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Review: Christmas at Xinalani, Puerto Vallarta

A short boat ride down the coast from Puerto Vallarta, Xinalani Retreat rests on the slopes of a leafy green hill overlooking a pristine sandy beach. For four nights this past Christmas, your Guide relaxed and rejuvenated at Xinalani. This eco-resort is perfect for a peaceful break, offering world-class yoga facilities, friendly service, and nourishing organic meals. There are affiliate links in this post for Booking (like this one) because I would definitely stay at Xinalani again and look forward to my next visit.

Let’s explore what it’s like staying at Xinalani over Christmas…

Table of Contents

Xinalani's Deluxe Room

I stayed in Deluxe Room 26. It is all wood and hand woven textiles and smooth plastered walls. A lofty roof crafted from the surrounding forest. The side facing towards the ocean is open, offering a view into the greenery of the forest and the ocean beyond that. There’s a turn-down service in the evening when staff roll down a shade over the open balcony and unfurl the mosquito netting around the bed. 

Waking up in that bed is magical. It felt like floating in the tree tops.

Click here to see Xinalani’s room options and prices.

The bathrooms were spacious and sparkling clean. Refillable containers of biodegradable soaps, shampoo, and lotion. Fluffy towels for the shower and the beach. A glass water dispenser for drinking water that was filled up each day. And there were two bottles of bug spray, which was a relief because I had my bug spray taken away at CDMX security for being 110ml (and they were only allowing 100ml on the plane at the time). 

Is it strange going solo to a resort at Christmas time?

I don’t find it strange doing things solo. Meditation and yoga at a resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico are no exception. And I’m not the only one. Probably around a quarter of the people there around Christmas were solo travelers. The largest group were families doing a holiday trip together.

Within the group of solo travelers, I did notice something worth mentioning: Half seemed to be there to do things on their own, and the other half were in a tough place, hoping to be unsolo travelers.

So the conversation with other solo travelers was either about an interesting book they were reading (because they were just there to eat great food, do some yoga, and enjoy a book) or the conversation was about how they were recovering from a recent divorce after having an affair with their coworker and quitting their job because it was exacerbating unchecked mental illness symptoms (and they were there because they needed to be). Which is ok, too!

If you’re going solo, I recommend taking things to do on your own. Make sure you want to travel solo and aren’t just hoping to have an unsolo trip once you get there. If that’s what you’re looking for, then signing up to a specific retreat happening at Xinalani at a different time of year might be best. At a retreat, building a close-knit group is a purposeful part of the retreat experience. It may give you more of the community connection you’re looking for. 

How was the yoga and meditation?

Each morning, before breakfast is served, there’s a 90 minute yoga session in the main studio, the Jungle Studio. If there is no other retreat happening, that’ll be your one session led by a teacher for the day. The teachers change throughout the week and their styles vary. If you’re a yoga beginner, it’s not an issue at all.

I like yoga. I will often buy a yoga mat and leave it in an Airbnb for the next person. But I was more interested in meditation while I was at Xinalani. All of the studios are equipped with meditation benches. The Christmas holidays are a perfect time of year for meditating at Xinalani because whale mothers are training their young just off-shore before heading up to the Pacific northwest when the calves are big enough. Whale school involves frequently breaching the surface.

While sitting to meditate in the yoga studio, with my gaze resting on the rough wall of the ocean rising up from below, a baby whale would burst out of that wall and I’d forget I even had a body.

All three yoga studios were equipped with meditation benches and blankets, in addition to ample yoga equipment. The smallest studio, the “Meditation Cabin”, is pictured above. But you can meditate in any of the studios. There wasn’t a yoga retreat happening over the days around Christmas, so the large yoga studio was free all day after morning yoga.

Mealtime is a special experience at Xinalani

Typically, the setup for all three meals of the day will involve some large platter of salads or fruit, and then there will be several hot stations where staff will serve you straight from the grill or hot plate. 

