Tuesday,6 Jan 2015


Justin Henderson is responsible for most of the the text on this site. Justin is an established writer, having published six novels as well as many non-fictions and travel guides. When he’s not writing, he’s usually riding waves on a surfboard or a paddleboard in Sayulita or Punta de Mita.


Le Petit Hotel Hafa lies just a few doors down from Sayulita’s plaza and its often hectic scene, but it feels a world away. Owner Christophe Mignot describes the colorful, inviting Hafa as a mix of “Mediterranean, Morocccan, and Mexican” design elements, and he has it right. Airy, bright, and surprisingly spacious-feeling (considering its small size), the Hafa effortlessly conjures Mediterranean ambience, while the keyhole cutouts and doorways evoke Morocco; in fact, the name, Hafa, comes from a café in Marrakhesh much loved by Christophe and his wife, Marina.

Hafa also means “place of good vibes,” and this place certainly has them. As for Mexico, well, there is plenty of that here as well, evident, for example, in the bright colors used on individual walls and as accents, and in the Mexican fabrics covering beds and lounges.

The style is eclectic, but like all well-designed places, the myriad elements together form an harmonious ensemble. Sayulita may be a small town, but it does get crowded and noisy in the high season. Like all good urban hotels, the Hafa’s tranquil, soothing spaces offer guests respite from the busy streets surrounding.

Christophe and Marina first came here to visit his sisters, who own the Pacha Mama boutique on Calle Delfines, and they liked the town so much they decided to stay. Having built and operated hotels elsewhere, when not sailing the seas of the world–the Mignots are a business-savvy family of artists, adventurers and surfers–they decided to create a hotel here. They opened in 2006.

The Hafa is finished, polished and pretty, now—but when they took over the location, the building was a wreck. Fortunately, Christophe knows how to build, and he and Marina are both possessed of impeccable taste. They made it up as they went along, and the results are wonderful. The style is minimal, but invitingly warm. There are hearts everywhere, for that is the theme of the store, Corazon de Hafa, which Marina operates on the street level of the hotel, selling hearts and other artworks in dozens of handmade configurations created by Mexican artists, along with jewelry she designs herself, using pearls (the Mignot family business) and leather. Her work is simple, elegant, and original.

The hotel is small, and so—the reception desk is also the store’s retail sales desk. Having a store gives the guests something to do while they’re waiting for a room, a friend, or anything else, Christophe notes—and he’s right, for there is a lot of beautiful stuff in there to look at and/or buy.

Three guestrooms are tucked in around the small entry lobby; five more are upstairs on the second floor. As you can see in the photos, they are simply, comfortably furnished, stylish without being overdesigned or overpriced. The Mignots have done a lot with a little here, making smart architectural choices, like the partial walls used to screen bathrooms, enhancing the sense of space and eliminating the need for expensive, cluttering doors. Bright colors are used selectively, for maximum impact.

On the roof, the Mignots have created one of the most alluring open air lounges in town, with a shade canopy, complementary shots of tequila for hotel guests, and a fine view over the rooftops and plazas of downtown Sayulita. Climb the stairs to the lounge, and the world opens up above you and around you.

The latest addition to the Hafa is Zouave, a small wine bar next door, where those not enamored of the rowdy scene in the bars along the plaza can come for a quiet glass of wine or a margarita.

Christophe and Marina, and their three sons Nomme, Marco, and Manua, are a lovely family to have in Sayulita, and the hotel beautifully expresses their refined sense of style. You can see it in the choices they’ve made at the Hafa. Places like this are what make Sayulita a unique, magical place.

For information and reservations, contact the hotel online at hotelhafasayulita.com or call 329 291 3806. The lobby entrance is on Jose Mariscal, with a second entry through the store, Corazon d’Hafa, on Revolucion.