This article is from the October 1998 The Mexico File newsletter.
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New Hotel on Mexico's Costa Alegre

by Susan Kaye

Susan Kaye has been awarded the Mexican government’s highest award for her coverage of its destinations and has twice received the Acapulco Award for her articles on that city.

Hundreds of miles of white sand beaches line Mexico’s Pacific coast south of Puerto Vallarta all the way to Manzanillo. For now, most of the Costa Alegre beaches belong to the gulls, pelicans and sea turtles, as only a handful of hotels–among them the ultra-luxe Las Alamandas and two Bel-Air properties, Costa Careyes and Tamarindo–have staked a claim to the pristine shore.

Hotelito Desconocido is the newest addition to Costa Alegre. Less than two hours south of Puerto Vallarta, on 40 acres of estuaries and beachfront that encompass one of Mexico’s most important sea turtle and bird sanctuaries, this 30-room "little unknown hotel" lives in peaceful harmony with the natural world.

The 30 thatched-roof "casitas" were built entirely from local reed grass, wood, and clay. Twenty-one casitas stand on stilts over limpid estuary waters; the other nine face the pounding Pacific on a beach that’s empty for miles north and south. They’re reached reached by a minute-long row-boat ride across the estuary.

Designed to offer "ecological luxury," Hotelito is electricity-free. Solar power heats the water and drives ceiling fans; ocean breezes cool the beachside Nopalito restaurant and the high-ceilinged dining room on the estuary. By night, hundreds of candles glow in guest rooms and the dining room; torches light the grounds. A vast on-premise orchard and garden provide the fresh fruit and vegetables; poultry is free-range and seafood is catch-of-the-day. All waste water is treated and recycled to the garden.

Naive charm characterizes each room’s unique decor, but all have gauze-draped beds; hammocks on the decks; hand-painted ceramic sinks; semi-outdoor showers; hand-painted designs on interior and exterior walls; and a wealth of folk art and furniture from across Mexico.

Activities include water sports, massages in the outdoor spa, swimming in a small pool, mountain biking, horseback riding, and bird watching. Excursions can be arranged for bass and sport fishing, snorkeling, and to a fishing village for snorkeling and lunch. Doubles from $200; suites from $280; twenty-five percent lower from April 20 through November 30. Meals are an additional $55 per person/day. 800-223-6510 or fax the hotel directly at 011-52-329-851-09;