My far-and-away favorite way to travel is as a duo. They say the world is built for two—and for me, this definitely resonates when it comes to trips, especially compared to slightly lonely solo journeys or overly complicated group treks. And while the old phrase typically refers to couples, for me it resonates even more deeply regarding friends. So when I was at JFK boarding a plane to Puerto Vallarta last month, I was thrilled to be meeting my close friend Ally for a one-on-one long weekend in Sayulita—a small, laid-back surf town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
I knew it would be a memorable one because seeing Ally is never boring. When we were in high school, she talked me into my first kiss and into getting a number of piercings. And when we went to Florence and Barcelona together in college, I had some of my most—let’s say most “eventful”—nights out. Now, although she lives in Austin and I live in Brooklyn, we’re still both in the same place: this time not in school, but reveling in being newly single and prioritizing friendships. We decided peaceful, budget-friendly Sayulita would be the perfect place to do just that, and that Nico Loma—a newly built, architecturally impressive mini hotel that we found on Airbnb—would be the perfect place to stay. It more than delivered.
Our experience with Nico started a week before we even arrived, when the venue’s hired hospitality service, Sayulita at Your Service, invited us to join a group chat on WhatsApp. We got the low-down from Gabbi Villarrubia and Nick Sherman, who have lived in Sayulita for more than a decade. They helped us arrange a morning yoga lesson on the rooftop and a car to get us from the airport, plus sent us beach, hiking, surf lesson, restaurant, and bar recommendations. When we arrived, they gave us a complete tour and showed us the ins-and-outs of the house: the high-tech keypad locks on the room doors, the laundry room, the kitchen (which was stocked with beer, tequila, and snacks) and best of all—how to drive the red golf cart that was parked in the driveway.
Upon arrival, after driving from the main road up a precipitously steep dirt road, Nico appears in front of you as a striking, one-of-a-kind building. It’s an open-plan structure that has five stories, built from a tic-tac-toe pattern of concrete columns showcasing large squares of lush greenery and sky. It’s sleek and ultra-modern, with a stylish display of floating, zig-zagging staircases adding to the aesthetic. The unique architectural design is the result of a partnership between Seattle–based Hybrid Architecture and the Mexico City–based firm Palma. The newly built house has five suites and an array of communal spaces, including a rooftop terrace with panoramic Pacific Ocean views, two pools, and a long and spacious outdoor kitchen. Amenities include tons of fresh towels, mini french presses and coffee in the kitchen and the bedrooms, a fire pit, in-room safes, house-keeping, air conditioning, and extremely effective Wi-Fi.
When Ally and I were hanging out on the rooftop, watching humming birds and green, black, and yellow parrots flit around the trees, we both agreed that Nico—with its ultra-social shared spaces, would be the most ideal place to host a bachelor or bachelorette party, a family reunion, or a small group retreat.
Not only that, but Sayulita is the perfect destination for these occasions, or for a remote work stint. Sayulita is in the sweet spot in a lot of ways—it’s authentic and hasn’t blown-up online, you don’t have to wait in lines or over-pay, and yet there’s more than enough to do as a traveler, whether that’s surfing, paddle boarding, yoga, laying out on the beach, or going out at night. Plus, being an hour from Puerto Vallarta Airport, it’s super accessible to the West Coast. It’s a cinch to get to from most places in the US, but especially from California or Texas.
It was my first time visiting Mexico, and I adored Sayulita. The town is so laid-back that it truly feels like no one could ever find you here or ask you to do anything at all. My favorite part of the trip was weaving up and down hills in the jungle via golf cart with Ally to reach Playa Carricitos, a hidden, golden beach straight out of my dreams. We also loved devouring burritos with shells made of cheese at Itacate, slurping up super fresh pineapple drinks counter-side at Orangy Smoothies, and venturing to a DJ’s dance party under the stars at Nahual in Higuera Blanca.
All in all, let’s just say that after this travel experience, and my stay at Nico, Ally and I are scheming to get back to Sayulita, and this time for a lot longer than a weekend.