Riviera Nayarit in the Pink

Like the many celebrities who visit each year, we can’t help but bring Riviera Nayarit back into the spotlight. This is still the place where luxury is within reach, where adventure is gritty and where Mexico’s spirit of can-and-will-do puts on a daily show. Relaxed and relaxing, this 200-mile stretch of coastline still has too many undiscovered pockets of spectacular to suffer from any kind of destination fatigue for decades to come—the very reason we’ve selected it as the Mexican destination to get away to in 2012.

“Riviera Nayarit is the perfect destination, since it has something to offer everybody,” says Natasha Satanovsky, senior buyer for Funjet Vacations. “From sun-and-fun activities—watersports, beach and sunset cruises—to adventure tours and golf, there is a variety of experiences to make a vacation truly unforgettable.”

Its appeal will be further tested in March, when Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta will share hosting duties for the 37th Annual Tianguis Turistico. It’s the first time in Tianguis’ long history that it’s not being held in Acapulco and expectations are high, especially since almost five years ago, Riviera Nayarit made its grand debut as a destination at the tourism fair. And besides its tens of thousands of hotel rooms and modern convention venues, the region also enjoys a wealth of convenient air connections from throughout the U.S., including five new weekly flights from San Francisco with Virgin America. And that’s not counting the bevy of Europeans buzzing about Riviera Nayarit on the other side of the pond and adding flights from such locations as Amsterdam.

But it’s not just conventioneers and the glitterati that get to enjoy this all-encompassing destination. A smart mix of accommodations for all budgets and nature-packed activities for all predilections has made Riviera Nayarit the place for a wide range of vacationers, including families, foodies and adventurers.

“A great choice for families is Marival Residences & World Spa, because this resort offers 1- to 4-bedroom residences with a lot of great space for everybody, fully equipped kitchens and laundry machines,” says Satanovsky. “It is a home away from home!” Each of these residences is roomy enough for a small army, with full dining and living areas and spacious terraces that look out to sea.

In addition, explains Satanovsky, the resort comes with a selection of free tours and golf—a value of up to $1,000 pp. Guests enjoy unlimited greens fees at several championship courses nearby, plus their choice of a variety of complimentary tours that include a Dolphin Encounter, sunset sail, canopy adventure or an interactive visit with sea lions. An all-inclusive stay here also comes with a la carte meals and 24-hour room service, beverages stocked in the fridge and use of the resort’s Beach Club, located at the adjacent sister property Marival Resort & Suites. Guests staying at least five nights also enjoy free nanny services for up to eight hours a day. Rates through Funjet start at $174 pp dbl.

its flavorsome side The culinary component is also an integral part of a visit here, as any traveler will tell you. From the 10th through the 20th of this month, Riviera Nayarit and adjoining Puerto Vallarta are enjoying their 17th annual Gourmet Festival, which celebrates the talents of dozens of local and international chefs. The destination is offering a dine-around “Gourmet Experience” every other Friday through Dec. 16 that lets visitors indulge in a 6-course meal in three different restaurants—transportation is provided—with wine pairings from Casa Madero Winery for $110 pp. Participating restaurants include Lucca at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, La Casona at Villa La Estancia and Nick-San at Marival Residences.

Following the region’s flair for evocative culinary experiences, the gourmet-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is also wowing guests with a new margarita menu that reads like a list of our favorite flavors. There’s the Huitlacoche signature margarita, which combines premium tequila with the very Mexican and delicious corn truffle, plus chili mango, cocoa (with a smidge of orange essence), avocado pistachio, coconut and seven others. They’re all available at Frida, the resort’s Mexican restaurant, as part of the all-inclusive experience at the resort.

Grand Velas’ Gourmet package, starting at $359 pp dbl, includes a stay in a gigantic master oceanview suite, a private cooking class with one of the resort’s four-diamond chefs, a tequila or wine tasting, a cocktail class, a progressive en-suite dinner, and discounts on spa services and golf.