Ahhh...A Return to Puerto Vall...ahhhh..rta!

Old Mar 20th, 2022, 03:57 PM
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Ahhh...A Return to Puerto Vall...ahhhh..rta!

Last week my spouse and I made our sixth trip to Puerta Vallarta, and we can’t wait to go back. On our first visit we found the Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel. What drew me to that hotel was that it was adults only, on the beach, had a beautiful pool, and all the rooms faced the Bay of Banderos. We didn’t know much about PV and because we were both working and hadn’t retired yet, and needed a place to decompress. Fourteen years later, we are still coming back.

Arriving at the airport from San Francisco, you walk through the gauntlet of folks trying to sell you experiences, lodging, rides. etc. I had read in a guide book to walk through this high-pressure zone, exit the airport, turn left, then turn left again and walk over the freeway on the overpass bridge and catch a taxi opposite the airport. And that works for us! But this time, our flight had departed late, we were tired, and thought, OK, let’s try a regular taxi at the front of the airport. We were approached by a taxi vendor outside. We were told to pay for the ride at a kiosk (380 pesos) bring the receipt, and get in a particular line. I asked if the wait would be long and was told no. We got into a line with about five other parties and waited and waited. As I looked around, I could see about five different lines and as taxis drove up, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to where the taxi might stop. After fifteen minutes of waiting with no taxi stopping at our line, I went back to the kiosk and asked for a refund. The attendant said her boss would probably not allow it. Another attendant came up and listened to the conversation, had me follow her to the front of the line. The whole system was disorganized, and we won’t be doing that again.

As I was booking the Villa Premiere for this visit, I was taken with reviews of Villa Lola, a place poised just above the main downtown area called the Zona Romantica. The Zona Romantica is the hub of bars, restaurants, shops, etc. in PV. I thought, why not spend our first night there? It would give us an opportunity to explore the Romantic Zone at night without having to walk in or take a taxi. So we had the taxi take us directly to Villa Lola arriving about 3:30 in the afternoon. What a gorgeous villa! The tripadvisor reviews were spot on (my review is under “Loves to Travel and Read”). If you walk out of the Villa and turn left and walk straight ahead for three minutes, you’ll see a set of stairs talking you down hill or you’ll see the funicular and ride down (and then later up) in style. You land smack dab in the downtown area. It was great that first night to walk around town, find a restaurant to have some fresh guacamole and fish tacos, and bob in and out of shops. Lots of folks out and about, great vibe, as families, couples, friends, gay and straight, gathered for drinks and/or a meal. A couple we met talked about going to a Lady Gaga tribute show in downtown PV and loved it. We thought we opt for tickets to some kind of show next time.

After our delicious custom breakfast served at the Villa, we packed up and headed to Villa Premiere. Our room wasn’t quite ready so they held our luggage and we found lounge chairs on the grass/stone pier and sat out in the sun, listened to the ocean, and felt the breeze. We had already declined the sales pitch for their timeshare-esque member program and weren’t hassled about it again. Because of COVID, they weren’t doing their welcome neck massage but served up a drink or bottle of water. We also made our return COVID test appointments at check-in for the day before we left. We would report to one of the rooms and someone would administer the nasal test, and we would get the results within half an hour (750 pesos) and days later it did all go smoothly. We choose our pillows from a pillow menu and an incense scent. Before heading out to the beach we went up to the spa and made appointments for a therapeutic massage for the following day…a little more intense than their Swedish massage.

We were thrilled to see many familiar staff faces. There were about six visible staff members who we recognized from our previous visits.

Our room was ready about an hour later and ended up being on the fifth (out of seven) floors. All rooms have views of the water which is great, but, in my opinion, there are some rooms with better angles. Our room was a bit further down that I’d like but since the room was ready, we decided to take it. Rooms ending with 5, 6, or 7, I think, have the best views and those rooms on the 4th, 5th, or 6th (maybe 7th, too) floor would be ideal. Rooms that end in 8, 9, 10 overlook an empty lot…a bit of an ambiance killer. The rooms are set up nicely. You walk in and there is a little sink with a counter against one wall for glasses, mugs, Nespresso machine with four pods, tea bags, and a few capsules. Below is a stocked mini-fridge. I’d suggest you have the hotel empty out the fridge so you can stock it with your own drinks and bottles of water. There is an oxxo convenience store (after exiting the hotel, go up the entrance street and then turn right on the main drag) a few blocks away (hotel side) to buy water, soda, chips, etc. or a few blocks further on the opposite side of the street is a supermarket.

