Sayulita: The hippie enclave you MUST visit in Mexico

12.13.11

While staying at Gran Velas in Riviera Nayarit we took a few trips around the region.

My favorite day was spent exploring this tiny little town called Sayulita. It was about a twenty minute scenic drive through the mountains from Riviera Nayarit to Sayulita. The roads weren’t particularly well maintained but the forest was stunning and the slow drive down the mountain where the green canopies parted to reveal azure blue seas.

The town is a typical seaside town. The homes are small and low slung, the streets are cobblestoned and crooked. Children try to sell you string bracelets for just a peso or two and pharmacies do brisk business with American housewives looking for Ritalin and Xanax.

What makes Sayulita unusual is the artisanal community that has sprung up. When we arrived there was a farmer’s market in full force with organic and gluten free offerings.

sayulita farmers market

sayulita farmers market gluten free

Captain Pablo and his wife live in a beautiful casita right on the beach (you can see it’s gate on the top left of the frame). They are from Portland, Oregon and have two sons who are professional surfers.

sayulita surf lessons

There’s a little campground there that looks like a lot of fun for young adults (but not me) as well as quite a few rental homes. When you’re there look for the tortilla factory, if your back is to the ocean it’s up the hill and to the right. Buy a bag of fresh tortilla chips, they are a treat not to be missed.

The Hotel Des Artistes is NOT TO BE MISSED. The art gallery is amazing. You could stay there and spend your days lounging in Sayulita. I haven’t seen the rooms at the Hotel Des Artistes but I’ll give you a little glimpse at our lunch. Take a look at how they serve dessert for large parties.

On our way back to Gran Velas we stopped to watch a Polo Match with the La Patrona team. The horses were beautiful and it was fascinating as I was sitting next to a journalist who happens to be associated with a thoroughbred rescue. She was explaining to me how polo can be deadly for horses and how it’s not a sport that she’d support. But while watching the horses really didn’t corner that quickly (which is how they break legs and lose their lives) and the riders seemed very cognizant of the safety of the horses.

So we sipped fruity cocktails and enjoyed it guilt free.

Polo Grounds

Grand Del Mar Resort San Diego Review

07.8.11

As an early anniversary trip my husband took our family to the Grand Del Mar in San Diego. It was a really easy decision, the conversation went exactly like this:

ME: You know it’s our anniversary, right?

MR G: Yes, I do.

ME: They why did you let them schedule a conference in New York City during our anniversary week?

MR G: I don’t actually schedule the conferences. I just attend them.

ME: But don’t you know people there? Couldn’t you say, “listen guys, you’ve always had this thing later in the month. I don’t think my wife will like you changing the date.”? Why couldn’t you say that.

[he just sort of looked at me]

ME: You know this is going to cost you, right?

So then I realized that Jane had to be dropped off at camp on the Sunday before Mr. G was to leave for New York and I thought swanky hotel. A few phone calls later and we were booked for a Friday afternoon arrival. Unfortunately Mr G couldn’t make Friday a half day so we wiggled that around, arrived early on Saturday and he still owes me a half an anniversary gift. I’m sure the wives will see the logic in this.

The Grand Del Mar is tucked away in the foothills of San Diego. It’s a decidedly luxurious resort. When you drive up to the guard gate it’s like entering a gated estate. You’re surrounded by hills that are mostly vacant (it’s bordered by the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve). As we approached the resort Mr G and I rolled down our windows and ahhhhhed at the sight of the Tom Fazio designed golf course. I can’t pretend to know what he was thinking, but I was thinking crap, why did we have to bring these kids? I want to play golf all day and get boozy all night.

We pulled up to the front of the hotel and it’s just beautiful. I don’t really have words to describe it fully, but it’s grand and stately and Mediterranean without looking like those hideous cardboard cutouts that remind me of Marvina Reynolds singing Little Boxes. It’s a resort that looks like it was constructed to take up just as much space as it would like to ThankYouVeryMuch.

Check in was mostly uneventful, except they offer you warm towels to freshen up with. This is the first hint that you’ve arrived somewhere exceptional.

