At first, it seemed like a bit of a hassle staying in Punta Mita rather than in Puerto Vallarta. I had just finished a fantastic dinner in downtown promoted by the Gourmet Festival that overlapped the equally impressive Film Festival "” both held annually in November "” and did not look forward to the schlep back to the hotel. But I walked out of the restaurant into the street, which teemed with film-going, restaurant-hopping tourists swarming souvenir shops and knew I just wanted to relax.
At the Four Seasons Punta Mita 40 minutes later, I found myself standing alone on a flawless white-sand beach, far away from any sign of staggering Saturday-night tourists, camera flashes and honking traffic.
I took in my new surroundings. I now shared the beach with a napping iguana, and as he slept I watched waves roll in with flecks of electric blue light on the foamy surf. The serenity was exactly what I needed after the hectic pace of the festivities in town.
Punta Mita is a sanctuary just outside one of the world's most popular travel destinations, Puerto Vallarta. The resort is set on 9½ miles of pristine beach and 1,500 acres of indigenous flora and fauna. Fortunately, the Four Seasons is aware of what they have.
"We're blessed with a location that offers fantastic views, gentle, cooling breezes and great beaches. And we take full advantage of our setting with complimentary "yoga on the rock" to start the day, romantic dinner on the beach, and of course our guests love the ceviche and cerveza on the beach anytime of day," said Four Seasons general manager Christian Clerc.
The Four Seasons further promotes Punta Mita's scenery by embracing local history with amenities focused on offering guests regional culture. The Cultural Center shares information on a wide variety of local history and customs, art and tequila tasting and a highly recommended temazcal experience.
The Four Seasons also employs local anglers to net the catch of the day, inviting visitors to hand-select their lunch or dinner "” with the aid of hotel chefs "” from freshly caught fish and crustaceans displayed on special ice-filled boats.
The Four Seasons is not the only property to embrace the beauty of Punta Mita. Travelers can look forward to two new resorts coming to the area in the near future. Rosewood Resorts expects to open La Solana in 2006. The high-end hotel chain's initial offering includes 70 separate guestrooms with a 14-room, full-service spa. Several dining options will consist of an al fresco main restaurant, an ocean grill and spa cafe. Other confirmed highlights at La Solana include swimming pools, on-site retail and specialty shops and, for those looking to stay a while, 58 residential villas will be available at the resort.
Another resort chain to confirm plans to build in Punta Mita includes a new St. Regis resort. Although there are few specific details about the property, Starwood expects to break ground with the luxury branding, which will also incorporate a residential element.
"This premier collection of luxury hoteliers is unique in any one location "” setting Punta Mita apart as one of the most exclusive residential resort communities," Punta Mita marketing and operations director, Lynne Bairstow, noted. "We are very excited about the future here."
To take advantage of an environmentally diverse and rich area, which sits along the northern tip of Banderas Bay, Punta Mita projects long-term development goals calling for future totals of five boutique resorts, three championship golf courses and numerous residential opportunities. Punta Mita also provides comfortable year-round temperatures, similar to Hawaii, averaging around 85 degrees in the summer and 75 degrees in the winter.
Four Seasons fans can look to new additions in 2006. Preparations include a new lap pool with a large deck featuring rentable cabana-like structures fitted with flat-screen televisions, a sitting area and stocked mini-bar. Agents should look for commissionable and more flexible golf and spa packages.

Written by Devin Galaudet

Originally published in TravelAge West on October 17, 2005