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For International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the women in travel who work to make destinations thrive, and more appealing for travelers. For Riviera Nayarit, Mexico’s Pacific Treasure, these women spearhead world-class restaurants to eco-friendly boutique properties, and offer unique luxury experiences that have enhanced the destinations offerings. These ladies have been integral in helping position Riviera Nayarit as a versatile region through their one-of-a-kind offerings. Below are the stories behind some of the destination’s top female-led businesses.

Owners of Luxury Properties

  • Hotel Cielo RojoThis luxury boutique property is the result of a lifelong dream of Gisela Marin, a Los Angeles native whose parents hail from Mexican state Chihuahua. Opened in 2005, in the region’s cultural capital of San Pancho, Marin created an intimate, eco-friendly space where travelers can unplug and celebrate nature. Environmentally conscious practices include sourcing local produce and mineral water and using organic cotton sheets.
  • Haramara RetreatKnown for its spiritual appeal, Haramara is a holistic retreat founded by yogi and healing instructor, Sajeela de la Borbolla. Sajeela left her normal life behind to follow the holistic beliefs of an Indian guru, which eventually inspired the concept behind Haramara. The property features two yoga pavilions with high thatched roofs, handmade wooden floors, and panoramic views of lush jungle.
riviera nayarit
Traditional Mexican fare. (Photo courtesy of Riviera Nayarit.)

Chefs Behind the Delicious Treats

  • El DelfinRiviera Nayarit’s positioning as a culinary prowess in Mexico is partly due to the works of celebrity chef Betty Vazquez, the destination’s official gastronomy ambassador destination. Vazquez is the driving force behind El Delfin, one of the country’s leading and most-awarded restaurants that specializes in authentic Nayarit fare combined with colonial flavors. Vazquez is also a judge on the Mexican edition of “Master Chef.”
  • Granja El Paraiso: The gift of a single cow back in 2011 inspired Liza Kodaks Schennen to transform her farm space as the foundation for a business—a grocery store in the fishing town of Lo de Marcos that celebrates organic Mexican produce. Since then, Granja has expanded to offer artisanal cheese ranging from panela to fresh cheese and mozzarella, organic greens and vegetables and other locally sourced products.

The Women Offering Immersive Local Experiences

  • La Patrona Polo & Equestrian Club: Originally from Zurich, globetrotter Gabrielle Weber co-opened La Patrona in 2004, following a deep interest for horseback riding and luxury travel. In addition to offering classes and hosting events, the sprawling club features a beach club and fine dining options, including a popular Sunday brunch overlooking the three polo fields.
  • Planeta CacaoFounded by local Laura Aguilar, Planeta Cacao offers an experiential tour deep into the roots of cocoa in Mexico¹s Pacific coast. Whether it’s through interactive workshops on chocolate crafting, or through the tasting of cocoa-based cocktails and delicious fresh kernels, travelers can enjoy endless opportunities to learn and appreciate the symbolism of cocoa.
  • Revolucion del Sueno: Laetitia Dijan is the brain behind this popular boutique store located in the boho-chic, surfer town of Sayulita. Here, guests will find products that reflect Riviera Nayarit’s indigenous art scene, where quality beadwork and colorful embroidery take center stage. From handmade bags and hats to pens and home decor, Dijan curated a selection that offers a unique, intricate and colorful perspective of the Huichol natives.

For more on Riviera Nayarit, visit For more on leading ladies in travel, check out these seven powerhouses.