November 28, 2021

Exclusive Look Inside The One&Only Mandarina In Mexico, A $30,000 Villa, Polo Club, And More

One&Only Mandarina aerial view of Carao Restaurant and pool One&Only Mandarina From world-class surfing to…

From world-class surfing to pristine new beach resorts surrounded by lush mangrove forests, Riviera Nayarit in Mexico was the destination for my first fully vaccinated international journey. And what better locale than a magical new resort and residential community situated along the Pacific Ocean and backed by tropical rainforest.

The all-new One&Only Mandarina is a luxurious beachfront resort featuring 105 gorgeous standalone treehouses and villas elevated above the canopy and perched cliffside, all designed for indoor and outdoor living with outrageous views of the ocean, the surrounding Sierra del Vallejo mountains, and rainforest.

An easy one-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta Airport, past Punta Mita, the resort is hidden among the jungle mountains. When you arrive, you are greeted by the enthusiastic young staff with their traditional hand over heart, which fans of One&Only Resorts have come to love.

Guests are whisked away by their butler and taken via golf cart to the villa for easy check-in and even a sage cleansing of the space before the butler leaves. Butler service is only a call away, and they can transport you to any location desired on the property.

I was visiting the resort for an exclusive tour of the property’s massive new Villa One. The new villa offers almost 19,000 square feet of expansive space and boasts three bedrooms, an infinity pool, private spa and gym, full-screen cinema, wine cellar, and huge outdoor dining terrace.

The villa joins numerous signature villa options, including my favorites; Villa Pacifico, a 3,700sf sanctuary with two private swimming pools, extensive living space including a full-screen cinema and outdoor covered dining terrace with barbeque grill, and the stunning 2,900sf Villa Jaguar, offering two bedrooms, with a gorgeous infinity pool perched on a rugged cliff overlooking the beach.

We were invited to a private dinner at the new Villa One and met by the resort’s exceptional General Manager Serge Ditesheim, who was previously at Amanyara in Turks & Caicos. He is quite the congenial host and welcomes you as one of the family. With his kind leadership, the property is thriving, and with only six months since opening, the resort is already becoming a world-class destination.

We enjoyed a natural wine tasting experience with Executive Chef Olivier Deboise, followed by a sit-down dinner poolside on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Born in Central France to a French father and a Mexican mother, Olivier took his first steps in the family’s organic farm, where his grandparents produced organic wine. Among the wines we tasted were; Didier Grappe Les Insouciantes from France, Bichi La Gorda Yori from Baja Mexico, Schilcher Frizzante from Austria, and Occhipinti Alea Viva Vino Rosso from Italy.

His vast experience was apparent as he showcased a farm-fresh meal utilizing all local ingredients, including some of the best fish I have ever tasted. Our mouth-watering meal included; Yellowfin Tuna with fresh avocado & Mango, Pan-Fried Amberjack with carrot & grapefruit Mousseline, and Soursop Panna cotta. After dinner was filled with champagne as we enjoyed the villa’s suspended nest style lounge literally hanging over the jungle treetops as a local guitarist performed.

There are several delectable dining options at the resort, including the stunning Carao by famed Mexican celebrity chef Enrique Olvera. Situated dramatically on a cliff overlooking the ocean with a large infinity pool suspended over the edge, Carao is a quiet, relaxed yet elegant affair with classic Mexican cuisine.

Alma Restaurant is the destination for more casual farm-to-table dining and is fronted by Executive Chef Deboise. The open-air restaurant overlooks two swimming pools extending over a cliff. The Jetty Beach Club, located on the resort’s private beach, serves fresh seafood grilled to perfection over charcoal. The adjacent botanical bar, The Treetop, showcases refined unusual classic cocktails complimented by the fantastic views of the coast.

Part of the Mandarina development and Flatlands filled with natural mountain rivers is the family-oriented Canalan Beach Club, with its infinity-edged child-friendly pools and tons of activities for the family, including zip-lining through a jungle course.

Developed by RLH Properties, the area is a treasure trove of archeological wonders, with archeologists on staff who ultimately decide what gets built where and what areas absolutely cannot be touched. The private residences designed by Rick Joy Architects are built so that they are hard to distinguish from the natural landscape.

While at the beach lagoon, keep your eyes peeled for the resort’s own Crocodile Butler, who has the exciting job of monitoring the neighboring Mangrove jungle residents, including one crocodile that is 17 feet long.

If you like wildlife, don’t forget you are adjacent to a jungle, and you will enjoy tons of exotic birds, including one of the most sought after and rare birds, the Elegant Trogon, which followed me every day to the window of each room. Also, keep an eye out for the adorable badgers who frequent the villa pool areas foraging for leftovers.

The Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club is a game-changer for Mexico bringing world-class equestrian activities to the western coast. With modern-style horse stalls (including spacious equine terraces), the buildings were designed by famed architect Rick Joy (Amangiri), and Studio Caban, alongside field design by the famed Alejandro Battro and Piza Golf. The club also offers horseback riding lessons and trail rides to waterfalls and swimming holes.

The club will host several international events each year and weekly Mexican charro nights featuring local riders, live music, and festive cuisine. The polo lounge offers a unique dining experience, with a terrace and shaded cabanas to watch the action on the tournament-sized polo field. There is also a 30,000-square-foot jumping arena, 13,000-square-foot dressage arena, 20 acres of irrigated grass pastures, and an onsite veterinary hospital.

There is a lot to do at One&Only Mandarina, from guided mountain bike trails through the rainforest, surfing the various swells, or horseback riding along the beach. There is a well-regarded hike to a 500-year-old higuera blanca tree called La Abuela, a beautiful butterfly sanctuary, and a remarkable 42,000sf Kids Club complete with a Swiss Family Robinson style compound of treehouses and connected bridges.

You can spend a day of pampering at the One&Only Spa, which features a collection of six isolated, enclosed treatment rooms, offering experiences cocooned beneath a canopy of large Higuera trees. They have enlisted skincare brand Tata Harper for a holistic wellness immersion that goes beyond traditional spa experiences. The spa also includes mud baths and a marvelous Temazcal experience.

The One&Only Mandarina is a spectacular property that will quickly become the hottest destination in Mexico. The stunning design of the villas, the impeccable food, and the jungle setting are standouts. I am already making plans to return on vacation with friends as I am eager to share this amazing jungle meets ocean retreat.