The St. Regis Punta Mita: This resort will restore your faith in the service sector
- Intuitive service from caring staff; excellent attention to detail across the resort.
- Butlers bring coffee and treats each morning and housekeeping provides twice-daily service.
- Exquisite dining options, especially at Carolina and Altamira Cantina Gourmet.
The wait is almost over if you've held off booking The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort due to its multiyear renovation project. The resort is emerging from the first part of its extensive rehab with some refreshed guest rooms and suites, new dining experiences and a family pool complex.
TPG was there as work was winding down on the initial part of the renovation and saw firsthand why this resort will again take its place as a gem in the St. Regis portfolio.
Here's what's been refreshed thus far: the resort's oceanfront villas and some guest rooms; the Altamira lobby bar (which serves tasty Mexican cuisine); Las Marietas restaurant, bar and pool; as well as the resort's outdoor wedding spaces.
In May, part two of the renovation begins and will entail refreshing the rest of the complex's guest rooms and suites, its Remede Spa and the Beach Club.
This massive undertaking comes at a time when the St. Regis brand is expanding globally. The St. Regis Kanai Resort in Mexico's Riviera Maya opened earlier this year, and The St. Regis Los Cabos is in the works. In the Caribbean, expect properties in Aruba and the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) to debut in 2024. But here's why you might still want to keep the St. Regis Punta Mita at the top of your list.
The St. Regis Punta Mita sits on 22 acres of prime real estate on a coastal peninsula overlooking the Bahia de Banderas in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. It opened in 2008 with 89 rooms and 39 suites. Smartly designed casitas paired with lush landscaping make for very private accommodations and an oasislike resort complex that includes three pools, an expansive beach, five restaurants, a Remede Spa, a fitness center, two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, tennis courts and more.
This is what most of us envision when we think "luxury beachfront escape." It's a sprawling resort with multiple pools, restaurants and bars, tons of activities and a spa. Yet it never feels crowded due to lovely meandering paths across the property as well as lounging space so everyone is spread out. We especially loved the hammocks strung between palm trees on the grassy lawn between the adults-only pool and the beach.
I expected that couples would gravitate to The St. Regis Punta Mita for adult getaways, but there were actually many families with small children. The staff catered to them very nicely, too — setting up shady cabanas or umbrella-protected hideaways at the beach and pools, for example. La Tortuga Children's Club, with its daily program of activities and games, was also a popular place for kids 5-12.
While the resort is part of the Punta Mita luxury real estate development, it's insulated from the rest of the community, and you need to leave the resort gates to explore other parts of it. It's also just a short bike or car ride to the town of Punta de Mita, which has cafes, restaurants and some activities if you feel like getting off-property.
Why you'll love The St. Regis Punta Mita
Since its opening, The St. Regis Punta Mita has been a favorite of Marriott Bonvoy elite members, families, foodies and golfers.
Here are some reasons why you'll enjoy your stay, too.
Friendly staff members who care about every detail
During the pandemic, many hotels curbed services such as daily housekeeping and turndown service, and many have continued to de-emphasize those services — as disgruntled travelers have reported back from trips around the world in recent months.
We were immediately reminded of what we'd been missing, however, when we arrived at The St. Regis Punta Mita. No corners are cut here. Butlers were present across the resort, and housekeeping always seemed to know when we had left our room and refreshed it perfectly during those periods.
At the resort's bars, we were welcomed and waited on as soon as we crossed the threshold. Meals — whether it was an informal lunch or a multicourse tasting menu — were paced exactly right. Servers were engaging and friendly and had an incredible command of the menus, answering all the questions we had about the chefs' creations.
At almost every turn, we experienced excellent service that showcased hospitality hallmarks of authenticity, warmth and efficiency. We were well cared for by everyone, from our butler (every room and suite is assigned one at this St. Regis resort) and housekeepers to the restaurant hostesses and waiters to the pool and beach attendants.
Fine dining that's worth the trip
If you're particular about your dining experiences and consider yourself a foodie, The St. Regis Punta Mita will be a treat. It exceeded our expectations in every way.
