Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Travel: New York Post - Sayulita, Mexico




September 25, 2007 -- JUST call me Tiger. Like the cat." My surf instructor, Guillermo "Tigre" Cadena, grins widely before turning to survey the rolling waves lapping against a stunning, golden beach.

"Look at that! It's so beautiful! Here we come!"

And there we go.

Tigre is a former international surfing champ, and he's helping me brush up on my skills, here in the easy-going village of Sayulita, Mexico. He will later prove invaluable as a source on where to find the best tacos.

There are many agreeable little coastal towns on Mexico's Pacific Coast. Few can say they are next door to a Four Seasons resort, or, for that matter, a villa where Beyoncé is staying.

Sayulita can. It is located just a few minutes' drive north of Punta Mita, the famous (and famously exclusive) luxury community near Puerto Vallarta that was designed to lure the high-end traveler to the region.

It seems to be working: At the Four Seasons, you can currently book a one-bedroom suite with a garden view for $1,025 a night. Over the holidays, you'll pay close to $2,000.

At the Villa Amor, located on the beach in Sayulita, an oceanfront one-bedroom currently starts at $88 per night, rising to a prohibitive $123 over Christmas.

Sure, your suite at the Four Seasons would feature a private plunge pool, but at Villa Amor, Sayulita Bay is yours to plunge into, anytime you like.

As you'd expect in a small town, the vibe here is relaxed. Dogs, cats and chickens roam free and everyone, even the locals, seem to be on holiday.

Experienced surfers and novices alike flock here to soak up the local culture.

Greg Shove, founder and CEO of luxury vacation real estate guide the Helium Report, found his way to Sayulita four years ago. He generally considers himself a luxury traveler. But at least once a year, he makes time to go to Sayulita with family and friends.

"We love the atmosphere, the warm water, great surfing and fresh food," said Shove, whose family learned to surf there. Sayulita is renowned for surfing, but there is enough in town to keep you happy beyond catching waves.

Quick, so you can walk again, go to Nicole Brandt, a Texan transplant, who does deep-tissue massages in a private palapa studio on the beach for $50 to $75/hour.