Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
This was my first visit to the Puerto Vallarta/Punta Mita area of Mexico and I was impressed. The area is beautiful (beaches and jungle) and the people are very friendly. I am even thinking of coming back for an extended stay---renting a house for a few months.
I had the pleasure of staying at 2 different resorts and visiting 7 others. This area doesn't have near as many resorts as the Cancun/Rivera Maya area, but there is a good variety of options so that there is a good fit for everyone.
St. Regis Punta Mita
Punta Mita is a quiet area about an hour away from the Puerto Vallarta airport. As you drive from the airport, you see the Walmart and Home Depot and then slowly there is nothing but trees on each side of the road. As you approach Punta Mita, there are a few smaller stores and restaurants, but it is more rural than Puerto Vallarta. The St. Regis is in a gated community with the Four Seasons resort, along with some condos and a golf course.
The St. Regis is a smaller resort (120 rooms) on a private rocky beach. Like all St. Regis properties, butler service is included. The butler can help you unpack, make dinner reservations, or answer questions about the resort. You simply text or Whatsapp and you get an answer in minutes. Meals are not included in the base room rate, but they have several excellent restaurants on-property. Even during COVID, there were two options for lunch and three for dinner during my stay. Of course, you can also order room service and enjoy the view from your balcony. The St. Regis has loaner bikes and I used one to explore the area---there is a paved path throughout the gated community. The resort is beautiful and the rooms are traditional luxury---think marble and neutral colors. I loved having a soaking tub, two indoor shower options, as well as an outdoor shower. Bathrooms are important to me :) All of the pools are open and there is wait service at the beach and pools, so relaxation is key here.
W Punta Mita
The W is a few minutes down the road from St. Regis (heading back toward Puerto Vallarta). I loved the entrance to the resort as you have to drive quite a bit (5 minutes maybe) down a little cobblestone road with jungle on each side...you feel like you are going to a secret spot. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you are escorted via golf cart to the lobby. I think of W hotels as party spots----and the city hotels are all about being seen and the party---but this is part of a different W collection of resorts that are quieter. Not to say there isn't a DJ or anything going on...there is, but it is much more chill. This property is stunning. Absolutely gorgeous. In terms of the property itself, the W was my favorite. The W is not all inclusive, but they have several restaurants on-property.
Grand Velas Puerto Vallarta
Velas is a Mexican owned company and they do a great job with all-inclusive. This property is great for parents of small children---included in the rate are things like diapers, high chairs, baby bath tubs and homemade baby food. You truly only have to bring clothes and your baby. Grand Velas also has great kids and teen clubs and plenty for adults to do. They also have speciality rooms---such as wellness, where only healthy snack and drink options are included in the mini-bar and you have the choice of essential oils to fragrance the room and a stationary bike in suite so you don't even have to go to the gym. Grand Velas is a large resort and has something for everyone.
Also part of Velas, this is an adult only property in a residential area in Puerto Vallarta. While the property is not on the beach, they have a separate beach club and a shuttle that takes you to and from all day ( a 5 minute journey). Casa Velas is located on a golf course, so it is perfect for golfers. This property is small (80 rooms) and it has the feel of coming to a friends house (very beautiful house....). There is one restaurant and the chef meets with each guest to make sure the menu meets their needs. As a guest a Casa Velas, you can also eat a dinner at Grand Velas or a meal at Velas Vallarta. This property is perfect if you are looking for peace and quiet.
NOW Amber and Secrets Vallarta Bay
These two resorts are together because they are both on the same property---and are mirror images of one another. NOW is family friendly and Secrets is adult only. Guests at Secrets are able to use the restaurants at NOW, but guests at NOW are only allowed in the NOW restaurants (with a couple of exceptions, like live shows). These are both part of chains and some clients like the familiarity---for example, the Coco Cafe at NOW is similar to that at properties at other NOW (and Dreams) resorts in the Caribbean. These resorts are on a beautiful beach and Secrets is a popular spot for weddings (you can also get married at NOW). Both NOW and Secrets have a preferred club...rooms with added amenities like lounge access and premium liquor.
Garza Blanca has a different feel than many resorts---you can choose to book it all-inclusive or as the room only. They also have lots of sizes of rooms---from junior suites (normal hotel sized rooms) to 3 bedroom suites. The kitchen in the larger suites are bigger than some I've had in apartments! You could truly stay comfortably for weeks or longer. I would be happy to live in the hammock on the huge balcony. They also have several buildings with some being close to the beach and some are across the road a bit higher up (for better ocean views). They have a trolley that will take you where you need to go.
Hotel Mousai is next to the Garza Blanca property and it is adult only. The trolley will take guests down to the beach and beach chairs and cabanas are reserved for Hotel Mousai guests. Many guests never leave though once they see the rooftop. The spa is also amazing and they have a hydrotherapy circuit. This property is often sold out, so they started building a second tower that should be complete by the end of 2021. The service is amazing and the rooms are large (with a very stocked mini-bar).
Last, but certainly not least is Hyatt Ziva. This is a family friendly all inclusive resort, with some adult only areas. Hyatt Ziva is located on a cove and the beach is very private. Hyatt has scheduled activities like beach stretching, classes to learn how to make cocktails, and live entertainment most nights. I went on the jungle hike and loved it (although it was more challenging than I was expecting for an all-inclusive resort). There are several restaurant options and room service is available 24/7. I can attest that the spa is amazing---my massage was very good and you are allowed in the sauna, steam rooms and spa pool for an hour before or after your treatment which is a nice touch.
I look forward to planning your trip to Puerto Vallarta!
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Tracey is the owner of Unraveled Travel and has traveled to every continent (thanks to the recent visit to Antarctica!