Carolina, the hotel's fine dining restaurant, with chef de cuisine Angel Figueroa at its helm, was a phenomenal experience. While we initially didn't give much credence to its AAA Five Diamond award, it is, in fact, well deserved. The 10-course tasting menu was one of the best meals we've had in a long time. It cost about $170 per person ($145 for the wine pairings). The four-course menu was $115 per person.
If you want to taste the flavors of Mexico, you can't do better than a meal at Carolina. The chef's concept is to take the flavors and traditional ingredients from each state of Mexico and use them as a base to create something above and beyond what you can normally order at a high-end Mexican restaurant.
Each course presented flavor pairings in unexpected ways, and for most courses (save the sun-dried crickets), it left me wanting more. I surprised myself by loving the kampachi and orange tostada. I don't typically enjoy raw fish, but the combination of textures and fresh flavors — along with flower petals as accents — won me over.
The masa-based sope with earthy onion flavors sitting on a roasted pumpkin-seed sauce and sprinkled with cotija cheese was also a winner.
Finally, if you love lobster, you will appreciate the charcoal-grilled lobster tail on a bed of plantain puree. The lobsters here are smaller and sweeter than those from Maine, and the tender morsels were spectacular.
The restaurant setting, both the indoor dining room and outdoor terrace, is elegant, with the latter having knockout views over the resort and the Pacific.
Our waiter was excellent and he expertly guided us through the dining experience. He knew so much about the menu, the foods of Mexico and how a new generation of chefs is forging paths to develop next-level cuisine. His insights made for a fun, informative evening.
We also thoroughly enjoyed Altamira Cantina Gourmet, the lobby bar and restaurant with lounge-style outdoor seating overlooking the resort and ocean.
Chef José Meza has developed a delicious menu based on traditional recipes that are elevated with fresh ingredients from around the country.
We started the meal with made-to-order guacamole with crispy chips and pork rinds. The serving was too much for just two people, but it was delicious.
While it ended up not being the easiest menu item to share, we also tried the sope with suckling pig and grilled octopus. The ever-so-tender pork was so delightful that I ended up ordering the suckling pig taco as my main while my dining companion went for a dish of short rib and red chili.
Similarly to our experience at Carolina, our server at Altamira was excellent, offering on-target suggestions and pacing the meal just right. Appetizers start around $25 and entrees range from $34-$60.
We sadly didn't have any room left after our main courses, but Altamira also serves triple chocolate cake, flan and churros for dessert.
Finally, don't miss starting or ending your meal with a drink at the lobby bar. It's got a solid cocktail menu that includes mocktails. My favorite was the Charrito (lychee, lime and Earl Grey tea). In the evening the lobby bar and outdoor terrace had a romantic vibe. The terrace was softly lit up in a way that beautifully highlighted the reflecting pool that steps down all the way to the adults-only pool and beach. It was the spot where couples gathered in the evening, whereas families and groups seemed to prefer the Sea Breeze lounge (which had large-screen TVs playing sporting matches) near the Beach Club pool.
Breakfast at Sea Breeze, served from 7 a.m. to noon, was a treat each morning, with plenty of options for those without dietary restrictions.
While you can order a la carte at Sea Breeze Restaurant, most people I saw opted for the extensive buffet. Items were fresh and uniformly good, with plenty for those without dietary restrictions. There was also a small table with gluten-free bites. The buffet costs about $65 per person and is comped (with one caveat, see below in the "What you might not love" section) for Marriott Platinum and Titanium elite members.
If the buffet isn't your thing, a la carte options range from fruit to oatmeal to avocado toast, or you can go for options such as French toast, pancakes, waffles, omelets and eggs Benedict. Heartier dishes, from grilled rib-eye to burritos to enchiladas, are also available.
A continental breakfast for about $18 consists of a fruit plate, three assorted pastries or toast, plus coffee or tea and juice.
If you sit outside at Sea Breeze, there is also sometimes a trained falcon on duty to deter little birds from divebombing your plate to steal food.
Proximity to quaint Punta de Mita
We loved being able to leave the resort to visit the nearby town of Punta de Mita. The close proximity gives travelers additional options when it comes to dining out or doing a little shopping. We took the hotel car for just a few dollars per ride and hailed local taxis on the way back. (There's a taxi stand on Avenida El Anclote, where many restaurants are located.)
