From a yacht anchored offshore, I can barely make out the structures hidden in the dense jungle. The dramatic volcanic rocks rising out of the water are topped with what appears to be just a canopy of trees. As I squint I begin to notice contemporary villas nestled into the lush hillside above the beach. These are the beginning of One&Only Mandarina Private Homes in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. Concealed within the jungle is not just the villas but also boundless life-enriching amenities.
Although they are still being constructed, awaiting buyers’ preferences for 2020 completion, each of the 55 four-to-eight-bedroom villas that comprise One&Only’s first residential property has a unique footprint based on its location in the terrain. With more space per lot than any other development in Mexico, the natural biodiversity thrives and provides tranquil and comforting privacy.
The homes seamlessly blend into the jungle with stone accents (think bathroom counters cut from single slabs of marble), earth-toned walls, outdoor soaking tubs, light-filled living rooms made for entertaining, and infinity pools that drop off to the jungle. The contemporary structures, designed by Rick Joy Architects, and the landscape transport you to South East Asia (although you’re only 30 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport). Open floor plans contribute to an airy atmosphere, allowing you to feel one with the natural surroundings. You look out the glass walls to tropical plants and vast ocean and hear nothing but the sound of the waves. The ambiance is unparalleled, but it’s the amenities that really make it.
It’s a place where the sun rises over misty horse pastures and you can watch the sunset from the fire pit at the end of the jetty, cocktail in hand. The hours in between can be spent at the Majahua Beach Club, paddle boarding down the winding estuary that runs through the property and enjoying a poolside dinner prepared by a renowned, Michelin-starred chef. Plus, all of the amenities of the adjacent 108-room One&Only Mandarina resort are available to homeowners, from turndown service to access to the nature-inspired spa. For the adventurous ones, the property encompasses extensive hiking, biking, and riding trails, as well as a climbing wall and zipline. Here, boredom is unlikely, and that’s a lot to say for a secluded beach community.
The property also has a Kid’s Club you would feel proud to send your children to. The club’s designer won an Oscar for her set design of Moulin Rouge, so it looks straight out of a movie. Complete with a butterfly sanctuary, treehouses, ancient petroglyphs found on the land, and Juan’s House—a fictional character’s hut where kids can learn about the insects that inhabit the land—the club allows children to immerse themselves in the jungle. And that’s not even all of it: Mandarina also has a farm where they can get acquainted with animals.
But the animals aren’t just for the kids…If you had to choose between petting horses and avoiding getting hit by a golf ball, which would you choose? It’s a no brainer if you ask me, or Mandarina Chief Business Development Officer Ricardo Santa Cruz. Over dinner in nearby Punta Mita, Ricardo explained that he intentionally did not build a golf course and instead included an equestrian center, based on the connection humans have with horses and the time-consuming and excluding nature of golf. Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club offers stables, polo fields, and jumping and dressage arenas. Plus, it’s the sister club to Aspen Valley Polo Club, so members enjoy the same rights.
Just a 15-minute drive away, the beach town of San Pancho offers an authentic Mexican experience worth leaving Mandarina for. The town is colorful and as beautiful as it is slow-paced and relaxed. Cobblestone streets are lined with pastel buildings draped in bougainvillea and tiny shops. Restaurants like Organi-k (for hearty acai bowls and poke) and Barracuda (for amazing ceviche and tacos) are not to be missed.
Jungle isn’t what you typically think of when you think of Mexico, but its part of what makes Mandarina unique. The flourishing landscape draws you in and the sleek architecture and endless amenities of One&Only Mandarina make you want to stay. It’s not often you go somewhere that is not just beautiful and luxurious but also undeniably special; it is a place anyone would be lucky to call home.