SUP n’ Surf Retreat | A New, Luxury SUP Escape in Paradise

Ian Cairns and Sean Poynter Host Luxury SUP Course at Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort, Punta Mita, Mexico

All photos: Greg Panas


Tropical, turquoise water. All-inclusive accommodations. World-class cuisine and 1,000-count bedsheets. Pastel sunsets over postcard-perfect surf. Expert SUP instruction in long, friendly waves. More sea turtles than local surfers. Constant stoke and consistent improvement.

These are the components of the new SUP n’ Surf Retreat at Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. And everyone’s invited to enjoy.

SUP n’ Surf Retreat is an all-inclusive vacation option for aspiring standup paddlers that takes a novel approach to SUP instruction. Its origins stem from the vision of its hosts—professional SUP surfer Sean Poynter and his coach, surfing icon Ian Cairns—who recognized a gap in the learning curve for SUP surfing caused by the lack of available instruction. They saw that the growth, progression and expansion of our young sport are all inhibited by limited options for paddlers looking to progress from an introductory level into a realm of expertise.

To fill that void, Cairns and Poynter developed an instructional course based around Cairns’ coaching technique, which involves filming students’ surfing, analyzing the footage and applying the critiques back in the surf zone. Cairns also places high value on in-water training, where the coach is in the lineup directly next to the students. With an educational criteria and structure in place, Cairns and Poynter partnered up and began looking for a host venue.

While staying in Sayulita during the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championships earlier this year (where Cairns coached as Poynter earned a gold medal for Team USA), the duo found the perfect fit for their retreat upon visiting Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico. Palladium’s Punta Mita location offered all-inclusive, luxury accommodations with exclusive access to a variety of uncrowded, friendly surf breaks. It was relatively affordable and located near Sayulita, a hub of the sport with a burgeoning SUP scene. What’s more, the Palladium Hotel Group, which is comprised of more than 70 hotels and resorts worldwide, engaged eager to collaborate. “Mi casa es su casa,” quickly became the motto of the partnership as Palladium opened its doors to the idea.

Over the course of six months thereafter, Cairns and Poynter pieced the retreat together and built out its guest list. They hired camera men to film the sessions, arranged a video lounge for mid-day reviews and employed a legendary boat captain who wielded the coveted local knowledge to seek out and transport the group to whatever nearby surf spot worked best on a given day. They brought in local professional surfers to assist with the on-water instruction. They created a six-day itinerary and arranged an entirely hassle-free stay for their guests—food, drink, accommodations, ground transportation and airfare—all included. The end result of Poynter and Cairns’ vision was a program that left the students to focus solely on their surfing, which took place during two three-hour sessions each day. Eat, sleep, surf, repeat. And with that, SUP n’ Surf Retreat was born.

The first-ever SUP n’ Surf Retreat was held earlier this month and hosted seven guests from across the U.S. at the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort. Their outstanding experience is documented in the gallery above, and guest testimonies will be available soon on the SUP n’ Surf website.

The next Punta Mita SUP n’ Surf Retreat is scheduled for April 20-25,  2016. To register, email Ian and Sean or call (949) 607-7309.

For more info, visit the SUP n’ Surf website.

To find out more about Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort, visit their website and Facebook page.

Grand Palladium Royal Suites Punta Mita is offering a free three-night stay at their all-inclusive resort to the winner of their Instagram contest! Hashtag your best SUP surfing posts #SurfPalladium for a chance to win!