The Ackermann Family Moves From NYC To Sayulita, Mexico
Sayulita, Mexico, is a well kept secret for many, but for one couple it has become their whole world. After spending years traveling the world, from one exotic country to the next, Johann Ackerman and his wife fashion photographer, Anne Menke, were aiming to leave the bustle of the city for a simpler, small-town life, spent with their children. After traveling up and down the coast of Mexico for many years, learning about it’s small-town culture, and gleaming architectural ideas, they set out in search for a slice of heaven they could call their own. Their adoration for Mexico and its culture had stolen their hearts and gave them renewed purpose. What is now known as Teitiare, began as a beautiful dream for this charismatic couple, one they shared with their family, before finally turning to reality.
Anne still travels several times a year for work, with Johann and their three boys joining her for weeks, or months at a time. Their children have been given the unique gift of being able to navigate Central Park in New York City one day, and surf and climb coconut trees the next. This beautiful lifestyle is one that we should all aspire to create for our children.
After moving to Sayulita and spending a few years building their dream home, Johann, Anne, and their children found themselves exploring, eating local food, cooking together, surfing, spending quality time in a slower-paced life. They were also quick to discover that local adventures can take you on jungle hikes, horseback riding, fishing, surfing, or stand up paddle boarding. You can even charter a boat to take you sightseeing up and down the coast of Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita. You can relax and unwind while exploring what nature has to offer, and it might just be the only reason you need to plan a visit to Teitiare.
The accommodations are spectacular. Teitiare has a main residence known as Casa O’te Miti. Separated by serene outdoor living space, infinity-edge pool and a bridge that sits above the trees are two main bedrooms with cliffside ocean views and three oceanfront rooms in a tower. You can enjoy the sunset with a with a glass of wine in the jetted tub outside the master suite, or enjoy a meal at the cliff overlook. Time has no meaning here. Close by is Casa Nanaimu, a two-bedroom oasis, seated in the palm trees with perfect views of the sunset and the ocean. We found ourselves making our way to the rooftop for dinner and a nightcap, where relaxation was guaranteed as the wind swept through the trees and the sound of nature lulled us to sleep. Both casitas come with an optional full staff and butler service, allowing your every need to be met, while you can focus on enjoying your time with family and friends.
In addition to living in this paradise, Johann and Anne also partnered with their best friends to open a school in Sayulita called Costa Verde International School, where their children attended classes. Intending to provide a multicultural and multilingual education, CVIS, provides local children an education that is driven by holistic, student-centered principles. They feel this is where their children initially thrived, enabling them to make new friends in the local community.
Upon a gracious invitation from Johann and Anne, our team recently had the chance to fly down to Mexico, and spend a week as their guests, and experience this incredible property. We got to know them on a more personal level, and find out what inspired them to call Teitiare their home.
Tell us about your background and your desire for this significant change.
Anne- I am German, and Johann is South African, we always wanted to live by the beach. After traveling the whole world, we fell in love with Mexico! We love surfing, sailing, and just being surrounded by water. We lived in Tribeca, and traveled to Mexico many times, up and down the coast in the search for a great piece of land. We bought the land in 2000, when our first son was 2. In 2005 we finally made the full-time move to Sayulita. We wanted to have our kids grow up in a small town with diversity and a simpler life than New York City.
What inspired your move to Sayulita?
We were living and working in New York City, but we definitely wanted to live by the beach and raise our kids in a natural environment, not a big city. For us, the essential part was falling in love with the Mexican people and its culture, it is a warm and welcoming community. We wanted to be in a place where we can feel at home, and be part of a small town.
How has living here shaped your family and your children?
Anne— I think it made us all even more open-minded for different cultures. Johann lived in South Africa, London, Munich, West Coast of the United States, and I lived in Germany, Paris, and New York. Living in different places and experiencing the local culture opens your mind and makes you more acceptant of different ways of living. I think our family is definitely shaped by living on the beach amidst nature. We’ve been traveling the world together and, because of it, our kids can adapt to anything, wherever we go. I love that they can climb a coconut tree and live off it, as well as being in New York City, take the subway anywhere, and feel comfortable with that as well. By being in the ocean every day, they are calmer, and well-rounded, not to mention that they have learned to appreciate nature more.
Tell us more about about the design importation of your home?
We love living in an open space. On our first trip to Mexico, we stopped in Careyes and met with architect Jean Claude Galibert. We fell in love with the simplicity of his building style: stone, wood, and palapa. As soon as we became ready to build, we called him and had the most amazing collaboration. We created the design with him, and crafted our interiors with fabrics and pieces we collected over the past 15 years from the South Pacific and Africa.
What adventures await someone wanting to travel to Sayulita?
Anne— Sayulita has so much to offer. It is surf and beach destination, but you have the jungle for hikes and horseback riding. In addition, it features restaurants and shopping, cute bars and amazing people watching. It is a perfect destination for kids, with safe and kid-friendly activities. You can walk into town, or bike, or take golf cart. I would suggest for any family to come; they will have fun! Johann—Great food, great surf, and a wonderful family-friendly atmosphere, and great weather.
What is a day in the life at Teitiare?
Get up and have a coffee or smoothie and watch the surf! We mostly go for a surf in town or surrounding areas. Maybe a yoga class or a boot camp work out with our favorite trainer, Shanti. Some days we go to the local market and buy fresh veggies and fish and prepare lunch. You can also find us reading a book in the hammock. We do projects with the kids, fishing for dinner, before going back into town for a stroll to enjoy a margarita. The kids meet their friends in the plaza, skateboard and have an ice cream from Waikika, while adults get together. We get to sleep early and meet incredible people along the way, which is, by far, the most important thing to us.
Tell us about Costa Verde International School you founded?
We wanted to start a project that would benefit the whole community. Our best friends and co-founders, Tamra and Theo Koch were the perfect partners sharing the same vision. We wanted to make sure that the school would be ecological and provide a green education, while providing at least 50% of scholarships available for local children. The school is bilingual, and showcases incredible international diversity. Our kids attended the school, and most of their friends are Mexican kids from town, and it makes for a great community to share common experiences.
What is your most treasured possession?
Our three boys! We’ve also collected surfboards for the last 25 years, and they are proudly displayed all over the house.
How would you define a NOBLEMAN?
Johann—A well-traveled person that has style and enjoys the finer things in life, while finding happiness where he is! Anne—Style, culture, knowledge, and an open mind.
For those of you who want to experience what life in paradise is all about, Teitiare Estate is nestled into a cliff only feet above the ocean’s edge sits, just about five minutes from Sayulita (about 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta). The Estate’s 180-degree sweeping views of nothing but, ocean and beach, It is the perfect getaway for those who want to unload the pressures of an everyday busy life. You can spend your day lounging by the pool or wandering the sand gives you all the privacy you need to reconnect with nature around you. Casa O’te Miti is available to rent for $8,000/night.
Visit teitiare.com to learn more, and colegiocostaverde.com on how to support or donate to Costa Verde International School.
Photography by @corbinballard
Additional photography courtesy of @annemenke
Words by @alissamcircle