June 21, 2018

Great Sleeps+Good Eats: Hotel Garza Canela+El Delfin Restaurant; San Blas, Mexico


Hotel Garza Canela  Paredes No. 106 Sur, 52 (323) 285 0112.  50 rooms.  Indoor parking.  Named in honor of a small endemic boat-billed heron, which is a light brown cinnamon color, this simple traditional-style Mexican hotel is one of the best in town.  A four-star property, it features grounds with extensive gardens.  Amenities include a swimming pool and children’s wading pool, as well as a lovely small chapel available for meditation or a wedding ceremony.  A large gift shop stocks a variety of crafts and clothing.  Beds are literally hard as a rock--the way Mexicans seem to like them--but I did enjoy a good night’s sleep, so no complaints here.

starfruit welcome drink at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
starfruit welcome drink at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


lobby at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
lobby at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


interior courtyard at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
interior courtyard at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


guest room at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
guest room at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


exterior of chapel at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
exterior of chapel at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


interior of chapel at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
interior of chapel at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


gift shop worker at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
gift shop worker at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


Renowned Mexican chef Betty Vazquez Gonzalez holds court in the property’s El Delfin Restaurant.  She studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked with chef Juan Mari Arzak at his three-star Michelin restaurant Arzak in Spain.  Chef Betty fuses Mexican ingredients with classic European cooking techniques and specializes in “sea to table” cuisine.

exterior of El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
exterior of El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


exterior of El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
exterior of El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


dining room at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
dining room at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


chef Betty Vazquez Gonzalez at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
chef Betty Vazquez Gonzalez at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


A special dinner I enjoyed here included a tasty fine-chopped octopus-mango ceviche and a baked fish fillet with orange sauce over mashed potatoes.  When a gazpacho-style cold tomato soup with shrimp was served, we learned that tomatoes were introduced from Mexico to Spain.  Over a dessert of pineapple compote with cotija cheese ice cream we learned that the chef uses only organic produce--such as small and sweet local pineapples and Maya corn--and makes her own award-winning cheeses.

agua de chaya at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
agua de chaya at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


appetizers at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
appetizers at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


octopus-mango ceviche at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
octopus-mango ceviche at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


baked fish fillet with orange sauce at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
baked fish fillet with orange sauce at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico



gazpacho at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
gazpacho at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


pineapple compote with cotija cheese ice cream at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
pineapple compote with cotija cheese ice cream at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico


Chef Betty says the “Mexican breakfast is very special, but the San Blas breakfast is more special.”  So we feasted on fresh mango juice, smoked fresh Marlin, tiny shrimp tamales, frijoles, and housemade yaca marmalade with sweet muffins.

fresh fruit breakfast plate at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
fresh fruit breakfast plate at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico



breakfast delicacies plate at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico
breakfast delicacies plate at El Delfin Restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela in San Blas, Mexico



More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

June 19, 2018

Sights to See: San Blas, Mexico


SAN BLAS, MEXICO 

Background:
Located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, the small fishing town of San Blas is less than an hour away from Tepic, the State Capital of Nayarit.  It is 2 hours from Puerto Vallarta, 3 hours from Guadalajara (the second-largest city in Mexico), and 4 four hours from Mazatlan.  The village is surrounded by mangroves and features a tropical landscape dotted with banana, papaya, mango, tobacco, coffee, and sugar cane plantations.

Most visitors arrive by car or bus, but others arrive by air in Tepic or occasionally by sea on a cruise ship.

Founded in 1768, San Blas turned 250-years-old in February of 2018.  Once holding the most important shipyards on the Pacific Coast, this colonial port was the spot where Father Junípero Serra landed from Spain and from which he later left in 1768 to California to begin building that state’s famous Spanish missions (for this, Father Serra became a saint in 1988).  Nowadays it boasts 20 miles of beaches and is famous for deep-sea sport fishing and for winter surfing and whale watching.

The average temperature in winter is 70ºF, while in the summer it averages 86ºF.  Heavy night rains occur during July and August.

Stop along the way:
Los Kikis fruit stand  This thatch-roofed roadside fruit stand required a 5-peso coin to enter through a turnstile to a restroom.

Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


candied fruit at Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
candied fruit at Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


restroom entrance at Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
restroom entrance at Los Kikis fruit stand near San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


Important town historic site:
La Contaduria  Founded by sailors from Spain circa 1769, this colonial fort atop Basilio Hill is now a ruins but  provides a stellar view over the town of San Blas and the ocean beyond.  When ships arrived in port, a celebratory greeting was sent from the protective fort cannons.

La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


view from La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
view from La Contaduria fort in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


La Marinera/Our Lady of the Rosary church, The Seafarer  Set back from the fort, this church is also now a lovely ruins.  It once held the bronze bells immortalized in Henry W. Longfellow’s “The Bells of San Blas.”

ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
ruins of La Marinera church in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


Perfect lunch spot:
Las Islitas  This strip of casual open-air restaurant palapas is situated on the sand, beach front.
●At Garza Blanca, food is prepared outside on grills.  The regional fare is simple--make-your-own fish tacos, local fish, shrimp, banana-bread muffins--and it goes supremely well with a cold Pacifico beer.

Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


beach at Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
beach at Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico


grilled fish at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
grilled fish at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico 


Pacifico beer at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
Pacifico beer at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico 


basket of banana-bread muffins at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico
basket of banana-bread muffins at Garza Blanca restaurant on Las Islitas in San Blas on Riviera Nayarit in Mexico 


More things to do in San Blas.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

June 15, 2018

Sights to See/Good Eats: Bucerias, Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico


BUCERIAS  15 min. from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  This tiny traditional fishing village is known as the “Wind Capital” of Riviera Nayarit and offers good kitesurfing and scuba diving.  It has a small beach and narrow cobblestone streets lined with open air artisan stands and shops.  An atmospheric town square is lined with restaurants and bars featuring festive live music.  The town also has a Callejon del Beso (Kiss Alley).

For a self-guided tour, start at JMB Gallery, then walk north toward the town square passing through several blocks of small shops, cross over a bridge, then continue through a covered open-air crafts market and on into the town square.

beach at Bucerias in Mexico
beach at Bucerias in Mexico


pineapple vendor on beach at Bucerias in Mexico
pineapple vendor on beach at Bucerias in Mexico


mother knitting with baby on back on beach at Bucerias in Mexico
mother knitting with baby on back on beach at Bucerias in Mexico


beach buggy at Bucerias in Mexico
beach buggy at Bucerias in Mexico

crafts market on street in Bucerias, Mexico
crafts market on street in Bucerias, Mexico

colorful Huichol Indian bead items in Bucerias, Mexico
colorful Huichol Indian bead items in Bucerias, Mexico


colorful dining on the town square in Bucerias, Mexico
colorful dining on the town square in Bucerias, Mexico


Paseo del Beso/Kiss Alley in Bucerias, Mexico
Paseo del Beso/Kiss Alley in Bucerias, Mexico


JMB Gallery  Lazaro Cardenas 58, 329 298 0303.  This well-stocked crafts shop features everything from a miniature LOVE sculpture to a selection of Day of the Dead skeletons.
interior of JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico
interior of JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico

small LOVE sculpture at JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico
small LOVE sculpture at JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico
see more LOVE sculptures


Day of the Dead dolls at JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico
Day of the Dead dolls at JMB Gallery shop in Bucerias, Mexico


Hotel Palmeras  Lazaro Cardenas 35, (329) 298-1288.  Pool.  Located on a quiet street just a few blocks from the town square, this hotel offers traditional Mexican style and studio units with kitchens.


Located nearby, between Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta, Alquimista Cocktail Room (Blvd. Riviera Nayarit #1480, Local #15 Nuevo Vallarta, 322-160-3601). is situated in a modest strip mall.  This exceptional cocktail lounge uses local ingredients in its cocktails.  The chief mixologist is owner Israel Diaz, who is known far and wide for his exceptional concoctions.  He has more than 100 original recipes and loves to prepare infusions from scratch, adds herbs and liquors, and generally experiments much as an alchemist would.  The son of Chef Betty Vasquez, he has worked together with her in preparing cocktails to complement her culinary creations.

bar still life at Alquimista Cocktail Room in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
bar still life at Alquimista Cocktail Room in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico


mixing drinks at Alquimista Cocktail Room in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
mixing drinks at Alquimista Cocktail Room in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico


