Why Mexico Is Exactly Where You Want to Be in 2017
So ... Mexico.
At the very time that U.S. President Donald Trump doubles down on his promises to build a wall dividing his nation from its neighbor to the south, and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto grapples with his response, Mexico is experiencing a boom in luxury tourism that has made it an appealing destination for travelers from America and beyond.
The west coast has remained blissfully Zika-free, and new resorts (and resort towns) are sprouting up in many corners of the nation. René Redzepi is bringing his acclaimed Nordic restaurant Noma to Tulum. And smaller towns scattered throughout are seeing a burst of tourism, centered on authentic experiences that tend to revolve around tequila and tacos. Pay attention to your nation's travel advisories and stick to areas with trusted hospitality and travel providers, and you'll find that now is an excellent time to visit Mexico.
And if you do, here are the most exciting places to go:
One of Mexico’s finest eating towns will soon be home to a stunning, 78-room Rosewood hotel, the first luxury hospitality venue in town. Set to open this spring, the hotel is taking shape in a collection of historic buildings around the city’s main square, with a courtyard that includes a 300-year-old chapel and an al fresco restaurant. Expect loads of local Talavera pottery—one of several traditional crafts on display—and the kind of impeccable service found at Rosewood’s other Mexico resorts. One key difference? The price tag. Whereas a night at Las Ventanas in Los Cabos might run you upwards of $1,000, rooms at Rosewood Puebla will start at just $250. Plan a pit stop at the boutique hotel Sacristia de la Compañía while you’re there—they’ll teach you how to make a mean mole poblano.
Cash in on the private resort trend at Las Rosadas, a new property two and a half hours south of Puerto Vallarta, where you rent all six master bedrooms from $8,000 per night. It’s not quite a villa, per se: The rooms are spread across four adobe-style casitas on more than a mile of private coastline. Included are 12,000 square feet of shared indoor space, including a massive entertainment room, plus 11,500 square feet of outdoor space, with an infinity-edge pool and a thatched-roof dining pavilion. Not traveling with a group? Head to Cuixmala instead; the legendary palace on top of a jungle cliff was created by the same management company that's running Las Rosadas and has just added four signature suites—each is like a Moorish palace unto itself (from $1,300). And it's all about to be more easily accessible than ever, too, thanks to improved highway access and an airport opening in Jalisco late this year.
In case you missed it, Mexico’s first overwater bungalows opened last fall. The 30 suites hover directly above the Caribbean Sea’s turquoise waters, with butler service and glass-framed cutouts in the floor (so you can spot colorful fish even if it’s raining outside). But since we last reported on them, demand has pushed up prices—the bungalows now run $950 per person, all-inclusive, making them some of the most expensive rooms on Mexico’s east coast. For something less pricey, try the new Unico 20˚87˚, a new, all-inclusive concept that’ll incorporate everything from cooking classes to unlimited golfing (from $207 per person).
Mexico gets a lot more attention for its booze and beaches than anything else, so it may surprise you to hear about wellness resorts here. But Chablé marries the best of both worlds. It’s near Merida, one of the most colorful and culinary-focused towns in the Yucatán, with an extensive spa that looks pulled out of the set of Avatar. The treatments borrow from mystical Mayan rituals: There are three cenotes (natural sinkholes) whose waters are said to have healing powers and a sweat lodge for traditional ceremonies. But this is hardly an ascetic place. The resort also claims to have the world’s largest private tequila collection (from $1,040).
The trailblazing chef René Redzepi drew thousands of foodies to Sydney when he moved Noma there last year, creating a pop-up version of his restaurant that drew on the local ingredients. This year, he’s doing the same thing in Tulum. With tickets that run $600 a head, it’s luxury dining on a level not seen before in this barefoot-boho beach town—though Redzepi told Bloomberg he’ll be far from the first to put ants on the menu here. (They were shockers in both Copenhagen and Sydney but fit right into Mexican cuisine.) And since you’re already eating in the most glamorous restaurant in town, book a hotel that matches the mood. The fashion-forward Hotel Esencia just got a makeover and expansion, and its 24 rooms are all decked out with highlights from the owner’s art collection—think original Picassos, Warhols, and Boteros (from $615).
You never really need a new reason to go to Cabo (it’s one of our all-time favorites), but here’s one anyway—the 60-room and 32-villa Chileno Bay, opening Feb. 1 from the Auberge Resorts team (from $675). It’s Cabo’s first luxury hotel for adventure lovers, with a rare swimmable beach (the waters in the area can be extremely dangerous), access to a marine sanctuary, and a water sports shack that includes stand-up paddle boards and kayaks. They’ll also arrange for whale watching in Magdalena Bay, a secluded spit of sand where you can have an up-close-and-personal experience in total seclusion.
If you stay in the up-and-coming art capital of Guadalajara, where the year-old Casa Fayette is drawing an unlikely group of well-heeled travelers, you can hire the Tequilacopter to take you to—you guessed it—Tequila (from $134). A day of tastings is all you need in the agave-filled region, and you won’t have to worry about choosing a designated driver or navigating the country roads. Want to stay the night? Pick Solar de las Animas, a Relais & Châteaux property with 93 simple rooms, each with references to colonial Mexican décor (from $129).
While Rosewood and One&Only develop properties in an area near Puerto Vallarta called Mandarina—which we’ll call the next Cabo—Holbox is already establishing itself as the next Tulum. It’s a tiny, ultra-lush island off the coast of the Riviera Maya, just a 20-minute ferry ride from the little village of Chiquilla. But Holbox has flown largely under the radar until recently. A spate of pretty, low-slung hotels is bringing in discerning travelers (just look at Casa Las Tortugas and Casa Sandra, and you’ll see why). Trust us, this gem won’t be hidden much longer.
Let’s face it. Mexico City is racing to the top of travelers’ priority lists, not least because of the food. The latest hotel opening comes courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World: the Stara Hamburgo, with 55 rooms at the edge of Paseo de la Reforma and the Financial Zone (from $187). But while you’re there, check out the splashy, two-year-old Soumaya Museum—it has an excellent collection of Impressionist paintings—or Proyectos Moclova, a pool hall that’s been converted into gallery space for up to 10 cutting-edge contemporary artists at a time. But make sure to get out of town, too. You can now hot-air balloon over the pre-Hispanic pyramids of Teotihuacan for an unforgettable half-day excursion.