First Look: Secrets & Dreams Bahia Mita Plants a Flag for All-Inclusive Luxury in Punta de Mitaby Denise Caiazzo /
The dual property of Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort and Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort opened on August 1, 2021, in Punta de Mita on the western shore of Mexico in Nayarit State, about a 45-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta airport. One of the most remarkable things about this property is that it was built during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst a time when many hotels were forced to close, this one boldly opened. The developers’ commitment to excellence is evident in many aspects of the resort, making it a forerunner in the all-inclusive luxury category in this up-and-coming region of Mexico.
Part of the AMR Collection, the property incorporates the natural beauty of its surroundings on its expansive 3.7 acres. Nestled into the hillside, with mountains in the background and an oceanfront beach in the foreground, Secrets & Dreams Bahia Mita delivers spectacular views from nearly every vantage point. That includes the private balconies or terraces of every guest room, as well as the eighth-floor rooftop lounge and infinity pool overlooking Banderas Bay and with Isla Marietas off in the distance.
All-inclusive luxury, unlimited luxury
One key selling point for this resort is that it offers guests a luxury vacation in the all-inclusive model, which is new to the Punta de Mita area.
When asked why this location was chosen, General Manager Yann Le Guillou (who has been with AMResorts since 2002) said, “Punta de Mita is very high-end right now, it is a prime luxury location. We’re the pioneers bringing all-inclusive here.” He likes to use the term “unlimited luxury.” And he noted that “as an AMResort, we really focus on the guests, guests, guests. For instance, we have five concierges at the pool to take care of everything. It is a top-level of service.”
As for the distinction of the local area, he said: “Puerto Vallarta is more the traditional, the town, the Mexican flavor. On this side of the port, it is and will be more luxurious and high-end. And the region is more wilderness, with the mountains, and the bay is open. Here you can see whales from the rooftop pool, and there is lush vegetation everywhere you turn. Surfers come, there’s a sports beach. Wellness is an important part of the experience here.”
In addition to being one of the only luxury all-inclusive properties, staff told me it is currently the only adults-only resort in Riviera Nayarit, and it has the only rooftop pool in Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta.
Photo: Secrets & Dreams
Refreshingly, although everything is included at Secrets & Dreams Bahia Mita, you will not see anyone wearing those eyesore all-inclusive bracelets.
Of note, throughout my stay (and others that I spoke to agreed) the customer service, attentiveness, and friendliness of the staff at this resort was always superb.
“What makes the real difference is the people,” said Eduardo Pinto, the property’s director of sales. We have a good leader and a great team.”
The brand also invests in its employees, offering various training programs to support them to be able to move into different positions on property. For instance, someone serving as a maid can take courses to then work in the reception area, if they so desire.
Adults-only here, families there
Uniquely, one side of the property is reserved for adults-only guests (Secrets Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort) while the other side caters to families (Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort). Each has its own restaurants, lounges, and pools. Guests on the Secrets side have free-flow access to the entire property, while those on the Dreams side are asked to enjoy only that side of the property. Staff is trained to politely enforce the boundaries.
But does the double resort approach really work, or is it trying to be all things to all travelers? I was on property in November for the annual Travel Impressions “Best of the Best” event, along with about 200 top-performing travel advisors. Who better to ask than the experts, to hear their reaction to the concept?
“For those seeking an adults-only, make sure they know that the resort is split, versus a stand-alone adults-only resort,” noted Stacy Evos, president, and co-founder of A Girl’s Gotta Go.
Barbara Vong, travel consultant at Wright Travel Agency, said: “I would not hesitate to stay here as a family, couple or single adult. Even though it shares many things with the Dreams side, you really don’t see or hear kids much when you are on the Secrets side, unless you are dining at one of the Dreams restaurants. It is, by far, the nicest all-inclusive in the Punta Mita area and welcome addition.”
Angela Armutcu, owner of Jetset Travel, felt that the property “did not feel like an adults-only resort. The setup was too close to the Dreams side. I would not send a couple looking for an adults-only resort. I would offer it to families who want to travel together but have the adults enjoy the adults section.”
From my experience, and as someone who prefers to travel in adults-only company, I agree with Angela. I can see it working well for people traveling together for a wedding or other type of multigenerational trip, allowing families and those who prefer the adults-only atmosphere to enjoy their respective spaces at a single location when they are not celebrating all together.
Photo: Secrets & Dreams
Designed by renowned Mexican architect Sordo Madaleno, the property is modern and chic. Its centerpiece is a massive, two-story, concrete circular walkway that mimics the region’s famed cenotes. It connects the lobby area to the various levels of public spaces and accommodations.