Opposite the sink area is a closet with hangars. Our room had a king-size bed, side tables and lamps, a little table and chairs, chest of drawers, and a flat screen TV. Plenty of room in the bathroom to put out your toiletries. An array of L’Occitane products, a hair dryer, a mirrored make up mirror, an incense stick on the toilet tank, and substantive towels. Rooms were cleaned during the day and towels were replaced. Housekeeping does an excellent job. Ice for the ice bucket upon request. I requested an extra luggage rack holder, and it was brought up promptly.

On this trip we went to the Marina on Thursday night to check out the crafts fair (held Oct.-May 6-10PM). It was quite extensive with lots of people and vendors selling their wares. Most of the merchandise was flea market quality stuff…some booths were a bit more upscale. At one end were food booths and several booths/tables sold cake slices. The surrounding restaurants were crowded and people seemed to be enjoying themselves though I don’t think we’d go back. In previous visits, if we were there on a Saturday, we have enjoyed the Olas Altas Farmer’s Market 9-2PM November-April in the downtown area for “homegrown and homemade good.” On certain Friday nights from 6-10PM November through April there is something called the “South Side Shuffle” on Basilio Badillo street when shops are open later. On October to end-of-May Wednesdays is the Vallarta Art Walk where art studios are open from 6-10PM. We went to visit the shop of artist Rodo Padilla to buy another piece of his art but noted that his gallery was no longer there. Fortunately, our hotel had some of his pieces, and we did find one we liked.

Shopping downtown is an adventure. I like sundresses so I’m drawn to stores that have linen or cotton dresses. One store that we frequent is Maria’s of Guadalajara (552 Morelos). If you like dresses, shorts, pants, tops in solid and print colors, check them out. Nearby this trip we found a shop called N Boutique (366 Juarez) that also had a variety of dresses along with some interesting necklaces. Just down the street from N Boutique is La Surtidora (256 Morelos) which sells the cutest little dolls made from different swatches of material perfect for a baby boy or girl back home. My favorite Talavera pottery store Majolica Antica (191 Corona Street) was closed on both days we walked by. There is another pottery place near the River you could check out as well called Senor Talavera at the corner of Hidalgo and Encino near the bridge. The street Basilio Badillo is a good place to start exploring shops as well like Cassandra Shaw Jewelry and Serafina. Walking back to the hotel on the Malecon, we found a shop that had great women’s linen dresses with spaghetti straps, and I bought two. I THINK the place is the No Name Boutique but the credit card notation says Boutique Del Sol (no info on Del Sol when I google). After a bit of sleuthing, the dress brand was Meo Meli (Made in Italy) and when I googled that brand and PV, up came No Name Boutique (located by the Senor Frog’s store).

Most of the time we walk there and back to the Malecon, but in warmer weather visits we usually taxi one way or the other (80 pesos). Villa Premiere to the airport was 130 pesos. If you don’t have pesos with you or didn’t have time to get them from your local bank, there are about 5 ATM’s in the airport just past the gauntlet and near the car rental booths. I noticed three out of the five were not working this trip; there are plenty of ATM’s in the downtown area. We’ve always paid the taxi drivers with pesos.

PV is a foodie town, and it is always nice to check out new restaurants for dinner or return to favorites. El Andariego across the street from the hotel is a solid choice for traditional Mexican food, Restaurant Rio Grande (within walking distance from the hotel) is a great spot for seafood (we went twice this trip), and if you are in the mood for European entrees check out Kaiser Maximillian's in the downtown area.

PV has a myriad of other activities that beckons anyone looking for adventure and discovery. Normally we go to relax by the pool but on the next trip? Who knows?



Janeyre is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2022, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for the report!
MichelleY is online now  
Old Mar 23rd, 2022, 08:51 AM
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Very nice report! Thank you for all the details. Can't wait to return myself. These last two years is the longest in decades that I haven't been in PV!

edited to add: though I have never had problems catching a taxi at PVR

Last edited by suze; Mar 23rd, 2022 at 08:55 AM.
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