Approaching Punta de Mita on a bright fall day, the flawless sky a cerulean blue, I knew I was in for something special. The warm breeze felt like a caress; its clarity etched the curves of the Sierra Madre Mountains creating an epic backdrop to the famed Bay of Banderas and the valley below.
By the time I arrived at Casa Majani, that oasis secreted behind tall palms, my inner Om was in full bloom and I was ready for the all-encompassing escape that awaited. Outside the tree shaded, walled entry, staff greeted my arrival with broad smiles, a refreshing hand towel and a chilled Margarita. The latter was handed to me by Valeria, the beautiful concierge who soon became a treasured friend.
Casa Majani fountain, entry, walkway, infinity pool
Acclaimed architect Manolo Maestre, who counts Francis Ford Coppola as one of his clients, designed Casa Majani, the private six-bedroom beachfront villa that is named for the owner’s two daughters. Behind its discreet entry, a magnificent walkway opens to a wide view leading past the infinity pool to the ocean beyond. Maestre’s use of native woods, natural stone and tropical colors complement the natural drama of the location. Ocean views were my constant companion, even in my private suite. The result is a seamless meditative scene that fulfills its promise of peace and pampering.
Casa Majani infinity pool, Bay of Banderas
At the heart of the villa, beneath the grand palapa, a large, rustic tropical wood dining table provides a gathering place for meals. Under the same roof, a wide terrace fronts the beach. Each evening guests gather here at sunset for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For four sybaritic days, I shared my stay with three other guests. Each evening the staff served dinner in a different outdoor space: beachfront dining with torch lighting, the elegant table on the palapa, terrace seating with a view of the islands in the bay. Every meal felt like a celebration; all were accompanied by seamless service and individual attention.
Casa Majani hors d’oeuvres
Food of Place: The Casa Majani kitchen celebrates the bounty of the Punta Mita peninsula with a menu created from local farms and the sea. From haute cuisine to authentic Mexican fare, each dish is prepared with pride and fastidiousness.
Breakfast fruit plate with preserves
Our group consisted of a vegan, two carnivores and me, a pescatarian. Despite these diverse tastes, the kitchen’s culinary team turned out dishes so tasty, we found ourselves savoring every bite. I loved the creative tamarind, hibiscus, passion fruit and mangosteen infused drinks at lunch. (See the kitchen’s chilled avocado soup recipe below.)
Romantic dinner by the Bay of Banderos
My ocean-front suite, one of six, was another haven. With a beachfront terrace, king-sized bed, a full en-suite bathroom with stone crafted tub plus indoor and outdoor showers; it was a complete retreat right down to the automatic blackout shades. Lulled to sleep, I heard only the sounds of the sea.
Islas Marietas volcanic rock with pelican
Whale Watching: Few sights on the ocean rival the thrill of a 30-ton humpback whale breaching, spouting and flipper slapping. The Pacific humpback is the star of the seas and Casa Majani guests have front row seats from practically everywhere on the grounds. Bring your binoculars if you travel anywhere near the Bay of Banderas from November through February as this is an important breeding and calving season.
Excursions: From Casa Majani, a short forty-minute panga boat ride transported us to Islas Marietas, a small group of uninhabited islands wrapped around a large coastal lagoon. The islands are affectionately called the “Galapagos of Mexico” because many different species of seabirds, especially the blue footed booby and the red breasted frigate bird, breed and feed here. Snorkelers flock to the protected waters where a good variety of coral houses large schools of reef fish. Many caves dot these volcanic islands and this is another place to see breaching humpbacks. We enjoyed fantastic snorkeling with sightings of Manta rays and all kinds of colorful tropical fish darting in the clear waters. We attempted stand-up-paddling only half successfully but gained enthusiastic shout outs every time we lugged ourselves back on the boards. Overhead, magnificent frigate birds soared on wind currents while the shy boobies nestled in the island’s rock crevices.
Sayulita flags, banners, love
Saucy Sayulita: Another day we explored funky Sayulita, a surfer haven and shopping mecca just 20 minutes away. If you’re like me, you’ll find Sayulita’s bohemian flair brings back a feeling of laid back, ”no worries” charm reminiscent of simpler times. Shop lined streets fan out from the village center and lead to the beach. Wander among artists’ storefronts where you’ll find handmade Huichol Indian souvenirs, beaded bracelets, straw hats, and beautiful one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. In between, yoga studios, health food emporiums and taco stands beckon.
Shrimp ceviche, Don Pedro beachfront Restaurant, Sayulita
Mexicans, gringos and tourists mix and mingle. It’s all good.
We were accompanied to Sayulita by Casa Majani’s gregarious manager who hosted us at his favorite beachfront eatery, Don Pedro’s Restaurant & Bar. With a spectacular location and a menu to match, this is the place to linger and take in the view. The ceviche shrimp with avocado and cucumber in a green sauce drew rave reviews and a call for seconds.
The beauty of it all: One of the greatest pleasures of a stay at Casa Majani is the gift of doing nothing, of letting the mind float free from the pressures, the schedules, the deadlines of everyday life. Reaching that state is incredibly easy in this environment. When asked where you’d like a massage, choose an outdoor secluded area shaded by manzanita trees where the rhythm of breaking waves soothes the soul. Smooth out those tense muscles even more with a calming yoga class in the on-site studio. Or walk along the five-mile meditative walkways within the gates of the Four Seasons private community where Casa Majani resides. Stands of palm trees line the paths and often shelter birdlife endemic only to this area. The entire peninsula is renowned as one of Mexico’s best birding destinations.
2 Cups Chicken Broth
Firm, ripe avocados, 2 large or 3 medium, halved, pitted, peeled and mashed
One medium green apple. Peeled and diced
One Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
3 inch fresh diced ginger
One garlic clove, minced
½ diced white onion
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp coriander
Sparkling water, one cup more or less to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, approx. one tsp. each
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, place the avocados and then add the chicken broth, onion and garlic mixture, diced apple and cucumber. Place the mixture in blender adding the ginger and coriander. Pour in the rest of the olive oil. Add cold sparkling water while pureeing until smooth using an amount sufficient to achieve desired consistency. Stir in the salt and pepper. Ready to serve cold. This soup is very flexible. Place in small, clear glasses to serve chilled or in soup cups to serve hot. Approximately 4 to 6 servings.
If you go: Situated on the northernmost tip of the Punta Mita peninsula, Casa Majani is located inside the gates of the Four Seasons Community. Guests of Casa Majani have access to the Community Fitness and Tennis Center, Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses, the private Residents Beach Club, the Four Seasons Hotel restaurants and the entire St. Regis Resort. Guests can walk to the St Regis Resort in five minutes, and drive to the Four Seasons Resort in just a few minutes. Casa Majani is a 40 minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta airport. A stay at Casa Majani includes a team of professional staff with a general house manager, chef, kitchen staff, bartenders, waiters, housekeeping, laundress and concierge. Technology is a key consideration, with Wi-Fi throughout and complimentary phone calls to the US & Canada. The media room features a 63-inch Flat screen TV with Bowers and Wilkins home theater system, as well as US and Mexican satellite TV. Transport options include a 14 passenger van, 6 passenger golf cart and 4 town bikes.
Â RESERVATIONS:Visit www.casamajani.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
orcall The Harlowe Group at Tel: 954-345-4078
Casa Majani sunset over the Bay of Banderas