Tag Archives: huatulco

Waiting for Huatulco

By: Lisa Coleman

Exactly 30 days from today I will look over the Pacific from my private pool at the Dolphin Cove Villa at Las Palmas in Huatulco. It seems so cliché to use words like “amazing” or “breathtaking” to describe some of the places I’ve been in Mexico, but they do the job in a place like this. Two years ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday in Oaxaca City and Huatulco, and fell in love with Mexico all over again. It was my first time in Huatulco and it reminded me of why Mexico is part of who I am. Most of our readers (and all my friends) know that my heart has always belonged to Zihuatanejo. That town and its people have spent more than 20 years atop my list of favorites. Well, times are changing, maybe I’m changing (certainly getting older), but to be completely honest, my new crush is Huatulco. Villa8 Simple, elegant in all the right places, laid back just enough, safe, warm and embracing – that sums it up. For me, this is the Mexico that soothes my soul. This is the Mexico that feels like home. It’s all here. Huatulco is that place  you have to explain how to find on a map, and most of us are happy to keep it that way. It feels like Zihua did 25 years ago, and that’s a good thing. The energy is different here. Mexico savvy travelers know exactly what I’m talking about. The days are long and slow, the scenery is gorgeous, the water is perfect, the beer is cold and I can’t wait to get there!

Huatulco’s infrastructure was put in place by FONATUR (Trust for Tourism Development -Fondo Nacional del Fomento al Turismo), back in the 70’s. FONATUR is well known for creating and building Cancun, Ixtapa and Los Cabos, as well as the off-the-beaten path communities of Loreto and the Bahías de Huatulco (the Bays of Huatulco, which has been shortened to just Huatulco.) If you love the hustle and bustle of Cancun, this probably won’t do it for you. But if you like the pace of Zihuatanejo, and you’re charmed by Loreto, Huatulco will be right up your alley. It will remind you a little of Ixtapa in design, but with the coziness of Zihua. Huatulco dances to its own beat and it’s one special song.

I’d usually tell you all about the lodging along the coastline, but I’ve only stayed in one place, a perfect place to me: Las Palmas. With an extraordinary location, perched on a cliff with incomparable views of Violin Bay on one side and Santa Cruz on the other, it doesn’t get much better. Owned by Ron and Jackie Williams, who have become dear friends, Las Palmas is like your own private paradise. With only five casitas and three villas, you’ll be part of the family from the moment you arrive. (For more details read my previous post here: Huatulco and Las Palmas: A Match Made in Heaven.)

The countdown is on. I can almost feel the sand in my toes and the Pacific sunshine on my face. I know it won’t disappoint! See you soon Huatulco…

DSC01225

Montecito Beach Village – Step into the Dream in Huatulco

By: Lisa Coleman

Flip through the pages of Architectural Digest or Robb Report and you’ll see that Mexico’s luxury villa market is making an impact. Quietly carving out a niche for distinguished buyers from around world, Mexico is on the move. Second home seekers and wealthy expats have discovered the beauty and perfection that can be found along some of most breathtaking beaches in the country. Ultra exclusive communities in Punta Mita (near Puerto Vallarta), Cabo San Lucas (Baja California), and Costa Careyes (between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo) are known worldwide by a discerning clientele. But it’s a small, unique development called Montecito in the beach town of Huatulco that is defining extraordinary.

Montecito 01

Huatulco is far different from its high profile companions. Considered and developed as an “ecotourism” resort in the early 1970’s, 70% of Huatulco is made up of ecological preserves. In 1988, then President Ernesto Zedillo converted most of the area’s preserves into a giant national park (protecting both land and marine life).  Huatulco prides itself in being a totally “green” resort. Mexico’s FONATUR (National Trust for Tourism Development), who built the resort town, still ensures that all new projects meet certain standards in order to maintain Huatulco’s Green Globe status.

