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At Naviva: A Personalized Paradise Free of Schedules and Decision-making

This bespoke resort takes all-inclusive to another level: all-encompassing.

At Naviva: A Personalized Paradise Free of Schedules and Decision-making
Courtesy of Naviva

Drifting on a floaty overlooking the Pacific, I hear, "Katie! The whales are here!" George, the pool attendant, hands me binoculars as I blink away a blissed-out haze to observe three whales miles out in the ocean, putting on a show as they head north. It’s late in their migration season, so sightings are becoming rarer and that much more astonishing.

I love animal encounters, a fact that has made its way onto my guest profile atNaviva, a wellness resort by Four Seasons in Mexico’s idyllic Punta Mita peninsula. That same morning, I received a text that Martín, the adored and best-fed wild peccary, was making a cameo at breakfast, and I should come quickly to meet him.

Before my stay, I sat down for a virtual consultation with the guest experience manager to discuss my interests, food preferences, and vacation intentions. This personalized approach ensures a customized itinerary curated for each guest and their desired participation level—then they can take it, make edits, or completely abandon it. After verbalizing my penchant for water activities and animal interaction, I hoped for surprises like meeting Martín. We didn’t, however, narrow down on or name specific experiences like I usually would before a hotel stay. “Our itineraries are not meant to be followed; they are meant to be inspiring,” says Eduardo. “There is room for spontaneity. We call these 'unscripted Naviva moments'.”

I was skeptical—normally, I’m restless on vacation, leaving nothing on the activity brochure unchecked and my busy-body energy unquelled. But the weeks leading up to the trip felt off, lacking the sizzling anticipation I usually felt pre-travel. I was swamped at work, making major life changes, and about to turn another year older. I was experiencing a bout of decision fatigue, uninspired to do more than express my baseline inclinations on the call with the resort, let alone pick between activities or map out a schedule. My daily routine needed some spontaneity and renewed perspective—the grinding corporate cycle had led to burnout and disconnection from life offline. I was grateful for someone else to take the lead on scheduling my free time, penciling in activities that I had zero obligation to do.

House of Heat, a Traditional temazcal

Courtesy of Naviva

Arriving at Naviva midday, my fiancé and I joined a twice-a-week communal temazcal—a traditional Mesoamerican sweat lodge ceremony led by a local community leader. I was ready for a burn-it-all-down approach to leaving the corporate, desk-tethered version of me behind. Sitting amidst heated volcanic stones, called abuelitas to represent our connection with our ancestors, we shared our intentions aloud. I sought to feel grounded, wanting to shake up my creative stagnation. As steam engulfed my body—and I sweated more in that session than the totality of my whole life—the physical and spiritual purification began.

Post temazcal, my eyes were open to possibility. A few loosely-planned days seemed weightless instead of daunting and FOMO-inducing.

Renewed and invigorated, I headed to Copal for my first dining experience. In my consultation I had declared my pescatarian tendencies, and the topic never needed reminding or clarification. Notably absent were menus and wine lists, replaced by the server’s explanation of the evening's offerings: sushi and a wine pairing inspired by the day's catch, seasonal produce, and women-led wineries. “This concept allows Chef Sofia and our culinary team to craft dishes that are not only inspired by the freshest ingredients but also aligned with the individual desires of our guests, ensuring a memorable and bespoke dining journey every time. Being menu-less turns Copal into an infinite number of restaurants.” Indeed it does. While my lunches leaned toward traditional Mexican, my two dinners included fresh pasta and French pastries. It was as if I had hired a personal chef who knew my entire dietary history and preferences.

My only moment of consumable creativity came later after a visit to the herb garden, where I sampled epazote—a fresh, licorice-tasting leaf—for the first time. “This would be amazing in a cocktail,” I said aloud. Cut to the next afternoon, poolside. I’m sipping an epazote-infused margarita concocted by Pollo, Naviva’s bartender extraordinaire.

The price of admission to Naviva is hefty. While the $4,400 a night rate includes all culinary experiences, drinks, activities, and a customized spa treatment, the experience is unaffordable for most. At one point during our stay, my fiance and I were two of only six guests on the property. I couldn't help but wonder if many luxury travel regulars would even be outpriced. Open-ended possibility and freedom from decisions wasn’t cheap.

Courtesy of Katie Buckleitner

Courtesy of Katie Buckleitner

On my first morning, we awoke surprisingly early without an alarm for a private yoga session in a cliffside pavilion overlooking the ocean. Ever the over-achiever, I seized the intimate opportunity to practice inversions and more intricate poses with a guide. As we flowed on the wooden pavilion like the white sheets providing a semblance of shelter around me, I fantasized about getting married in that scenic spot, atop the crashing waves and salt on my skin from the breeze.

We spent the rest of the day enjoying my tent—which, while the structure was indeed covered in canvas, was only slightly akin to camping. Around my king-sized bed were sliding glass partitions that eliminated any threshold to the outside, while the separate living room provided respite for moments of solitude or a cat nap. That afternoon I slept through the pre-programmed fishing activity on my itinerary. Free of remorse, I then refreshed in my private plunge pool. In one of just 15 tents on 48 acres of jungle, I was isolated enough to soak in the environment without the distraction of neighboring guests. Palms screened in my plot open only to the uninterrupted view of the Pacific Ocean beyond the fauna. I took full advantage of the privacy, skinny dipping and sunbathing the parts of me that rarely see the light of day. At night, sitting around a glowing firepit–s'mores just a phone call away—I gazed at the ever-changing constellations, leaving something new to identify every 24 hours. Coming from New York City, the massive presence of natural beauty was surreal and, admittedly, recentering—exactly what I needed to find realignment in the mental clutter of my life back home.

After floating in serene, temperature-controlled pools, I missed the wild, salty ocean. I asked my guide, Manuel, about spontaneous snorkeling, and he said he would arrange the excursion for later in the afternoon. When he arrived, donning flippers and a mask, I realized that Manuel hadn’t just arranged for snorkeling, he was also going to be my guide around the local coral reefs.

Courtesy of Katie Buckleitner

Courtesy of Katie Buckleitner

Throughout my stay, it was apparent that the staff seemed personally invested in guests' experiences. They provided individualized experiences, like setting up beachfront dinners or teaching guests how to roast and brew locally sourced coffee beans. The Aries in me particularly enjoyed an evening stargazing with Christian, another guide who could name each planet and star and then tell us what we could expect from the astrological event. Naviva rewarded personal strengths and interests, and in return, it cultivated a homey, worry-free community. I wasn’t alone in picking up on this vibe. “We’ve learned that most time, unknowingly to them, plenty of our guests are missing true personal connections, and Naviva is the perfect playground for those to come to life between guests and with us,” says Eduardo.

Capping my experience at Naviva was a shorefront dinner sunset, a surprise arranged by the staff who seemed to know me so well. My fiance and I took the steep stairs down to the beach to a table set for two under a string of lights (our server’s personal touch). We enjoyed a five-course meal with a wine pairing, which included a daring beet ravioli and my new favorite Mexican Pinot Noir, as the sun set on the horizon and our vacation. While everything was perfect, the only thing we changed was the music. We swapped soothing bistro beats for Bad Bunny and danced on the sand, exercising the physical manifestation of our joy.

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