Inside Mexico’s Luxury Hotel Renaissance: 9 New Resorts to Know
These properties, from Aman’s debut in the country to Four Seasons glamping, will define a new era
Mexico has long been one of the top 10 most visited countries in the world. Yet only in recent years has it been inching closer and closer to the top of that list. This rise, the beginnings of which were in motion before the pandemic, was accelerated with an assist from COVID and cooped-up Americans in need of vacations. Through 2020 and 2021, when health protocols closed off most of the world and the thought of spending long periods of time on planes became highly unappealing, Americans began to look south in greater numbers. Mexico became one of, if not the only viable beach vacation destinations welcoming visitors, and we paid closer attention. For those who didn’t already know, they quickly understood: Mexico is beautiful, and easy to get to, and they should have vacationed here sooner.
Moving into 2022, traveler numbers have only continued to rise, especially in the country’s three main beach resort destinations: Cabo, Riviera Nayarit and Riviera Maya. Cabo, for example, welcomed over 325,000 travelers in March 2022 alone, marking an 18% increase compared to March 2019, according to Los Cabos Tourism. Today, there are over 500 flights connecting Cabo with 26 cities throughout the United States and the destination expects that number to increase by 30% to meet demand. For Cancun (the gateway to Riviera Maya), there’s an average of 57 direct flights per day from the New York area alone; it’s also the most in-demand international flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth.
With an increase in travelers, however, comes a need for more hotels. Luckily, the demand for Mexico is being met with a steady supply of new properties — especially of the luxury variety. It’s something made possible, in part, by the seemingly unlikely but true reality that Mexico still has many incredible plots of untouched, oceanfront land prime for high-end resort development (something that wouldn’t be the case had the country’s tourism boom taken place 10, 15 or 20 years ago).
Now, a laundry list of the world’s best luxury hotel brands have either just opened, will open in the next few months or are set to open in the next few years, and we’ve got all the details. This means you won’t need to think twice about where to spend your vacation days for quite some time, besides picking between these nine resorts.
Cabo and Baja California Sur
A trip to Cabo used to mean visiting a resort along the 20-mile stretch of road between Cabo San Lucas to the west and San Jose del Cabo to the east, known as the Tourist Corridor. The coastline here has plenty of desirable hotels (think: One&Only Palmilla, Las Ventanas and Montage Los Cabos), but with land no longer available, ambitious developers are now planting their flags to the destination’s far east and far west — reshaping Cabo’s map and creating some of the region’s buzziest luxury hotels in the process.
Costa Palmas and Amanvari
For decades, nearly all travelers arriving at Los Cabos Airport would land and head west. But Costa Palmas, a 1,000-acre development on the Sea of Cortez, is turning heads in the opposite direction. Just 45 minutes northeast of the airport, the compound features two miles of swimmable beach, a world-class golf course, marina, organic farm and a Four Seasons that opened at the end of 2019. The pièce de résistance, however, is Amanvari. Set to open in 2024 and immediately become one of the country’s most coveted hotels, it marks ultra-luxury brand Aman’s first property in Mexico. Among its many selling points will be privacy, thanks to a tucked-away location in a far corner of Costa Palmas and its small room count of just 20 freestanding pavilions. Common areas will include a beachfront restaurant and a 100-foot infinity pool, plus a destination spa. You can expect it all to be executed with Aman’s unmatched eye for design and service that evokes the feeling of staying in the private home of your closest billionaire friend.
Cabo’s western boundary used to be Cabo San Lucas, the bustling marina town home to restaurants, bars and college kids on spring break. But now, massive developments to the west are pushing Cabo’s bounds and bringing new hotels with them. Nobu was the first notable hotel brand to debut in these parts when it opened in late 2019, and Hard Rock Los Cabos opened next door in May of this year. Next up on the new resort timeline is one for fans of legacy luxury: St. Regis Los Cabos. Set to open in 2023 in Quivira, a 1,850-acre collection of resort and residential communities, the hotel will boast 120 rooms, 74 lavish residences, three restaurants and direct access to 2.5 miles of beachfront. Of course, you’ll also enjoy St. Regis’s signature butler service along with a collection of swimming pools, decked-out cabanas, a thoughtful spa and wellness program, and Quivira Golf Club’s Jack Nicklaus Signature course.
While choosing to set up shop on the outskirts of Cabo is bold, bucking the Cabo boom and choosing another location in Baja California Sur all together is even bolder. Enter Chablé Hotels & Resorts and the town of La Paz. Located two hours north of Cabo, La Paz has been called “the next Cabo” (albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm) and the vast swaths of land outside the city are drawing in pioneering hoteliers. The most notable is Chablé, the small but expanding Mexican-owned boutique hotel company, which will open their Sea of Cortez property here in 2024. Their fourth entity, this architectural knockout will feature a collection of low-lying luxury villas designed to blend in with and echo the undulating topography of this desert-meets-the-sea location. You’ll also find a private beach, three dining venues, an oceanfront pool, and an integral spa and wellness program rooted in Mexican culture.
Beginning in Puerto Vallarta and stretching 200 miles up the central Pacific coast, Riviera Nayarit has long been one of Mexico’s most lauded beach destinations. And while its beauty hasn’t faded, Cabo, with its years-long and near-constant influx of luxe hotel openings, has hogged the spotlight. But now, with the help of a handful of stunning new properties from major brands (and even more on the way from the likes of Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood and Fairmont), Riviera Nayarit is ready to recapture the shine.