Palmasview

At the center of Huatulco’s allure are a series of nine spectacular bays notched into 21 miles of shoreline hosting 36 beaches, countless inlets and coves, and arguably some of the most remarkable coastline on the Pacific. The main areas are: Tangolunda Bay, home to the big name resorts, an 18-hole golf course, and a smattering of nightlife. The bay of Santa Cruz has a bustling marina, an intimate village with beachside restaurants and bars, plenty of shops and a cruise ship dock. And, Chahue Bay (CHAH-way) located between the other two, with a marina, lots of new high-end condo projects and a public beach. About a mile inland, the charming hamlet of La Crucecita is a slice of pure Mexico. With a colorful and quaint town square, plenty of inviting restaurants and bars, a few excellent fresh seafood stalls to pick up the daily catch, and a brand new grocery store, the infrastructure is solidly in place. It’s not unusual to see a jet or two parked at palapa-topped international airport.

Montecito 12
Located at the east end of the resort on a private peninsula, Montecito Beach Village is an unforgettable collection of 2, 3 & 4 bedroom beach and oceanfront Villas. This low-density (only 30 Villas in total when complete) 12-acre masterpiece is quickly becoming one of the most notable developments in Mexico. Touching the shores of two beaches and hosting phenomenal views, Montecito is at home on an incredible piece of land. Designed by famed Mexican architect, Diego Villaseñor, whose past works include the Four Seasons in Punta Mita and the Four Seasons in the Dominican Republic (to name a couple), Montecito’s impeccable style was developed to promote sustainable, elegant coastal living.

22
Project Director and Managing Partner, Greg Glassman, describes the concept that makes Montecito so special, “We integrate the natural environment into the human habitat. We have created this development with minimal impact and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to develop such a unique community on this land. We are careful to protect and preserve all the flora and fauna on the property and create each Villa with nature in mind.”  Glassman further describes, “We strive to not only integrate our Village into the natural environment but the cultural environment as well. This kind of living experience can’t be found anywhere else.”

13 copy
And, I’d have to agree. There is an intrinsic perfection to everything here. “Architecture is about the art of living and the way to construct the human habitat,” says architect Diego Villaseñor. “I create spaces that resound in the soul and imagination, that give human beings a sense of protection, freedom and a place to be with themselves.”  Having spent time at Montecito, I can confidently say it’s a one-of-a-kind development.  It’s where I wander in awe and step into my own dream. This is the ultimate in beachside living. They haven’t missed a thing. Every detail is in place and every inch of the property is thought out.  It’s among the best of the best. For me, Montecito is a probably just a dream I can visit when I’m in Huatulco, but for those who can make a place like this a reality, they shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

Montecito 2

Montecito’s Phases 1 and 2 are in the process of completion. These phases will be comprised of 15 villas, two clubs (the Cala Beach Club and the hilltop Loma Lounge), and the management buildings.  Lifestyle perks include daily housekeeping, gardening, maintenance, pool cleaning, concierge, and cooking services.  Prices start at $1.2 million and they have already built and sold 5 villas in the past year.  (If you just want a taste, some of the villas at Montecito are available for rent. You can get info on the website. )

For more information visit: www.montecito.mx.

Huatulco and Las Palmas – A Match made in Heaven

By: Lisa Coleman

Santorini, Greece – Interlaken and Lucerne, Switzerland – Positano, Italy – The Himalayas – these are a few of the destinations that make my short list of “no matter how you imagined it, it’s better.” After my recent trip to Oaxaca for my 50th birthday, it’s time to add a couple more to the list: Huatulco and the ocean front villas and casitas at Las Palmas.

As a writer, I have the rare opportunity to travel through Mexico in search of paradise. I have found hundreds of amazing destinations throughout this marvelous country, but from the heart, I can tell you Huatulco is simply one of the best beach resorts in the entire country, and Las Palmas one of most perfect places where I’ve had a chance to stay… and that’s a tall order. There is a certain inexplicable magic here, a laid back sweetness if you will, all wrapped in the inviting smiles of the local people who are always happy you chose their charming, yet isolated, gem of a beach town on the Pacific.

