Nemi Eco Villa: A Next-Level (and Green) Private Villa Experience in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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A view of the chic and green Nemi Eco Villa in Puerto Vallarta

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Puerto Vallarta for the NAJTA conference was the opportunity to tour some of the newest hotel properties in the area. The standout was the Nemi Eco Villa, a chic, contemporary and green property located in a quiet residential neighborhood called Amapas which is situated close (3 minutes drive or 10 min walk) to downtown Puerto Vallarta and a 10 minute walk to two favorite local beaches – Playa Los Muertos and Playa Conchas Chinas.

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Left: The bar and outdoor space near the pool Right: the gorgeous naturally filtered pool 

I usually gravitate towards hotels because I like having concierge services and amenities at my disposal. But as part of a couple who sometimes travels with other couples, the private villa experience has always seemed appealing at first glance. It’s when you look closer and find that not all the rooms are equivalent and read the fine print when the appeal fades.

That’s where Nemi Eco Villa succeeds– this was the first property I’ve seen that I could easily envision renting out the entire six bedroom, eight bathroom property for myself and friends, and I think it would work for everyone. Even better, if you have enough people to fill the 4-6 bedrooms, the Nemi Eco Villa goes for $800 for 4 bedrooms during the low season to $1500 for all six bedrooms during the high season, with a three night minimum.

This is about the same rate you’d pay at a generic, forgettable name brand hotel in the Hotel Zone.

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This sofa is crafted from repurposed shipping pallets

Nemi Eco Villa started as a passion project for the then Chicago-based architect who had duel citizenship and his wife, who were drawn to Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant ex-pat community. The villa, which can be rented as 4-6 rooms, was built by Max Living and Design and consists of rooms build from re-purposed shipping containers off site. The furniture includes custom sofas built from reclaimed wood from shipping pallets. The property features speedy wifi (great for those wanting to stay connected), solar panels, a 40 foot naturally filtered pool, and grey water toilets.

None of these green choices make the property any less luxurious, instead they make this the ideal choice for tech and design savvy travelers in their 30s to 50s who a villa experience and those who are interested in these new technologies and systems.

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Left: staff can order food from local restaurants like Tapas Barcelona Right: A dining area in the main living room

Nemi Eco Villa also comes with staff. There is a housekeeper, gardener, and houseman and bartender. You get a chef for daily gourmet breakfast and afternoon snack/cocktail hour. Food & beverage are not included in the room rate, instead the staff just gives you the grocery bill. The chef can be hired to prepare dinner on site as well, although most guests prefer to go out to check out the thriving local restaurant scene. Staff can help with reservations and sourcing additional needs (like a driver).

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Ron, a fellow NATJA journalist, kicking back in Pod #3

The entire villa can be booked for private events such as weddings and books up a year in advance for holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. With such great on-site amenities and a reasonable price point, Nemi Eco Villa is a great fit for those who want a luxury villa experience that is contemporary, cool, and cutting edge. This place is ideal for destination parties like birthdays or holidays, or a get together with friends and family.

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Nicole, one of the owners of the Nemi Eco Villa, in a queen bedded pod

All the bedroom pods feature queen or king beds and have features like outdoor hammocks and showers. Bedroom pod #3 was originally the prototype and is the master suite.

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The stylish and airy living room

The main level features a living room, kitchen, the dining area and a communal lounge, a bathroom and tons of indoor/outdoor space around the show-stopping naturally filtered pool, whose distinctive green water is filtered by sand and plant life and is devoid of chemicals and chlorine.

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Left: the poolside lounge Right: local fabric and art in a bedroom pod

The villa is comfortable and crisp and features a lot of local touches like fabric and artwork. There are energy efficient air conditioning units throughout the villa for when the tropical cross breezes aren’t enough.

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Looking at one of the bedroom pods from the outside

Some rooms feature outdoor showers and hammocks. The master pod has a small kitchenette and the most luxurious bathroom, which includes grey water collection and bio-digester. None of these features feels preachy or intrusive.

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 Bathroom details from bedroom pod #3

All these eco-friendly details are attractive and bold choices which allow guests to consider if some of these green technologies might work for them back home.

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A hammock on the terrace of one of the bedroom pods

Nemi Eco Villa has a passionate and cool couple of creatives behind it and they want their guests to be happy. That vibe is what you feel at Nemi Eco Villa, once you get past the cool “wow” features.

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Another gorgeous view from the Nemi Eco Villa

Nemi Eco Villa is a very intriguing private villa at a very accessible per room rate. Now I just have to decide who I’m inviting when I book this place, and how long we want the bartender to stay to make margaritas by the pool.

Nemi Eco Villa

Address: Calle Gardenias 223

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48399

Phone: 1.888.276.1953

Email: info@agavevillasmexico.com

Much thanks to NATJA for arranging the New Hotel Infrastructure tour in Puerto Vallarta. Without them, this post would not be possible.

Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas Jalisco, Mexico

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The shrimp tacos became a daily must have at Las Alamandas

My recent trip to Mexico involved my first visit to Jalisco’s Costalegre, where my husband and I stayed at Las Alamandas. We’re both fans of good Mexican food and arrived hungry and ready to eat a late lunch at La Palapa Beach Club.

Shrimp Tacos

 Shrimp tacos GIF

We were quickly served our first round of excellent (and inexpensive) margaritas and were very surprised when we saw the menu and found very little Mexican food on it. Instead selections included dishes like Asian shrimp and pasta. Who comes to Mexico to eat Asian shrimp? We asked our waiter to speak to the chef and Head Chef Alejandro Morales quickly arrived to chat with us.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho GIF 

Chef Alex (as he’s called) was very friendly and had no problem letting us order off the menu. He prepared chicken enchiladas, shrimp tacos, and guacamole for us. He even honored my request for no raw onions and the dishes were all muy delicioso. We continued to order off the menu for the rest of the trip, and Chef Alex had no problem serving whatever we asked for.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros with green tomato salsa GIF

The breakfast menu featured many more Mexican specialities– eggs a la Mexicana, Eggs Machacha with dried beef, onion and poblano chile. Chilaquiles were on the menu as well as what became our go-to favorite, the Huevos Rancheros, served with either red salsa or green. The green salsa was outstanding and Chef Alex remembered our preferences.

Fresh Fruit

Tropical fruit platter with Mexican lime GIF

The breakfast menu also had a host of other non-Mexican options, including organic oatmeal, muesli with coconut milk, French toast, pancakes and waffles.

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Coffee con leche with a hammock at La Palapa Beach club

The coffee was tasty and the views of the pacific from La Palapa were a great way to start the day. The space is beautiful and also includes a lovely hammock should you wish to hang out while you’re digesting.

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Top notch margaritas for $6 US at Las Alamandas

I don’t think the menu at Las Alamandas would work for serious foodies who are looking to explore the vibrant and happening Mexican food scene. Chef Alex had no problem accommodating all our requests, which is great since the resort is so private and isolated that there are not a lot of other options for dining nearby.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

info@alamandas.com

Sunset Time Lapse Videos from Las Alamandas, Jalisco, Mexico

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Palm trees and Pacific ocean views at sunset 

I recently returned from a trip to Mexico, where I stayed at Las Alamandas for the first time. Located 120 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta, along Jalisco’s Costalegre Coast, Las Alamandas is situated on it’s own 1.500 nature reserve which offers up several different vantage points to take in the stunning views of the Pacific ocean at sunset.

The second I saw the property I knew I’d be making time lapse videos on my iPhone 6.

Sunset  time-lapse video shot on the beach at Las Alamandas

I clipped my camera mount to an agave plant on the beach in order to get this perspective. The waves were unusually strong, due to seismic activity in the Pacific.

On our last night at the hotel, we drove up a rocky road to Sunset Point, where we took in the stunning views while enjoying cocktails and cake (we were celebrating my husband’s birthday).

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Sunset Point’s spectacular views

I clipped my camera mount to the table to shoot the time-lapse below on my iPhone 6. It was very windy and so the resulting video is not particularly smooth, although the views are still rather beautiful. While I love the compact size of my iPhone 6, wind is one of the elements where shooting with a heavier camera can yield better results.

Sunset Point time lapse from Las Alamandas

When shooting into the sun with a mobile phone, there is going to be flare. Sometimes the flare has flair, sometimes it doesn’t work as great. But the view is still spectacular.

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Sunset stroll along one of the private beaches at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas Resort

Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico CP 48850

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

info@alamandas.com

A Stay at the Dorchester in London

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 Classic luxury is the vibe at the Dorchester

On my recent trip to London, my husband and I decided to go the classic luxury route and booked a stay at The Dorchester when we found a “pay for two nights, stay for three” deal in the Offers section of their website.  I’m a fan of the brand and am particularly fond of The Hotel Eden in Rome and had a great experience at their sister London property 45 Park Lane.

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Flowers in the lobby

The Dorchester oozes serious classic luxury. From the oversized floral arrangements in the lobby to the butler delivering a spot of tea from room service, this hotel has all old school London trademarks, without being boring or stuffy. The service is top notch, and friendly. The doorman even entertained me with stories from when he lived in L.A. for a few years during the 80s.

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The living area of room 810

We were upgraded to Park Suite and to say the room was large is an understatement. The living area was huge, with a dining table that worked as a desk for two, and a large seating area with overstuffed couches and chairs. It was clear the room could be joined to the adjacent room, so the suite was suitable for families, or executives traveling with assistants that want both proximity and privacy.

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The fire exit map at the Dorchester

The fire exit route map on the door was unlike one I’ve ever seen before. It lacked room distinctions, because the property can combine rooms various ways to accommodate guests, whatever their clients needs may be.

