After my stop in Los Angeles, it was back on the plane to Puerto Vallarta to check out the new St. Regis Punta Mita and the towns farther north. I was last in PV for my Condé Nast Traveler piece on surfing and driving Highway 200 along the West Coast of Mexico; I love this part of the Pacific coastline, with its mix of high-end and rustic accommodations, rugged mountains and beaches, and the fishing villages that are slowly being discovered.
The Punta Mita development is one of the most rarefied of the enclaves here and can sometimes feel too much like a manicured gated community if you really want to experience Mexican culture. Nonethless, the St. Regis is a beautiful addition (the other hotel here is the Four Seasons, which is also great but not as intimate). The villas are comfortable and spacious–most have views of the ocean–the food is fresh and unfussy, and the Remede spa is exquisite (the waiting area is a huge palapa within a courtyard of pools). Best of all, because of the way the resort is positioned between two rocky headlands, you feel like you are on a private beach with no neighbors. If you need a break in the sun with a gorgeous view and a good dose of luxury, I can think of few better spots (and you’ll get the bragging rights of getting there soon after it opened).
Afterwards I headed to San Francisco, which locals refer to as San Pancho. As I wrote in my article, I went to Sayulita about ten years ago for an all-women surf camp and I fell for the off-the-radar charming appeal of the place. Now, though, I find everyone has discovered what was once my little slice of solitude; San Pancho has replaced it in my affections. There are some stylish restaurants like Mar Plata, which was a Condé Nast Traveler 2007 Hot Table, and cute hotels like Cielo Rojo, but it doesn’t feel too slick. I like my Mexican towns a little dusty and romantic, not too touristy, and situated alongside a gorgeous beach. San Pancho fits the bill.