(This article may or may not contain affiliate links. What does that mean?)
"They locked up my fruit," Knox held the clear, acrylic container close to his pout, trying to figure out how to spring the pieces of cantaloupe from under the locked latch. He pulled at the clamp trying to release the lid but grunted in frustration. "Here, give it to me," I said, laughing softly at his intensity.
Until that morning, we too felt like we had been held captive like most families stuck at home since the March 19 stay-at-home order.
Our boys - like every other kid in the United States - had to attend school on screen. But COVID numbers had started to go down, hotels had started to offer extended stay specials with enhanced cleaning programs, and since we could take their computers anywhere, on this morning, we found ourselves eating breakfast in the gorgeous resort of the Conrad Punta de Mita in the Mexican state of Riviera Nayarit. Sitting outside, we could see and hear the brilliant ocean, diamonds bouncing off the water and waves flattening with a soft hiss.
NO TIME TO READ NOW? PIN OR BOOKMARK THIS ARTICLE FOR LATER!
When we arrived at our beachfront room at the Conrad Punta de Mita resort, the day before, I could see the boy's mouths drop beneath their masks when they opened the door. Their living space for this trip was very different from the cozy, practical confines of our RV trailer, the bubble in which we last traveled at the end of the infamous summer of 2020. This was something very special.
Curious about the room? Meet the two cutest tour guides below!!!!
The Conrad Punta de Mita is a luxury 324 room resort in, obviously, Punta de Mita, Mexico. The rooms in the hotel are divided into two sections. The first is the main building, surrounding the lobby, and gym and spa facilities.
Plus, there are nine stand-alone "Casas" that feature outdoor walkways connecting four floors of 12-15 rooms each.
Some suites in the Casas offer plunge pools and outdoor showers. All have balconies with ocean views and come equipped with spectacular sunsets. Our room had two queen beds and an oceanfront view. The view of the ocean, a strip of island floating in front of distant hills, all under a salmon and sunflower striped sky, opened everyone's hearts in the gentle way where people don't realize their hearts had been closed. The Conrad Punta de Mita generously hosted us but this type of room sells between $300-$500 a night depending on availability and season.
Safer Certificate: Clean Stay Program
The Conrad Punta de Mita had the horrible misfortune of planning its grand opening for March of 2020. After another delay, they finally swung their doors open in September 2020, enticing visitors with an impeccable Clean Stay program, practiced by all Hilton hotels, a masked staff, and reduced resort capacity. While we prefer the clean power of essential oils, I know many people prefer to obliterate their germs with the power of disinfecting products like Lysol. Hilton has partnered with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic to find the most effective way to really destroy any potential of bacterial or viral transmission in their rooms, gyms, and restaurants.
One afternoon, I walked in on the staff cleaning our room. The masked housekeeper held an aerosol can of Lysol over our bed and it appeared like she intended to empty its entire contents over our comforter before I told her it was ok. At that point, it was our second night there so we already felt safe.
Although we passed masked guests walking around the pool area and shared the dining areas with them, we really did feel like we had a lot of personal space at the resort for much of our stay. This felt good and bad at the same time. We love interacting with new friends from places around the world when we travel. My boys always bring home stories about the new best friends they met on our family trip. We just have to accept that travel is going to be different for a while.
The Conrad Punta de Mita resort is selling only half of its available rooms as of March 2021. They are following government mandates and will respect the reduced capacity protocol until they get the all-clear notice.
Things to do at the Conrad Punta de Mita
There are plenty of things to do to keep your family occupied while staying at the resort. To be honest, we only left the resort once and that was because we were curious about the town of Punta de Mita.
Three pools offer a variety of experiences for visitors under the inviting warmth of the sun. One pool is reserved for adults and includes access to a pool bar to enjoy while kids are elsewhere. The Activity Pool is long enough to swim morning or evening laps. At some point, the hotel will start operating at full capacity so this will be the best time to do it but right now guests could easily tick off laps anytime.
We had the most fun at the Family Pool where we took turns going down the waterslide. We progressed from sliding like regular people to holding onto each other's legs like a train, and finally to throwing ourselves down headfirst. Yes. We all did it. When you can have uninhibited fun with your kids is when they feel most close to you. Or at least my kids with me.
Here is the video of our trip and how you could have your safe adventure too!
We started every morning with breakfast at Arbol. Guests could choose between the continental buffet or order off the menu. My favorite dish on the menu was the roasted vegetable frittata topped with chunks of creamy feta. I also loved the chia seeds soaked overnight with avocado pudding topped with fresh fruit. So refreshing and invigorating.
