Sun, Sand & Surf at W Punta de Mita

I know how this looks. Empty cocktail glasses are sitting in front of me next to plates of half-eaten tacos,  the crumbs of which have fallen into the crevices of my keyboard. My muscles are sore from a morning yoga session, but the warmth of the afternoon sun is melting my pain away as I lounge by the pool. From afar, I’m having what seems to be the best solo vacation ever. But deep down, it’s another day at the office. One where I get to dig my toes into the sand and there’s such a thing as a midday margarita break, or did I make that up? I’m at the W Punta de Mita in Mexico where the theme is work hard, play hard and their “Detox. Retox. Repeat” mantra is one I found myself giving into, albeit too easily.  

Punta de Mita, a tiny West Coast surf town about 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta International Airport, is at the northern tip of Riviera Nayarit—a region who’s nickname, Mexico’s Pacific Treasure, is what makes it a true departure from an American’s idea of a Mexican getaway—a remote surfer’s paradise that’s still easy enough to find and yet devoid of crowds. At W Punta de Mita, despite it being a hotel chain that’s based in the US, I found a deep appreciation for local Huichol culture and no shortage of indigenous décor.

If first impressions are everything, upon arriving at the resort I was immediately transported to the fishing villages that surround Punta de Mita and that are enlivened today through homages to its art and history. The signature W logo greeted me before the gate, an all white emblem inspired by papel picado—paper banners often found hanging on the streets of Mexican towns. A quick drive down a cobblestone pathway encased by walls of dense greenery took me to a tuk tuk station where I met Panchito, a Día de los Muertos statue sporting a mariachi outfit and “W” belt buckle. A step up from your run-of-the-mill resort transportation service, my six-seat Bangkok-style tuk tuk was decked out in custom Mexican artwork and whisked me away to the lobby, remaining at my disposal for the duration of my trip.

w punta de mitaYou know that when something as simple as walking has become optional, relaxation mode has officially commenced. And the cooling, ginger-scented towelette and hibiscus water at check-in didn’t hurt either. I was told I’d be staying in a Jungle Escape room that opened up to tropical foliage and fig trees, which by the end, made up for the Ocean View accommodation I had hoped for. The 119 guest villas, including 13 suites, have vivid color palettes and come with luxury amenities—Bliss® bath products, smart TVs, Nespresso machines—and I can honestly say their ambiance is one-of-a-kind. From whimsical wall murals of Frida Kahlo holding a surfboard and Emiliano Zapata on a skateboard to hand-stitched “Hola” throw pillows, there’s no denying the merging of Punta de Mita’s bohemian beach culture and the spirited energy of the W brand.  

I helped myself to the in-room “Piwiwi” cocktail kit left by staffers—a mix of lime juice, tequila and grapefruit soda—and found myself, within minutes, absentmindedly detoxing while I retoxed, sipping hibiscus water from one hand and alcohol from the other. 

For anyone who’s looking for a spring break alternative, W Punta de Mita knows how to turn things up and back down in equal parts. One can take a yoga class by day on the Camino Huichol—an elevated walkway constructed of over 700,000 mosaic tiles overlooking the resort—and try their hand at a tequila tasting by night. Learning to surf is another way you can work up a sweat before enjoying the day’s indulgences, and anyone at the WAVE Surf Shop is more than willing to lend a novice a helping hand. That goes for all the staff members, who I found to be incredibly helpful whether it was to cut open a fresh coconut at lunch or drive me back to my villa after dinner.

w punta de mita

While some offerings come standard to beach resorts like breakfast buffets and cabanas, I found a few atypical components that made my stay in Punta de Mita memorable. The cocktails contained superfood ingredients like celery juice and activated charcoal (you know, for health) and came with straws made from recycled avocado pits. Unique to the resort and the Nayarit area is the Chevycheria—a ceviche eatery converted from a 1950s Chevy, inspired by the types of trucks that surfers used to park along the coast. The newly-opened Salero is another beachside spot to grab a bite, specializing in seafood cooked Zarandeado style—a 500-year-old method for grilling fish. If you’re feeling fancy, order the “MVC” or “Most Valuable Cocktail,” coming in at 999 pesos (about $50 USD). The drink is topped tableside with Veuve Clicquot poured from the spout of a gold champagne gun.

The fine dining options deserve your full attention, the two most notable ones being Mesa1 and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, which serves Southeast Asian small plates. It’s unfair, however, to classify Mesa1 as a restaurant when it’s actually considered to be one of the most exclusive dining experiences in the world. Mesa1, as its name implies, is a singular outdoor table made from a refurbished Parota tree trunk and it hosts exactly one seating per night, whether it’s a party of two or 12. I dined on an elaborate seven-course tasting menu made from locally-sourced ingredients, infused with the essence of Mexico.

The heart of the resort is the spa. At 4,000 square feet, the AWAY spa is secluded from the rest of the property and was designed to resemble a cave-like structure. Outside there is a wooden relaxation deck for lounging, a Meditation Labyrinth for reflection and on the inside, treatment rooms to recover after a long day of paddling out. I spent one afternoon getting an agave facial and what made this particular treatment different from others I’ve had in the past was not only the complimentary hair braiding, but the shot of Don Julio at the very end. (It’s about balance, people.)

w punta de mita

When you’re feeling refreshed and ready to get the party going again, you can hit the WET Deck where there’s a DJ spinning well into the night or venture beyond the confines of the resort and head out to the lively cities of Sayulita or San Pancho. Although, to be honest, I came for the laid-back beach vibes.