Lobster Paradise was our favorite restaurant. It's got a lovely view (especially at sunset) and the waiters were fantastic, offering on-target recommendations for our group.
Related: 11 things you should know before visiting Mexico
Great value for points — especially if your Suite Night Upgrade clears
Entry-level rooms — 600-square-foot garden-view rooms with a king bed or two queen beds — start at around $784 per night during months with lower occupancy, like October and November. The same category starts closer to $1,000 in winter months when folks from the Northeast and Midwest are looking for warm-weather retreats.
I booked my five-night December stay back in August. I could pay $925 (including taxes and fees) per night for a garden-view room, totaling $4,625 for the stay.
Or, I could redeem points for four nights and get the fifth night free per Marriott Bonvoy's award benefit. Redemption rates range from 80,000 to 126,000 points per night. Spring and early fall seem to have the cheapest award availability.
I went with the latter option and ended up redeeming 384,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for the stay. According to TPG's valuations, those points are worth 0.84 cents each, or $3,226 for the number I spent. By paying with points, I saved around $1,399 in value.
We went right before the December holidays so redemptions were pricey. I don't regret it since this was when the trip fit into our schedule. However, if you are booking on the high end of the points scale, you may wish to wait until after the renovation is complete so you have access to the full resort experience.
You can easily rack up Marriott Bonvoy points by using a Marriott-branded credit card, such as the following:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn three free night rewards worth up to a 150,000-point value (each is worth up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. After your account anniversary, you'll also get a free night award worth up to 35,000 points, which you can top up with an additional 15,000 points from your account. Certain hotels have resort fees. The annual fee is $95.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. No annual fee.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn 95,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. After your card anniversary, receive a free night award worth up to 85,000 points (which you can top up with a further 15,000 points from your account). This card fields a lot of other perks, but the card also charges a hefty $650 annual fee (see rates and fees).
If you don't want to add another credit card to your wallet, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to your Marriott Bonvoy account.
If you don't have points or Marriott elite status, there are ways to make a cash booking and get some nice additional perks. American Express' Fine Hotels + Resorts program and Skylark both offer the possibility of a room upgrade (based on availability at check-in), complimentary breakfast for two, a property credit, late checkout and more.
The rooms and suites
We did not stay in a renovated room or suite so I can't show you photos of that. But, first impressions from guests that did have the remodeled rooms were good. Some lamented that they didn't seem to highlight Mexican arts and crafts as much as the old decor, though.
The room we had was very comfortable and quite spacious, especially thanks to its outdoor balcony. It was simply decorated, with typical tiled floors and a ceiling with exposed beams, a king-size bed, a cushy armchair and ottoman and a large marble bathroom with both indoor and outdoor showers
In-room toiletries include Laboratoire Remede shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and bar soap. There was also a bottle of mouthwash plus things like a nail file, toothbrush, makeup remover pads, cotton balls and cotton swabs.
Housekeeping was fantastic, with twice-daily service, leaving out bottles of water and chocolate wafers in the evenings. I loved the terry slippers, a nice amenity that I wore when stepping out onto the balcony.
We booked a garden-view room and were told that we were upgraded to an ocean-view room. Maybe that was true when the resort was built many years ago, but the vegetation has grown so high since then that there really isn't a view of the water from here. No big deal for us since we thought we were getting a garden-view room anyway, but I would have been unhappy if this is what a paid ocean-view room looks like.
Extras and activities at The St. Regis Punta Mita
The St. Regis Punta Mita has the big picture well in hand, but it didn't miss a beat with the little details either.
Things like in-room treat deliveries (we received chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival and macarons and chocolate on the evening before departure) were surprise-and-delight at their best. And fun complimentary treats abounded around the resort, such as bloody mary shots in front of Sea Breeze Restaurant throughout the day.
From the weekly Champagne sabering ritual to the popular Friday night beach barbecue at Mita Mary Boat Bar & Bistro to complimentary snacks delivered to your pool or beach lounge chair, these little extras made our stay feel even more special.