The meals were enjoyable on multiple levels. Everything was delicious. The view over the beach: spectacular. One of the best parts is just interacting with the staff at meals. Everybody working there is from the town of Quimixto–a short walk along the beach. It creates a very friendly, welcoming atmosphere. It felt like being a guest at a family gathering, in the best way possible. 

Meal tip: Don’t skip the soup. All of the food was fantastic, but the soup chef was shooting bullseyes every day. 

On Christmas Eve, we had a big dinner down on the beach with tamales and tacos and soups and barbecue fish and chicken and lots of salads and vegetables. Long tables on the sand with torchlight. It was beautiful.

Are there vegan and gluten free options at Xinalani?

Definitely. There were multiple vegan and gluten free options at every meal in Xinalani’s restaurant. They’ll all be indicated on the menu blackboard. They’re not an afterthought. The menu for each meal always looked like it was made with a close eye on ensuring you could have a complete, delicious vegan meal. For dessert at lunch and dinner, I believe it was always vegan and gluten free. A staff member will bring out the dessert to you on an individual plate. If the option for that meal wasn’t vegan, I’m sure they could get you something that was.

The herbal tea and coffee bar is stocked and refreshed from early morning onwards.

Between meals, if you need a place to sit and enjoy a coffee–maybe write a novel or two–the dining area works great or there’s a large table in the bar.

I want to give a special shout-out for the bar at Xinalani (see the bar menu here) because it’s a wonderful spot to relax on the compound and it is designed with the same values and approach as the entire retreat. The cocktails are made with local spirits and ingredients that you’ll struggle to find in Puerto Vallarta.

What's the weather like in Puerto Vallarta in December?

Ideal. Warm and sunny each day, but not too warm, not too humid The flowers were blooming along the walkways up and down the hill. There were gentle breezes during afternoon meditation.

It got cool at night, and staff prepared hot water bottles in the dining area to take back to our rooms. 

What to bring? Light layers will help with not shivering through morning yoga. Trousers and long sleeves were common in the dining area for dinner. The dining area and the bar are fully shaded, so it wasn’t uncomfortable to wear long-sleeves there during the daytime either.

How is Xinalani for Digital Nomads?

The WIFI was solid in the Deluxe Room and in the dining area and bar. If you want to do a video call with family on Christmas Day, or you need to meet with some clients, that’s very doable. 

There was a square table with chairs in the Deluxe Room with more than enough space for a laptop. I would  love to work from Xinalani in between those amazing meals and a few meditation sessions with the whales each day. 

Getting to Xinalani

A fun feature of Xinalani is that you can only access it by boat. That process was seamless and you really experience the care and service of the retreat from the moment you land in Puerto Vallarta.

If you get the airport transfer service, you’ll get instructions by email speak with one of the taxi desks at the airport. That desk will have your name and they’ll put you in a taxi for the ride to the docks.

A Xinalani staff member met my taxi at the ship docks in and escorted me through the mobs of cruise passengers to one of the Retreat’s boats. That boat took me down the coast and dropped me off on the beach. There were staff waiting there to greet me. They all knew my name, they helped me get my luggage through the surf perfectly dry, and there was a welcome cocktail already prepared at the bar. 

In the days before your arrival, the hotel will contact you to coordinate arrival times with their boat schedules. 

Would I visit Xinalani Retreat again?

Absolutely. Amazing facilities, the staff were a pleasure to see each day, the food was phenomenal, and the room was so comfortable. It felt like floating through a forest each morning when I woke up.

Would float back there anytime, to attend or lead a retreat.

Price: $360 USD per night for a Deluxe Room – Included king size bed with balcony view of the ocean, private bathroom, three excellent meals per day, morning yoga class, unlimited use of the yoga and meditation facilities. Alcoholic drinks and excursions extra.

There are suites (more expensive) and shared dormitories (less expensive) you can stay in as well. Click to check out room and date availability at Xinalani.


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