Trip to Anywhere

My first trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Posted on 03/30/2016

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is one of those places where your imagination can run wild.

After all, this is where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began their tempestuous relationship. And where all those little Chihuahuas ran berserk in “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” On a Delta Vacations FAM (familiarization) trip in 2014, I toured eight properties in four days, one more beautiful than the other. We were told that the best times to visit Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coast, was October through April. Like in Columbus, May through September can be blazing hot with very high humidity. Of course, prices may go up or down, depending on the season. While we were there, temperatures were just about perfect with a little wrap needed for outdoor dining at night. Every hotel/resort has a beautiful private beach, along with absolutely gorgeous pools. Many of the pools have those infinity edges.

Seven of the resorts were all-inclusives, which means hotel rooms, all food, soft drinks, beer, wine and alcohol are included the price of the trip. All-inclusives also include all activities, shows and motorized water sports. Airlines tickets are booked separately.

Most of the resorts are family-friendly, with supervised children’s activity centers and nurseries for the babies. There are adults-only options as well.

A number of the resorts also have buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All were very, very good with a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. And some of the best fresh-squeezed juices ever.

One resort actually had a children’s buffet that was at a child’s height with food that a child would actually eat.

Many of the resorts offer wedding/honeymoon packages with some stunningly beautiful ceremonial pavilions. The resorts all have open-air lobbies, many them with hotel staff greeting guests. Every hotel has people sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, doing landscaping, so everything is scrupulously clean. Even the public toilet facilities are spotless.

 Because tourism is the No. 1 business in Puerto Vallarta, everyone is very nice. It is also very safe. I’m sure it’s because I was only in the resort area and the last thing city officials want are tourists feeling uneasy.

Note 1: Before leaving, double-check with your cell phone service provider about service in a foreign country before leaving the country.

Note 2: Not all resorts have WiFi access in the rooms. Most only had internet access in the lobby.

Note 3: Our tour guide said that most restaurants serve filtered water or bottled water, so you’re safe drinking the water. If you’re uneasy about it, just drink bottled water. The often-told stories about “Montezuma’s Revenge,” is probably due to travel, fatigue, sun, alcohol and unfamiliar food rather than the water, she said. However, she suggested that you not drink tap water, even in the hotels.

Of the eight resorts, the Marival Resort and Residences may have been my favorite property. The resort had spectacular rooms with even more beautiful pools.

And while the resort was very, very nice, the Residences were way beyond that. These are not time shares. They are apartments that are owned by individuals. If the owners want to rent out their apartments while they are not there, the management takes care of that. There are one, two and three bedroom apartments, each with its own pool and gazebo in private yards. The largest of the apartments are around 1,400 square feet.

It also boasts the World Spa. The other resorts had spas, but nothing like this. Each room is based on a country -- Italy, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan -- with decor to match. It was amazing.

If you go, make sure to take some day trips. The eco-discovery tour features a trip to a very private beach, and on the way, you may see humpback whales, dolphins and rays. Go up the mountain on a two-hour trip to the sleepy little town of San Sebastian, an old silver mining town.

And don’t forget to wander through the streets of downtown Puerto Vallarta. A jewelry shop called Jymmie’s is famous for its fire opals and they are spectacular. And not too expensive.

All in all, Puerto Vallarta is a little more expensive to go to because it’s farther away than the Cancun area, but if you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip.

Image attribution: "Folklorico Sculpture on the Malecon, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico" by Lisa Andres, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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