Traveling Again to the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa
When I mentioned I was going to Mexico recently, a Rochester friend asked if I was going upstate. Who even knew there was a tiny town named Mexico, NY?
But not a strange question to be asked during these pandemic times when staycations have been the travel of choice as many have opted to vacation close to home. But thanks to vaccines, the world is finally opening up. Lucky me,
Sounds like just the warm weather R&R I’ve been missing the last two years.
Doing some research, I discovered that Travel + Leisure Magazine ranked Puerto Vallarta among the top 30 “friendliest cities in the world.” Not only does it have welcoming locals, but gorgeous beaches and sunsets, wonderful food, and picturesque authentic Mexican culture alive on its streets, in its art, architecture and markets. It all adds up to a great vacation spot.
I found all that and more at the beautiful Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa; which finished a $20 million renovation just months before Covid-19 shut down the world. It’s sparkling new, clean and offers lots of family-friendly luxury. Only minutes from the Jalisco airport, you can be in your swimsuit and at the pool shortly after landing.
There’s lots to do; or you can also do nothing at all.
On the Pacific side of Mexico, the hotel is embraced by the stunning Sierra Madre Mountains and nestled on the Banderas Bay “curve,” where the warm waves are never too rough. You could usually find me stretched out in one of the comfy oceanside hammocks, perfect for some quiet reading time on the private beach. This is not a wild, crazy spring break kind of hotel. It’s laid-back and perfect for families.
No need to be up at dawn to grab a poolside lounge. There are plenty to go around. Or reserve one of the cocoon daybeds for one of the best al fresco naps you’ll ever have.
Stroll down the miles of empty beach, or hang around the property’s spectacular infinity pool – the largest in Puerto Vallarta. Social distancing is easy; it’s HUGE! Lie on the in-water lounges or swim-up to the bar for a cold, frozen mojito or daiquiri (kids will love the virgin ones).
The hotel – with its now spacious open-air lobby — has 433 modern, comfortable guest rooms with ocean-facing balconies, large marble bathrooms, a desk with ergonomic chair and locally inspired décor. Book the Ambassador Suite with its own terrace whirlpool. You’re sure to sleep well. Marriott bedding is like sleeping on a cloud. Every bed here comes with several various weight pillows, so find your favorite.
The property of Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
At the Marriott Puerto Vallarta, you can choose from an all-inclusive package, bed and breakfast or European plan to do meals on your own. But there’s no need to leave the property: there are six main restaurants to choose from, including Mikado (Japanese teppanyaki hibachi), Champions (sports bar) and Nosh (a new second-level casual beachside spot perfect for catching the sunset). Enjoy the breakfast buffet at La Estancia, complete with delicious Mexican pastries made by the on-site pastry chef, an omelet and taco station and lots of tropical fruit, in addition to the usual bagels and lox, eggs and bacon. Be sure to try a local specialty, chilaquiles with green or red sauce at the oceanside Las Casitas.
There’s also a new ceviche and tequila bar with 180 kinds of tequila and dozens of different ceviches. Have a group? Arrange for your own ceviche or guacamole cooking class. (We had corn, diced apple, mustard and banana chips in our shrimp ceviche. Yum!) Every guest is entitled to a mini tequila tasting of two local varieties. Be sure to try the resort’s in-house brand, CasaMagna, from its own agave plants.
If you want more adult-time, schedule a longer tasting in La Cava wine cellar or outdoors in the garden with Audrey Formisano, the resident tequila sommelier. She is a fount of information about this local spirit. (Did you know all tequila must come from Mexico?) Guests are entitled to two free tastings with the resort fee. Be sure to try the in-house brand made from their agave plants.
Kids might be happier at the lobby’s ice cream bar where they can get a cone, cup, ice pop or milkshake from 2 pm on. Or head to the poolside coco bar for a coconut filled with a variety of refreshing fruity drinks (spiked for their parents). Once done with your drink, they’ll chop up the coconut so you can enjoy the fresh fruit (much more delicious than what you’ll find packaged in the supermarket).
Marriott Kids Club at Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa
Parents and kids alike will enjoy the Marriott Kids Club which has a private outdoor area with picnic tables, swings, sandy beach and a shallow pool with water slides and fountains. Or leave the kids for a couple of hours at the activity center (ages 4-12) while you hit the spa. They’ll get immersive Spanish lessons, pottery painting, cooking classes and video games in a centrally-located, air-conditioned room.
Speaking of the spa, the Ohtli Spa is perfect to refresh and rejuvenate mom and dad. At 22,000 square feet, it’s the largest in Puerto Vallarta. Try a Thai Massage, Fire Opal Balancing Stone Therapy to stimulate circulation and relieve stress, or the intense water-based Jantzu Rebirth Therapy focused on meditation and relaxation. Stay a while to enjoy the Roman tub, cold plunge pool, sauna and steam rooms. There’s even an indoor-lap pool, but I found plenty of room to do laps in the sun outside.
Go for a bike ride through the property (adult bikes only) and the nearby marina. Rent a float or take out a paddle board or kayak in the gentle seas. Check the board for the day’s activities, which can include beach volleyball, water aerobics, bingo or bracelet making. There’s even a shelf with books to borrow if you forgot your own beach read (a smart idea).
The hotel has two tennis courts and there’s the nearby Marina Vallarta Club de Golf if you want to tee off.
Local things to do in Puerto Vallarta
Off-site, you can go on a fishing boat, birding tour or zip-lining and ATV jungle trek in the nearby mountains. Swim with wild dolphins in their natural habitat or ride the waves on a jet ski
It’s easy to immerse yourself in the local culture by spending time exploring downtown Puerto Vallarta, a $5-7 Uber ride away. The charming old town is filled with a vibrant arts and culinary scene, both day and night. Stroll the cobblestone streets, admire local artist’s sculptures along the Malecon (boardwalk), shop for souvenirs, buy a cold paleta (fruit ice pop) or take a street eats walking tour to experience authentic local cuisine and the city’s secret spots.
Saturday mornings at the Olas Altas Farmers Market you’ll find fresh produce, live music and one-of-a-kind jewelry, handbags, ceramics and paintings by local artisans. Come for one of the local festivals. Restaurant Week is actually a three-week food festival from late September to October. Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 2, is celebrated with face painting, parades, fireworks and decorative Catrina figurines and skulls all around town. The hotel and the nearby Botanical Garden usually have special activities for Earth Day in April.
And on Thursday nights from October to May, head across the street from the hotel to the Marina Vallarta for the night market, where you’ll find stands of local crafts, food, music and a fun evening activity.
If you’re in PV from November to April, there’s a chance you’ll spot a humpback whale from your balcony. Between June and November, you can take part in the hotel’s sea turtle rescue and release program. A local marine biologist combs the beach to collect the turtle eggs that have been laid there. Then they protect them from predators in the hotel’s on-site nursery. When the eggs hatch, guests can name the tiny creatures and help return them to the ocean at sunset. The kid’s club has related educational programs sure to fascinate young visitors. It’s an experience your kids are not likely to forget.
And you can always come back in ten years, when the surviving turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs. How’s that for a return to the nest!
Paseo La Marina Norte 435, Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta 48335 Mexico
+52 322 226 0000