Onsite Review: Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Scene

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The Sunscape Puerto Vallarta opened in December.
The Sunscape Puerto Vallarta opened in December.

This Mexican destination on the Pacific side isn’t just overflowing with vibrantly colorful bougainvillea, it’s also bursting at the seams with new hotel openings and revamps, ranging from all-inclusives to ultra-luxe and eco options. During my visit to the destination for Gala Vallarta-Nayarit, I learned that there are at least 11 properties in the area that either recently opened or underwent a revamping, giving you plenty of new booking options.

Here’s a sprinkling of recommendations:

The All-Inclusives
Let’s start with the all-inclusives, so popular for agent bookings, including the family-friendly Hilton Puerto Vallarta. This property, which recently completed renovations across the entire property, including the guestrooms, offers expansive views of the ocean from just about any spot on property and that alone is reason enough to book. Then there are the amenities, including Ki Spa, various dining options, a nightclub, as well as an adults-only infinity pool and sushi lounge, both on the top floor (my favorite spot on the property).

Those looking for a little more of an uber-modern feel should opt for the adults-only, 70-room Hotel Mousai, which opened January of last year. It features Asian-contemporary decor, rich colors, and suites complete with a soak-in pool and hammock on the balcony. The property also offers guests yoga, jungle hikes, a tennis court, and complimentary paddleboards for exploring the shoreline. And for multi-generational travelers, recommend Mousai’s family-friendly sister property Garza Blanca, featuring 164 guestrooms. Although it’s not new, it’s one of the most popular resorts in the area, and is conveniently located across the way from Hotel Mousai directly on the beach. Encourage clients to send the kids to stay with grandma and grandpa for a little bonding time, while mom and dad enjoy the adults-only hideaway. Hotel Mousai guests have access to all the amenities, restaurants and pools at Garza Blanca, while guests of Garza Blanca have access to Hotel Mousai’s spa and gym with reservations.

Guests can delve into even more pampering at the recently renovated 83-oceanfront suite and -room Villa Premiere, an adults-only option that treats every guest with a 5-minute anti-stress massage upon arrival. Now doesn’t that sound like the perfect way to start a vacation? This beachfront oasis features modern decor, and to me felt as if I’d stepped into a wellness retreat as it’s filled with spa scents in every room (seven scent choices available). There’s also a pillow menu with five options, 24-hour private butler service, and oh, those delicious beachside cabanas.  The property also has two pools (one with a poolside bar), daily yoga lessons on the beach, the Mind & Soul Spa, and three a la carte restaurant options.

For those guests looking for an all-inclusive option filled with family fun, the new Sunscape Puerto Vallarta, which opened last December, offers 18 deluxe family oceanfront suites—Sun Club—with special amenities such as the Club lounge, private check-in, special palapas and a private area on the beach; late winter 2016 will see the opening of new suites and a spa. The Explorer’s Club keeps tykes entertained daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus offers evening activities the whole family can enjoy. Guests of Sunscape can also participate in AMResorts’ Dine Around program, which allows them to dine at any of the sister properties in the area, including Secrets, Now and Dreams properties. That is, of course, if the seven on-property options aren’t enough for them.

The Luxe and Eco Options
One of the most stunning properties to hit the Puerto Vallarta hotel landscape— it opened last December—is Casa Kimberly, the former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The property, which drips in luxury, features nine suites throughout both Richard Burton’s side of the property and Elizabeth Taylor’s side, connected via the so-called Lovers’ Bridge. On site, there’s also the Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a dramatic scenery. Those stunning views of Banderas Bay can also be enjoyed from the guestroom terraces, as well as the claw-foot tubs (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton would be proud).

The cool vibe, albeit of a completely different stripe, continues at Nemi Eco Villa, a 6-bedroom/8-bathroom villa that opened in 2015. Made completely out of shipping containers, this intimate property, which runs on solar power, comes with a chef and staff that attends to guests’ every whim, including preparing meals, serving drinks, and even doing the grocery shopping before guests arrive. This unique property, located a 10-minute walk from downtown Puerto Vallarta and the beach, features a 40-ft. natural pool, lush garden, ocean and jungle views, and outdoor showers.

The Experience
To get a taste for the destination, your clients can opt for a Vallarta Adventures tour, including the recently released Talpa and Mascota itinerary, which takes guests on a 2-hour drive through the Sierra Madre Mountains. The tour puts the spotlight on Mexican rural life, where they’ll find a slower pace than in Puerto Vallarta. Guests visit the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Talpa, and the Seminario de Mascota y Templo de La Preciosa Sangre de Cristo in Mascota, a seminary that was under construction before the Mexican Revolution, was damaged during the war and was never completed—it’s an ethereal site to behold.

San Sebastian was added to our itinerary as a bonus. There, we had a traditional al fresco family-style Mexican lunch under an avocado tree. Lunch was prepared by locals, as were a few other treats we had en-route, including homemade pastries at a roadside bakery; cheese made by students at the Centro de Bachillerato Tecnologico; and hot chocolate and cookies at Panaderia Blanquita in Mascota.

Contact Information
Casa Kimberly: casakimberly.com
Garza Blanca: garzablancaresort.com
Hotel Mousai: hotelmousai.com
Hilton Puerto Vallarta: hilton.com
Nemi Eco Villa: nemiecovilla.com
Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board: visitpuertovallarta.com
Sunscape Puerto Vallarta: sunscaperesorts.com/puerto-vallarta
Vallarta Adventures: vallarta-adventures.com
Villa Premiere: premiereonline.com.mx