SUENOS ~ HOUSE OF DREAMS
Nestled in the cliffs of Manzanillo, Mexico is the site of the dream vacation experience.
Writer: Amelia Jeffers
It was over so fast. The auctioneer called “Sold!” and asked me for my number before I could process what happened. Just a moment earlier, I had raised my hand in a moment of compassion when my colleague was unable to stir an opening bid from a distracted crowd of supporters during a charity auction. Stunned, I turned ot the page in my program that described the package I had just won. Apparently I, and a number of friends (whose names I was frantically trying to conjure as I reviewed the details) would be traveling to Manzanillo, Mexico for a seven night stay at Suenos, a luxury residence nestled on a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean. Little did I know that my accidental (serendipitous?) bid would result in not one, but two of the best vacations I have ever experienced.
Over 30 years ago, C-suite executive Denny Riga left the corporate world to make his mark on an industry that was not even a flicker in the eye of David Clouse, founder of VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner - the earliest short-term home stay company). Riga fell in love with the incredible scenery of the lowkey resort town whose claims to fame included hosting iconic swimsuit model Bo Derek and crew for the filming of 10.
Riga offers stays at Suenos exclusively through charity auctions, leveraging the excitement and enthusiasm of donors who want to support an organization by giving the nonprofit a generous portion of the final bid amount. To date, Suenos has raised nearly $10M for nonprofits around the country. Since my first visit to Suenos with four other couples in 2007, I have had the opportunity to sell it as an auctioneer for events benefitting several organizations in central Ohio including Freedom a la Cart and The Childhood League Center.
Last summer, Denny invited me back so that I could speak to the experience and property when auctioning it. Capitalizing on the opportunity for a family vacation with some of my girls, I invited my friend, Nikki and her daughters. With seven young people aged 16 to 24 and two (cough) middle-aged moms, the experience was so amazing that I had to share it with the readers of SL.
Guests of Suenos are greeted by five full-time staff members led by the kind and charming chef and house manager, Carlos. Though Carlos and crew have been with Suenos for many years (he was my host in 2007 and 2022), a prior stint with a luxury resort is evidenced in his attention to detail and over-arching emphasis on an impeccable guest experience from dawn to dusk and everything in between. Those first steps into the open-air living overlooking the Pacific Ocean bring a mixture of relief and rejuvenation: the voyage to Manzanillo can feel long and exhaustive, but the fresh air, sparkling water, and smiling faces bearing gifts of refreshing cocktails and delicious comfort food offer reassurance that the trip was well worth the effort.
After making our room selections, Nikki and I let the kids divide the remaining three suites. Watching them deliberate was fun; there simply is not a bad room on the property. I selected the poolside option with the most light, knowing that I would likely be up before everyone else each day. Nikki and her youngest took the room off the lower grotto, guaranteeing a dark and quiet respite for late morning lounging.
The four middle girls took a pair of suites beneath mine where the party could continue as late as they’d like; and the two oldest opted for a secluded suite where studying for upcoming professional licensure would not be interrupted.
Our group made quick work of “unpacking” and settling into the rooms, and before long we were poolside and discussing menus and activities for the next several days with Carlos. Breakfasts and lunches at Suenos are ordered restaurant-style from an extensive menu, while dinners are generally themed. My first request was for Carlos’ famous ceviche, so memorable from my first visit that I dared not miss a chance to have it again: a delicate red snapper dressed with peppers and served with heaps of delectable guacamole and fresh chips. Guided by Carlos, each member of our group weighed in on dinner options ranging from pasta to steak, authentic Mexican cuisine to standard American fare. Debating the merits of an ATV excursion, a private beach picnic, and a daylong visit from two massage therapists, our kids (and we adults) were certain we had died and gone to luxury vacation heaven.
Over the seven day visit, only a handful of quick rainstorms kept us inside for what actually was welcome breaks from the sun. Limiting our excursions allowed us to make the most of our time on the property and together - something both Nikki and I acknowledged is more and more fleeting as our children get older. Amazingly, we never had to ask any of the girls to get off their phones or laptops - the pool, hikes, beach, and camaraderie were more than magnetic enough to attract their attention. Thanks to the 24-hour secured and gated neighborhood of La Punta (where nearly 75% of the acreage is devoted to a nature preserve), we felt completely comfortable with small groups heading off to hike when their occasional restlessness called for a bit more activity than we felt like indulging.
A booking error by me meant that our group had an extra night in Manzanillo, after our stay had ended. Carlos and crew helped us book several rooms at a nearby all-inclusive resort, which sadly paled in comparison to our time at Suenos. With unrivaled luxury and hospitality, Suenos has certainly become the House of Dreams for anyone lucky enough to visit. For more information about working with Suenos for your favorite charity, visit suenos.net.