Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Photo: Carlos Adampol Galindo from DF, México / CC BY-SA (

Mexico City has become one of your favorite long-weekend destinations in the past few years. The dining scene, led by Pujol and Quintonil, first drew you south of the border. Modern architecture, design hotels, new museums, and an accepting LGBTQ scene made you return quickly. Now you’re thinking about extending your next visit.

Valle de Bravo could be the ying to Mexico City’s yang on a longer trip. The colonial mountain town lies two hours southwest of the capital. It sits on the eastern shore of Lake Avándaro, a man-made reservoir that provides hydroelectric power and water for the State of Mexico. It’s known as the Hamptons of Mexico City for the number of second homes tucked into its hills. It’s also considered one of the country’s best-kept secrets from tourists.

The Matlatzincas and the Aztecs once ruled this mountainous land. Things changed when the Franciscans arrived in 1530. They built narrow cobblestone streets, stucco houses with terracotta roofs, and the enormous San Francisco de Asis Church on a small plateau. An even bigger transformation took place more than 400 years later. That’s when the Valle de Bravo Reservoir, also known as Lake Avándaro, flooded low-lying areas. Docks, floating restaurants, and water sports followed. Visitors from Mexico City did, too.

Photo: Rodavento 5 Billion Star Hotels

The lake isn’t the only reason to choose Valle. The surrounding mountains are gorgeous, too. They’re filled with colorful birds and small mammals, pine trees and clear air. Deep in the forest, a few miles from the lake, you’ll also find a hidden hotel. Hotel Rodavento is a rustic-chic escape. It features treehouse-style accommodations, an outdoor spa, and its own little lake. It also offers more activities than you’ll ever have time to try.

You seem dubious. But you can kayak and paddleboard on the lake. The chef will cook the fish you catch from it, as well. There are two pools and hot tubs near the edge of the water. Rodavento Spa’s hydrotherapy circuit—featuring different temperature pools, a hammam, a sauna, a mindful terrace, and relaxation areas—isn’t far away. Neither is the archery range, the climbing wall, mountain-biking trails, saddled horses, and zip-lining platforms. Paragliding, waterfalls, and the winter home of monarch butterflies are also close to this wilderness retreat.

Just remember to leave yourself some downtime. The point is to relax after all the excitement in Mexico City, remember? In addition to the outside water treatments, the riverside spa has bamboo furniture, bubbling fountains, and yurts for couple’s treatments. La Cocina de Rodavento, the majestic restaurant, serves fresh produce and flavorful dishes. Be sure to visit the wine lab for tastings. While lofted rooms include clawfoot bathtubs and log fireplaces. Nespresso machines, a selection of teas, and yoga mats are among the amenities. So how many extra days can you stay?


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