A Day in Zihautanejo


Hotel Joaquin: A Hidden Gem In Laguna Beach, California

More than just a pretty seaside town, though we’re not complaining about the miles of sandy beaches, sea coves and caves, high bluffs, and tidal pools stretching along the Pacific Ocean, Laguna Beach with its art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques, has long been a gathering place for artists of every kind.

The list is long starting with silent and silver screen stars—think Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, and Rock Hudson to now (Keanu Reeves sightings have been reported and Diane Keaton had a beachfront home here). Novelist John Steinbeck wrote “Tortilla Flats” when living in Laguna at 504 Park Avenue. Hobie Alter, considered the Henry Ford of the surfboard industry, learned the sport at his parents’ Laguna Beach summer home. If you’ve ever sailed aboard a Hobie Cat, thank Alter. He invented it.

Laguna Beach is that kind of place. So it’s no wonder that Paul Makarechian, founder and CEO of Auric Road, a company that melds history and modernism into petite one-of-kind resorts, decided to turn The Motor Inn Laguna Beach, a 1944 bungalow-style roadside stopover that had decidedly seen better days into Hotel Joaquim, one of the top 25 coolest hotels in the world according to Tablet, the digital guide for hotel curation recently acquired by Michelin.

This relaxing three-tiered resort features 22 rooms with small batch in-room amenities, sweeping views, and bespoke resort-style service, encouraging guests to relax in style.

“The story behind Auric Road is based upon the idea of alchemy and building gold from dust,” Makarechian said in an interview. The Auric Collection of petite hotels includes not only Hotel Joaquim—the name is in homage to the time when much of what is now Orange County was Rancho San Joaquim, a vast track of land granted by the Mexican government—but also Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, Sonoma Coast Villa Resort & Spa in Bodega, Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, and Rex Ranch in Amado. The latter is a small town in the Santa Cruz River Valley south of Tucson. Arizona.

Designed by Studio Robert McKinley, the inspiration for Hotel Joaquim derives from a multitude of styles and aesthetics–the French-speaking Caribbean Island of St. Barths, Southern California’s 1950s beach culture, the Mediterranean coast, and even a personal journey Makarechian made along the Camino de Santiago. Also known as St. James Way,  it’s a series of interconnected routes dating back to Medieval times that winds through the mountains and valleys along the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. No matter what passage you follow, the ultimate goal is arriving in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia to enter the ornate 11th century Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Plaza de Obradoiro. And yes, if anyone can make all this come together—Bette Davis, 1950s SoCal, St. Barths, etc., its Makarechian.

Treat yourself to Laguna Beach’s picturesque setting, where bright blue skies, warm sand and cool evenings mark autumn’s arrival. Relax by the sparkling blue pool where St. Barth’s and the French Riviera meet with custom daybeds and chaise lounges. Guests have access to a secluded beach paired with an all-access pass to the Adventure Outpost—home to city bicycles, bodyboards, Dafin fins, corn hole, football, spike ball, Frisbees, Kadima sets and more. Hotel Joaquin has everything from ocean and beach set ups to morning coffee service, to Mediterranean-inspired menus served al fresco at Saline overlooking Laguna’s stunning coastline.

Starting this Fall, stay at Hotel Joaquin for 2 nights from Sunday-Thursday and receive 15% off your room rate! Want to hang out at pool or beach a bit longer, stay 3 or more nights and receive 15% off your room rate plus a $100 credit to use at Saline Restaurant.

This limited time offer is valid for stays from October 1st – November 30th.*

*Certain blackout dates may apply. SALINE CREDIT only offered to guest staying 3 or more nights Sunday- Thursday, credit cannot be used for alcohol. Offer ends 11/30/22.


Beginning late March 2022, Kontiki Expeditions will set forth on an eight-day exploration of the seldom-visited Ecuadorian coast, allowing for a rich cultural adventure and an exclusive voyage. With only nine staterooms and excursions to sparsely populated coastal ports, social distancing on the 132-foot M/S Wayra is the norm rather than the exception. Kontiki Expeditions is the first water-based member of Small Luxury Hotels and a proponent of sustainable, “neo-luxury” travel.


Kontiki Expeditions is a new concept in luxury ocean cruises focusing on conscious travel and immersive water and land experiences. Carrying a maximum of 18 guests, Kontiki’s 128-foot superyacht M/S Kontiki Wayra travels two routes along the Ecuadorian coast immersing guests in the country’s wealth of birds, animals, flora, fauna, indigenous foods and cultural traditions while adhering to a “neo luxury” philosophy of sustainability and giving back to the communities visited. The yacht’s small size and routes allow access to smaller ports and villages starting from or ending in Manta or Guayaquil. Guests will visit small towns and nature reserves while experiencing the adventure of an expedition cruise.

