Posts Tagged ‘sustainable tourism’

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


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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


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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Sublime Sri Lanka: My Stay in A Private Chalet at Ulagalla

Morning at My Chalet at Ulagalla

I’ve already written about the special vibe at Ulagalla Resort in Thirappana, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka in my previous post. Now it’s time to focus on the facts– Ulagalla’s rooms are actually 20 extremely private and spacious guest chalets are spread over the property’s 58 acres lush green of rice paddies and lush green environs. Ulagalla is LEED certified silver and committed to sustainable tourism, which is perfect for those who like their creature comforts to be environmentally friendly. Each guest chalet comes with it’s own private plunge pool and wifi.

Left: Ulagalla’s Helipad R: Each Guest Chalet has a pair of bikes parked in the “garage.”

A Perfect Start to a Morning at Ulagalla

The Balcony and Plunge Pool Deck Were Perfect For Relaxing and and Enjoying a Spot of Tea

The chalets are comfortably furnished with  Colonial chic interiors. There’s teak furniture inside and on the balcony and pool deck. Each villa comes with it’s own set of bicycles so you can explore Ulagalla’s grounds on your own, should you feel so inclined.

The property is bordered by the Wannamaduwa and Ullagalla reservoirs. Bodies of water are filled with water flowers, lotus, and lilies. Wildlife- from birds to monkeys– happily go about their business in the surrounding environment without being intrusive to guests.

You Can Have Your Meals Delivered to your Chalet if You Prefer Private Dining

In-room Tea Amenity at Ulagalla

My Guest Chalet had a Comfy Couch and Seating Area. I Never Even Turned On the Television!

The Villas consist of a large bedroom, a spacious bathroom and a living and dining room. You can have your meals delivered directly to your chalet or choose to go to the resort’s restaurant located in a renovated colonial villa which once belonged to the chieftain of the village.

Sri Lanka has a long colonial history and is known for the fine tea grown in it’s highlands. So it’s no surprise that each chalet has some pretty impressive tea-making paraphernalia and a wide variety of teas. I really enjoyed my morning cuppa on my chalet’s deck overlooking the plunge pool.

Tea Paraphernalia in my Guest Chalet at Ulagalla

Colonial Chic Bedroom at Ulagalla

The Luxury of Privacy +  This Dreamy Bed= a Good Night’s Rest

Bathrooms are large and packed with every amenity. There was no bathtub, as is common in eco-friendly resorts, but I didn’t miss one. The shower was spacious and had good water pressure.

The Bathroom in My Guest Chalet at Ulagalla

Wooden Blinds Are Featured Throughout the Villa’s Rooms and Bathroom

Ulagalla Resorts Private Label Bathroom Amenities Smelled Wonderful

Ulagalla is committed to sustainable tourism. The property produces most of it’s own electricity and some of it’s own bio-gas also boasts an organic vegetable garden.

Most impressive though is Ulagalla’s link to the nearby villages. Not only does much of the staff live there, but Ulagalla is an important part of their life.

Before I I came to Sri Lanka, what I most wanted to do was tour & photograph the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the nearby ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura. Yet the highlight of my stay was photographing sunset at the reservoir on the border of Ulagalla’s property, where the local people where doing laundry and taking a swim in their favorite swimming hole.

Local villagers use the reservoir as a swimming hole and laundrette.

A few local tuk-tuk drivers cooled off at dusk in the reservoir

Jumping at magic hour at Ulagalla

The local residents were friendly and welcoming. Experiencing warm Sri Lankan hospitality both in resort’s own facilities as well as interacting and photographing them at the reservoir was an experience I won’t forget. It was a perfect example of what an unexpected luxury that doesn’t fit into a box to check on a hotel review. Yet it’s this wonderful attitude that makes Ulagalla such a special and kind of magical place.

Morning Sunlight over the Working Rice Paddies at Ulagalla

Ulagalla is a member of SLH Hotels and can be booked directly through the SLH website.


My stay at Ulagalla was sponsored by the resort and SLH Hotels.


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