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Left: This Asian cabinet housed the minibar Right: a bold mix of patterns

The bedroom was also generously sized. Suite 810 was also blissfully quiet, thanks to double-paned windows. The dreamy bed was easy to sink into and hard to get out of since it was so comfortable. Maybe that’s why I never made it to the hotel’s gym during my stay?

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Succulent centerpiece on the table of Suite 810

The Suite overlooked Hyde Park and had an enormous dining and living area that closed off entirely from the hallway leading to the bedroom. There was a powder room off the hall next to the living room, so the master bathroom still had privacy.

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Oversized comfy couches in the living area of a Park Suite at the Dorchester

The Dorchester knows that it’s the little things that make a hotel feel like your home away from home. From the Champagne welcome amenity to the delicious shortbread biscuits in the minibar, I never wanted for much during my stay.

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Orchids in the London morning light

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The gleaming marble master bathroom

The master bathroom had loads of marble, dual sinks, great light for getting ready and a fabulously deep soaking tub.

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A peek inside the minibar- filled with with British classics

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Fresh roses in the suite area

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The gorgeous fruit basket (and Champagne) were the welcome amenity

My husband and I found our favorite feature of the hotel was the sleek and contemporary Bar at the Dorchester. The space was cool and felt casual and sexy, and had a large list of classic cocktails.

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The Bar is a great spot for variety of cocktails, including an inspired Gin & Tonic

I went for an unusual gin & tonic suggested by my waitress. The Bar also had a nice menu and the succulent olives were some of the best I’ve had outside of Italy. The bread pudding was a standout.

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The bread pudding served in the Bar at the Dorchester

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Royal Salute on display at the Bar at the Dorchester

High end whisky, including Royal Salute Scotch, makes it feel like a lot of very big business deals get done (or at least celebrated) in this bar.

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Left: Salmon at lunch at the The Grill Right: A spot of tea from Room Service for breakfast

The Dorchester has newly renovated The Grill restaurant and it’s gorgeous. Filled with Murano glass chandeliers and fine cuisine, it was a joy to just sit in the room during lunch and breakfast. I did not try the hotel’s more formal three star Michelin Alain Ducasse restaurant or China Tang.

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Champagne in the gorgeously renovated Grill

If you’re interested in a prime Mayfair location and classic luxury, the Dorchester is a classic for a reason. If you can’t stay overnight, come check out the flower-filled promenade for high tea or have a drink at the Bar.

My husband feels more comfortable at the more sleek and contemporary 45 Park Lane next door, which is closer to our own personal aesthetic, but he very much enjoyed a few days at this London Classic.

The Dorchester
Park Lane, Mayfair
London, W1K 1QA

Suites and Rooms Reservations: +44 (0) 20 7317 6530
Fax  +44 (0) 20 7629 8080

Rates from $650.38

Where To Go For Sunday Roast in London: The Ship

 

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Pork Roast for Sunday at The Ship

I was recently in London and made plans to get together with expat friends on a Sunday. They suggested we meet at The Ship in Wandsworth for Sunday Roast. My friends are foodies and we’ve never shared a bad meal. I’m always game to try something new, and I was excited to head to a new area of Southwest London I had not yet explored.

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Yorkshire Pudding on top of the pork roast

Sunday Roast wasn’t a tradition I was familiar with, but it sounded fun and tasty. I learned that going out to a pub for Sunday Roast is a thing for Brits. It’s like brunch is to Americans, only with more meat and beer instead of mimosas. The Ship had a few different roasts to choose from– chicken, pork and beef.

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The Ship is also known for their excellent Scotch Eggs

We started the meal with a few Scotch Eggs ((£4.25), which are a pub favorite of mine and they were delicious. When our roasts showed up, we were all surprised by the amount of food. Portions are more than generous. Sunday roast is served with the traditional trimmings- mashed potatoes, vegetables, and topped with traditional Yorkshire pudding. I had the pork roast and my husband went for the beef. We swapped halfway through and gave our thumbs up to both versions.

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We split sticky toffee pudding for dessert

Our friend insisted we finish the meal with sticky toffee pudding. It was drenched in toffee sauce which had a lovely caramelized burn and was served with prune ice cream. One order was enough for all four of us to share.

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The bar at The Ship 

The Ship has a great location along the Thames in an area of London I have never explored before. There is a lovely riverside patio that I’d like to visit again when the weather is warmer.

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The exterior of The Ship Wandsworth

Pork and chicken roasts cost £14.50, beef roast £16.00. The Sunday Roast experience at The Ship in Wandsworth was a great introduction to the tradition. The generous portions, atmosphere, and overall goodness of the meal was also a good value for money.

The Ship
41 Jews Row, Wandsworth
London. SW18 1TB
T: 020 8870 9667
E: ship@youngs.co.uk

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