Francisco Petrarca 254 Col., Polanco
Casa Teo is an Airbnb that moonlights as a creative space for artists, chefs, and regular travelers. It’s also the latest culinary concept by chef Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s legendary Pujol. This well-appointed, Scandinavian-style, two-bedroom apartment perched atop the former Pujol location in Mexico City’s achingly chic Polanco neighborhood, is a food lover’s dream. And as in many households, the action (and in this case, design focal point) centers around the kitchen—namely, a long communal kitchen table, where gorgeous breakfast spreads and elaborate evening tasting menus are prepared by an in-house chef. Prefer to go out? Who knows what kind of near-impossible dinner reservations the Casa Teo team might be able to snag for you.
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Every spring hundreds of whale sharks swim to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula to feed off the nutrient-rich plankton in the area. The site is incomprehensible: dozens of gently curved, grey, polka-dotted whale sharks, most the size of a school bus, churning up the clear blue water. It's a playground of gentle giants—and it's safe to join. Whale sharks aren't a threat to humans—only to plankton—which makes swimming with them not only safe but a truly transcendental experience. And because the species is facing extinction, it sadly may be a fleeting one. The Blue Sphere Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for oceanic health and endangered marine life, hosts dive expeditions off Isla Mujeres: You can see the whale sharks from the boat or snorkel among them.
Rosewood Mayakoba, Carretera Federal 307, Playa del Carmen
A favorite of goop staffers for long-weekend retreats, this gorgeous indoor-outdoor spa is on its own private island. You arrive by crossing the Puente del Balneario (“spa bridge”) from the Rosewood Mayakoba resort, and the lush grounds include twelve treatment rooms and eight suites that all have private porches. Some facials are gentle and nurturing, while others, like the revitalizing Toning Ritual, in which a chilled mask is applied to the skin, are meant to intensely awaken your complexion.
Av. Santa Maria de la Ribera, San Jose del Cabo
Worlds apart from the crowds that often consume Cabo San Lucas, Costa Palmas is the 100 percent private, white-sand, translucent-blue-sea, nature-filled escape you probably didn't know existed. The one-thousand-acre property is surrounded by orchards, organic farms, and forests on one side and calm water as far as the eye can see on the other (the Sea of Cortez is famously still)—arguably one of the most beautiful spots we've ever been lucky enough to visit. The Four Seasons and Aman have properties here. Both give guests the option to chose between secluded private residences (custom-built for indoor/outdoor living with the softest daybeds, rainfall outdoor showers, fireplaces...you get the idea) or the more traditional resort experience—you can't go wrong either way. The marina accommodates boats up to 250 feet long, the spas blend in with the greenery they were built into, the golf course is second to none, and the five restaurants are fueled with bounty grown in the aforementioned organic fields.
Carretera Cancún-Tulum Km. 45, Riviera Maya
Taking a deep bow to the overwater bungalows of Bora Bora, Palafitos is a small resort-within-a-resort composed of stand-alone huts hovering over the cerulean Caribbean. Serviced by its own restaurant, spa, and stretch of white sand beach, you never have to leave the water. Should you wish to leave your bungalow, the sprawling El Dorado—part of Karisma, which is a Mexican owned-and-operated hotel group—offers additional restaurants, pools, and swim-up bars. If you book one a bungalow that faces the ocean, you get unobstructed views of the sea (including below, as stretches of the floor are transparent), your own floating pontoon that you can snorkel off of, indoor/outdoor showers, and all the trappings of a luxury hotel (butler service, beachside picnics, etc). The restaurant is excellent, offering multi-course small plate dinners with lots of gastronomic flourishes—this isn’t Mexican comfort food. While Palafitos is definitely a big draw for honeymooners and special occasion celebrators, its proximity to the Cancun airport makes this an easy choice for a quick weekend away, too.