Howard enjoyed the traditional Mexican breakfast of Chilaquiles. The boys gathered most of the pastries at the buffet with a side of sugar cereal. And they didn't forget to spread Nutella over toast. They aren't allowed to eat like this at home so they take full advantage on trips. I'm ok with it as long as they balance it with fruit so they take a bite or two of melons or bananas. I know. I'm a tough mom.
Lunches we loved eating at our lounge chairs by the pool or inside the poolside restaurant, Paleta. Paleta serves all the kid-standards, chicken nuggets, burgers and fries, pizza.
But they also serve some super yummy poke bowls, oysters on the half shell, and flatbread pizzas.
Howard gravitated toward the vegan burger. They have some great mocktails for those that don't drink or want to start that early. I enjoyed the La Sandia which was watermelon, lime, lemongrass, jackfruit, and hoja santa syrup in sparkling water. But they also offer a fully leaded bar too.
Mezquite, set on the beach with your choice of sand or wood under your feet with either a lounge couch or ocean-facing tables to sit your party. The restaurant has an open wood-burning oven where fish and meats are cooked over hot coals in a 500-year culinary tradition called Zarandeado. We could taste how tender this method of cooking made our food.
The spices soaked right into the meat and coated it with goodness. Some nights there's a live band. On our first night, we got lucky and heard actual musicians playing on their sandy stage. It's funny how underappreciated the little things are until they're gone.
Set in the back of Arbol, is a private room lined with barrels and bottles, reserved for taking a ride on the leaves of the agave plant, through history and community. Estaban, our guide, shared with us the technique of smelling, sipping, and savoring the distinct distilled beverages produced by this succulent. Every experience can vary depending on the mood of the tequila sommelier but during our evening, we sampled:
Each drink came with its own glass and its own story.
We had a great time discussing it all and pairing it with the hors d'oeuvres that complimented each drink.
Calibri Roasting Co.
The resort has a convenience store where baristas make espressos, smoothies, and coffee concoctions for guests who need a little pick-me-up. There are snacks and high-end grab-and-go meals - sandwiches and salads - muffins and pastries. If you're coming from a significant time change, you'll appreciate this. They normally only operate until 3 pm but when we enquired at the front, they sent someone to open it up for us after hours. That was so sweet, we really appreciated it!
Spa and Gym
There's a spa. I didn't go. But it sounds nice. There is also a fitness center that I did go into so I could do my online yoga class. They didn't have yoga mats, only stretching mats, so bring your travel mat if you have one. I didn't have one, so I used their stretching mat and slipped and slid during my routine. But it was okay because I was alone and the absence of sound was a welcome treat for my mental well-being.
The fitness center has all the machines. And they face the gorgeous resort, ocean, and tropical plants so you can't help but zen out no matter what you do. And that's sort of the point, right?
There's a tennis court which we saw but didn't use and they have an outdoor, lighted basketball court which I didn't see.
When our boys disappeared, this is where we always found them. There is a video game console attached to a huge flatscreen TV, stocked with all the popular games. We have strict time limits for these during our normal lives but since the last year has been anything but normal, we allowed them to have their own zen (zombie) session during our trip so mommy and daddy could have some quiet time.
There is also a foosball table, a pool table, ping pong, and air hockey. There are board games too.
Yep, they have one! There's also 24-hour babysitting available though we didn't do either. Normally, we steal a day or two by putting them into the Kid's Club at whatever resort we are visiting but since there weren't any other kids there, we knew it wouldn't be as much fun for them.
The beach was bitchen. Right in front of the resort is the best place for family activities. We swam in the warmish water. Howard surfed. We walked along the beach for a couple of miles and discovered adventures in the way that kids do and adults who remember how to be kids, because they're around them, also do.
Normally, the resort will offer SUP and surf or boogie boards but that wasn't available during COVID time so Howard brought his own surfboard from home.
Land and Sea Excursions
The concierge will be happy to book your family adventure through Vista Paraiso or Vallarta Adventures. They say Vista Paraiso specializes in land activities while Vallarta Adventures excels in water adventures.
We got to go horseback riding through a town, a jungle, and finally the beach where our guide asked us if we wanted to gallop the horses. I'd never had this opportunity, so I had to take it! However, having ridden horses before, but never at a run, it was all I could do to hold on as I felt myself sliding to the right on takeoff. I kept shouting to the kids that they must also hooooooold ooooon!!!!!! I was thinking an instruction or two on how to best do this might have been helpful. But we were fine. More than fine, we had a great time! Our horses ran through the water and we laughed through the sand.
We also got to ride ATVs with Vista Paraiso. The adults drove and the kids held on in the two-person vehicles. We went off-roading through the jungle and I got to skid out through the turns. I don't think the boys knew I could drive so fast. Secrets mommies keep....
