On Location: One&Only Mandarina is an Immersive, Impactful Paradise

Unique Homes takes a behind-the-scenes look at the new and exclusive resort, Mandarina, in Nayarit, Mexico.

By Kristen Ordonez

The curves and ridges of the cobblestone streets describe the character of the charming, seaside town of Sayulita, located on the western coastal state of Nayarit, Mexico. Unique Homes was recently invited by RLH and RSC and The Agency to stay in the town of Sayulita as part of a larger effort to discover and learn about Mandarina, a new exclusive resort that will feature hotel rooms, one of the world’s first collections of One&Only branded residences and other world-class amenities.
Though only a 15-minute drive separates Sayulita from the land Mandarina is located on, entering the site is like stepping directly into a tropical jungle, surrounded by the sounds of native creatures and the crashing waves along the Pacific coast. The site of the resort is expansive and includes a variety of landscapes that will feature amenities for every kind of adventure-seeker. The flat plots of fertile farmland lining the road to the property will offer locally grown produce for an authentic farm-to-table experience at the restaurants that will be on the site. In the background was an amazing protected mountain range that nestled us closer to the cliffs and the shore.

The steep climbs and alternating landscapes provide a challenge for active guests on the trail system, open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. These trails take you through thick patches of jungle that are both reminiscent of how out of our element you are, but also envelope you in a sense of quiet wonder that fill you with a sense of contentment. On the shore, two stretches of beach will satisfy those looking to relax somewhere that feels world’s away from everything. This property is the definition of unique, providing incredible vistas of every terrain imaginable, from the crystal clear waters you can see from cliffs formed by a long-dormant volcano many years ago, to the green flatlands that will eventually play host the world-class Mandarina Polo and Equestrian Club.
Apart from certain sections of the site that were already under construction, a large part of the property is waiting to be developed, which according to Ricardo Santa Cruz, RSC President and CEO, will be done in stages coinciding with sales of the One&Only Private Homes. Santa Cruz has been working and negotiating with citizens and authorities within the region for more than 10 years to acquire the land for Mandarina, an endeavor that has formed a closer relationship between Mandarina and the town along the coast of Nayarit. Santa Cruz, alongside architect Rick Joy, aim to bring a tailored luxury experience that immerses you into the landscape and the surrounding communities by keeping authenticity a key principle.
A sense of individuality and uniqueness are undeniable, as few have come to find once they set foot in Mandarina. There will be no other place quite like it.
A closer, in-depth look at the Mandarina project will be included in Unique Home’s upcoming Ultimate issue, which will be on sale in May.

Photos courtesy of Mandarina and Hayes Davidson

Going Global: A Swiss Investment

By Kelly Potts

Luxury boutique hotel group Grace Hotels recently announced plans for 17 exclusive apartments within the Grace St. Moritz hotel. The hotel and apartments are scheduled to open in 2019.

“This project is our first venture to the Alps and selecting St. Moritz seemed like an appropriate fit as it presented us with an exciting opportunity to create an attractive residential offering in an iconic world-renowned destination,” says Robert Swade, CEO at Grace Hotels. Swade notes that when not in-residence, owners will earn revenue from hotel guest usage of their apartment, managed by Grace Hotels on the owner’s behalf.

Residents will have full access to the Grace St. Moritz spa and fitness center, restaurants, martini bar and 24-hour concierge. The apartments range from luxury studios to a four-bedroom penthouse, with prices starting at about $759,900 for a studio and about $4,416,100 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Renderings by Divercity Architects Courtesy of Grace St. Moritz

Redefining “resort-style living,” these luxury real estate communities are taking it one step further by offering unique and unexpected amenities that buyers didn’t know they needed:

Los Cabos, MX

A private oceanfront residential community, Maravilla Los Cabos stretches across 260 acres overlooking the sparkling Sea of Cortez. Prospective buyers can choose between villas, townhomes, or opt for custom homes and home sites that embrace the natural environment and history of the area. Amenities run the gamut at Maravilla.


Hidden Campsite.

Built on the edge of a canyon where two arroyos meet, the hidden campsite is two miles from Maravilla and offers residents the opportunity to experience the Baja desert uninterrupted. The campsite features a main palapa with a kitchen. The luxury camping tents feature one bedroom with a separate living area and outdoor shower. Residents also have access to picnic packages or chef service for dining. A camping butler is on hand for overnight stays as well. Activities include world-class hiking and mountain biking with plans for archery and ax-throwing sites.

Splash Pad and Park.

