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Best of the Best 2011: Resorts: Imanta Resort Punta de Mita

The owner of Imanta Resort Punta de Mita (+52.329.298.4200, www.imantaresorts.com) describes his Mex­ican beach resort as "an island on the land." rel="nofollow" Thick with jungle and sheltered by peaks and promontories, the 250-acre retreat indeed seems its own separate world—something the owner, a Mexican entrepreneur and hotelier, knows well: Before he built a handful of villas on his property, he lived there—in a homemade campsite—for four years.

Guests at Imanta, which opened last March about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, need not worry about roughing it. Scattered along a slope on one end of a half-mile-long beach, the resort’s five one-bedroom Casas and two three-bedroom Casonas feature custom furnishings, massive bathrooms, and terraces with infinity pools and king-size daybeds, where you can doze off to the incredible clap of surf pounding against the rocks below.

Imanta’s main lodge contains one of two restaurants (the other is beachfront) and is capped by a rooftop observatory with sweeping views of the Pacific on one side and palm-covered peaks on the other. Spa treatments are available at the observatory, as well as in the villas, in the lodge’s massage suite, on the beach, or in the jungle. Guided hikes through the jungle follow a newly carved trail in search of magpie jays, Mexican leaf frogs, and even ocelots.

Most guests at Imanta choose simply to relax and enjoy the sensation that this coastal paradise is all theirs. In fact, like a private island, the resort is available on an exclusive-use basis for weddings, extended-family vacations, and any other occasions that call for total escape. ($1,000–$6,200; exclusive use from $20,000)

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Photo by Janos Grapow