VIVA PUNTA MITA!!!
Punta Mita possesses a rare combination of being both ultra-exclusive and easygoing. More exceptional than its dramatic geography or mosaic of experiences is its collective energy that invites you to enjoy the ultimate luxury: the ability to relax, play, and simply be your authentic self.
Over the past twenty years Punta Mita has become Mexico’s most treasured resort community, with stunning landscapes complemented by golf, gourmet, surf, spa, lifestyle comforts, and an engaged community. And VIVA PUNTA MITA is my warcry !!!
The first time I saw Punta de Mita it was love at first sight some 11 years ago now. I had been invited to visit the St Regis Punta Mita to take over as General Manager. At the same time back in Brazil I had been invited a very interesting post as Director of Hospitality for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games……
….honestly while I was honored by the Olympic games offer I was hooked by Punta Mita and the potential I saw – it was at the time dormant and suffering from the 2008 crash. I took a 2 hour tour with Mikey from the Golf course around Punta Mita after which I said to myself – it was simply the most beautiful place I had ever seen. This is Punta de Mita, and I’m going to live there one day.” Within a month , I had quit my job in Brazil and moved to Punta Mita.
Punta Mita touched my soul, and throughout its evolution from rustic outpost to resort extraordinaire, it has retained its ability to captivate my imagination and inspire dreams. I’ve created a life around this place that I love so much, and I’m not the only one. Today, Punta Mita is a close community of kindred spirits, drawn to this singular place for enjoying the very best in life, leisure, and gatherings with family and friends.
A peninsula like no other
Many say that Punta Mita feels like an island – it reminds me of a sentence my Grandmother Matilda often said to me when I began my globetrotting journey “ you can take the boy out of the islands however son you cannot take the island out of the boy “
It’s set on the northern tip of the Bay of Banderas, a spear-shaped peninsula of more than 1,700 acres (700 hectáreas) bordered on three sides by over nine miles (14.5 km) of shoreline. Alternating small coves, shallow reefs, and stretches of white-sand beaches make up the coast, washed by three distinct bodies of water – the Pacific Ocean, Banderas Bay, and Litibu Bay. Careyeros Hill rises from its center, providing a vantage point over Punta Mita’s diverse geography. This private peninsula and its surrounding waters are the setting for exceptional surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, fishing, mountain-biking, and golf. Punta Mita is Mexico’s ultimate sanctuary for active pursuits, whether by land or sea.
I used to dive a lot as a kid in Fiji and Tonga and am drawn to the waters and vibrant underwater landscape surrounding Punta Mita, which is filled with wild dolphins, giant manta rays, octopus, and more than a hundred species of tropical reef fish. One of the only coral reef ecosystems on the entire Central Pacific Coast sits just offshore, where Banderas Bay merges into the Pacific Ocean.
Each year I look forward to the return of Punta Mita’s seasonal oceanic visitors. During the winter months, migrating whales return to Banderas Bay to mate and give birth. You can easily see the captivating performances of the abundant humpback whales from the deck of a boat, a sunchair at the Pacifico Beach Club, or the terrace of your villa. Underwater, you can hear their tonal mating songs which resonate to your core.
Nesting sea turtles return to Punta Mita’s beaches during the summer months to lay their eggs. In a fascinating annual ritual, female turtles of varying species migrate hundreds – or even thousands – of miles to return to the same beach where they were born to spawn. The Olive Ridley, the most common of the turtles in the region, is small enough at birth to fit in the palm of your hand yet grows to be between 80 and 110 pounds. Only about one in a 1,000 baby turtles survives to adulthood in the wild, due both to natural predators as well as human poachers. To help improve the odds for the turtles’ survival, the Banderas Bay Turtle Protection Program was formed, of which Punta Mita is a participant. Taking part in a release of protected hatchling turtles at sunset is a uniquely moving experience, and one I take part in anytime there is the opportunity.
Punta Mita’s Active Pursuits
Considered one of the world’s best spots for year-round surfing, five distinct breaks give all levels of surfers the opportunity to catch a wave. Because access to several breaks is only by boat, these are blissfully uncrowded. Year-round, the peninsula’s warm ocean waters are calm enough for swimming, standup paddle-boarding, and kayaking, while seasonal breezes create compelling kite-surfing conditions. About a year ago we opened “ El Surf Club “ on La Lancha beach which was without doubt a game changer for the destination which the recent sell out The Surf Residences attests to. I personally tried to revive my surfing career however felt a little bottom back pains so decided to stick with my golf and 5K every day duo !
