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As part of a week-long winter vacation, TPG contributor Michael Spelfogel stayed at the St. Regis Punta Mita for five nights. Read on for his impressions. All photos are by the author.
While Christmas and New Year’s are probably the busiest times to travel to the Caribbean and Latin America, my family always looks for a warm-weather locale to escape the frigid New York weather. Our requirements are simple: A reasonably priced flight less than five hours, a nice hotel or resort that accepts rewards points and a nearby city full of cultural attractions. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, located along Mexico’s Pacific coast, fit the bill perfectly, and as one of the nicest (and most expensive) tropical resorts in all of North America, it gave us an excellent opportunity to redeem our valuable SPG points at maximum value.
Since Starwood designates this time as the “festive season,” only rack rates were available to book online and the going rate for a standard deluxe room was a shocking $7,740 per night! (Rates in December 2016 and January 2017 start at $6,000 per night.) That’s US dollars not Mexican pesos. Even in the off-season with a sample search in September, the lowest rates are about $700 per night after taxes, so naturally, we looked to redeem our SPG points for this stay.
Starwood upgraded this property from a category six to seven last February, but luckily we were able to call right after the change and get them to honor the category six values. Just like that, we had redeemed 160,000 SPG points (80,000 per room) for four nights and an additional complimentary night as part of the SPG fifth night free program — note that the redemption value has changed from 80,000 to 120,000 points for five nights as of February 2015. While this particular property does not allow the points and cash option, we did have success calling the hotel directly to negotiate a room upgrade instead.
Note that you can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints (enough for one award night with SPG’s fifth night free) after spending $3,000 in the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or $5,000 in the first three months with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. Given this property’s high revenue rates, it’s also a great opportunity to take advantage of 4th Night Free with your Citi Prestige card.
Punta Mita is about an hour’s drive north of the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta. We stayed at the Westin Puerto Vallarta for the first two nights of the trip, so it was easy to rent a car and drive directly to the hotel property. The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort can arrange private transportation from the airport for you, which in retrospect may have been helpful considering the Mexican Police pulled us over right outside of the rental car facility for a dubious traffic infraction and demanded payment of 2000 Mexican Pesos (~$108 USD) on the spot, with no receipt or record of the fine.
After leaving the city behind, the road becomes very picturesque with long stretches along the coast leading to Punta Mita. Once in the resort town, the property entrance, which is shared with the Four Seasons, is quite spectacular. A long road flanked by golf courses, private villas and lush vegetation brings guests to the main entrance.
As we pulled into the cobblestone entranceway, the staff immediately greeted us, opening our car doors, taking our luggage and handing us welcome drinks.
The lobby actually has no traditional front desk, but rather several couches overlooking a tremendous view to the ocean where we were seated for check-in.
We had negotiated a room upgrade for an additional 10,000 SPG points per night to stay in an ocean view suite connecting to a deluxe room with two double beds. Our rooms were not ready just yet, so a St. Regis pool butler offered to set us up with chairs on the beach while we waited. While the guaranteed check in time is 4pm for this resort, we did expect to have the rooms ready slightly earlier as per the management’s estimates, but it was not until nearly 5pm that our rooms were ready. Other than that minor hiccup, the rest of the stay was nearly flawless.
Each deluxe suite is situated in individual buildings that have four guest rooms (two on each floor). We had the entire upper floor of our building to ourselves and enjoyed great views of one of the resort’s three infinity pools and the ocean.
Our suite was very large at 1,200 square feet and attached directly to the other room. The decorations were very tasteful, classic resort style with thatched ceiling, large sitting room, balcony and an elevated bedroom.
Directly in front of the bed was a cabinet housing a TV that contracts to reveal a view through the living room to the balcony. The living room is large and includes a couch and full dining table, as well as second TV. There are large sliding double doors that lead to the balcony, which works as a great space for entertaining.
The bathroom was massive with double sinks, a TV, a shower room with a bathtub and French doors leading to an outdoor shower, which was situated in a very private little courtyard-like space full of plants and flowers, making for a very natural experience.
Each of the resort’s four restaurants have slightly different cuisines, ranging from classic Mexican to Italian. There is a full breakfast buffet each morning poolside at La Marietas Restaurant & Bar, and although the buffet itself was quite pricey, there were a la carte options available as well.
Room service was quick and your personal butler (every suite has one assigned) is very attentive to your needs. Your St. Regis butler is available 24/7 via email, so you can still contact him or her from the beach or if you venture off-property. The hotel also offers free shoeshine service as well as two complimentary pressed garments per person each day.
The resort has three bi-level infinity pools, with one of them designated for adults only. We tried each pool (well, each layer of every pool) and found them all to be very pleasant and relaxing. Every pool area also had a Jacuzzi.
Everything was close together, so it was never more than a two-minute walk along the beach between each facility.
The resort’s signature Remède Spa, in a secluded spot near the back of the property, featured a sauna, steam room, and private treatment rooms, as well as cold plunge pools, Jacuzzis and relaxation areas. The services seemed pretty pricey so we opted to use the complimentary fitness center each day instead — we later spoke to some people who indulged in a spa treatment and said they loved it. There was quite an air of decadence around this property, especially in the spa. Some room packages did include complimentary spa treatments, but unfortunately not when you pay with points.
The fitness center was adjacent to the spa and was actually quite large for a resort of fewer than 150 rooms. The equipment was state-of-the-art and it never felt crowded inside.
Outside the hotel grounds but inside the Punta Mita resort property, which also includes a Four Seasons Resort, there are two Jack Nicklaus golf courses — Punta Mita Pacifico and Punta Mita Bahia — as well as ten grass and hard-surface tennis courts and many beautiful bike and walking paths. The golf courses looked spectacular, with several holes within a few feet of the Pacific Ocean. There are also private villas lining the golf courses that are quite incredible to behold.
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort provides guests with complimentary bikes, which we used twice during our stay. The hotel also has a free shuttle to the tennis courts and golf clubhouse which are within a five-minute drive (but still within the resort property). We played tennis twice (opting for a grass court the second time); the courts were very well maintained and it was easy to rent racquets.
The St. Regis Punta Mita proved to be one of the most sumptuous and well-maintained hotels we have ever stayed at. The rooms and facilities were all impeccable. Despite the slight hiccups we experienced while checking in, the service was excellent. Having a dedicated butler definitely made a big difference throughout the trip. The rooms were extremely spacious and the hotel never felt crowded despite being sold out, a testament to the well-conceived layout with three separate pool and restaurant areas. At the end of the stay, we left feeling very relaxed and refreshed. If you are looking for a five-star experience within North America, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort should be at the top of your list.
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