Once a small fishing village on the shores of Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta has grown to a vibrant resort town, yet never forgetting its humble beginnings. From glorious beaches to gourmet dining to great outdoor adventure and fabulous shopping, Puerto Vallarta has more than enough to keep you busy…or happily doing nothing at all.
Having stopped in Puerto Vallarta on a cruise, I was anxious to come back and explore more. What I discovered on a longer visit is absolutely glorious 85-degree weather; a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and an authentic Mexican experience.
It all began at the airport, where everyone greeted me with, “Welcome Home” and I felt the stress just melting away.
Relax in Style at Marriott Puerto Vallarta
Ideally located between the Sierra Mountains and Banderas Bay, the fabulous Marriott Puerto Vallarta has undergone recent renovations, making this spanking like-new property a pure gem. But it’s the warm, gracious hospitality that keeps guests coming back year after year.
When you enter your luxurious accommodations, you’ll be blown away by the glorious poolside views and ocean vistas from your private balcony. Add in the cozy pillowtop mattress and plush robes and you’re in for a comfy stay.
You’ll love dining in one of their six tempting restaurants serving Mexican, Japanese, fresh seafood and deli. Chill out at their new swim up beachside bar, Nosh for tasty nachos, fresh salads and ceviche’s while enjoying the view.
Key to what makes this resort so special is Marriott’s commitment to “experiential” programs like tequila tastings from their resident tequila sommelier, learning to make ceviche and other “how to” classes. Marriott takes pride in making their own tequila and you’ll appreciate learning about and tasting their distinctive brands.
Marriott is Committed to Preserving the Sea Turtles
Since 2004, one of the most popular onsite activities is releasing baby sea turtles at sunset through the resort’s unique conservation program. About 45 days after the mother turtles lay their eggs on the beach and return to the sea, the baby turtles are born and come to the surface. Guided by marine biologists, the newborn turtles make it safely to the sea. Both kids and adults are thrilled to watch this natural phenomenon. Hatching season runs from June to December.
Check out their Ohtli Spa, which means journey. Let them pamper you from head to toe with an aromatherapy or couple’s massage.
Day of the Dead Honors Loved Ones
Every November 1 and 2, this colorful Mexican tradition celebrates the lives of departed loved ones with colorful displays, altars and meaningful mementos of their lives. Filled with artistic, cultural and artisanal symbols, this festive holiday has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
We had a chance to check out the Malecon (Puerto Vallarta’s Boardwwalk) and saw all of the colorfully decorated ofrendas featuring traditional skulls, skeletons, candles and La Catrinas.
The Marriott Puerto Vallarta takes Day of the Dead to a whole new level with a special celebration. All of the various hotel departments spent the day constructing their own colorful ofrendas to honor their loved ones and compete for prizes.
I had a chance to have my face painted with bright hues of pink and orange, wearing a colorful headband and posing with the Catrina.
An exquisite dinner under the stars offered a number of stations serving Mexican specialties like Tostados, Tamales, Sarandeado Fish Station and a heavenly dessert table. With live music, folkloric entertainment and voting for our favorite displays, it was a celebration, indeed.
The Westin Resort & Spa – Dedicated to You
With a perfect location near the Marina, this former palm tree farm turned luxury wellness resort features gorgeous landscapes, colorful tropical decor, culinary delights, and tons of recreational activities. You’ll enjoy retreat-like accommodations at the Westin Resort & Spa with all ocean-facing balconies, plush Heavenly® Bed and rejuvenating Heavenly® Bath to help you unwind.
The Westin is dedicated to nurturing the mind, body and spirit, offering a multi-faceted program for optimum wellness. Everything from food to beverages adheres to a heathy living lifestyle. At El Palmar, you can enjoy matcha pancakes, fruit smoothies and egg-white omelets.
Be sure to book an appointment in their Heavenly Spa. I opted for the Sleep Well massage and the therapist’s sure but steady strokes released the tension I had been carrying around for weeks.
Get your morning off to a great start with yoga on the beach. Or have a special seaside picnic catered on the beach as the sun goes down.
Dining while overlooking the bay at Arrecifes Seafood & Steakhouse was exquisite. I enjoyed the world’s best Caesar Salad and juicy steak served on an open grill.
Strolling along the colorful Malecon, you’ll discover beautiful jewelry, excellent crafts, fine clothing in exclusive boutiques, and of course, bargaining with local beach vendors for bracelets, earrings and pottery.
Just reopened is the new Thursday night market at the Marina, which features a host of Mexican foods as well as artisan goods like the latest in straw bags, colorful purses, T-shirts and jewelry.
Make your plans to discover these two beautiful properties any time of year!
For more information on Puerto Vallarta, visit www.visitpuertovallarta.com