Welcome to our new “Scouted” series! We are checking out specific hotels and flights and then giving you the details so you won’t have to do any of the planning yourself. First up….Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!
Rooms: The amazing terrace has a private plunge pool and a comfy table for breakfast. Our room was on a high floor in the middle of the building. This ensured for privacy and a great view. They have corner units that are marketed as “nicer” but I hated them because they were so close to the neighboring building that I felt like I was eating breakfast with strangers. There are only a few rooms per floor, so it was a short walk to the elevator. The mattress and pillows were nice, but the sheets were a bit scratchy. There are robes, but there aren’t really slippers. They call them slippers, but they’re actually what I call flip flops, and they don’t look new. No bueno. I like bright white cozy slippers.
Food/Drinks: All-inclusive, but not in a tacky way. They made their margaritas fresh, without sugary mixes…absolutely delicious (and I like to think, nutritious). The food outside of the room was excellent. It was extremely high quality and everything tasted so fresh. Unfortch, the room service was not as tasty.
Beach: To get to the beach you either can walk down a hill, which probably takes 10-ish minutes, or you can take a trolly with wooden benches that picks you up right outside the lobby and drives you down the windy roads. Some of the Garza Blanca buildings are right on the same level as the beach. The beach is supposedly swimmable, but it was red-flagged when we were there due to some earthquake-y action in the middle of the ocean. The beach was still beautiful to relax on. It wasn’t crowded at all and had comfortable lounge chairs. The waiter service is the best we’ve ever had on a beach.
Pool: If you stay at Mousai, you can use all of the pools on the property. The rooftop pool is insane. The views are everything and the water temp is nice. The waiter service is fast, and if you hop in the pool after you order your drink, they’ll serve it to you in the pool. The vibe was so laid-back, yet totally luxurious and chic!
Activities: Kayaking is usually available, but not for us because of that earthquake activity that red-flagged our stay. I wanted to swim in the ocean, so we took a cab to La Palapa. It’s a lovely restaurant on the beach that has indoor and outdoor seating. We sat outside with our feet in the sand!!! I don’t actually know how to keep track of pesos, but I’m told by the member of our marriage who cares about such things, that 130 pesos was a very low price for all of the food and drinks we consumed. After lunch I got to swim in the warm, calm green-flagged ocean!!! Yippee! To get a cab back, we happened to find one right outside La Palapa. If you don’t see one, ask the restaurant to help you get one.
Service: The property is super clean. In the mornings, all of the furniture at the rooftop pool was thoroughly cleaned. I was NOT happy with the front desk. They were difficult about changing us out of the corner room that didn’t have any terrace privacy. But, my husband gave them “the what for” and they obliged. I appreciated that they did graciously offer to transfer my mimosa from a glass into a “to-go” cup and sent me on my way with it in the cab to La Palapa. The concierge was helpful with finding a swimmable beach and they called a taxi to pick us up right outside the lobby.
Flights: Flying to Mexico can be challenging from the east coast. Newark (EWR) has nonstop, business class flights. Unfortunately, that is on United Airlines and their security lines are ridiculously unorganized. Plan to wait awhile. I have tips on how to find the best flight for you in my article, How to Become a Jet-Setter.
Airport: The Puerto Vallarta airport (PVR) is air-conditioned and has shops and restaurants (they even have good restaurants after you get through security). We landed around 11:30 at night and we breezed right through immigration/customs. Ignore the sales people while walking through the “time share room.” VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: When you land here, they give you little pieces of paper. I have no idea what they are, but you need them to get back on your plane to leave the country! No one told me this, and thank God, I did not toss them in the garbage, like I do everything else!
Transportation: Before our trip, we spoke to the hotel and they arranged for a car to pick us up at the airport. If you are in a country you are not familiar with, you don’t want to get in a random taxi. Our car from the airport to the hotel was an old Suburban with cloth seats. I think it was clean enough, but not at all what I would say is “nice.” Our car back to the airport, which was also arranged for us by the hotel, was a new Suburban with leather seats and was very nice.
Warning: There will be construction in the future, so call and ask the hotel for an update before you book. They make you “wear” a bracelet for the all-inclusive package. I insisted it be applied to me “loosely” and then I removed it the second I left the front desk.
- For a great view and privacy, book the Ultra Mousai suite. This puts you on a high floor above other buildings.
- Bring an iPad charger. The easiest way to control the lights and shades, and only way to get room service, is through a hotel-provided iPad.
- The extra charge for the all-inclusive package is worth it. When ordering a Corona on the beach, the beach waiter showed up with two extra in an ice bucket in case I was thirsty!
Andrea Graye (and Husband, Ryan Glotzbecker) :)