The depth and calmness of Banderas Bay make it one of the best locations in the world for sportfishing and spearfishing, with regular catches including swordfish, marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, grouper and snapper. Punta Mita’s pier provides easy access to the bay and surrounding waters – and my friends and I love hanging out on its floating dock on a sunny day, where the sea breezes – or a jump in the ocean – will quickly cool you off.
Golf is my passion today ………….the beauty of the two Jack Nicklaus Signature courses in Punta Mita makes it without doubt one of the most sought after golf destinations. Over the years we have created a number of wonderful Golf events none more special then the Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf which recently celebrated its 10th Edition …………………..other include our Pacific Cups , Food Wine & Golf , Golf Kitchen and many more. Having Mexicos 2 leading players as Punta Mita Ambassadors speaks of the prestige the brand has today . Gaby Lopez & Abraham Ancer carry the Punta Mita brand on their bags today. I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful golfers in the decade in Punta Mita – my dear friend Lorena Ochoa , the Walrus Craig Stadler, Carlos Ortiz PGA winner , his brother Alvaro, Johnny Miller, Rich Beem, Corey Pavin , Natalie Glublis and more.
When Nicklaus set out to design the first golf course in Punta Mita, the direction he was given was to make the most spectacular course possible – with no real restriction on the use of land. The resulting Signature Pacifico course has eight holes directly facing or playing alongside the Pacific Ocean, and water views from every hole on the course – along with its main attraction: the world’s only natural island golf green.
“3B at Punta Mita” is what Nicklaus replied when asked by reporter Rick Reilly what the best hole he ever designed was. (Sports Illustrated, May 4, 2003). An inspired design by golf’s most legendary champion, I heard Nicklaus himself tell the story of how it came to be: after Pacifico’s design was already complete, he was having lunch with Punta Mita’s executive team at the Residents’ Beach Club and found himself looking out to the island. He asked them: “Can we put an extra hole on that island?” The response was ‘absolutely’, and the hole he nicknamed the “Tail of the Whale” was conceived – and added.
Bahía, Nicklaus’ second Signature course in Punta Mita, has five ocean-view holes and offers a complementary experience to its sister course with rolling terrain and complex, undulating greens. It gives golfers more of a challenge – or, as Jack said, “it adds a little spice”. Nicklaus was the honored guest for the course’s inauguration in November 2009 – on a spectacular day in which Punta Mita’s residents followed along as he and his sons golfed Bahía, detailing their playing strategy while doing so.
Beyond golf and watersports, there are many more ways to play in Punta Mita. The Punta Mita Tennis Center, managed by Peter Burwash International (PBI), has been named “One of the Top 50 Tennis Resorts in the World”. Pickleball has recently made a splash in Punta Mita, with a devoted group of residents organizing regular play and tournaments over the winter months. Nearby, an equestrian center provides Punta Mita residents with a place to ride, train, and stable their horses.
Our community of bird-watchers have identified 92 species of migratory and native birds around the peninsula. The most notable is the blue-footed booby bird, rare to spot in the world, but abundant in their home on the Marietas Islands, situated just offshore of Punta Mita. The only other place in the world you’ll see one is in the Galapagos Islands.
A little history
Early Punta Mita and its Huichol Heritage
Among the early inhabitants of the peninsula were the Huichols, one of the world’s last remaining indigenous cultures who still live in remote regions in the Sierra Madre mountains where – away from civilization – they have been able to preserve and respect their pre-Columbian traditions. They consider this peninsula, and the point at which the Bay of Banderas, Pacific Ocean, and Sea of Cortez come together, to be a sacred place. Remains of what are believed to be celestial observatories were found on Careyeros Hill, and to this day wild sage grows on that site. The name “Mita” is derived from the ancient Aztatlán word “mictlan,” meaning “portal to paradise.” Spiritual visionaries dedicated to the balance of nature, the Huichols believed that this peninsula marked the gateway into the next world, or, to an alternate dimension.
The ecological wisdom of the Huichol has influenced the continuing journey of Punta Mita as a place of preservation and peace. Their colorful and enigmatic art is inspired by visions experienced during spiritual ceremonies and is an important contribution to the Mexican cultural palette. The art, history, and philosophy of the Huichol are celebrated throughout region, and you’ll find original works of their art in the resorts of Punta Mita, as well as in certain shops in the area.