Set among jungle-covered, beachfront cliffs, One&Only Mandarina put Riviera Nayarit back on the radar of luxury travelers when it opened in late 2020. Housed within the new development Mandarina, it’s located just 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta Airport but gives off other-side-of-the-world vibes. The property features 105 treehouses and clifftop villas, each with its own plunge pool, as well as a pristine and private beach. While there are also multiple restaurants, pools and activities like horseback riding lessons at the Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club, it’s the wellness programming that really commands attention (which is saying something because one of the pools juts off a cliff). Jungle strength sessions and a full slate of yoga classes are among the fitness offerings. In-house spiritual guides are on hand to shepherd guests through experiences like divine masculine ceremonies where you’ll “reclaim key aspects of your masculine potential.” And their indigenous-traditions-meets-modern-therapy spa menu is so extensive you could spend your entire stay working your way through it and still not experience it all.
Set to open this fall, Susurros del Corazón will be Auberge Resorts Collection’s fourth property in Mexico (they have two in Cabo and one in Riviera Maya). Located about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta Airport, the 33-acre resort will offer 1,850 feet of secluded, white sand beach on the Bay of Banderas, four restaurants (including the Mexican farmhouse-inspired Casamilpa), a kids club and an Auberge Spa. The 59 rooms and suites will be oversized, with one- and two-bedroom suites clocking in between 1,400 and 2,000 square feet, and all will come equipped with spacious and comfortable private terraces. There will also be 49 residences onsite, including 6,500-square-foot, five-bedroom penthouses with plunge pools if you’re traveling with your entourage. You may never want to leave your plush room, but lounging by one of the three scallop-shaped pools that cascade down to the beach should entice you.
The 1,500-acre resort community Punta Mita has long been Riviera Nayarit’s top-of-mind luxury destination thanks in part to its two top resorts — a Four Seasons and a St. Regis. Both remain great choices despite their age (23 years and 14 years, respectively), but something brand new couldn’t hurt when it comes to staying relevant in this newly competitive hotel landscape. That’s where Naviva comes in. Opening in December, Naviva will be the Four Seasons’ first adults-only tented camp in the Americas, as well as one of the brand’s smallest offerings. Home to just 15 luxury tents, each with a private plunge pool, Naviva’s 48 forested acres also boast 575 feet of beachfront and an open-air gym with Pacific views. The wellness program, a cornerstone of the Naviva experience, will offer holistic services rooted in local heritage, a traditional Mexican temazcal (“house of heat”), and cocoon-like spa pods among the trees. Also of note: Nightly rates will include all meals, snacks, premium wines and spirits, one 60-minute spa treatment per guest, mind and body classes, and various community activities.
Cancun and Riviera Maya
For some, the city of Cancun and the region of Riviera Maya (home to well-known towns like Playa del Carmen and Tulum) bring to mind images of white sand beaches and turquoise water. For others, it’s spring breakers, lackluster all-inclusives and wannabe influencers (looking at you Tulum). The latter set, thankfully some might say, is becoming less true. It’s a trend that began back in 2006 with the opening of Mayakoba and its collection of four high-end resorts (including a Fairmont which is currently wrapping a top-to-bottom, multi-million-dollar renovation), but has only recently accelerated as more luxury hotel brands lay down roots and lend their stamp of approval.
Just up the road from Mayakoba, and only 30 minutes from Cancun Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen, Kanai is a gated, 1,235-acre compound that will ultimately house four luxury resorts. While the brand that will occupy the fourth and final plot at the end of the property’s 1.2-mile beach has yet to be announced, leaving more new hotel news to come, the rest of the oceanfront is stacked with top-tier names. There’s the founding resort, Etéreo from Auberge Resorts Collection, which opened in December of 2021, alongside the St. Regis Kanai Resort and the Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai (both of which are slated to open later this year). While you can’t go wrong choosing any of the three, the Edition, with its effortless cool factor, stands out as the most intriguing. As Edition Hotels’ first property in Mexico, it’ll offer 180 rooms and suites, including an impressive 2,200-square-foot penthouse. Plus, with six dining and drinking establishments, including a pool bar, beach club and a signature restaurant, it’s sure to become Kanai’s see-and-be-seen hotspot.
If you haven’t been to Cancun since college, this Waldorf Astoria is likely to convince you to come back when it opens in November of this year. Secluded on 100 acres, yet just 15 minutes from Cancun Airport, the resort will offer incredibly easy access to paradise alongside the brand’s signature service and sophistication. Once on site, you’ll find 173 ocean-view rooms and suites, each complete with balcony and private plunge pool, as well as a private beach just steps away. Should you tire of your personal swimming space, the resort has plenty of others to choose from, including adult, family and serine spa pools. Speaking of the spa, it’ll offer eight indoor and 13 outdoor treatment rooms, providing ample space to experience the plethora of services rooted in Mexican healing traditions. Should all that relaxing make you peckish, there are also six unique spots to grab a bite, including the resort’s signature seafood restaurant, Malpeque.
Chablé makes the list once more with the upcoming opening of luxe eco-resort Casa Chablé. Set to debut later this year, the secluded hotel sits on a strip of land between the ocean and a lagoon, surrounded by the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Its remote location 22 miles south of Tulum is part of its allure, and getting here involves a 35-minute boat ride from the biosphere’s entrance. Disembarking on the resort’s dock, you’ll find just five beachfront bungalows and five guest suites in the main villa, all powered by solar and wind. There’s also an oceanfront spa bungalow, a cigar bar and over 600 feet of private beach dotted with canopy beds and hammocks. Being secluded doesn’t mean sacrificing gourmet food though. Casa Chablé’s culinary program was designed by Jorge Vallejo, chef/owner of Mexico City’s Quintonil (one of the world’s best restaurants), and is served in the property’s thatched-roof restaurant. Never wanting to leave the grounds would be perfectly reasonable, but the surrounding area is jam-packed with possible activities, like kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, fly-fishing and visiting local ruins.
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