More things to do in Nuevo Vallarta.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

June 13, 2018

Sights to See/Great Sleeps: Riviera Nayarit + Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico


RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO

Situated on the northernmost part of the Mexican Riviera coastline, the Riviera Nayarit begins at Nuevo Vallarta and extends almost 200 miles north along the coast to historic old San Blas.  It is framed by the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains and includes serene beaches on spectacular Banderas Bay.   
The region includes ultra-luxurious destinations as well as others that are quaint, traditional, and less expensive--including idyllic seaside villages that remain unspoiled.  This diversity sets the area apart.  You’ll find five diamond resorts as well as cozy inns and boutique hotels, and golf courses as well as treks on mules and whale-watching.

colorful flowers decoration at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
colorful flowers decoration at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


The resort towns of Punta Mita and Sayulita attract celebrities and are surrounded by the Pacific on three sides and  renowned for luxury and protected natural wonders.  The Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is a prime example of the luxury resorts found here.  This spectacular 177-room resort on Banderas Bay is separated from the main road by two gates.  It stretches over 400 beachfront acres, and includes a Jack Nicklaus golf course with the world’s only island golf hole--known as The Tail of the Whale.  It also features excellent snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing.  The warm staff are quick with a smile and happy to answer questions.  In fact, this resort reputedly has the highest guest and employee satisfaction of all the Four Seasons.  It also features the first woman sommelier in Mexico.

swimming pool at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
swimming pool at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


beach lounge at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
beach lounge at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


public art at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
public art at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


Each guest room includes a spacious bathroom with deep soaking tub and a furnished terrace or balcony.  Guests have a choice of A.C. or a ceiling fan and can leave balcony doors open to the sounds of the surf and morning birdsong.  One-bedroom suites have a private outdoor plunge pool.  Though it is easy to walk the main area of the resort, it is handy to take the complimentary golf cart transportation when you are in a hurry or in the hinterlands.  Sprinkled in the various beach areas are a gelato shop, a pool where the waiters hop in the pool to serve drinks, and a bar with swings for adults.

Margarita fixins' at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
Margarita fixins' at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


view from guest room at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
view from guest room at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


But children are not overlooked.  Kids have their own pool, and teens have an indoor-outdoor area composed of trendy repurposed containers with graffiti on the gates and a “no adults allowed” lounge area.  Adults can enjoy free Tequila tastings.  Workshops include learning how to make the colorful beaded artwork of the local Huichol Indians and helping to release baby sea turtle hatchlings on the beach to begin their crawl to the ocean (more than 3½ million turtles are released in this area every year).  Meeting spaces include the Tuturi Room, which features ocean-facing windows and an adjacent Takua Terrace.

teen hangout at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
teen hangout at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


chef prepares fresh coconut drink at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
chef prepares fresh coconut drink at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


The full-service Apuane Spa features changing rooms for men and women, plus hot and cold pools, therapeutic ice fountains and cold showers, eucalyptus steam rooms and saunas, and luxurious changing areas with full amenities.  Facilities other than treatments are available complimentary to guests.  A separate state-of-the-art fitness center is adjacent.  Additional facilities include 10 tennis courts and a Lazy River.

relaxation room at Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
relaxation room at Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


iced wash cloths and cucumber slices at Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
iced wash cloths and cucumber slices at Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


The three restaurants each have ocean views.  The open-air, thatched palapa-topped Ketsi restaurant is a special delight at breakfast.  You can hear the surf as you drink delicious Mexican hot chocolate and fresh green juice.

exterior of Ketsi restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
exterior of Ketsi restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico






omelette station at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
omelette station at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico



fresh fruit station at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
fresh fruit station at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


Bahía is nestled among giant manzanilla trees on the resort’s Las Cuevas beach.  This contemporary seafood-centric beachfront grill and restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere with a sleek contemporary Mexican design.  At the adults-only Tamai Pool, the Sushi Bar offers a variety of refreshing cocktails, fresh sushi, caviar, tapas, and salads to be enjoyed poolside.  New throughout the resort’s restaurants is a dedicated effort to prepare interesting vegan menu options.

ocean-side dining at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
ocean-side dining at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico


chef presents whole fish at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico
chef presents whole fish at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico




More to do in nearby Puerto Vallarta.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers