Ode to A Classic: Mexico redefines luxury – from the capital to the coast – at two iconic St. Regis Properties
By Karin Tanabe
ST. REGIS, MEXICO CITY
For many travelers, hearing the name “St. Regis” conjures memories of sipping a Bloody Mary at the King Cole Bar in New York or having a tête-à-tête with power players at the chain’s iconic hotel in Washington. Now, those same grand days can be had in Mexico as well.
The recently opened St. Regis Mexico City boasts our southern neighbor’s take on the King Cole Bar, complete with signature Bloody Marys with a dash of tequila and a little spice. The 31-story hotel, designed by famed architect César Pelli, stands grandly on the legendary tree-lined Paseo de la Reforma Avenue in the Plaza of Diana the Hunter and is a modern masterpiece in the hustling bustling city. And then there are the views. Sweeping vista of the sprawling metropolis can be enjoyed from all rooms, but the most spectacular panoramas are experienced from the rooftop helipad. Even if you are short a chopper, you can dine on the pad, which I hereby proclaim is the best and most exclusive (portable) table in the city.
If vertigo keeps you from heading north, the hotel’s signature Diana restaurant (named after Diana the Huntress) will have you declaring you will never eat Mexican food outside of Mexico again. Here, staples such as slow cooked steak and black bean soup become delicacies. If wining and dining as a group, make the experience more memorable by clinking glasses in the private Decanter Room. That’s where the hotel designed the perfect tequila glass for its clientele.
After your stomach has stopped rumbling and you’ve experienced a bottle of Champagne being slashed open with a saber on the terrace, retire to your room designed by noted interiors expert Yabu Pushelberg. Silver-plate and green accents complement the greys of the rooms and the wall to ceiling windows that bring you Mexico City. The only place you can’t view the metropolis is from your stone tub, which is so long, it could do double duty as a swimming pool.
Mexican President, Felipe Calderón has already been spotted at the hotel a few times, and he surely appreciates the impeccable service and Fort Knox security as much as the guests. With elevators that go directly to your floor and a smiling chain of command before you enter the lobby, there are no security concerns at this lush locale – which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the views, cuisine, and atmosphere.
FIVE TO DO IN MEXICO CITY
The swimming pool with panoramic view at the St. Regis Mexico City
1. Frida Kahlo Museum: The cobalt blue house where the artist grew up and then lived with Diego Rivera will fascinate you for hours. Look out for gifts from Kahlo’s former lovers, including artist Isamu Noguchi.
2. Shopping on Masaryk Avenue: Visit the 20+ luxury boutiques and do some people watching on the avenue considered the most high-end in Mexico.
3. Buy modern furniture at Galeria AND: Art Deco pieces mingle with Mexican-made furniture and iconic Scandinavian designs in this vintage furniture and art shop.
4. Lunch at Los Danzantes: Enjoy black bean soup thicker than molasses while dining on unique Mexican fare in their private dining room with cowhide seats and a view of Templo de San Juan Bautista
5. A night out in Polanco: This upscale neighborhood is home to Mexico City’s best nightlife and “see and be seen” restaurants. Try the modern Mexican fare at Izote, celebrated chef Patricia Quintana’s signature restaurant.
ST. REGIS, PUNTA MITA
On the northernmost tip of Banderas Bay, on one of the most exclusive corners of the Riviera Nayarit, lies the St. Regis Punta Mita. With postcard views over the Pacific
Ocean, the resort spreads out over more than 22 acres of the finer things in life, including two Jack Nicklaus golf courses and a 10,000-squarefoot Remède Spa.
While I would define myself as more of a spa gal than golf devotee, I would have to put both the hotel’s spa and Pacifico golf course in the category of “jaw dropping.”
One of the most beautiful spas I have ever laid my very relaxed eyes on, Remède is a getaway within a getaway. The outdoor area with topical fauna and white curtains billowing in the breeze may inspire you to spend an entire day drinking cucumber water and getting every inch of your body massaged, peeled, and pampered.
The 18-hole, par 72 Pacifico golf course might be just as calmingas the spa. Eight of the holes face the ocean and the optional par three hole “Tail of the Whale,” is the most intimidating and gorgeous stretch of green I’ve ever seen. You can even drive a golf cart through the ocean on a rocky path and complete the shot while surrounded by pelicans.
Winged wildlife is a welcome part of the St. Regis resort’s surrounding biosphere. Whales abound during certain times of year and on a more personal level, I was able to make friends with a rather social iguana in my suite’s outdoor shower.
All 31 suites have spacious outdoor showers and I had a grand time taking a bath in my stone tub, switching to the shower, and then ruining my clean-as-a whistle routine by cannonballing into the ocean.
One of my favorite details about the rooms is that they are part of individual villas, with private terraces that make all guests feel like they are kings of the roost. The three-bedroom presidential suite with private pool, jacuzzi, and a short jump to the ocean is certainly worth the splurge.
From pancakes for breakfast to Caribbean lobster for dinner, you will have very happy taste buds on your trip. What I particularly enjoyed about the hotel’s signature restaurant, Carolina, besides of course the food, was the modern decor. With splashes of Marie Antoinette inspiration, I was happy to dine in a formal setting after a day at the beach.
Also worth noting is the staff ’s incredible attention to detail. Our head waiter set up a telescope the night I was dining and let me peer at the moon between courses. That is what is so unique about this property. While many other luxury resorts are reaching for the moon and just falling short, at Punta Mita, you’re able to glimpse it.
FIVE TO DO IN RIVIERA NYARIT AND PUNTA MITA
1. A seafood feast at Tino’s: This low-key restaurant on the beach serves up some of the best seafood in the area including platters of soft shell crabs and barbecued shrimp.
2. Margaritas at the Marina Riviera Nayarit: With more than 340 slips ranging from 31’ to 400’, you can bring your luxury yacht right on in.
3. Yoga at Haramara Retreat: Near the town of Sayulita, this retreat located high on a hill in the lush vegetation between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, has its own untouched beach and yoga studios with thatched roofs.
4. A birding excursion to Marietas Islands: Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, grey whales come to the waters to reproduce between November and March. Snorkel or scuba dive around the islands year round in the birders paradise.
5. Shopping in Sayulita: What was once a secret surfers’ haven, still has a hang ten feel with beach side cafes where shoes are frowned upon and boutiques filled with silver jewelry and regional crafts. The bead work of Nayarit’s Huichol Indians is a standout and available at the non-profit Galeria Tanana.