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Cuixmala, Costalegre 

Carretera Barra de Navidad, Km 46.2
Tel: 866 516 2611 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 315 351 0044
view web site ›'s insider take:

Cuixmala was once the family retreat of Sir James Goldsmith, an Anglo-French financier who helped to develop the Costalegre coast in the 1980s. The Cuixmala property has since grown into a 25,000-acre nature reserve teeming with wildlife, from burros to horses to zebras, and attracting celebs like Mick Jagger and Madonna. Throughout the reserve is a collection of villas and casitas shaded by tropical forests. The most luxurious is the Casa la Loma, the original Moorish-style family compound, atop a hill. It is comprised of a seawater pool, four bedrooms in the main house, and six casitas decorated with white silk drapes and hand-painted Talavera tiles—and comes complete with a dedicated full-time staff of housekeepers, gardeners, and a chef. Typically rented as one unit, for between $10,000 and $16,000 a night, it accommodates up to 20 people.

For those not traveling with an entourage, individual rooms in Casa la Loma are available on a nightly basis when the compound's not booked. Or you can rent one of three multiroom villas, with private housekeeper and cook, on another hill out of sight of the grand manse. Nine smaller casitas, whose porches are equipped with daybeds, binoculars, and books, are clustered in yet another forested area near the clubhouse and main dining room. (Breakfast and dinner are served, featuring organic produce from the property's gardens, coffee beans from a sister hacienda in the mountains, and fish straight from the sea.) You can explore the surrounding nature reserve on electric boats that glide silently through lagoons filled with blue and white herons, egrets, and pink spoonbills. Or you can hike past the farms of coconuts and mangoes, and the broomcorn that feed the horses, Brahman cattle, and those amazing zebras. The beach at the property faces the wild ocean and isn't great for swimming. It's better to take the ten-minute shuttle to the hotel's private beach club, which has padded lounge chairs, hammocks, and a restaurant serving light meals.—Maribeth Mellin

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