at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort on the Riviera Nayarit.

After you sit down with your personal check-in clerk (the process resembles an interview) at this Starwood resort, you are escorted away to your room by your personal butler. After this person lets you into your room, he explains the seemingly never-ending list of amenities.

For example, there are two flat screen TVs (one is in the bathroom), two showers (one is outdoors), a surround-sound system, desk with Internet hook-up, bath robes and slippers (of course), and a room with a view of the Pacific Ocean you can’t believe until you actually see it.

Then your personal butler, a trademark of the St. Regis brands, asks, “Can I unpack for you?”

Undoubtedly, some guests, who are used to such pampering, reply “yes” or the butler wouldn’t ask this question. For the rest of us, we are only left to ponder how the other half lives, which is exactly what the folks at Starwood Hotels & Resorts have in mind when they open these luxurious resorts.

Here, they let you know upfront that laundry service is available and encouraged. Reservations are recommended for the evening restaurants. And the spa – well that’s no ordinary spa, if there is such a thing.

If you need anything, you don’t call the front desk or the concierge, you call your butler, then he or she routs your request to the right person if need be. Somehow, though it isn’t true, you keep thinking your butler is waiting right outside your door all night. And for some guests, that’s just what they would expect.
St. Regis Punta Mita: Service, food and scenery at a higher level
Opened in November 2008, the St. Regis Punta Mitais a direct competitor with the Four Seasons Punta Mita just down the road. The design for the St. Regis combines style elements from France and Mexico, making use of natural materials, including Mexican Galarza stone, river stone, marble, onyx, wood and clay combined with European furnishings.

The resort also features the work of renowned Mexican artists, including murals by Tatiana Montoya, who combines her modern style with local history like the fishing heritage of Punta Mita.

Guests of both properties have access to the private 36-hole Punta Mita Golf Club, which offers two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses — the Bahia Course and the Pacifico Course — perched on the Pacific Ocean just above Banderas Bay, about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta.

The clubhouse to the Punta Mita Golf Club is actually within a couple of minutes walking distance of the St. Regis, but they will offer you a ride nonetheless.

After you get done playing golf at either the new Bahia or the original Pacifico – both with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean – there are a number of relaxing activities for you waiting at the St. Regis.

My favorite was free, in a manner of speaking: watching the sunset from anywhere on this 22-acre resort. Whether you are by the pool or watching the sunset from the private beach, the sunsets are stunning, even with some cloud cover. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the blue whales who come to Banderas Bay to breed. Sometimes the males can put on quite a show, splashing about for superiority, trying to impress potential mates.

There are three large infinity pools on the property. (Infinity pools don’t appear to have edges because they spill over into a secondary catch basin below.) If that’s not private enough, there are cabanas for rent at the adult pool.

There are also tennis courts available at the golf club, a gym with an indoor studio, weights and cardiovascular equipment, and an outdoor area for yoga and Pilates. You can even hire a personal trainer if you want.

For the ultimate rejuvenating experience, though, there’s the 10,000-square-foot Remède Spa. There you’ll find nine treatment rooms — two of them for couples. There’s also a deluxe spa suite, which includes a couples room and private Jacuzzi. You can even rent your own cabana in the spa, where you can receive a variety of beauty treatments, including various massage treatments.

The Remède Spa also has separate Jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath areas for both men and women, luxurious locker-room facilities and a spa boutique with all the Remède products available. Samples of these products are included with the guest-room experience.

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St. Regis Punta Mita Resort: Restaurants and bars
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort offers three restaurants on the property, which range from casual and stylish to a little more formal. There’s also a “chic” lobby bar called Altamira. And you can view the heavens at night through a high-powered telescope with a little help from the resident expert.

For breakfast and lunch, there’s Las Marietas, which serves authentic Mexican food in a casual atmosphere under a Papago overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The Sea Breeze Club, which overlooks the beach, offers an eclectic menu that features California fare in a relaxed open environment. Here you can get Black Angus steaks, the catch of the day or large, original salads, including the Caesar’s salad that comes with calamari.

And then for a little more formal experience, there’s the resort’s signature restaurant, Carolina, which is located in the main building. It, too, has great views of the ocean and the rest of the resort with a bar and outdoor terrace. Here you can get seafood that highlights a mosaic of Mediterranean culinary styles fused with local flavors.

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St. Regis Punta Mita Resort: The verdict
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is one of those places you stay at and afterwards ask yourself, “What else is there?”

Here, the staff members see to all your needs, whether you want them to or not. It’s on a piece of property that almost seems too good to be seen only by a few, but alas, that’s the way of the world.

Nothing has been left to chance. Private entrances with impeccable landscaping and gardening create a feeling of seclusion. When you first arrive, it’s easy to get lost, despite the fact that there are just 120 guestrooms and suites (including the luxurious, three-bedroom Presidential Suite). The resort could be full, yet you’d feel like you’re there almost by yourself.

Yes, this is where the stars in entertainment, sports and business go to relax. It’s pretty much the ultimate getaway if you’ve got a little time and money to spend.

Getting there and what’s nearby
The resort is 50 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport to the south in Puerto Vallarta. Several major U.S. carriers, as well as Aero Mexico, provide nonstop service from cities such as Miami, Houston, Dallas, New York and Chicago.

While the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is a vacation all on its own, you can find great shopping and dining in Puerto Vallarta as well as the nearby villages of San Francisco (San Pancho) and Sayulita in Nayarit.

In San Pancho, you’ll find unspoiled beaches, great oceanside dining and local artists selling some really unique pieces. Sayulita is the place you want to go if you surf or would like to take up surfing. It’s also a good launching pad for fishing, if you’re so inclined.

For me, golf and sunsets were plenty.

March 10, 2009

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf west of the Mississippi, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 15 years in the golf industry. Before joining the WorldGolf.com team in 2008, he held positions at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine.


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