Concierge Customized Services

Prior to each cruise, a Kontiki concierge will reach out to determine each guest’s culinary and activity wishes, creating a bespoke experience that allows for activities to meet varying interests. Additionally, the yacht can be booked as a full charter tailored to the desires of a group.

“We have the luxury of delving deeply into the areas we visit,” says Carlos Nuñez, CEO and founder of Kontiki Expeditions. “Guests, more than ever, are looking for smaller environments on board and on land, with fewer people and less exposure to risk. We are proud to offer our luxurious yacht and crew to create an experience that is enriching, exciting and safe.

“Environmental protection is critical when it comes to cruising. We adhere to strict sustainability standards on board, at sea and on land.  We are also committed to a variety of social programs including sponsorship of the Real Madrid Foundation to promote values to children through sports.”

The Expeditions – Specifics

The new Kontiki Expeditions yacht, M/Y Wayra offers two eight-day itineraries, The Toquilla Expedition and The Spondylus Expedition, in which Kontiki will transport guests to untouristed areas in Ecuador to explore and celebrate the indigenous cultures within a context of wellness.

Programs and excursions are led by 13 crew members and two local experts committed to sustainability and conscious travel. Onboard, wellness professionals, naturalist guides and a local chef who creates farm-to-table and sea-to-table cuisine add to the distinctive Kontiki expedition. Gastronomic experiences featuring local chocolate, seafood, and produce will be enjoyed both onboard and on land.

The superyacht is a testament to luxury with a sundeck, gourmet salon, two outdoor lounges, bar, hot tub, massage, yoga, and a gym and fitness area. Staterooms are stylishly appointed with an eye to comfort using local, sustainable materials, decorated with a sense of place. Automated lights, A/V and A/C plus unlimited WiFi add to the luxury. A nearly 1:1 crew to guest ratio allows for personalization and attention to guest needs and interests, from packing and unpacking luggage to creating a special meal or activity.

Stops Along the Way

Guests can expect to see the country’s beloved blue-footed boobies along with sea lions and howler monkeys… without the crowds. Mixing float time with the use of water toys and water activities including diving, snorkeling and SUP, Kontiki will visit small coastal ports where locals will join Kontiki staff in leading visits. Daily on-board schedules rotate with cooking classes, wellness activities, and chocolate and coffee tastings.

  • A visit to a cocoa farm to  learn about chocolate making and enjoy a chocolate tasting
  • A gastronomic experience with ancestral cuisine and a cooking demonstration
  • Visit to a New Latitude vineyard for a special tasting
  • Hiking with wildlife spotting in the Pacoche Humid Forest and nature reserve
  • Visit to the artisan Toquilla straw hat weavers
  • Visit to San Lorenzo lighthouse for amazing coastal views and visit to the turtle nesting site
  • Sailing to Isla de la Plata for a day of marine activities and a wildlife hike
  • Visit to ancient community of Agua Blanca with a wellness-oriented swimming experience in the sulphurous lagoon
  • Visit to Los Frailes beach to the marine beach club for marine golf, kayaking, diving, paddle boarding and more

Excursions and Islands

Kontiki Expedition excursions include hands-on experiences and observations of lifestyles, handicrafts, cuisine and traditions:

Islands and inland areas visited include Bahia de Caraquez, San Mateo, Pile, San Lorenzo, Isla de la Plata, Agua Blanca, and Puyango where local communities welcome Kontiki passengers and indigenous blue-footed boobies, howler monkeys, cuzumbos, silver rays and hummingbirds abound.  

Guest and crew health and safety are priorities and sanitization and wellness protocols are summarized on Kontiki’s website at https://kontikiexpeditions.com/en/health-policy/.

Pricing begins at $7245 USD per person per week, based on double occupancy, and includes all activities, meals, transfers to and from ports, park entrance fees, guided expeditions and more. Solo traveler rate and private charter rates are also available.


The first water-based member of Small Luxury Hotels, Kontiki Expeditions is a pioneer in conscious luxury travel, offering immersive and sustainable superyacht expeditions. Sailing the untouristed Ecuadorian coast, the nine-stateroom Kontiki Expeditions yachts introduce a maximum of 18 guests to the richness of the land and sea.

On-board crew include a local chef, naturalist and wellness experts. Multi-stop itineraries feature hiking, snorkeling, meetings with locals, in-depth cultural explorations, wellness activities and gastronomy. Kontiki Expeditions travelers experience the country’s biodiversity – including its famous blue-footed boobies and howler monkeys — all in a protected environment where sustainability and uncrowded venues are paramount. Kontiki prides itself in giving back to the communities visited with resources and education. 

Health protocols prior to boarding, on ship, on land, and prior to departure are strictly followed. The Safe Travels accreditation by WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) has been achieved for all sailings.

For more information, visit www.kontikiexpeditions.com/en, call +5933984364149; email info@kontikiexpeditions.com or join in the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube. For a sample of where Kontiki Expeditions will voyage, visit https://vimeo.com/376273581/a70b344db1.