Southern Shores

The resorts of Puerto Vallarta are closer than you think - Exploring two unique properties with City Lifestyle

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is an easy destination for the Phoenix traveler. After a short 2.5-hour non-stop flight from Phoenix, you will have arrived in a delightful tropical paradise. This city is smaller than some of the other popular destinations in Mexico, and you will soon feel the embrace of the local culture. We were treated like welcome guests everywhere we went, and the bonus was we always felt very safe—even at night walking through town or back to the resort in the evenings.

Just minutes from the airport, downtown area, marina, and many golf courses, we enjoyed two resorts—The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta and the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. Each was unique and both are stunning properties.

Our visit was during Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a traditional Mexican holiday signifying prayer and remembrance of friends and family who have passed. There is nothing morbid about it—it is believed the departed are rejoining the living for a visit during this celebration of parades, food, and lots of fun. It truly is the perfect time for a family vacation!

Directly across from the Puerto Vallarta Marina, our first stay was at the Marriott, and it didn’t take long to realize we were in for a treat as this resort celebrates the festival with its own party for guests to learn the traditions and history behind the holiday.

The first day was spent on the property. As Arizonans, one of the first things on our agenda was to curl our toes into the sand of the beach and dip our feet into the water. The beach was devoid of rocks, the sand was soft, and the waves lapped gently on the shore. Perfection.

The entire resort is newly remodeled and lacks no attention to detail. The infinity pool is massive and seems to spill right over to the beach. Its large center island, swim-up pool bar, and adjoining outdoor dining areas were a perfect way to spend the day. With six restaurants on property and room service 24 hours a day, there is no reason to be hungry.

The second day was spent immersing ourselves in the holiday by visiting the oldest cemetery, which was located on top of a hill in the center of town. Families were gathered for picnics at gravesites with colorful headstones, there was music playing, and candles and flowers were everywhere—especially the traditional orange marigolds.

Back at the resort that evening, guests enjoyed the pool terrace decorated with holiday lights, altars built by the staff, and live entertainment and music, followed by a traditional Mexican feast.

Another bonus with this resort is its commitment to the world’s Olive Ridley sea turtle population. The hotel has its own biologist overseeing all volunteer activities for guests of all ages to participate in the nightly release of the recent hatchlings back into the sea. Hatching season runs from June – December.

The Westin was our second stop. The resort is situated on 14 acres of a former palm tree plantation and over 600 palms remain on the property. Several sprout up on mini palm tree islands in the middle of the massive pools, and many frame the over 400 feet of private, white sand beach.

The above-and-beyond service at the resort began the moment we arrived and continued throughout our stay.

The grounds are lush, and you soon realize the commitment to health and wellness as we passed the spa; gym; tennis courts; kayak rental area; beach club with pergolas complete with chaise lounge and privacy curtains; meeting spaces; and the long, winding pools, which were simply amazing. Complete with built-in loungers, a swim-up bar and poolside service, they are easily your first or final destination for the day.

There are three on-site restaurants for dining, with plenty of options for freshly caught seafood and healthy cuisine.

Puerto Vallarta is a melting pot of diverse cultures, and they are all on display at the many local Farmers Markets, which are generally held during the winter months. With over 250 vendors, it was a perfect time to support the local economy and ogle all the beautiful big boats while listening to live music and enjoying the street entertainment.

On our second evening, we were treated to a sunset picnic on the beach, set up with cozy cushions to sit on and expertly prepared food and drinks served to us as we watched the sun dip below the horizon while stunning colors of the sunset were streaked across the sky and reflected on the water. Breathtaking!

The entire resort is dedicated to a holistic commitment to well-being: Sleep Well, Eat Well, Play Well, Feel Well, and Meet Well. The management and staff go out of their way to ensure that the destination is a place to relax, recharge, and have the type of vacation you’ve dreamed of, whether that’s relaxing by the pool, spending time at the spa (we had massages that were amazing!), enjoying water sports, biking around the area, or heading out to explore Puerto Vallarta itself.

Whether a family trip, romantic escape, girlfriend getaway, or destination wedding, it's just a short flight to a welcoming paradise at these stunning oceanfront destinations. 

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