The walkway also winds around on the Secrets side to the world-class Spa by Pevonia in the lower level. There, guests can destress, detox, and heal with a variety of treatments administered by expert therapists, as well as partake of an invigorating hydrotherapy circuit (which I did and it was wonderful). I’ve had massages and body treatments at many spas around the world, and I must say that my massage by Yarel at Secrets Spa by Pevonia was one of the best. It was not any particularly fancy or exotic bodywork, but the perfectly executed Swedish and hot stone massage using aromatherapy transported me to a state of serene bliss. Pre- and post-treatment interactions with staff were also gracious. And post-massage, I could have stayed for hours lounging peacefully in my cabana, sipping my Chamomile tea, as the water cascaded through the open air from the circular cenote-inspired structure, and the sunlight beamed in from above – it was magical, private, and yet I was one with all.
The resort is laid out in circular and spiral patterns, often wrapping back around on itself, and there is quite a bit of ground to cover when moving about this sprawling location. I strongly recommend that travel advisors suggest that female clients leave their stilettos at home, and pack shoes with wedge heels for evenings and flats or sandals for daytime.
Pools, beach, surfers & whales
Or course, water activities abound. Secrets has six pools (infinity, water decks, and rooftop) and two hot tubs; and Preferred Club guests have private plunge pools. Dreams has three pools (including one with a separate kids-only section and a pirate ship), an infinity pool, and a hot tub for adults. Water aerobics classes are also available.
The beach is another thing. Although the view is stunning, the water tends to be choppy and a bit intense, which is great for the many surfers that it attracts, but it is a bit challenging for us regular folks. If you do decide to venture in, you will need neoprene water shoes for your own safety and comfort. Kayaking, paddleboard, buggy board, motorized water sports, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing (including lessons) are available. For travelers who like to surf, an appealing point is that there is surf right off the property, which I’m told is quite rare.
In the mornings, the water is often calmer, perfect for kayaking. And amazingly, whales regularly pass through the bay within view from November through March. GM Le Guillou’s eyes lit up when he mentioned that it never gets old when there is a whale sighting and the big bell is rung, so guests can turn their gaze to the sea to catch a glimpse of the majestic mammals. Some are even lucky enough to be kayaking just as the whales travel on by.
Photo: Secrets & Dreams
Considering that the GM is an accomplished chef, it is no surprise that Secrets & Dreams Bahia Mita hits the mark with its culinary offerings. There are nine sitting restaurants representing all types of world cuisine, plus a rooftop bar, sports bar, beach bar, swim-up bar, coffee shop, speakeasy, and more. At a bar on the Secrets side, guests can sample all the beers of Mexico. Everything is all-inclusive except for Bordeaux, which offers fine French cuisine and 7-course dinners. And the Wine Cellar provides semi-private dining in a romantic atmosphere with an extensive wine list.
Le Guillou has chosen his chefs carefully. Also on-site are a French baker, a French pastry chef, and a French charcuterie. Need I say more?
Everyone I spoke to at the property was quite pleased with the cuisine. Travel advisor Vong had this to say about the dining options: “The Secrets side and adults staying at Dreams have lots of options. Preferred Club Dreams clients can go to the 6th floor Olio on the Secrets side (adults-only) which is delicious! The sushi was SO good! We never got sick of the tacos at the buffet. I loved how they made fresh tortillas and tacos out front! The pastries at the cafe were some of the best I have had at an all-inclusive. And for adults, the French was so good.”
Le Guillou noted that the brand is now creating a chef’s garden, a fruit tree orchard, and an area to house chickens to provide organic eggs. There is also a strong commitment to the environment and sustainability, so that, for instance, if 50 trees are cut down, 200 more are planted.
The accommodations offer up modern contemporary design with warm touches of nature and the nurturing feeling of a spa setting. Secrets has 278 rooms and Dreams has 363 rooms, ranging from standard to presidential suites. All are spacious and have private balconies or terraces with either tropical mountain or ocean views. Preferred Club status offers upgraded suites, special concierge service, enhanced amenities, and access to private areas.
Activities & excursions
As for on-site entertainment, in addition to the many bars and lounges, shows are performed in the central outdoor plaza throughout the week. On Fridays, the plaza is transformed into a Mexican market, with delicious food stations, two Mariachi bands, Mexican dancers, piñatas, crafts, and more.
For families, there is an Explorer’s Club for children ages 3-12, and the Core Zone Teens Club for those ages 13-17. Guests that I queried said they and their family members enjoyed activities at the clubs.
Excursions and tours leaving from the property mainly focus on nature and give travelers a better sense of the real Mexican culture than in more touristy areas like Cancun. Options include hiking, ziplining, horseback riding, birdwatching, whale watching, snorkeling, scuba diving, and golfing. Day trips to nearby Isla Marietas are popular; as are visits to the boho-chic town of Sayulita, just a 20-minute drive, with its vibrant streets, shops, and galleries. Puerto Vallarta town is also an hour’s drive away.
Weddings & other events
With a ballroom, gardens, oceanfront, and terraces (including the presidential suite terrace that can receive 80 guests and has spectacular views), the property lends itself well to hosting weddings and other events.
Future expansions are also being planned, including constructing an amphitheater in the mountainside behind the main property with seating for 400 people. Guests will access it by a walkway or by golf cart.
Good lift is available to the area from major gateway cities, and JetBlue is expected to begin offering direct flights from New York starting in February.