PHOTO: Richard Zarkin, Public Relations Manager of Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau. (photo courtesy of Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Evolving from an under-the-radar “Puerto Vallarta suburb” ten minutes north of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) into a full-fledged destination spanning 192 miles of pristine Pacific coastline, Riviera Nayarit has become a major Mexico tourism player in what could be considered a relatively short time span.
In that 10-year process, the destination has followed a conscientious plan placing a premium on preserving the region’s protected natural wonders. Extending from the resort area of Nuevo Vallarta beyond the historic fishing village of San Blas, the 192-mile coastline along Banderas Bay continues to lure visitors into authentic charm.
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Discover miles of deserted beaches dotted by low-key palapas with fresh huachinango zarandeado (whole grilled fish) and cold coconut juice.
In its concept stage, a team comprised of Marc Murphy (Managing Director of Riviera Nayarit CVB), Richard Zarkin (Public Relations Manager of Riviera Nayarit CVB) and several other key tourism experts brainstormed on a name and identity/positioning for the region. The intent was to ultimately establish the destination as “Mexico’s Pacific Treasure.”
As Zarkin recalls, the team engaged with hotels, tour operators, airlines, travel agents and other partners to enlist their support for creating the new tourism area and the utilization of the Riviera Nayarit moniker.
“Riviera Nayarit has grown gradually, attracting the most luxurious hotel brands in the world, building the most impressive yacht harbor on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and increasing its visitors,” says Zarkin. “However, we are very careful to protect the nature, beaches and development to assure that our visitors can still find the pristine beach experience for which Riviera Nayarit is known.”
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Attesting to this success are Riviera Nayarit’s Blue Flag and Certified Clean Beach certifications. “Over the past 10 years, each of the towns and resorts – together with Riviera Nayarit’s Department of the Environment – carefully protected the beaches, and the natural flora and fauna. Certifications like this prove that we truly care about our land and we are doing everything possible to assure that it is safe, clean and protected.”
Nature enthusiasts gravitate here for such natural highs as whale watching, turtle releases, ziplining, surfing and bird watching. Riviera Nayarit also lures global guests with such diversions as spa treatment, championship golf courses, international cuisine and intriguing culture of its native Huichol tribe.
Accommodations range from quaint B&B and eco-tourism events to posh luxury resorts. On the luxe front, Riviera Nayarit has hauled in four AAA Five Diamond hotels, 11 AAA Four Diamond hotels, 13 AAA Three Diamond hotels, one AAA Five Diamond restaurant, six AAA Four Diamond restaurants and 26 AAA Three Diamond restaurants.
In reaching the 10-year milestone, Zarkin notes that the CVB is extremely optimistic about the next decade. “Riviera Nayarit is excited about its potential for becoming better known in the future, yet retaining its intrinsic style,” he says. “We anticipate that over the next 10 years, travelers will treasure even more the protected and serene natural luxury of the destination.”
Visitors into luxe stays will be privy to openings of One&Only Mandarina, Fairmont Costa Canuva (2018) and Rosewood Mandarina Resorts (2019). Especially intriguing to golfers is that the latter will feature a course designed in tandem by PGA star Greg Norman and LPGA star Lorena Ochoa.
Also on the recreation front, Cirque du Soleil will debut in 2019 at the Vidanta Hotels & Resorts in Nuevo Vallarta.
Here are 10 “wows” that differentiate this stellar Pacific Coast destination:
1)Home to the longest black beach in Latin America
2)Features 95 miles of pristine, undeveloped coastline with a sprinkling of tiny villages extending north from San Blas to Novilleros
3)Awarded 12 Clean Beaches certifications—more than any other region in Mexico
4)Home to two of Nayarit State’s three Blue Flag Distinctions
5)Appeases birdwatchers with 80% of North American migratory birds visiting annually
6)Thrills nature enthusiasts with hundreds of humpback whales, dolphins and sport fishing species annually
7)Offers rare turtle release programs that allow visitors to liberate hatchlings into the Pacific
8)Protected Marietta Islands sanctuary renowned for the Hidden Beach is fresh from an expert restoration
9)In 2017, National Geographic named Playa del Amor one of the top 21 beaches in the world, while Forbes selected Riviera Nayarit as one of the top destinations of the year
10)More than 50 hotels and restaurants recognized with Three, Four and Five AAA Diamond Awards