On Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, Primitive and Modern Too

For those digging out of the East Coast’s Snowmageddon, it may be time to put down the shovel and ponder an escape to Imanta Punta de Mita.

It’s new. It’s opening this month. But best of all, it’s a cliff-side resort located on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, on a 250-acre private reserve with beaches and two miles of coastline.

If you can get to Puerto Vallarta, you can drive there in 45 minutes.

The developer saw it from his boat in the Pacific years ago, and realized he had to have it. “He dove over the side, swam to shore and said: ‘This is it!’” said Bob Shemwell of San Antonio-based Overland Partners Architects, who designed the resort. “Then he built a series of tents, moved in and lived there for a period of time.”

He wanted to get a sense for the property he was purchasing, Shemwell said, and Mexican law required that he be physically present while waiting for the title to transfer.

Accommodations there today now are not quite so Spartan. Guests have the option of staying in one of five freestanding, one-bedroom casas with living areas, indoor/outdoor showers, pools and terraces. There’s also a pair of two-bedroom casonas, with full kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, pools and terraces.

The designs take their cues from the land. “There’s this wonderful stone on site,” Shemwell said. “First we pushed it out of the way, then we broke it and then we put it back on the building. You look at the casa, and you can’t tell whether it’s a thousand years old, or contemporary. It’s abstract, it’s elemental and it’s archeological.”

The material is geologically immature granite. “It’s not limestone, it’s not sandstone, and it’s not volcanic,” he said. “It’s a little more dense, and ranges in color from a rosy pink to a soft ochre.”

He was careful to site each building according to its views and cross-ventilation, Shemwell said. “It was like the physicians’ rule: ‘First do no harm.’ We’d do the drawings, stake out the buildings and adjust and then adjust some more – to get this view or that view, or to save this tree or that formation.”

The attitude of the architecture, he said, is to be connected to nature – to be primitive and modern in the same breath.

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