When Frommer’s author John Wilcox visited this property 30 years ago, it was the extremely rustic, electricity-less housing for a work/study program for young doctors training in rural medicine. The duena then and now is the dynamic Dr. Laura del Valle, one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met. Not only did she serve as the community’s doctor for 30 years, but she helped found a Montessori school for the local youth (including her grandchildren), started an after-school program, created micro-industries for the local women and—when she took a breath—personally designed what has to be one of the loveliest resorts along the Riviera Nayarit. (She passes her blueprints by an architect friend who makes sure everything is safe).  To keep her staff working even during the slow summer season, every piece of furniture is made on site and it’s often exquisite: burnished wood tables, topped with local slate; colorful, cushy couches, stuffed by hand; and mattresses that are much less hard than the Mexican norm (again hand-made). Rooms are designed for comfort and, often, with the needs of families in mind, so there will often be an extra room attached with a futon couch that transforms into a bed; or the bathroom will have a separate room for the toilet, so more than one person can use it at once. All rooms have views of the aqua blue waters of ocean out front. (The bay was used as a hideout for pirates, including Sir Francis Drake, during the Spanish colonial era, so it’s sheltered and very good for swimming.)
Used by many for groups for yoga and other sorts of retreats, Mar de Jade has a yoga instructor and Buddhist monk on staff, there to lead classes in yoga and meditation for the regular guests (classes are included in your nightly costs). There’s also a lovely spa with a Mexican version of a sweat lodge, as well as 6 treatment rooms. Meals are served in the open-air restaurant (the food comes from Mar del Jade’s organic farm—another micro-business for the local community). And if this all sounds too darn virtuous, know that there’s a bar on site, as well as a commodious outdoor pool and lovely strip of beach out front. This has to be one of the most special places I’ve ever visited. 

-Pauline Frommer