Calle Sin Nombre, Animas Bajas, San Jose del Cabo
Whether you come for a meal at the farm-to-table restaurant, or to check-in and unplug in one of the twelve tree houses on the property, this place is a bucket-list must. Situated on twenty-five acres of farmland up a winding dirt road adjacent to Flora Farms, design-forward hotel offers some of the most incredible amenities (note: tree houses, fifteen feet off the ground, each with their own alfresco shower, plus terrace with palm grove views) and experiences like hiking, yoga, and access to roam the totally gorgeous on-site farm. The staff and owners are incredibly hospitable, so much so that you'll jump right into their awaiting Mezcal tasting upon arrival.
Calle Paseo Malecón San Jose, San José del Cabo
Perhaps one of Mexico's most interesting hotel openings of 2016, this 205-room property designed by local architect Miguel Angel Aragonés has a hypermodern aesthetic that differentiates itself from others in the region. The overall experience here is totally customizable—from the personalized in-room indoor/outdoor lighting concept which is at the guest's discretion, to room service, which is available at the touch of tablet. The design is marked by sharp lines, cream marble and travertine, Italian-made Poliform furnishings, and a stately infinity pool. As for the guest rooms? With their floor-to-ceiling windows and private outdoor space, each one appears to float on water. While the hotel has no less than five restaurants on property, it's worth leaving the campus one afternoon to head to nearby Flora's Farm, an area staple, known for its farm-to-table dishes and laid-back vibe.
Ctra. Federal, Playa del Carmen
Rosewood Mayakoba is a huge resort that’s very well run and well-manicured. You’re surrounded by water, with the Caribbean Sea on one side and freshwater lagoons on the other, which you traverse by boat to get around. (You can always get around by bike, which is popular with guests.) It’s hard to get a bad room as they’re all villas—private plunge pools, sun decks, and outdoor showers come with each. (They’re really spacious and great for friends traveling together.) If you want to hole up at the spa every day of your visit, you wouldn’t be blamed—it’s a totally special space, housed on a private island overlooking limestone lagoons and offering up an extensive menu of Mayan-influenced spa treatments and rituals. Come evening, be sure to book a spot at La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen—an 18-seat dining experience under a large Ceiba tree on the property’s 20,000-square foot garden where everyone from hotel guests and staff dine together on a menu crafted from locally-sourced produce and sip wines and tequilas from the region.
Hotel San Cristóbal
Playa Punta Lobos Carretera Federal, Todos Santos
Todos Santos has long had a quiet appeal for both artists and surfers who have appreciated the town’s understated, laid-back vibe. So it’s no surprise that finger-on-the-pulse hotelier Liz Lambert (of Austin’s Hotel San José and Hotel St. Cecilia) would head south of the border before everyone else caught on. About fifty miles north of Cabo San Lucas, this thirty-two-room beachfront property is a thoughtful reflection of its surroundings: Stamped concrete tiles, locally made furnishings, and colorful Guatemalan fabrics anchor much of the inside-meets-out design. (A tip: The ocean king has a beautifully tiled, generously sized soaking tub that looks out onto the ocean.) The infinity swimming pool has an unobstructed view of Playa Punta Lobos, and there are plenty of indoor-outdoor spaces and hammocks meant for whiling away the afternoon, plus fire pits for gathering when the sun goes down. Benno, the restaurant on the property, expertly melds Mediterranean and Mexican flavors, while relying heavily on the freshly caught fish of the day that comes in by the truckload. Also standouts: The cocktail list, which centers around small-batch mezcal and tequila, and the wine list, with some…
Since it's only about an hour's drive from Cancún, Holbox, a barrier island on the north edge of Yum Balam, is a brilliant option for people hoping to take advantage of plentiful direct flights, yet stay out of the Spring Break fray. Nestled up against the West-facing beach (which means sunsets over the ocean), CasaSandra is the best luxury location on the island, with a lovely restaurant and a private feel, even though you're walking distance from the town, which is blessedly free of tourists. The hotel offers a three-day couples' package that includes a private boat tour and romantic dinner on the beach for a romantic—but zero-planning—long weekend away. Quick tip for first-timers: Bring plenty of cash, since there are no banks on the island and ATMs are unreliable at best.
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