081

In the early 1970’s, the Mexican government embarked on an ambitious plan to develop tourism through a series of integrated master-planned beach resorts. FONATUR, which is the National Trust for Tourism Development (Fondo Nacional del Fomento al Turismo), was responsible for the blockbuster resorts of Cancun, Ixtapa and Los Cabos, as well as the lesser-known communities of Loreto and the Bahías de Huatulco (the Bays of Huatulco, which has been shortened to simply “Huatulco.”) Nonetheless, their loss is your gain. The very fact that it hasn’t exploded with tourism is exactly what makes it so very special. Huatulco is far different from its high profile companions. Considered and developed as an “ecotourism” resort, 70% of Huatulco is made up of ecological preserves. In 1988, then President Ernesto Zedillo converted most of Huatulco’s preserves into a giant national park (protecting both land and marine life).  They pride themselves in being a totally “green” resort. FONATUR still controls all local land sales within the development and ensures that all new projects meet certain standards in order to maintain Huatulco’s Green Globe status.

 085

    At the center of it all are a series of nine spectacular bays notched into 21 miles of shoreline hosting 36 beaches, countless inlets and coves, and arguably some of the most extraordinary coastline on the Pacific. The crystal clear water, and usually sparsely populated golden sand beaches, somehow don’t feel like a tourist destination. It all seems a bit more secluded and private. And since some of the bays and beaches are only accessible by boat, everything remains as nature intended. I wouldn’t usually recommend much snorkeling on some parts of the Pacific coast, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed here.

 086

In my opinion, there just aren’t a lot of places like this left in the world. There is just enough development here to give you anything and everything you want in a beach resort, and just enough off-the-beaten-path remoteness to keep it off most tourists’ radar. Of the nine bays that were slated for development, only six have “visitor facilities.” The main areas are: Tangolunda Bay, home to the big resorts, an 18-hole golf course, a smattering of nightlife and a little resort shopping. The bay of Santa Cruz, with a good-sized marina, an intimate little village with beachside restaurants and bars, plenty of shops and an often-deserted cruise ship dock. And, Chahue Bay (CHAH-way), located between the two above, sports another marina, lots of new high-end condo projects and a public beach. About a mile inland, the charming little town of La Crucecita is a slice of pure Mexico. With a colorful and quaint town square, plenty of inviting restaurants and bars, a few excellent fresh seafood stalls to pick up the daily catch, and a very well-stocked grocery store (the Súper Che) that takes U.S. dollars and gives change in pesos at a great rate… what more do you need?

Well, you need an amazing place to stay… and that’s the subtle, refined, and perfectly done Las Palmas. Since we were looking for a villa, my good friend Sylvie Laitre, who owns and operates Mexico Boutique Hotels, made the recommendation. A quick glance at the endless 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor and it was an easy sell. I was put in contact with the darling and incredibly efficient manager, Courtney Glassman. Her title, Director of Escapes, is very appropriate. She is the ideal hostess and makes sure everything is in perfect order before you arrive.

 252

091

 

Las Palmas has a prestigious location, perched on a cliff with incomparable views of Violin Bay on one side and Santa Cruz Bay on the other.  Just five minutes from La Crucecita and 15 minutes from the Tangolunda Golf Club, you won’t spend more than $6 USD to get anywhere in the area. (Taxis are plentiful and happy to wait for you at the grocery store.) With a total of five casitas and three villas, Las Palmas has the look and feel of an expertly designed Mexican estate. Owners, Ron and Jackie Williams, saw it as just that. Ron told me, “We came down here in 2001 with another couple. We had always wanted something tropical but had been leaning towards Hawaii. On our fourth day in Huatulco we saw the beach at Violin Bay from the road, looked up at the cliff and, even though it was all jungle, knew this was the place.”  Ron and Jackie tell their story with such love and passion that their energy can’t help but flow into the property.  “We took a boat around to the bay and looked at the property by sea. We wired the money as fast as we could.”

