Kate Johnson of KJ Travel recently celebrated her wedding anniversary with her husband in Mexico. Here’s her report.
In the late spring, as we were still processing dozens of cancellations, I decided to take a few risks and book some domestic travel for my family. We were fortunate to take a few road trips and some flights exploring the “new normal” at hotels across the country, so I could experience travel during the pandemic firsthand. My personal travels and anecdotes proved very helpful as my clients started inquiring more and more about their summer vacations.
Once Mexico opened, I had several clients booked in August and September, all reporting back very positive experiences. So, when it was time for my annual anniversary getaway with my husband, Mexico was a natural choice. We decided on Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita to explore the area and see the property’s new renovation.
Ever since the pandemic started, we have made a conscious effort to plan our air travel on off-peak days. We would have preferred to travel Southwest with their capped capacity and social-distancing protocols but the direct route for us from Houston was on United. When we landed at Puerto Vallarta on a Saturday morning, the airport wasn’t crowded with the exception of travelers coming off of our plane and waiting in a queue to turn in their Mexico travel forms that had traveler contact information and health disclosures. If travelers didn’t complete the form prior to travel, a blank one was offered to them.
Shown above is the resort’s ocean-view Nuna pool.
The line led to a temperature-screening area where we turned our forms in before proceeding to the normal customs and immigration process. We were met by the Four Seasons private car service and started on our approximately one-hour drive to the hotel, which is set on a private peninsula of Punta Mita.
On arrival at the hotel, before we entered the lobby, the bottom of our shoes and our hands were sanitized and temperatures were taken. We also answered a few health/COVID-related questions. They were following a very thorough process compared to some of the domestic hotels we visited this summer. The lobby itself is open air with sweeping views of the Pacific and while it’s mandatory for employees to wear masks at all times, guests are only required to wear them in the hotel’s common areas, such as the gym, spa, etc. One of the great things about this property is that there are many areas where the indoors and outdoors blend together.
I was really pleased to see that a lot of the special aspects of the arrival process were still intact. These included one-on-one, private check-in and welcome drinks in the lobby. We were taken to our ocean-view casita via a golf cart and were ready for our vacation to start.
The newly renovated rooms were beautiful and well appointed with a great contemporary Mexican design aesthetic and a spacious balcony. Our welcome amenity included homemade guacamole, salsa and chips, and all the ingredients to make fresh margaritas. We also had a sanitization kit in our room with two disposable masks and a sanitizing gel.
Kate Johnson, here and below, believes the resort is so spread out that it allows guests to enjoy themselves while maintaining social distancing.
During our visit, the property was limited to 30 percent capacity like others in Mexico. I believe the weekend occupancy while we were there was close to 23 percent, while weekday occupancy dipped below 20 percent. Needless to say, we felt that there were ample opportunities to be socially distanced, as the property itself is very spread out.
The pool area, reserved for adults only during normal times, was open to all guests, as were the lazy river and the ocean-view Nuna pool. Pool chairs were spaced out to provide ample distance between parties and they were reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and sanitized between each use. Hand-sanitizing stations were available at all dining outlets and throughout the property.
The beach in front of the Four Seasons was closed for water activities during our stay due to local government regulations. Guests could still exercise, walk and swim in the ocean but paddle boarding and other non-motorized sports that are normally offered were suspended. Boat excursions like snorkeling, diving and exploring the near-by islands were available on a private basis (due to COVID) with pickup from the beach at the resort.
Each morning, the resort offers a complimentary guided hike or property walk, as well as a few other outdoor activities for a fee. We opted for the guided morning hike to the top of the Punta Mita peninsula, where we had a 360-degree view of the entire peninsula, Banderas Bay, Marietas Islands and Puerto Vallarta in the distance.
The food at the resort’s two open restaurants was wonderful. Travelers with longer stays were opting to dine in the nearby town of Punta Mita, which offers a variety of cuisines and local restaurants, many with ocean views. The Four Seasons offers a complimentary shuttle service to drop and pick hotel guests from the town, which is just a five-minute drive.
Kate Johnson was also pleased with the resort’s newly renovated rooms, here, and the food served in its two restaurants, below.
The two available golf courses at Punta Mita are also worth a mention. Pacifico and Bahia, both Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, are a short shuttle ride from the Four Seasons and St. Regis hotels, and offer incredible ocean views. Pacifico is also home to the world’s only natural island green, the “Tail of the Whale,” which is visible from the Four Seasons beach. The courses are accessible for all types of players and they offer golf lessons and club rentals as well.
I spoke with families staying at the Four Seasons who were repeat guests and loved its high level of service, activities, multi-room accommodations and kids programming (the kids club isn’t operating currently but the “Kids for all Seasons” program is open for ages five-plus).
There were also several honeymooners on property, enjoying alone time and romantic dinners and being social in the pool and dining areas. Overall, I noticed the trend of longer stays; many people were staying for five-plus nights and some up to 12 nights.
Punta Mita is a great destination for a long weekend getaway or a longer week-plus stay for families or couples.
New luxury hotel additions to the area include the Conrad Punta Mita, which opened in September, and the anticipated opening of One & Only Mandarina in November, just 45 minutes from Punta Mita.