It’s been said the next best thing to being rich is traveling as if you were. And after that what an era we live in to make this axiom a reality. If there’s one thing that’s indisputable about 21st Century international travel, it’s the abundance of once-exclusive experiences that are now within the grasp of us common folk.
Within a single generation, exemplars of status and also extravagance is now enticingly accessible to the masses. Therefore, Cocktails on the jungle veranda? Not only Safari, servants, but also the Serengeti? River cruise past storybook medieval castles? No problem. Pack your bags.
Luxury Defined Travel?
However, travel industry marketers use imagery –not words – to evoke luxury. Just flip through any travel magazine to see this practice in action. But what really defines this elusive and highly personal concept? Treat, extra, extravagance, indulgence, bonus, amenity, frill? Pleasurable self-indulgent activity? Often displayed but rarely defined, a luxury too often swoops our minds toward media-driven hyperbole: fast cars, sparkling jewelry, and skinny, beautiful people usually standing (or lying) about doing nothing but looking ‘luxuriant’.
If luxury’s real meaning weren’t enough to ponder, luxury means different things to different travelers. One man’s floor is another man’s ceiling. Therefore a simple guestroom upgrade or club-level floor can be all that’s needed for most travelers. Others may only be fulfilled having conquered the next ‘it’ attraction or securing the impossible dinner reservation. So, like all truly remarkable and memorable travel experiences, new ways of looking at Mexico travel are prescient.
Across Mexico, the opportunity to treat, indulge and surpass your travel expectations is becoming easier and easier. If you harbor doubts about Mexico’s “luxury” credentials here are some easy-to-research travel opportunities to consider for 2022. Here are the top luxury travel trends listed by Forbes.com
High Class in the Highlands
While coastal Mexico has a renowned assortment of top-shelf luxury options, it’s the country’s interior states that deserve renewed attention. Historic homes, mansions, and estates have opened their doors as boutique inns – most combining the latest in-room amenities with antique appointments and classic European styling. States like Michoacán (Morelia, Pátzcuaro), Guanajuato (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato), and Querétaro (Tequisquiapan, Querétaro) have both proprietor-managed, intimate hotels and sprawling estates. A good place to start exploring is Mexico Boutique Hotels and its inventory of over 40 unique properties.
Heritage, History & Haute Mexico Cuisine
If there’s anyone state of Mexico that abound with assets surpassing many countries, it’s utterly fascinating Oaxaca. Its jaw-dropping cultural and culinary diversity is nicely packaged with some of Mexico’s loveliest small inns. These treasures include places like the Quinta Real — a 91 room former convent in the historic center, or the elegant Palacio Borghese. Oaxacan cuisine varies widely due to a mountainous landscape and extremely varied climates in which foods are produced. Oaxaca’s gastronomy is known for its “seven moles,” chapulines (dried crickets), Oaxaca tamales in banana leaves, and mescal (a rebellious cousin of tequila). Therefore get a table at restaurants like Chef Alejandro Olmeda Ruiz’ Casa Oaxaca, or Los Pacos for a traditional Oaxaca style mole sampler, or Cathedral for regional seafood. Spend days with a private guide touring the region’s craft villages or stroll Mexico’s most colorful indigenous markets.
Hecho en México
If you’ve toured Spain or France you’ve probably seen the ‘Denominación de Origen Protegida’ (DOP) – an EU designation referring to food products specific to a particular region conveying a particular quality or characteristic of the designated area. You’ll see it on Spanish olives, wine, cured ham, and French champagne and truffles. How does Mexico fit in? Foodies from around the world come to explore and taste Mexico’s current ‘DOP’ delicacies. There are 11 of these unique (and in some cases endemic) ‘foods of the Gods’.
What would be more delectable than an itinerary taking in three of the world’s luxury food leaders: vanilla, coffee, and chocolate. Two of these are native to Mexico and all three are grown, harvested, cured,d and consumed along Mexico’s seldom-visited Gulf Coast (states of Veracruz and Tabasco). And with non-stop flights from Houston to Veracruz and Villahermosa, what are you waiting for?
Chef Enrique Olvera is the newest celebrity chef to gain the attention of the American media. A recent issue of WSJ Magazine featured the 37-year-old chef and owner of restaurant Pujol in Mexico City. With 48 seats and 27 chefs, Pujol has cracked the world’s S. Pelligrino rankings as # 36 in the world. Mexico City hails as Mexico’s culinary capital and dining is a grand, multi-course, dress-up affair. Then there’s the Riviera Nayarit’s Gran Velas Nuevo Vallarta — home to not one but TWO AAA Five Diamond eateries.
Other leading gastronomic destinations include Puerto Vallarta. There are so many fine chefs and award-winning restaurants that a great place to start is the November gourmet festival. Zihuatanejo touts its ‘Costa meets Culture’ nouvelle cuisines and La Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen has so many great restaurants you could spend a month there and dine somewhere different every night. Or consider Mérida with its unique blend of Maya, French and Lebanese cuisine. Dine on gourmet regional cuisine at Nectar with award-winning chef Ernesto Solis.
Deserts Make Dreams
There’s something that makes luxury in a desert setting seem almost innate. Maybe it’s the stark, hardscrabble landscape coupled with cozy amenities and fine dining. Or broad vistas, solitude, and searing dryness surrounding an outdoor spa. There’s something that draws luxury leaders to places like Sedona, Scottsdale, Santa Fe, and St. George.
Mexico’s Baja deserts must have the same magnetism. Baja Sur serves visitors a silver tray of the world’s most renowned purveyors of luxury. Ritz-Carlton, Auberge, One&Only, and Rosewood all call Cabo home. The destination has two AAA Five Diamond winners and an amazing 15 properties earning the AAA Four Diamond ranking. So look no further than the Baja tip for Mexico’s grandest gaggle of award-winning digs.
Mexico’s Happy Coast Travel
Unbeknownst to many Mexico experts, there’s a stretch of Pacific shore that seldom finds its way into tour operator brochures or web seller specials of the week. It’s Mexico’s exclusive and environmentally pristine CostAlegre. South of Puerto Vallarta, beyond the shores of Banderas Bay, is a 100-mile stretch of estuaries, coves, plantations, and secret resort hideaways that see more private jet and helicopter traffic than the rest of Mexico’s Pacific coast. Google places like Costa Careyes, Quemaro, El Tamarindo, and Isla Navidad to explore this area’s luxury options.