After being on Zoom calls for well over a year as a member of the Virtuoso Preview Advisory Board for the One&Only Mandarina, I was finally going to experience in person this brand new resort an hour from the Puerto Vallarta airport, on a raw, protected part of the Riviera Nayarit coastline where mountains meet the sea.

From the moment I arrive at Mandarina I feel safe. The entire resort is so open-air and spread out, it is perfect for social distancing. All employees wear masks. For more on my experiences traveling in airports, planes, Mexico and in general during Covid-19 see HERE.

Mandarina is a true marriage of jungle and ocean! A rare oasis where nature takes center stage at all times, even in your room.

Spread out over 600 acres, each of the 112 rooms is a free-standing treehouse jungle abode, with a plunge pool, surrounded by nature, and a wonderful peaceful vibe.

I breakfasted every morning at Alma restaurant, with green mountains all around, looking out on the infinity pool, into the azure horizon of ocean.

Atop Mandarina, we dined at Carao, where Top-Chef Enrique Olvera designed a delicious artistic meal for us. At water’s edge, on the beach, is Mandarina’s third restaurant Jetty where you’ll find simple, fresh and delicious fare. Service throughout the resort is impeccable.

Travel around Mandarina is by buggy, a golf cart driven by staff. I really enjoyed getting to know my buggy drivers, their lives and how this pandemic has affected them.

Sometimes in the evening and early morning you can see a tejon (badger) or a group of tejones crossing the path, or in your window! They go their way and you go yours and are a treat to see!

Video courtesy of Annette Sordoni

It took over 7 years to complete Mandarina for environmental and archeological reasons. Boutique and spread over 600 acres, Mandarina’s design was driven by nature. Each treehouse has its own compost waste system (operating as a regular guest toilet); minimal use of single-use plastic; fresh locally sourced food; and strong community support and hiring. They also section off important artifact sites and enable archeologists to research and catalog relics.

You can just chill and enjoy the setting, property, service and be alone. Or engage in Mandarina’s many activities for all ages–open-air and distanced, solo or for your group–including yoga, sailing, diving, zipline, hiking, day trips, spiritual exploration and so much more.

I had the best massage in years from Ana at the wonderful spa, open by appointment. Mask worn by all including myself.

For those who have a bit more time and adventurous spirit there are raw beaches, magical towns (pueblos magicos) and great explorations in the nearby mountains and coast.

I rented a car for under $100 for my 9 day trip, pick up and drop off at PVR.

This is where I traveled Nov 3 – 11, 2020

I first visited Mexico in 1974, Cancun, in the early days when my family bought a condo with another family. Very raw and fun for a teenager and where my love of travel and adventure was honed. In hindsight environmental measures weren’t a priority. So glad to see increasing awareness of Mexico’s beauty and resources, need to protect them and ways to get there!

My buddies at SpearMEX, the best folks for water adventures in Punta Mita!

Since my early explorations of the Yucatan, I’ve traveled inland, along the coast, from coast to coast, discovering Mexico’s natural and cultural richness and warm hospitality.

Mexico, I always leave happy, amazed and wanting to explore more! Me encanta!