Hello friends, and happy Wednesday. Can you believe we’re almost through another month, and just days away from April? What’s even harder to believe is our sweet (not so) Little Miss turns 17 on Friday!!
I’ve been hugging her extra tight this week, and watching her leave for school with a lump in my throat. Parenting is so hard on so many levels!! It’s like walking around with your heart outside your body from the moment they’re born … and as the mother of an almost 22-year-old, it doesn’t look like that will ever change, no matter how grown.
But let’s talk about fun stuff today … travel!! As you know, we absolutely adore Mexico … the people, the culture, the food! Not to mention, the quick non-stop flight from Dallas and no time-change, Mexico is always an easy choice for us!
We usually head to the Yucatan area, with the white sand and blue waters, it’s hard to resist. But one hotel on the Pacific side has been on my radar since opening two years ago, and we decided it was the perfect spot to celebrate my big birthday (even if it was four months later, thanks to our passport snafu)! So with brand-new passports in hand, we flew to Puerto Vallarta for a few glorious days at the One & Only Mandarina.
The One & Only Mandarina is one of the coolest and most unique hotel properties we’ve ever stayed! Woven seamlessly into the coastal rainforest, the hotel is built high in the Sierra Madre mountain, spanning across 300 acres.
Each of the 105 free-standing villas and treehouses, tucked discreetly throughout 80 acres of dense jungle canopy for the ultimate in seclusion and quiet, has its own private plunge pool and comes with expansive views of the jungle or the Pacific Ocean. Mexican culture is present everywhere, through refined design touches like beds draped in Mexican textiles and ceramic mugs made by artisans in Oaxaca.
The property is situated within easy driving distance of the relaxed beach towns of Sayulita and San Pancho, but with the abundance of on-property amenities from multiple restaurants and pools to hiking trails and water activities, we never left the grounds. Built fully in-tune with nature, it’s equal parts wild and refined, and luxury without pretension.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: We flew non-stop to Puerto Vallarta airport, then arranged for private transfer via the hotel for the 45-minute drive to the property. We never left the property, never saw anyone but staff and other guests, and felt completely safe the entire time.
The food is exceptional, but super expensive, so we took full advantage of the free breakfast to fill up for the day!
The One & Only Mandarina Spa is on a level all its own, with full amenities included, and a huge selection of services. We had a couples massage that was incredible, and also enjoyed the steam and sauna rooms and cold plunge pool outside of our appointment on other days.
There’s also a huge Kids Club with a beautiful Butterfly Garden worth checking out! See more of our adventures HERE.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: No question this property is a splurge, so we made sure to take advantage of all included amenities, like the spa, breakfasts, hiking trails, etc.
With several restaurants and bars on property, we were able to try a different spot for dinner each night. And although the food is on the fancier side, the dress code was still relaxed.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: Dinners in the restaurant are 5-star chef menus, but more affordable ‘everyday’ food is available on the room service menu. And honestly, our favorite night was eating burgers and guacamole on our private patio!
With so many nooks throughout the property, we rarely hung out at the same spot twice! Sunsets at the Treehouse Bar with cocktails and snacks was our favorite way to end the day.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: Given the sheer size and steepness of the property, electric golf carts are used to shuttle guests to activities, restaurants, pools, etc, but we never waited more than a few minutes for a ride. We attempted to walk to breakfast a few times, but ended up lost, ha!
We booked our stay through Elevate Travel, which included a free full breakfast and room upgrade, plus we took advantage of a ‘4th Night Free’ promo the hotel is running! We stayed the first two nights in a Cliff Villa, and moved to a Treehouse for the last two… and both were unbelievable!
The rooms come stocked with a Nespresso maker, water, and yoga gear, plus amenities to use while on property like beach totes, binoculars, and umbrellas. We honestly could have spent the entire stay in our room … they’re that spectacular!
It was truly an unbelievable stay, with so much nature, beauty, and incredible service … we were in awe the entire time. One & Only Mandarina is a one-of-a-kind property, and I’m so grateful we were able to experience it.
What dream properties are on your bucket list?