In tourism terms, Riviera Nayarit has been an overnight sensation

By: Laura Del Rosso
Travel Weekly
November 04, 2009

Just two years into a marketing and branding campaign, the Riviera Nayarit has made great strides in familiarizing travel agents with the 192-mile stretch of Pacific coastline in the state of Nayarit just north of Puerto Vallarta.

And it’s been done without the boost of a star-studded Hollywood movie, such as “The Night of the Iguana,” which catapulted Puerto Vallarta into fame in the early 1960s.

“Seventy-two percent of travel agents in the U.S. know Riviera Nayarit,” said Richard Zarkin, spokesman for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They are saying that in three years we’ve built the kind of brand that took Puerto Vallarta 15 years to build.”

The area includes Nuevo Vallarta, Flamingos, Bucerias, Punta Mita (home of luxury resorts Four Seasons, St. Regis), Litibu, Sayulita and a string of small towns along a lovely coast of rocky coves and mangroves to the northern border it shares with the state of Sinaloa.

The area is already attracting a growing percentage of passengers who fly into Puerto Vallarta airport, Zarkin said; at last count, 62% of those flyers make their way to the Riviera Nayarit. Although the economic recession put the brakes on development (some resorts closed for a couple of months this year, and construction has been delayed on others), there are openings scheduled.

Among them is a soft opening in December for the all-inclusive Marival Residences and World Spa in Nuevo Vallarta, which will have 171 suites ranging from one to four bedrooms.

Development plans call for 6,308 more rooms — in hotels, condominiums or other types of vacation home ownership models — to be built by 2013.

In 2008, the St. Regis Punta Mita, Dreams Villa Magna and the Riu Palace Pacifico opened along the Riviera Nayarit.