Perfect for family frolicking, The Park features badminton and basketball courts, and fields for soccer, Frisbee golf, croquet and horseshoes. Parents can sit back and relax while the kids enjoy the jungle gym, splash pad and playground area.

The Club.

Not only is the 60,000-square-foot clubhouse the community centerpiece and social hub, it has several standout features including a 3-level infinity pool with a water slide, lap and plunge pools, a full-service spa, fitness center and 2-story climbing wall, lawn sports courts, an outdoor amphitheater and indoor theater, as well as fully-equipped kids’ activity center.

Palmetto Bluff
Palmetto Bluff, SC

Situated in the heart of South Carolina Lowcountry between Charleston and Savannah, Palmetto Bluff is surrounded by rich history, stunning beauty and cultural heritage. The largest remaining waterfront property on the East Coast, this 20,000-acre development is surrounded by 32 miles of riverfront and features extensive nature trails and  a vibrant Village center. Palmetto Bluff also offers a new approach to a beloved camping delight with a s’mores cart for residents and guests.


S’More Situation.

The cart is custom-designed with six bins, offering a variety of flavored and classic marshmallows, a tray of graham crackers, bins for roasting sticks and a mini refrigerator to keep house-made milk and dark chocolates perfectly crisp. After a day of biking along the property’s many trails, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding along the May River or golfing on the May River Golf Course, unwind by “s’moring” which begins at 7 p.m. each night.

The Cliffs
The Carolinas, SC–NC

Situated in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This collection of residential communities is set among a million acres of protected national forest reaching north to Asheville, North Carolina and south to Greenville. Homeowners can choose between three distinct community settings — Mountain, Lake and Asheville — and enjoy every clubhouse, golf course, wellness center, hiking trail, tennis court, marina and restaurant across all seven communities. Plus, it offers a unique, exclusive wine club.

A Wine Club.

Dubbed “uncorked!” The Cliffs Wine Consortium is a monthly wine club led by The Cliffs Beverage Director, Eric Cooperman, a certified sommelier and wine specialist. Exclusively offered to more than 6,000 Cliffs members, the program offers unbeatable wine deals up to 40% off retail price. The subscription-based program encourages members to enjoy different wines, including an array of varietals and regions. The Cliffs offers tastings on a weekly basis and hosts wine pairing dinners.

Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Napa Valley
Calistoga, CA

Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Napa Valley is the brand’s first Napa Valley property and slated to open early 2019. Initial site work has begun on the hotel and 20 residences under the management and direction of Bald Mountain Development. When open, owners and guests will have access to the Resort’s impressive amenities, including an exclusive, experiential and world-class on-site winery in the heart of the renowned Calistoga AVA, which will be led by renowned winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown.

Your Own Family Wine Label.  

Led by renowned winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, this winery and vineyard is one of the most unique offerings available to residents. Residence owners can collaborate with Brown in the winemaking process and coordinate sessions with him to partake in harvesting, fermentation, blending and bottling. They can also store their wines in the Residence Owners’ Private Wine Library until the perfect occasion arrives.

 Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Napa Valley, Maravilla Los Cabos, and The Cliffs

This prestigious, elegant 400-square-meter residence is just a few meters from the Spanish steps in Via di Fontanella Borghese, inside Merenghi Palace. Expertly revisited by architect and interior designer Tommaso Ziffer, high-quality finishes and smart home technology make this house one of a kind.

From the sumptuous entrance, the large salon with large panoramic windows greets visitors. A dining room environment with a relaxation area and a guest room with a bath complete this part of the home. In this wing of the house, there is room for both laundry and services area, and a magnificent, well-equipped design kitchen equipped with all the comforts.

In the opposite wing, the sleeping area gives ample space and privacy to its guests, thanks to a pure oriental-style master suite with a large boiserie and private service with sauna, as well as two comfortable bedrooms, each with en suites.

“The architecture of the building and the large stairwells, with frescoes and classical statues, carry people on a journey through time,” says listing agent Valentina Bodini of Coldwell Banker Bodini Barbera International Real Estate, who is listing the property with Andrea Barbera. “The magnificence of the apartment gives a unique sensation, livable only in Rome and only in a wonderfully renovated apartment like this.”

Offered for 5.9 million euros, the apartment features 4 bedrooms, 5 baths and also includes 2 convenient parking spaces and a cellar. “The building is connected to the Borghese place by underground passages and cellars,” says Bodini. “The final result is astonishing.”