In more recent decades, the abundant fishing at the northern tip of the Bay of Bandera attracted a small community of fishermen. They settled at the western shore of the peninsula, where a natural barrier of sea rocks formed a protective cove that provided some shelter for their boats. This was the place I came upon when I first encountered Punta de Mita. It is now the beachfront of the St. Regis Resort Punta Mita.
Punta Mita Takes Shape
By 1993, neighboring Puerto Vallarta had evolved into a thriving and popular tourism destination while Punta de Mita remained mostly inaccessible and relatively uninhabited – due to the lack of fresh water on the peninsula. It was also intoxicatingly beautiful. When offered the opportunity, prominent Mexican real estate developer DINE acquired a large tract of land containing the peninsula and adjacent Banderas Bay coastline.
DINE envisioned the way in which this virgin peninsula had the potential to redefine the Mexico experience for the ultra-luxury market and began planning the acclaimed residential resort community of Punta Mita. They strategically selected their partners, bringing in Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – to lend its coveted stamp of legendary luxury and hospitality – together with Jack Nicklaus Golf Course Design. They assembled a dream-team of globally renowned architects, designers, planners, and landscape specialists to conceive and create what would become Punta Mita.
Meanwhile, the tourism community in Puerto Vallarta was incredulous at the proposed resort, believing that no one would travel as far as the northern point of the Bay, and certainly no one would pay the proposed nightly rates, unheard of in this region.
When the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita opened its doors in December 1999, it was the first resort by Four Seasons to be located in Mexico, and it quickly topped every prestigious global travel, golf, and design publication’s “best of” lists. An immediate and absolute success, its opening also served to inaugurate the resort real estate community of Punta Mita – and introduce the world to a part of Mexico’s Pacific Coast never-before experienced.
Four Seasons quickly recognized that the Punta Mita profile was notably different than what they had anticipated: guests were young, active, and many arrived as families. It follows logic that a number of those adventurous, inaugural guests of the Four Seasons became the pioneer residents of the Punta Mita community.
The 120-room St. Regis Punta Mita Resort opened in November 2008 as the first St. Regis-branded property in all of Latin America. “As we approached the beach, we discovered a beautiful tree that captivated us, and we held a meeting underneath it, imaging the future of building a beautiful hotel on the site,” shares Ing. David Serur, President of Ideurban, developer of the St. Regis. “The St. Regis Punta Mita is enveloped in a very special affection from all those who collaborated with enthusiasm and dedication to the project. Today, its aura of mysticism enchants every person who visits.”
Spread out on 22 acres along an extended stretch of beachfront, the St. Regis resort has a collection of ocean-front pools and spaces, including the Seabreeze Beach Club – which, together with the seaside Mita Mary “food boat” – have become favorites of Punta Mita residents.
Four Seasons and The St. Regis brought their famously-perfect service to Punta Mita’s shores and have thoroughly spoiled us. Setting the standard for the hospitality experience in Punta Mita, they continue to enchant guests with innovative amenities and new services. These resorts welcome guests from around the globe – and a stay there is often the starting point of the evolution into this becoming home for them.
La Vida en Villas
While the introduction to Punta Mita is likely to come by being a guest at one of its resorts, this is a community of residences spread among 19 – and counting! – unique neighborhoods that vary from luxury condos to spectacular beachfront estates. The signature “Punta Mita style” of architecture is characterized by open and flowing floor plans inspired by the environment, and complemented by the artistry of hand-crafted details in stone, pebble, and wood work. It has come to characterize modern Mexican coastal architecture.
Among the architectural luminaries who have designed residences in Punta Mita is the team of Manolo Mestre and Juan Collignon, who have developed a design concept they call ‘healing architecture’ which artfully and seamlessly integrates the residence with its natural surroundings. Collignon notes that his clients preferred to build in Punta Mita over their home beaches of Malibu or Palm Beach for reasons that include Mexico’s exotic culture, tradition of hospitality, and richness of the culinary arts.
Punta Mita Pioneers
As the first residents to build a custom home inside of Punta Mita’s gates, Joan & Gordon Edwards’ Casa Juanita was completed in 2002 and was featured in numerous magazines as a first-look at the promise of residential living in Punta Mita. Although their primary residence was in Tiberon, California, the Edwards had strong ties to, and a mutual love of Mexico. They were perfectly suited to be the pioneers of Punta Mita, having previously built homes in the region, most recently in the town of San Pancho, to the north of Punta Mita.
