There are countless incredible resorts along the Mexican Riviera. From ex-pat havens such as Salycita to the familiar St. Regis, 4 Seasons luxury chains etc. Las Alamandas is custom tailored to those who want to get a little further away without sacrificing any creature comforts.
From landing in Puerto Vallarta, one of the resorts drivers – in our case, the affable Ignacio (Nacho to his wife, Edith who works in the resort office) – drives you in one of the resorts Suburbans through the warm welcoming streets of the city, turning finally onto Route 200 – the long single lane road that winds 200km+ to Manzanilla to the south.
The beautiful coast road turns inwards into the hills after 20 minutes and you begin a 90 minute drive. It would be easy to grimace at this (and for the more affluent there is an 18 minute private plane option to the resort’s private landing strip) but for those unfamiliar with the Mexican landscape the trip affords you a ride through 30 minutes of jungle road followed by an hour of scrub highway with a succession of towns and villages (and as night draws in, the chance to peek into homes and kitchens as you pass) with the omnipresent roadside bar/restaurants.
Finally turning onto a dirt track, one winds through a tiny hamlet and just when you’re convinced it’s all been a ruse and they’ll never hear from you again, the dirt turns to patterned cobblestone, the jungle gives way to manicured grass and yellow alamandas flowers and the lights of a courtyard fountain come into view.
An expansive grass lawn bifurcates the property. To the left, the cobblestone road leads to the 7 unique buildings that comprise the 17 units. To the right, a lit arched walkway leads to the resort’s restaurant, office, bar and common area, as well as the pool and main palapa which serves as breakfast, dinner and drinks area.
In front of all is the sweeping bay, thundering from Pacific waves.
Usually ones to unpack first, we would not be separated from a drink and dropping our bags in our room (an expansive space with generous patio) that is a sub unit of the Presidential Suite) we rush to dinner.
The best margarita! Perfect chips, salsa and pico de gallo. And the seafood, caught and delivered from a fishing village a few miles away was spectacularly fresh.
We dined with only one other couple in the restaurant, finding out later there were 4 couples actually present. Typical of off season you really have this place to yourself. We occasionally saw one of the other couples off in the distance but short of a nod and smile, this felt like our private residence! After we left there was only one couple occupying the property all week apparently.
Apart from the enormously warm staff, our only other dinner visitor was a brave Tejon – a type of raccoon – who came begging at the table. Guests are advised not to feed these guys (and to always close patio doors as they’ve learned to open minibars) but we were having none of that and delighted in having him poke his nose onto the table for scraps.
The staff of 85-100 (depending on season) include not only a full compliment of security, maids, waiters and maintenance but also on site painters and carpenters who build many of the unique features of the hotel.
Accompanied by Dorota, the resorts GM we toured the property’s accommodations. Ranging from $370 per night low season for the smallest room ( a delightful 2 bed garden view that overlooked the central plaza) to $5000 per night high season for the entire presidential villa, the resort offers a multitude of accommodation options whether you’re a couple, a two-family party with kids, a 40 person corporate buyout or a group of your closest friends for a private weekend retreat.
Next day, after a languid breakfast, half-hearted ping pong (there’s also bocce, a lit tennis court and everything from croquet to cricket offered) we took a walk down the deserted beach and spent time scrambling over rocks before walking back down one of the miles of dusty 4-wheel trails. Later, driven by Nacho we took the offered tour of the entire property (do this!). Las Alamandas is surrounded by 1500 acres of nature preserve that’s home to numerous birds, wild boar (saw them!), lizards (2+ feet long was our best spotting) and Ocelots (did not see).
The preserve houses numerous orchards, plantations, groves and fields, supplying much of Las Alamandas’ food needs. A large freshwater lagoon sits mid property. To the far south the property is bordered by endless beaches (where Sting apparently composed several songs). To the east, the highway, some 4km away and to the north, a river upon which the resort will happily provide kayaks , picnics etc in case lying by the ocean was proving too tiring.
At the end of our drive, Nacho dropped us at Sunset Point, one of the many outcroppings high above the surf, where they’d prepared lovely table for two and a pitcher of their signature margaritas. As the sun drifted down behind the low lying clouds, Nacho reappeared to shuttle us back the 3 miles to the hotel.
Dinner consisted of lone dining with a hearty octopus dish, snapper (can’t get enough) and a sampling of the hotel’s many tequilas.
We could go on and on extolling the greatest feature of the hotel – Sheer relaxation. The hotel’s numerous amenities (just ask) are kept out of sight. There’s no beach hut dangling flippers and no jetskis bobbing in the surf. Everything is set up to give the feeling of bygone simplicity. There’s no poolside menu sitting out – again, you just ask for whatever it is that you desire. It is as though you are staying at your own ocean side villa, staffed with personal chefs and attendants capable of accommodating your most obscure whims.
The land was purchased by the grandfather of Isabel Goldsmith-Patino, originally to be a 200 unit golf resort. After his death, Goldsmith-Patino (whose occasional private residence sits high above on an adjoining bluff) reversed direction and created this getaway to be embraced by nature, rather than to tread on it. A constant work in progress, we’ve never felt so much like we were staying in our own private hideaway. After the gentle morning buzz of gardeners and groundskeepers has finished unobtrusively tending, cutting and clearing, a serene calm falls over the property. Hours can pass without sight of another person yet every need is a minute away.
Another feature we love: wifi is available only in the spacious and sumptuous common area which doubles as a movie-watching space and library. We’re sadly unable to detach completely from the real world but the ability to not have ones iPhone buzzing constantly yet still check in a couple times a day was absolutely the key to a stress free trip. We hope the option of in-room wifi never happens (you hear us Dorota!!?)
As mentioned there is a landing strip accessible by prop and possibly small jets if your pilot has the nerve. According to Dorota, there are plans underway for a larger airstrip, some 20 minutes away that will connect Las Alamandas with major US cities. Whilst this project is likely a couple of years away, we urge you to take advantage of the just-beyond-beaten-path location and indulge in some serious downtime. An extra hour in the car will reward you with an unforgettably peaceful long weekend- or more.
Perfect for: families, honeymoons (esp if splitting time between several locations), intimate weddings, large-party multi-night escapes and corporate retreats, photo shoots.