As homeowners begin to seek all things natural and organic, luxury real estate developers are beginning to design their new projects with luxe natural elements and features that replace typical art. From walls of limestone art in Turks and Caicos to a driftwood chandelier in Anguilla, these island spaces cater to nature lovers and art appreciators alike.

Rock House

Hand-crafted by a local artisan, stone walls bring natural art to each Capri-style cottage. Extending from the exterior to the interior of each cottage, the walls will be built by hand, much like an artist creates his art. These one-of-a-kind homes are selling fast, with nearly 50 percent of them already sold in just four months. Prices range from $600,000 to $1.5 million.

Photo courtesy of Rock House

The Beachfront Residences Collection at Sugar Beach

Situated between St. Lucia’s famous Piton mountain range, this resort traded traditional exterior siding for natural untreated timber.  The natural timber extends throughout the residences through layered sliding timber screens and private timber pool decks, which offer stunning 360-degree views.

Photo courtesy of Williams New York

Zemi Beach House

As you enter Zemi Beach House, you are greeted by a chandelier constructed entirely of island driftwood. Situated on Anguilla’s East End, Zemi Beach House was created with the island’s natural environment in mind. Designed by Architect Lane Pettigrew, the luxury boutique hotel and residences blend modern clean lines with classic Caribbean building details.

Photo courtesy of Zemi Beach House


Zemi Beach House is currently closed due to the September hurricanes and will reopen in early 2018.

Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa located on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman will welcome permanent residents at its new Residences at Seafire, set to open in November 2017.

By Kelly Potts


Upon entering the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, I immediately noticed the rolling blue waves. Those waves, however, were not the crystal clear water of the ocean right outside the resort, but the details of the lobby ceiling, which was inspired by the island and its culture.

“It was important to us for Kimpton to have a personality and have attributes of the island,” says Jackie Doak, president of Dart Real Estate. “There are bespoke and subtle touches of Cayman culture throughout the resort.” From the homey library featuring a traditional Caymanian catboat suspended from the ceiling, to the seafarer-inspired ropes and knots throughout the resort, I found myself discovering new island-themed details at seemingly every turn.

I was greeted each morning with views of the ocean through a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows in my room, one of 266 guest rooms and suites all with ocean or North Sound views and private balconies. The endless amenities include a family pool, an adults-only pool, an oceanfront kids facility, a public multi-use trail and a luxurious spa and fitness facility with seven treatment rooms, a Hammam and a relaxing garden soaking pool.

Three diverse restaurants can be found on site: the open and beachy Coccoloba where Mexican street food meets Caribbean sea food; Ave, a chic atmosphere offering fresh seafood and produce infused into coastal Mediterranean dishes; and Avecita, offering an intimate, exclusive culinary experience at the chef’s table. For a quick smoothie, coffee or sandwich to-go before heading to the beach, the hotel is also home to The Pantry at Seafire.

The 12-acre site will soon welcome permanent occupants at its newest development, The Residences at Seafire. Offering 62 high-end Caribbean-style living spaces ranging from studios to four-bedrooms, the residences will range from $1 million to $8 million.

The Residences’ 3,500-square-foot rooftop lounge, “The Nest,” is just one of the public spaces in the development designed by renowned Interior Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, featuring shaded lounging pits and cocktail areas. “The Nest is the highest man-made point on the island and the best place to watch the sunsets that inspired Seafire’s name,” says David Seerman, vice president of sales for Provenance Properties of Cayman.

“I foresee decades of new development and prosperity for the island that will not only benefit vacation home buyers, but also the people who live and work in the Cayman Islands,” Seerman says of the island’s real estate market.

The Residences are a standalone structure elevated to 24 feet, creating a sloped effect leading from the building to the adults-only pool and the beach beyond. “The pool and landscaping cascades down creating beautiful views even from just the ground floor,” says Doak.
The views weren’t the only thing they had in mind when developing Seafire and the Residences, however. “We take into consideration where the breeze comes from, how the sun moves over the property, how landscaping and water and shading can cool an area,” says Doak, “You’re developing for people to become attached to what you develop and to develop a really strong reputation for meaningful placemaking.”

Whether it’s a subtle, unique piece of décor or a gorgeous, hidden garden, you’ll constantly discover new things to enjoy at this luxury resort. Doak says, “We hope to make our locations desirable and make you want to come back and experience it again.” And Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa does just that.

Photos ©Don Riddle, courtesy Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa

This story originally appeared in Unique Homes Summer 2017. 

Click here to see the digital version.

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