Located in the Lagos del Mar neighborhood, Casa Juanita was named for Joanie, whose personality is as sunny as the Punta Mita skies. Joan has always been an ideal ambassador, and in those early days she would frequently chat up the golfers playing along the fairway in front of her home to talk about Punta Mita – and occasionally serve up margaritas in addition to conversation. Joan relocated to Hacienda de Mita after Gordon passed away in 2009; their son Jason and his family live in the area, where he has a successful real estate business and enjoys his passion for surfing. Today, Joanie is affectionately referred to as, “The Mayor of Punta Mita” – for always knowing everyone, anything happening in our community, and for being universally beloved.
Life on the Beach
Punta Mita’s indoor-outdoor living is complemented by its collection of private clubs. Ownership in Punta Mita is the only path to access the Punta Mita Golf Club or the community’s beach clubs, with their varied personalities. There is family-friendly Kupuri, with every possible amenity and water-toy available for enjoying your beach day, and sexy Sufi Ocean Club, with its chill-lounge vibe. However, the original of Punta Mita’s beach clubs is my sentimental favorite.
This beach club was the first structure DINE constructed in Punta Mita, set on the peninsula’s most iconic location facing the Pacific Ocean and the island which was transformed into a golf hole. Originally known as the Residents Beach Club, it has been the social heart and soul of the community since the opening of Punta Mita and, for many, where their Punta Mita journey began. You’re unlikely to find a Punta Mita resident that doesn’t have a special memory – or ten – that they’ll share with you about the ‘RBC’, myself included.
In the early days of Punta Mita’s development the DINE executive team would hold their planning meetings there, generally over long lunches, and occasionally at the built-in table inside of the pool. Talk about an inspired setting… I was once told that the first time an actual property owner walked into the Club while they were meeting in the pool over tequilas, they looked at one another and said. “Oh no—what have we done?! This is no longer ours alone…”
In 2018, this “crowds favorite” club enjoyed an ample upgrade, and was aptly renamed the Pacifico Beach Club.
The sense of community is an important and inherent part of life in Punta Mita. Beyond the close bonds formed with neighbors who become friends or your fellow yogis, surfers, golfers, or pickle-ball players, ‘community’ extends outside of the development’s gates to the region at large.
DINE earned acclaim for the sensitivity it showed when relocating the families who were living on portions of the development project land. They built a town called Nuevo Corral del Risco adjacent to Punta Mita with a church, schools, and infrastructure facilities. They constructed three-bedroom homes for each family and provided them with clear title of ownership. Beginning in 1995, DINE implemented a social program in the town that included free classes in English, accounting, computer, and other skills to supplement the most common occupation of fishing. Many of those graduates have gone on to work in hotels, including both the Four Seasons and St. Regis Punta Mita resorts.
DINE continues to support the local community through their work with the non-profit, social-impact organizations Fundacíon Punta de Mita, and PEACE Punta de Mita, while Punta Mita’s annual calendar of events supports these and other charities. Many residents also participate in these organizations through donations and volunteer activities. In 2020 we found Fundacion DINE Punta Mita as together with Peace Punta de Mita we began a drive to raise funds for the local community affected by COVID – we were able to raise USD$500K which was of great support for the children and families of Punta de Mita
Seasonal Punta Mita
While most of Punta Mita’s residents concentrate their time here during the winter months, I enjoy living here year-round. Summertime has its own unique appeal and is my personal favorite time to be in Punta Mita. While the temps can admittedly get steamy, a constant ocean breeze blows over the peninsula, and the pattern of recurrent tropical rains deliver brief but theatrical thunderstorms to cool things off – as well as entertain.
Winter season is a showcase for Punta Mita’s clear night skies. With minimal electric light in the area, a blanket of brilliant stars ignites the night sky and can easily take your breath away just by looking up. It is also the time when Punta Mita’s social scene kicks into high gear, with so many homeowners in-residence. The popular way to start the morning is with a seaside class of yoga or “ropes” (TRX-style bodyweight exercises) before everyone gets on with their day. Following sunset cocktails, nighttime is for dinner out with friends or the house parties so popular in Punta Mita.
A peninsula transformed
Living in Punta Mita is to live the dream. I feel grateful for every day that I spend here, and for being lucky enough to call it ‘home’.
It has been exciting to have a front-row seat to watching Punta Mita grow and evolve over these past 11 years, anchored by a deep respect for nature and enhanced by an unwavering commitment to quality. At the same time Punta Mita’s intangible sense of community has flourished, now spanning generations as it celebrates family, friends, and togetherness. I’m looking forward to what adventures Punta Mita’s next chapter will bring – be sure to follow my blog where you will find constant updates of a day in the life of a hotelier & Viva Punta Mita