When we arrived back to their farm, the boys petted the goats and giggled at the chickens crowing everywhere. We'll include this action section in our YouTube channel when I write about Sayulita because even though we did all this right in front of, and around, the resort, we booked it through the Vista Paraiso office in Sayulita. However, you could book it through the hotel.
Things to Do Nearby
The Conrad Punta de Mita lies within an exclusive gated community off Litibu Beach that includes other luxury hotels and access to the Litibu Golf Course. We passed this course on the road to the resort and it looked beautiful. Lush and green. This 18-hole, par 72 course is designed by Greg Norman and open to guests.
The Conrad Punta de Mita has beach cruiser style bikes and you can borrow them to ride around the gated community.
Downtown Punta de Mita
The L-shaped town of Punta de Mita is about a 10-minute drive from the resort community. It really is tiny. We walked through it in about 15 minutes and we walked sloooowwww. There are shops for souvenirs and a fun beach to sit or surf. When you're done exploring, there is a line of taxis waiting at a stand on the main street to take you back to your resort.
We didn't get a chance to eat there but we did get some recommendations for next time. Some of the restaurants that our concierge recommended are:
- Tuna Blanca - organic options in the traditional cuisine of the Mexican Pacific coast.
- Hector's Kitchen - Chef Hector Leyva brings together bold flavors from the many regions of Mexico to create a sampling through his own travels.
- Lobster Paradise - Anything with lobster in its name has to be paradise.
- Sufi - Its tagline is "Rescuing the origin of the kitchen from the streets" I don't know what that means but it's got a killer view.
- Casa Teresa - If you're tired of eating Mexican, you can eat Italian here. Looks charming.
- Punta Mercedes - Argentinean grilled food is their thing with seafood and steak options. Vegetarians and pizza lovers will also be happy here.
After being banished to Zoom School, we took our screens to the Conrad Punta de Mita resort in Mexico Riviera Nayarit. Here are the most fun things to do there with kids!
Where to Stay: Hotels in Punta de Mita
Mexico never shut down its country's economy or closed its borders to visitors, yet interestingly, their deaths per million count is lower than ours in the United States. There could be many reasons for that but their economy still suffered as a result of lowered visitation from the countries that were locked down.
As a response to these lockdowns and to appeal to travelers, who suddenly found themselves without a location to which they must report daily, many resorts, including the Conrad Punta de Mita, introduced an extended-stay program. Stay two weeks and they will host you for the third. This includes high-speed wifi and a tutor you can reserve for your kids in advance. You'll get 20% off food and beverage, your laundry done for you (!), and complimentary use of the Kid's Club so they can do fun things like surf for their P.E. class.
Other resorts in the area that also have extended stay offers
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita - The AAA- Five Diamond Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has designated study cabanas around the pool and beach that can easily be transformed into private workstations with grand views of the Pacific Ocean. Each study cabana is outfitted with Wi-Fi, a TV monitor, headphones, a portable charger, lap pad and energizing snacks such as fresh fruits, smoothies and popsicles. Check for special offers - right now book 7 nights in a private residence and they'll provide you with a $500 grocery credit and airport transfer or book 3 nights in a room and get the 4th for free.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit - Overlooking the clear water of Banderas Bay, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is a AAA five Diamond all-inclusive resort located in the family-friendly town of Nuevo Vallarta. The Home to Grand extended-stay program for travelers currently working from home and looking to stay in this paradisiacal setting for a longer time. In addition to unlimited Wi-Fi and all-inclusive perks, through this program guests have access to private airport transportation, room upgrades, private beach dinners, and private classes including fitness and cooking.
Of course, there are AirBnBs and other hotels in which to stay. Use this interactive map to find the exact location of many options with current best deal prices.
The 1219 miles from Los Angeles is about a 3-hour flight from Los Angeles International Airport - an easy weekend getaway for Southern California families. Alaska Airlines flies there 4 times daily, Korean Air also goes 4 times, and American Airlines flies there 3 times each day. They are the most frequent flyers for this route.
You can easily get an idea of the best prices available for the dates you want to visit and lock them in by using the interactive field below.
It takes about 28 hrs to drive. I bet it would be an adventure but if you're bringing kids you better have a road trip plan!
As of January 26, 2021, every person entering the United States must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. No worries. Conrad Punta de Mita offers them onsite to guests. You can also get them at these area hospitals. Or you can also get a test at the airport before you fly out.
Before the COVID-19 quarantine crackdowns, we traveled a lot. We did this for many reasons, one of which is the path to understand another's culture is the way to connect to the rest of the people in the world. Sequestered at home, our family got a chance to connect with each other, distraction-free. After almost a year of this, we welcomed the distractions.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE CONSIDER PINNING OR SHARING IT!