Other thoughtful touches, such as hammocks on the lawn overlooking the ocean, were welcome, too — especially for guests without ocean-view accommodations who wanted a comfy place to relax without being on the beach.
On the activity roster, there are complimentary bikes for use and guided tours of the Punta Mita community as well as a clinic for anyone that wants to learn how to use a stand-up paddleboard.
There's also a baby turtle release program that's fun whether you're traveling with kids or not. Speaking of family vacations, La Tortuga Children's Club offers a variety of programming so kids can get a break from their parents (and vice versa).
While we didn't book any spa services, we did take a peek at the facilities and the atmosphere was very quiet and chill. You can book the usual sort of treatments here, from facials and manicures to massages. An intriguing menu of "Touchless Experiences" was also available and included a 45-minute chakra sound balancing treatment as well as a 30-minute zero-gravity massage, "which positions your body to make you feel weightless, stress-free and energized by elevating your feet to be at the same level as your heart."
The fitness center was open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and offered several treadmills, elliptical machines, exercise bikes, free weights, weight machines and strength-training equipment.
Golfers should appreciate the two Jack Nicklaus-designed courses: the 7,014-yard, par-72 Pacifico Course and the 7,035-yard, par-72 Bahia Course.
Here's what's unique about the Pacifico course: A "one-of-a-kind par 3 requires golfers to play their first shot from an onshore tee box to an island green located 194 yards away on a natural rock formation in the Pacific Ocean. At low tide, a submerged stone path to the green becomes passable." It's almost like a secret part of the course.
The Bahia course has views of Bahia de Banderas and part of the coast.
Why you might not love The St. Regis Punta Mita
Punta Mita is a gated community consisting of luxury resorts, villas and condos. It's not as central to the airport as Puerto Vallarta itself, and the nightlife is limited due to the insular nature of the complex. This can be exactly what you're looking for ... or not.
Despite the 45-minute drive from the airport, we enjoyed being tucked away in a quiet area with plenty of space for unwinding.
The drive from the airport
To get to Punta Mita, most folks fly into Gustavo Dia Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta. From there, you can arrange for a car service, get a taxi or rent a car. You could hail an Uber, but that option can be cumbersome because Punta Mita is a gated tourist complex.
Travelers who'd been to Punta Mita before told me it's a 25-mile drive along a "good stretch of highway." I found the first 25 minutes of the drive slightly rough due to the many speed bumps along the route. It takes about 45 minutes with no traffic. If you stay longer than a few days, the ride isn't too much of an issue. However, if you're here for a quick weekend getaway, you may want to select a hotel right in Puerto Vallarta to avoid the commute.
I booked round-trip car transfers directly with the hotel. It cost 2,670 pesos (about $147) from the airport to the resort and 2,100 pesos ($116) for the return leg. I could have booked elsewhere for a few dollars less, but I liked the ease of letting the hotel concierge book things like this on my behalf.
A taxi will run you 1,600-2,000 pesos ($88-$110), but be aware that not all taxis are air-conditioned.
Rental car prices vary depending on the season, but when I checked for my dates in December, I could rent a Nissan X-Trail for 4,700 pesos ($259) for five days.
Note for your flight back home: The lounge options at PVR consist of three underwhelming VIP Lounge locations. They are part of Priority Pass Select, but not worth arriving at the airport too early to experience.
The ongoing renovation
The second part of the resort's renovation starts in May and will continue for a few months. That will include refurbishments of additional guest rooms and suites, the spa and the beach club.
The resort was transparent about its progress and communicated with guests when amenities were unavailable. Still, if you're concerned, reach out to the resort in advance to confirm that the elements of the stay that are important to you are open for business.
We were there while construction was going on and it wasn't that intrusive. We did hear some noise during the day when on our balcony, but we were far enough away that it was muted. To be honest, the barking dog in the next casita was much more annoying, and even though I'm a devout dog fan, I did text our butler to ask if they could do something about it, which they did. (While the resort is pet friendly and we saw a lot of dogs on-property, guests aren't supposed to leave pets alone in their rooms for exactly this reason.)
The noise wasn't a nuisance for us, but the construction zone did block off some walking paths so we couldn't always take the most direct route between points A and B. I think that will be less of a problem now as the resort moves on to the next phase of the renovation.
