Cancun is one of those places that I thought I might never make it to. Though I have an insatiable wanderlust, like Las Vegas, Cancun seemed like it just might not be for me, based on everything I’d heard over the years. And then I got a chance to stay at the Nizuc Resort and Spa (opened in 2013), located in Cancun, but away from the resort towers and well-known all-inclusives (and college-town spring breakathons). As the general manager told me, “We’re miles away from “Cancun” but yet in Cancun.”
First, I now understand why Cancun has grown in size and popularity since the 1974 when it was designated an Integrally Planned Center by the Mexican government. The formerly tiny fishing village (now worldwide-known mega resort area) is in an absolutely gorgeous spot, with incredible Caribbean blue ocean (see my floating, above….that color!) and soft white sand beaches. But mostly the area is known more for its party-hearty atmosphere and chock-a-block hotel towers lined along the beach—but not at Nizuc Resort and Spa.
That’s because Nizuc is located several miles away (and what feels like a totally different planet) from the main hotel strip in Cancun: Its private, quiet and altogether stunning location is no accident. It’s the former getaway residence for the Mexican President (like the United States’ Prez has Camp David for schmoozing outside of Washington, D.C.). The view above—over the adults-only infinity pool now—is approximately the same view as presidents of the country and their guests had from the original residence.
So if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live like a head of state, welcome to Nizuc Resort and Spa, where they take this idea pretty seriously, making me—and all the guests I spoke with during my four days there—feel very well taken care of. The incredible modern design you see in my images above and below will give you an idea of how the space looks, but it can’t really capture how it feels to walk the grounds and buildings here. (And I love that you feel and know you are in Mexico via innumerable small design touches—there’s nothing worse than being in a pretty-but-soulless resort and forgetting what country you are in.)
Nizuc is a truly inside-out resort, meaning that all the common areas are open to the cool ocean breezes—and attention has been paid to where both light and air come from, so that almost wherever you stand (even while waiting for the elevator), you can enjoy a glimpse of blue ocean, creamy sand, or green jungle. That’s great design: Location-specific, celebratory of the natural environment, mindful of light—where it comes from and where it goes—and beautiful to look at too. Nizuc’s main building, where I stayed, had the feel of a soulful, intelligent mind behind it, someone who understands how delightful a breeze across your shoulders feels as you walk down the hallway to your room. Turns out its one of Mexico’s premiere architects, Alejandro Escudero.
On Wednesday, supermodel Karlie Kloss and her bestie, singer Taylor Swift, too a road trip to sightsee and hike around Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (one of my fave places in the world, ever!).
‘Beach, forests, cliffs, Northern California, sand, flower picking. Best road trip ever,’ Taylor tweeted. Check out the elephant seal behind the girls in the topmost shot—its huge!
All these cute pix are from Karlie and Taylor’s Instagram accounts, and I love how earthy and natural they both look; so different from their typical high-glamour shots.
My first visit to the Oregon coast, a couple of years ago, was during the winter; I came with my boyfriend, who is a native of Corvallis, a town that’s about an hour from the ocean, and who spent his childhood years vacationing in Yachats, Florence and Manzanita, the small towns that dot the coast. We took a day and a night out from our city time in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle and I feel in love with the Pacific yet again. Since I was born and spent my early years in Sydney, I have always love the Pacific Ocean, but this was another side of the vast sea—all shades of grey and mist and barely there rain and real rain and peeks of sunshine. (Sydney tends to be all contrasty sun and sea, gorgeous sunsets and drama-drama, in the best possible, but totally different way.)
Above: Starre Vartan visiting the Oregon Coast while wearing an ethical Gudrun Sjoden Miranda sweater and By Natalie Frigo glass and recycled metals necklace
Needless to say, for a romantic writer/creative-type, I love the curtains of grey, the layered light of the Oregon Coast, the non-rain rain, and I recently returned, now that I’m living just 40 minutes away in the middle of the woods in the Cascade Range.
First stop was Devil’s Punchbowl, a state natural area that’s meditative and interesting to watch, since the sea water gushes in and out of this epically large natural ‘bowl’ that “was probably created by the collapse of the roof over two sea caves, then shaped by wave action.” The area is popular for surfers and whales, so keep an eye out for people and cetaceans.
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