Finding a New Kind of Cool
A new wave of cool is crescendoing throughout Mexico, taking hotels into new architectural, culinary and wellness terrain: By casting double vision — to Mexico’s rich past as well as its future — a group of pioneering chefs, designers and hoteliers is homing in on Mexico’s very own luxury groove. “A lot of developers in Mexico have elevated design to an international scale, to introduce some of the most globally recognized and accomplished architects to design, and develop out the latest resort and residential developments in the country,” says Ricardo Santa Cruz, Developer of Mandarina, a soon-to-open, low-environmental impact, high luxury resort and residential development.
More than 350 new hotel properties will open in Mexico between this year and 2022, according to real estate firm CBRE. Overwhelmed by the bounty? We’ve honed some of the best soon-to-open options:
1. Architect Rick Joy has been tapped to imagine another, otherworldly experience at One&Only’s foray into Mexico with Mandarina. Located on the Riviera Nayarit near Puerta Vallarta, the resort and residences will incorporate jungle vegetation and dramatic cliffside drops to the Pacific.
2. Mexico is set to get its first ryokan-style inn with Nobu Hotel Los Cabos. Bringing clean-lined Japanese design to a beachfront location in Cabo San Lucas, the 200-room, contemplative hotel will include wooden soaking tubs, stone floors and, perhaps best of all, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature fare.
3. Amanvari Resort and Residences will craft its own dramatic beach-meets-desert oasis. Neighboring the soon-to-open Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, the private retreat includes striking pavilions built on stilts over the ocean.
Long a lure for art-seeking explorers, the tiny mountain town of San Miguel de Allende casts a spell all its own: Colonial architecture, terra cotta-topped buildings and hot springs. Now Hotel Amparo weaves past and future into a residential-style retreat where turn-of-the-century architecture meets state-of-the-art amenities, including a chef’s teaching kitchen for culinary classes. Hotel owners Taylor Goodall and Mariana Barran de Goodall mix heirlooms with ultramodern touches, like a striking marble coffee bar serving what is arguably Mexico’s homegrown answer to Starbucks, BUNA coffee.
Ignacia Guest House split screens then and now: On one side there’s a 1913 home, on the other, a modern glass and steel structure. Connecting the two eras, a cactus-filled courtyard that creates an intimate oasis within Colonia Roma, one of Mexico City’s best barrios for galleries, restaurants and shopping. Solar-powered interiors blend old and new — original architectural detailing and sleek marble bathrooms; small wood-paneled nooks and glass catwalks connecting rooms. Upstairs, Casa Jacaranda hosts cooking classes. Or you can skip the effort, slide into true vacation mode and enjoy the amazing home-cooked breakfasts served in the courtyard or on your own private balcony.
WELL + GOOD
Spread across 750 acres of remote Yucatan jungle, Chable Resort offers a high-contrast study in then-and-now Mexico: Consider its combination of glass-and-concrete stand-alone villas that come outfitted with plunge pools, smart technology and an architectural ruin artfully blended into the compound. Ancient Mayan-inspired spa treatments take center stage at its wellness center while the Temazcal Ceremony offers a shaman-led journey involving chanting, rocks, fire and teas.
EAT, DRINK, REPEAT
Learn why Valle de Guadalupe is gaining on Napa as the wine-making region to beat. Almost 70% of Mexico’s wine is produced in the area, where architecturally daring hotels, chic eco-lodging and cutting-edge tasting rooms are just two hours south of San Diego by car. Visit Finca Altozano to experience Chef Javier Plascencia’s unbeatable interpretation of Baja cuisine accompanied by some of the best local wines. Or make it a weekend and head to Encuentro Guadalupe, where hillside-hugging cabanas offer sweeping views, great food and no shortage of gems from its wine cellar.
Merida is emerging as one of Mexico's top culinary hotspots. Here are some of Chef Jorge Vallejo's top dining destinations:
1. Nectar is one of my favorite restaurants because the cuisine is authentic, maintaining flavors that we have used in Mexico for centuries.
2. La Tradicion pays homage to traditional Yucatecan cuisine in a place where you feel at home because of the warm attention from the staff.
3. I always recommend Oliva Kitchen for its Italian food made with quality products. It’s the perfect place to change things up.
FIELD NOTES: @Amanvari Resort and Residences
INN CROWD: @Hotel Amparo
LAUNCH PAD: @Jaime Navarro
WELL + GOOD: @Chable Resort
EAT, DRINK, REPEAT: @Encuentro Guadalupe