Lately, we have been having a push back on Mexico. Part of me can understand it due to the seemingly incessant bad news being put forth by the media. But based on personal experience, I have a difficult time. So we decided to tackle the issue head on and see what was what south of the border. And I am thrilled to report that the water in Mexico is fine…come on in! My recent vacation in Puerto Vallarta reassured me that the city is very safe and friendly. The tourist activities are endless and varied! We stayed at two different hotels, and visited many others.
This was my second visit to Dreams Puerto Vallarta. Dreams Puerto Vallarta has a Mexican flair and it is located on Banderas Bay on a secluded beach. They offer many activities including the turtle release program! We even got to see a Sea Turtle laying its eggs in the sand. The Club section is definitely the way to go. If you do not sell it, your clients will upgrade once they are there! It is still a great property even though it was the former Camino Real and is not a new build. They have a new program called “Sip, Savor, & See” where you can visit Dreams Villamagna or the new NOW Amber for dinner (reservations are required in advance and transportation is not provided). We took advantage of this program and went with another couple to the NOW Amber for dinner. We enjoyed the lobby entertainment afterwards. The NOW Amber is a beautiful, new build with a modern design and a hip vibe.
Marival Residences & World Spa is a luxury resort located in Nuevo Vallarta. While it is not directly on the beach (because there is a row of villas in front of it) they do have beach access. The food and service is very upscale. We stayed in a 2 bedroom/2 bath residence with ocean views. This is not your traditional All-Inclusive property as they have an EP program as well, and one of the restaurants is open to the public. You do have exchange privileges with the Marival Resort & Suites a few doors down. The Marival is oriented towards families with smaller children. The Club section is a bit more laid back.
A tour of the newly remodeled Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta proved valuable. It was nice to see the changes that they recently made in converting to a Grand. The hotel was updated with modern décor, but it still had a Mexican flair.
Marianna from Mexico Boutique Hotels generously set up some wonderful visits for us to see Hotelito Mio and Hacienda San Angel. At Hotelito Mio, you arrive and depart by boat. There are only 8 unique villas with thatched roofs. It’s paradise with a private beach, infinity pool, restaurant and bar. It is definitely a place to get away from it all! No need for more than a bikini and some New York Times’ best sellers. Hacienda San Angel is the complete opposite of Hotelito Mio. It is located in downtown Puerto Vallarta and has Mexican Colonial architecture. There are 20 rooms with spectacular city views and an upscale restaurant (seasonal). The villa is decorated with antiques and the ground lounge was formerly Richard Burton and his wife’s home. It’s an amazing place for a wedding. These are two spectacular properties that should not be overlooked for your clients who are looking for something unique. I would recommend having them split their time between the two! Marianna also provides thorough information on the destination and other hotels that Mexico Boutique Hotels (mexicoboutiquehotels.com) represents.
Janice from Hacienda San Angel is also the Adoption Coordinator for SPCA de PV Sanctuary (http://www.spcapv.com/about-us/). This program is dedicated to helping unwanted or abused dogs in Puerto Vallarta find adoptable homes in Canada and the U.S. Next time you are looking for a pet, consider SPCA! I know that I will!
Whatever your needs are in Puerto Vallarta (or anywhere else in the country of Mexico) Rocio from ConciergeOnline (conciergeonline.com.mx) provides every service that your clients might need from villa rentals, weddings, transportation between cities, gift deliveries, grocery delivery, and any custom details to make your client’s stay special. Thanks to Rocio, we visited a charming hotel in Sayulita called Playa Escondida. They have a delicious restaurant, 25 rooms, set in a jungle-like atmosphere overlooking the beautiful blue waters that are great for surfing! It’s just a short drive away from the town of Sayulita with charming shops and restaurants. Next, Rocio recommended Punta de Mita where Erasmo Valencia of Erasmo’s Tours took us on a boat ride to the Marieta Islands, which are considered the Galapagos of the Bay. It’s a natural wildlife refuge and you can’t walk on the island, but they offer the best snorkeling, scuba diving, bird watching, and fish feeding opportunities. Of course, one of the special details of our trip that Rocio planned for us was a visit to Vinos & Wine winery to sample some Champagne. Vinos & Wine can set up a wine tasting for your villa clients in their own residence.
Besides the organized tours, we also visited the Flea Market in downtown near the Cuale River and the Bucerias Flea Market. Bucerias definitely had the best prices as it was further out of town. We visited the old and new Malecon, a small town called Boca de Tomatlán, and Paradise Plaza shopping center in Nuevo Vallarta. We also walked the beach in Nuevo Vallarta and were amazed at all of the Manta Rays that were swimming close to shore.
So, what is with the “trip report?” Well, for one, I wanted to share some information with my colleagues—I wanted to let you all know that we are “up” on Mexico and had recently visited. And most importantly, as you can see from my “trip report,” Mexico is fine. Never once did we encounter anyone who wasn’t more than welcoming and pleased to show us their town. We felt safe and welcomed—what more can you ask for? Let’s help those who help us by promoting Puerto Vallarta as a destination for our clients. It is a safe and beautiful destination that should not be missed! I know that I have clients headed there next week!
Mary Jo Babiarz, Senior Travel Consultant with Cary Travel Express, has been in the travel business since 2005. Her love of travel has taken her to destinations such as Hawaii, many Caribbean islands, several Mediterranean port cities, and lots of Mexican vacation destinations. She is particularly knowledgeable about the Riviera Maya and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but has extended knowledge in the Caribbean as well. An avid photographer, Mary Jo is known to thrill her clients with her first hand photos. You can reach Mary Jo at Cary Travel Express or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.