best mexican resorts

For most of us, the perfect vacation must include equal parts luxury and adventure. We want to break out of our everyday lives to explore new territory, but we’d also like to order room service from a bed with high thread-count sheets. We want to be immersed in the sights and sounds of our destination, all while weaving in and out of a good spa and a restaurant with a view.

I call the hotels and resorts that nail this balance of adventure and luxury, “Goldilocks” properties. They’re not too big, but not too small. The service is impeccable, but you’re still able to operate independently. They’re luxurious and beautifully appointed, but don’t feel cold or institutional like some giant resorts can. These properties are designed to blend into the coastline, jungle or cityscape we want to experience so that we can enjoy bucket list moments from pools, rooftops and rooms with great views.

cala de mar

Cala de Mar Resort and Spa in Ixtapa, Mexico is one of the ultimate Goldilocks properties, and they recently hosted me for a return visit after years of recommending the spot to friends. The spectacular aerial photos of this place put Cala de Mar at the top of our list years ago. Once we drove through the resort’s Jurassic Park-like gates and found ourselves beneath their four-story thatched canopies, we knew we were in the right place. 

While I’ve been recommended this resort for years, Cala de Mar was also honored by Travel & Leisure in 2020 as number 38 on their list of ‘Top 100 Hotels in the World’  and number one resort hotel in Mexico the same year. That said, Cala de Mar is still lesser known than most of Mexico’s top luxury resorts destinations. For anyone looking to slip off the map for a few days and discover something new in Mexico beyond Cabo, Tulum, or Mexico City.

Inside Cala de Mar Ixtapa: The Goldilocks of Mexican Luxury Resorts

suite at cala de mar

The 5-star resort is less than a 4-hour flight from Los Angeles and tucked into a private cove that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve landed in the Mediterranean by mistake. Here’s what you need to know: 

Cala de Mar offers few more than fifty indoor-outdoor suites, all stacked into a dramatic cliffside between the Sierra Madre Mountains, lush tropical jungle, and the Pacific Ocean. The property is small enough to feel boutique, but big enough so that you’re not dining alone at any of their outdoor restaurants each night — unless you want to: there’s also an incredible private dining option on the beach.

Each suite has a private outdoor terrace with it’s own infinity edge pool. Expect lots of stone tile, local wood and handmade woven items. The showers are open to the ocean view and the indoor rooms are furnished in quiet, natural tones that let the stunning natural environment shine.

Beneath the cliffs, winding jungle paths will lead you to the resort’s charming pools, each surrounded by a flock of white chaises, umbrellas and at least one stylish, in-the-know Mexico City couple at all times.

While leaving your room at Cala de Mar is absolutely optional (the view from your private pool and their locally-sourced room service menu make it difficult!), I highly recommend making time for a spa appointment or two. The same quiet, grounding interiors are echoed in the resort’s award-winning spa space. Massages incorporate ancient traditional herbs treasured in the region and, if you want to take things a step beyond the steam room, they even offer a sweat lodge experience too. Hikes, surfing, biking, fishing and more can all be arranged with the Cala de Mar staff.

If you’re after a Goldilocks vacation experience yourself, consider Cala de Mar for your next adventure. I was excited to bring a property I loved so much to our pages. Here are a few of my tips for travel:

+ When booking flights, consider arranging your Ixtapa-side car service through the resort.
+ Pack your travel supplements! Ixtapa may be a short flight as exotic travel goes, but the food and water are still exotic enough to require extra digestive support for most of us.
+ Wellness is easy at this resort, there’s a full gym with ocean view and the menus are filled with clean options any of our readers would love.
+ Pack plenty of swimwear. With an in-room pool and beautiful oceanside pools too, this is your chance to perfect the poolside look of your dreams.
+ Hit up Cala de Mar’s fresh fish market on at least one evening for dinner and take a tequila class with their local experts. If you’re lucky, you’ll see divers in the cove at night harvesting lobsters and other shellfish. It doesn’t get fresher than this.

Read Next: The Perfect Day I Spent Inside Baja’s Best Wellness Retreat, Rancho La Puerta

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