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A Stay at Las Alamandas in Jalisco, Mexico

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My favorite hammock at Las Alamandas

I recently visited Mexico’s Costalgre for the first time, spending a few nights at Las Alamandas resort. Located about About 120 km south of Puerto Vallarta, getting to the resort takes more than 2 1/2 hours along a long, winding, and frequently bumpy road from the PVR airport. It’s clear from the moment you arrive that the best and worst thing about Las Alamandas is it’s remote location.

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The bougainvillea-filled courtyard

Located on 1,500 acres and with only 16 suites (which can accommodate up to 42 guests), Las Alamandas is incredibly private and the type of property that gets bought out for weddings and celebrations. Old press clippings in the hotel’s library feature images of Hollywood celebrities spending New Year’s Eve here. The hotel has also served as a backdrop for a bunch of catalog and photo shoots. Las Alamandas is also a favorite of honeymooners, again because of it’s privacy and tropical romantic charm.

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Left: colorful stairs Right: welcome drinks served in coconuts

Las Alamandas offers activities from horseback riding to kayaking to fishing. But it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing. Wifi only works in the common areas, so it’s a great place to unplug and recharge.

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the gorgeous swimming pool

The resort is extremely private, which makes it clear why celebrities might like it so much. There is no way a paparazzi is going to be able to photograph you in an unflattering swimsuit on one of the property’s private beaches. The main stretch of beach, which my Domo Master suite was situated directly above, was experiencing unusually strong wave and current activity due to seismic activity in the Pacific. This was a bummer since it made the beach unusable, but the owner told my husband she had never seen the waves that large before.

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A cozy banquette at Las Alamandas

I stayed in the Domo Master Suite which was large, with a king sized bed, a living and dining area, an outdoor jacuzzi, and seating area. Only the bedroom had adequate air conditioning and fan coverage, so the rest of the indoor space was not all that usable. The patio was nice and used often, with a great hammock and comfy sitting area. The staff would deliver my morning coffee here and it was a very pleasant spot to gaze the Pacific ocean and wake up.

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The living room of our Ocean front master suite

The living room of the Domo Suite was large, but lack of good air-conditioning and a fan made it mostly wasted space.

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flower petals on the bed at Las Alamandas

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One of the daily gorgeous touches at Las Alamandas

The welcome greeting on the King-sized bed. The bed was not the most comfortable, but it was adequate. The bedroom had a fan and small air conditioning unit for when the breezes weren’t enough.

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The master bathroom featured dual sinks

The master bathroom had dual sinks and a fantastic shower which was large enough for two people and had ample water. It was hot during my stay so the outdoor jacuzzi never got used.

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Well-placed hammocks are abundant at Las Alamandas

My favorite amenity, a well-place hammock, is where Las Alamandas truly excels. I was happy spending the afternoon here with a book and a quick call to room service for a round of freshly made margaritas.

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Foosball in the gallery at Las Alamandas

The public spaces in the property are beautiful. There is a gallery complete with a foosball game. The only time I saw other guest was during meal times, hen eating breakfast and lunch at La Palapa restaurant or dinner at Oasis. For more about dining at Las Alamandas, check out my previous post, Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas here.

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The view from La Palapa restaurant at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas was relaxing, rustic, and stylish. The staff was very nice and accommodating. It’s also for those who don’t mind privacy and a bit of a hassle to get there. If you want a bar scene, you’re better off staying in Puerto Vallarta. Las Alamandas’ remote location isn’t close to much of anything, so you should expect to stay on site for your visit (unless you’ve booked excursions through the hotel).

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Margarita with a view

My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at Smartflyer. You can book directly through the hotel’s website and check out Las Alamandas special offers section here.

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Succulents near the beach

Las Alamandas is great choice for couples and families looking to get away from it all who don’t mind getting to the resort’s location. If you’re not a fan of bumpy roads, the hotel can book you a transfer to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport in a small Piper airplane.

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Left: Current warning sign during my stay Right: unusually strong waves 

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Lookout Point at Las Alamandas

Lookout point on the Las Alamandas property is great place to take in the sunset. The staff can also provide a picnic or cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset.

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The beach at Las Alamandas at dusk

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Killer sunset views along the Pacific

Las Alamandas could not be any prettier. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular property to buy out for weddings and other private events.

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If bumpy roads aren’t your thing, book the Piper!

Room rates at Las Alamandas start at about $260 per night.

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

​General Information: info@alamandas.com

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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