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Casa Cuix­mala: Mex­ico’s most lux­u­ri­ous es­tate, Aman in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, In­dian spa ex­pe­ri­ence by Taj, Scenic

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The pri­vate en­clave of Cuix­mala on Mex­ico’s Pacific Coast, just 2.5 hours south of Puerto Val­larta in the state of Jalisco, is the stuff of leg­end. From its days as a re­treat for Sir James Gold­smith and his fam­ily, to its cur­rent in­car­na­tion as a jet­set es­cape un­der the stew­ard­ship of the fi­nancier’s daugh­ter Alix, this 10,000-hectare es­tate has been a favourite for pres­i­dents, heads of states and VIPs from all fields, in­clud­ing Mick Jag­ger, Madonna and Bill Gates. In its short his­tory as an ul­tra-lux­ury re­sort, it has won ac­claim as one of the finest hotels in Mex­ico, a dream wed­ding des­ti­na­tion and an all-round utopia that im­merses you in a pris­tine wilder­ness.

A fan­tasy come to life

Above a 3km stretch of pri­vate beach, Casa Cuix­mala’s crown­ing glory is La Loma, a Moor­ish-in­spired palace de­signed by Robert Cou­turier. In­side the sun­shine-or­ange walls, the decor is sleek and white. Soar­ing ceil­ings and win­dows with in­tri­cate lace­work cre­ate light-filled rooms where richly coloured tex­tiles take pride of place.

The main house is home to three Deluxe Suites, as well as the pala­tial Cuix­mala Suite, with a ter­race and a plunge pool-sized Jacuzzi over­look­ing the beach. A se­lec­tion of bun­ga­lows and vil­las of­fers the ul­ti­mate in pri­vacy for fam­i­lies and friends. Villa Playa is set on its own beach, em­brac­ing the ocean from stun­ning out­door liv­ing spa­ces.

On the other side of the co­conut plan­ta­tion, a small com­mu­nity of ca­sitas, rang­ing from one bed­room to three, pro­vides a more rus­tic take on trop­i­cal lux­ury. Each ca­sita is a vi­brant cot­tage nes­tled in a gar­den, putting the eco­log­i­cal won­ders of Cuix­mala right at guests’ doors.

Where na­ture comes first

In­deed, for all its grandeur, the aims of Casa Cuix­mala are rather hum­bling. Gold­smith cre­ated the pri­vate es­tate, and helped es­tab­lish the 13,412-hectare Chamela-Cuix­mala Bio­sphere Re­serve sur­round­ing it, with the goal of pro­tect­ing the many na­tive species that call the Pacific Coast home. More than 270 types of birds, in­clud­ing the ex­otic roseate spoon­bill, can be seen while roam­ing the es­tate, as well as wild boar, coati mundi, deer, foxes, croc­o­diles and even the en­dan­gered and elu­sive jaguar. Guests on an elec­tric boat tour can wit­ness the ex­tra­or­di­nary mo­ment when thou­sands of birds flock to the la­goons by sun­set to roost.

The sta­bles are a sig­na­ture of this work­ing es­tate, of­fer­ing nu­mer­ous trails wind­ing across the es­tate to ex­plore on horse­back (or moun­tain bikes), through hills and plan­ta­tions, and per­haps en­counter the in­tro­duced herds of ze­bra and an­te­lope along the way.

Down on the beach, the Turtle Pro­tec­tion Pro­gramme al­lows guests to as­sist bi­ol­o­gists in their work; thus far, they have re­turned hun­dreds of thou­sands of baby tur­tles to the sea. In win­ter, whales mi­grate just off shore. Hal­cyon days are lived out rid­ing on horse­back in the shal­lows of Playa

“Hal­cyon days are lived out rid­ing on Horse­back in the shal­lows of Playa cuix­mala”

Cuix­mala, the main beach that curves be­side the jun­gle-coated hills, the pris­tine saltwater pool at its cen­tre an ex­ten­sion of the ocean.

Ma­rine life be­low the waves is vis­i­ble as you snorkel in Caleta Blanca, a calm bay, while Playa Es­con­dida is a rugged pirate’s beach, dot­ted with grot­tos for a se­cluded pic­nic. Surf­ing and scuba div­ing are avail­able be­yond the shore, or set sail aboard a 14-me­tre yacht to dis­cover Mex­ico’s coastal beauty.

A taste of Jalisco

Alix Gold­smith Mar­cac­cini is just as com­mit­ted to the eco­log­i­cal aims of the es­tate as her fa­ther. Along­side its wildlife ini­tia­tives, Cuix­mala has led the way with bio­dy­namic farm­ing. What­ever is not grown on site or fished from the oceans is sourced from the fam­ily’s ranch in the Mex­i­can High­lands.

Ev­ery­thing is served to guests the day it is har­vested in the form of tra­di­tional Mex­i­can fare, whether eaten in the main restau­rant on a palapa-cov­ered ter­race or freshly pre­pared for in-villa din­ing. Grilled seafood of­fers a su­perb cen­tre­piece to pic­nics on the beach or a star­lit din­ner on the sands of Playa Cuix­mala, com­plete with bon­fire.

Although just an hour from Manzillo’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, Cuix­mala of­fers a pi­o­neer­ing nat­u­ral es­cape that caters for ev­ery de­sire.

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