Related: Should you stay at a new hotel right when it opens?
Missing out on Suite Night Upgrades
While I used points for my stay, I also applied a Marriott Suite Night Award certificate to the reservation. However, with many of the resort's suites out of commission due to the renovation, it did not clear. That was disappointing and tough to understand since suites were still showing up as bookable for my dates in Marriott's app at check-in time.
When I asked about it at check-in, I was told there were no suites but they'd see what they could do the next day. This was the one service stumble because no one from the front desk got back to me on this — even after mentioning it to my butler. My advice to the front desk: Don't promise a guest you'll check on something unless you plan to follow up. Not doing so is bad form.
Butler service might feel unnecessary
Butler service is one of the hallmarks of the St. Regis brand. Every room at the Punta Mita complex is assigned a butler to handle all requests, great and small. From fetching coffee in the morning to making dining reservations to arranging for off-property adventures, the butler is at your beck and call.
The butler may not be necessary or comfortable for people who prefer privacy and making their own plans, though. The great thing about St. Regis butlers is that they will take your lead and provide as much or as little contact as you prefer.
If you're staying with a group or have extensive requests (i.e., you haven't done any planning or booked any activities before your trip), your butler will save the day with spot-on recommendations and the ability to book on-property activities as well as things to do on the rest of the peninsula.
I'm a planner and we were only staying a few days, so I had preemptively booked everything we wanted. We also aren't the type to take up the butler on an offer to unpack our luggage, but we enjoyed having one available via text to answer questions and bring coffee to enjoy on our balcony before heading out for the day.
Related: Butlers 101: What you need to know
Marriott Bonvoy elite members pay a surcharge for the full buffet breakfast experience
This is nitpicking, but so many Marriott Platinum and Titanium elite members I met at the resort mentioned this to me that I feel compelled to share it here.
The breakfast at Sea Breeze Restaurant is very good, and while the cold buffet is complimentary for elite members, there is a per-person supplement if you want to enhance your meal with hot items such as made-to-order tacos, quesadillas, empanadas and chilaquiles. We paid the surcharge and it was well worth it, but for the brand's top elite members, it's strange that it isn't comped.
Related: Your complete guide to Marriott elite breakfast benefits
If you decide the St. Regis isn't the right resort for your trip, you've got plenty of other nearby options, four of which can be booked with hotel points.
- Conrad Punta de Mita: From 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Book through TPG partner Skylark for extra benefits.
- Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort: From 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
- Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort: From 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
- W Punta de Mita: 50,000-80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
- Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita: Book through TPG partner Skylark or American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts for value-added benefits like free daily breakfast and on-property credits.
- Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita: Book directly with Four Seasons.
Related video: Battle of the 5-star hotels: Watch us compare 2 luxury beach hotels in Mexico
Accessibility can be a challenge at beach resorts. However, The St. Regis Punta Mita has put thought into its layout with accessible entrances to the pool, spa, gym, business center and meeting spaces. Many casitas have stairs at their entrance, so if you require one with no or few steps, be sure to communicate that to the hotel upon booking.
There are accessible pathways throughout the resort that make it easy for walkers, but guests can also call for complimentary golf cart service. The process was quick and efficient during our stay.
In rooms, you'll find lever-style door handles, lowered vanities and roll-in showers for wheelchair accessibility, adjustable-height shower wands, bathtub guard rails, lowered deadbolts on guest room doors and alarm clock phone triggers. Doorways are also very wide and bedroom areas have plenty of room for wheelchairs, walkers or rollators.
I used to travel with my father, who used a wheelchair, and I'm not sure I would have taken him here. But if you're a wheelchair user that can easily transfer to a golf cart for transportation, you should be fine.
Want to learn more about St. Regis, Marriott or Mexico? Start here:
- Hotel reviews: St. Regis New York | St. Regis Maldives Vommuli | St. Regis Bahia Beach (Puerto Rico) | St. Regis Aspen | St. Regis San Francisco
- Complete guide to Marriott Bonvoy elite status
- How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
- Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?
- TPG's favorite points hotels on the beach in Mexico
For rates and fees of the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant, click here