 178

Over the course of the next several months and years, the vision of Las Palmas began to develop. There was infrastructure in place with fresh water and electricity available at the street. They interviewed three different architects and finally decided on Gontran Orozco Canales, who Ron and Jackie affectionately call the “contractor from heaven.” The doors opened to the Turtle Bay and Dolphin Cove Villas in 2007, the casitas followed in 2008 and the House of the Rising Sun villa in 2009. And since the beginning, it’s been all about the guests. “We have so many repeat guests that are like family to us now,” Jackie says. “The same five couples come every year and we arrange our big bookings (which are weddings) around our regulars,” Ron boasts with a smile. “It’s just soulful here and we do our best to make it unforgettable for everyone.” From where I sit, I’d say they have certainly succeeded in doing just that.

037

Even though there were only four of us, we went all out and opted for the Dolphin Cove Villa. As many times as I looked at the pictures on their website in the months before we left, it was even more breathtaking when we arrived. We kept staring at each other in disbelief. The open-air dining room and living room flowed seamlessly to the negative edge pool that seemed to connect to the Pacific horizon. The view… well, check out some of the photos and I think you’ll agree it’s quite breathtaking. Our concierge, Talina, was waiting for us at the villa to offer her services for anything we might need – excursions, private massages, restaurant reservations, etc.

040

All three of the villas are gigantic and everything is wide open. Each has four suites, making them ideal for both couples and families. Daily housekeeping service and a grounds keeper ensure you feel completely spoiled. There is also the option of having your meals prepared daily – TAKE IT! DO IT! There are few things more decadent than waking up and having fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and fruit waiting for you on your poolside terrace. Follow that with a ridiculously delicious traditional Mexican breakfast and every day is off to a superb start. There are countless options for things to do and see if you’re feeling ambitious, but I can promise you’ll be hard pressed to leave the glorious sanctuary of your own pool over the Pacific.

 Villa8-blog

To enjoy the beach on Violin Bay, it’s a short, and not particularly steep, hike down to the usually deserted shore. The snorkeling is great and you’ll feel as though you have the ocean all to yourself. There is another fantastic swimming and snorkeling beach, La Entrega, that is also an easy walk from the property. There are a number of little restaurants there so bring some pesos. Avid snorkelers can also take a bay tour that brings you into some remote beaches by boat.

I’d like to tell you we ventured out and explored more, but we are saving that for our return trip. This trip was dedicated to pure relaxation and soul rejuvenation. It was also about sleeping in, taking an hour and half to eat breakfast, cruising to the Súper Che to pick up wine and other goodies, napping, swimming, reading and stuffing ourselves with fresh ceviche prepared for us daily by the incomparable Margarita (our angelic and splendid cook, housekeeper and professional happy person).  They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I am quite sure after checking out some of these you’re already planning your trip here… and you should be!

174

 

171

 

Ron also gave us a tour of a couple of the casitas. They were all full at the time, but the other guests welcomed us with open arms to take a peek. The five casitas all have one-bedroom suites with ocean views and share a pool and a cozy common area with tables where everyone meets, greets and enjoys breakfast and afternoon snacks (featuring the best homemade guacamole ever!).  If you must (and I did) check email, there is free WiFi there too. A lot of people we met had been coming for years, and it was just as Ron described, like being part of a family.  (And, if you’re considering planning your wedding in Mexico, look no further, as this would be an unforgettable spot.)

A quick shout out to a local restaurant we visited in Tangolunda: We did actually leave our private paradise to sample some local fare with Ron and Jackie. There are a lot of expats here and one of their favorite hangs is the exceptional Cafe Vienna. The colorful Austrian owners, Manfred and Helmut, serve an unusual and delectable fusion of Austrian and Thai cuisine. It was excellent food and service and the only time in my life I have eaten expertly prepared European schnitzel in Mexico!

Trust me when I tell you I could ramble on and on about this place… and I most likely will in some following posts. Suffice to say, you’ll love it here. I promise. There are few times in life when reality meets your expectations. A visit to Huatulco and a stay at Las Palmas may very well be one of them.

For more information visit their website at www.laspalmashuatulco.com or email Courtney at courtney@laspalmashuatulco.com

Violina2-blog

 

Villa4-blog

 

* Professional photos courtesy of Las Palmas (Only the two of the bay from above and this last one are mine!)