One look at the rooms and you’ll never want to leave. Ever. These are iPhone photos, but OMG just look. The two bedroom suite is bigger than my first house… and my second… and cleaner than my third.

Living Room at the Grand Del Mar in San Digeo California Suite King sized room Grand Del Mar San Diego two queen bed room Grand Del Mar San Diego California

When you are being taken to your room you’ll notice that the ceilings are high, the decor is aristocratic and the doors are spaced quite far apart. Our suite left me delighted. The rooms are over sized and beautifully furnished. Each of our rooms had sliding glass doors and a patio that overlooked the golf course (the golf course we couldn’t play on… argh to parenthood). We tossed our stuff, threw on swimsuits and shorts, grabbed rackets and headed off for tennis and swimming.

Lounging by the pool at the Grand Del Mar in San Diego

When I say "swimming" it looks a little more like "sipping" and "sitting"

The tennis pavilion is lovely. There are two courts and it overlooks the horse stables and the canyon. It’s a good spot for the kids and I, but lacking in space if you’re a big hitter (my husband felt squashed). Everything about it is immaculately maintained and I know I’m repeating myself but it’s luxurious. Clearly there are landscapers, maintenance men and janitorial staff, but they move around like ghosts and you feel like you’re living in Gatsby’s garden.

After a few minutes (yes minutes) of tennis with the kids I was pooped and decided that I really needed to lay by the pool, read a book and sip a mojito. After sipping enthusiastically a fruit plate sounded like a good idea, and by then the kids and Mr G had finished knocking balls around and a few sandwiches, some smoothies and a beer were ordered. The smoothies were all fruit and delighted the kids. I was stunned at how good the poolside food was. The fruit plate came with a little side of yogurt for dipping that tasted a little bit like marshmallow. We ended up getting two additional fruit plates for the kids, and they’re begging me to call the hotel and find out what the dip was made of.

I could have spent a solid week at the pool and ignored everything else. The level of service surpassed my expectations.

After a few hours poolside we went back to the room and changed for dinner. I’d really worked up an appetite from… not doing anything all day. First I had drinks in the lobby bar with a friend. Even if you’re just running through town this is an experience you really want to try. The hotel has wisely employed Jesse Rodriguez as their wine director. I was presented with interesting wines, some that I’d never heard of, to sample. The staff were all very educated about wine and wine pairings (but not pretentious about it so I still felt comfortable). If you know a wine lover all of the restaurants on the property would delight them.

We had dinner on site at Amaya. The Grand Del Mar has three spots for on-site dining (not including the yummy poolside stuff) Amaya, Addison and Club M. Since we had kids with us we skipped the five star/five diamond Addison and had a lovely dinner at Amaya. The kids started with lobster bisque but it was creamy with no lobster chunks, they did not love it (I did). I started with Seared Foie Gras and it was the perfect portion, just heavenly. Our dinners were grilled prawns, seared scallops, crispy skin duck breast and a duo of beef. I didn’t share my scallops with anyone, but tasted a little bit of everyone’s dinner and they were all delicious. You should know though, that meals at Amaya are leisurely. The staff is very attentive and you’ll have drinks, pashminas and bread just about the first minute you sit down, but meals are a drawn out affair. Settle in and slow down, because it’s a resort, not a diner.

Of course we had to order room service. We just did. It’s part of a nice night out. Hint: the chocolate cake is amazing if you like heavy frosting, if you are a mutant don’t like frosting pick something else. One piece of cake can easily be shared with three people. We didn’t do much sharing, but we practice gluttony.

Chocolate Cake from room service

 

If you like hiking or horseback riding there are 4,100 acres of land for you to explore. Just remember take only pictures, leave only footprints. I swear I could have spent a happy week here without leaving the property.

There are adult pools. Everyone there looked tanned, fit and sexy. I shuffled past with the kids. Happy Anniversary to me. We spent a second day poolside and left Sunday after lunch to bring Jane to camp. I’m pretty sure that since we were only there one night Mr G should bring me back for the other half of my anniversary.

 

 

*Our dinner at Amaya was on the house