Destination: Mexico: Punta Mita
St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
The St. Regis could hardly have picked a worse time to open. When it launched, in November 2008, stock markets were tumbling lower each day and the flow of travelers slowed to a trickle. Luckily, the hotel survived the worst of the crisis and a year later has established itself as a solid competitor to the Four Seasons, Punta Mita’s reigning queen for the past decade.
Situated on twenty-two acres, the St. Regis has 120 rooms and suites spread among individual two-story casitas, each containing four guest accommodations. The rooms have a distinctly Provençal feel, with a creamy palette apparent in linens and silks, antique writing desks, upholstered arm chairs, clay-tiled floors and beamed ceilings. All have private balconies or terraces, some with plunge pools, plus expansive indoor/outdoor baths and walk-in closets and those high-tech necessities iPod docking stations and plasma televisions (including in the bathroom). As a nice added touch, even standard rooms come with complimentary butler service, which includes packing and unpacking.
As pretty as the rooms are, few people come to Mexico to hole up inside their suites. Guests here can disport themselves at three bilevel pools, the beach or at the resort’s large, modern gym, three restaurants and spectacular 10,000-square-foot Remède Spa, with two outdoor pavilions for manicures and pedicures and a wonderful menu of treatments. (Read Where to Eat for reviews of the St. Regis’s two dinner restaurants, Sea Breeze and Carolina.) The bright and welcoming La Tortuga Children’s Club keeps kiddies ages five and up occupied with such activities as face painting, seashell hunts, Wii tournaments, arts and crafts and, for older children, beach volleyball and soccer.
Despite the Tortuga and its child-friendly offerings, however, I found the St. Regis more geared toward couples and the honeymoon and anniversary crowd than toward families. In fact, the week after I departed, the tabloids ran photos of actress Jamie Pressly lounging on the resort’s beach with her new husband. Those searching for the ideal romantic getaway should book one of the beachfront suites, spacious 1,800-square-foot one-bedrooms opening onto the ocean, equipped with full kitchens (to accommodate a private chef, of course), a plunge pool and a Jacuzzi overlooking the waves. At least one afternoon should be spent in the Remède’s double-sized treatment room, perfect for couples’ treatments, with a private patio and Jacuzzi for lunch and Champagne.
Like any new hotel, the St. Regis is still working on its service. The butlers, waiters, chauffeurs and pool boys are extremely friendly and eager to please, but at times they seemed to be merely reciting their lines and are not entirely certain how to follow through. As the economy bounces back and a more regular stream of guests flows in, it is sure to work out the kinks. The other drawback is the layout of the property. The casitas are very close together, and in some areas the proximity is almost claustrophobic. Travelers who want a bit of space and privacy should upgrade to beachfront accommodations and avoid the rooms and suites in the center of the resort. Again, as with the service, time will help, as the landscaping matures and palms and flowers soften the look. The St. Regis has survived the worst gracefully, and it should be able to make these few tweaks easily as it moves into the future. Rooms from $480.
Room to Get: Beachfront accommodations feel more private and spacious than those in the heart of the resort.
Who Should Go: Although the resort welcomes both families and couples, the subdued ambiance and expansive spa seem more appropriate for a romantic getaway than for holidays with kids, for which the Four Seasons with its lazy river and game room, may be more appropriate.
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