By the water in Puerto Vallarta
By Peta Phipps
West coast time in Mexico is always charming. I know that the term “old school” is a bit overused and played out, but it is what comes to mind when I think of some of the coastal towns on this side of the country. The traditional clothing and too many colors of Mexico all collide n the Pacific Ocean’s coast, in my opinion. As the ocean breeze blows the ever-present papel picado (pecked paper) hung high above narrow streets lined with shops and cafes. Those colorful flags were normally found draped from building to building during Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, weddings, quinceñeras, baptisms, and christenings. This signal of celebration for both religious and secular occasions, strikes a note of happiness within me. I tend to find them more on the west coast of Mexico than I do in places like the Yucatan Peninsula. To boil it all down, I think that means I like lively festivities and having fun. Who doesn’t?
Making my way to Puerto Vallarta was an easy connection through Mexico City from my Florida base. Excited to see the Pacific and experience a mix of on and off-property activities from my home base of the Marriott Puerto Vallarta, I hopped on the jet with my heart set on pure enjoyment. I knew that some of the resort highlights include a tequila tasting led by the resort’s own tequilera (tequila sommelier) and featuring their own proprietary brand of tequila. They also host these beautiful herb garden dinners — their version of a chefs table — featuring a “Dine Around” menu of authentic dishes from different regions in Mexico, so there was the culinary aspect of things. Then I had heard about them having a brand new Tequila & Ceviche Bar, fixing my insatiable appetite for all things yummy. Then, to rub it all in and make sure I was in total vacation mode, I was told that they had “the most amazing spa” — the largest in Puerto Vallarta, if I’m not mistaken. I was sold on this resort before ever getting there. All of this and my room would overlook the ocean? Yes please…and thank you very mucho. Everyone back home was advised that if they needed me, they could find me on a sandy strip between the Sierra Madre
Mountains and Banderas Bay, only moments away from the heart of the city.
Puerto Vallarta is a charming, friendly town with an authentic Mexican vibe, offering a vibrant culinary and arts scene, local festivals and soft adventure opportunities. When was not out exploring the coast, I filled my time at the resort taking part in a tequila tasting or unwinding at the Ohtli Spa between cooling dips at the swim-up bar in the infinity pool. Spa Treatments at Ohtli Spa are sublime. My recommendation is that in order to enjoy the full experience, arrive a little early to warm up (or cool off) in the Roman tub, cold plunge pool and foot bath, and take full advantage of the sauna and steam rooms. They’ve put water to good use here and you’ll be fully relaxed by the time you get to your treatment room. My treatment of choice is the Jantzu Rebirth Therapy – performed in a pool of warm water, this therapy
is focused on meditation and relaxation and for me, it was just what my body was calling for at the end of a day full of fun in the sun.
My evening routine often consisted of winding down at the resort’s beachside restaurant, Las Casitas, with the creamiest table-side guacamole, being enjoyed as the sun set over the Pacific. As the sun slipped into the sea, I made a habit of alternating my dining options every time I ate at this breezy, beachfront restaurant. I chose between fresh seafood and regional specialties, as one can do here.
Lobster tacos and Red Snapper are favorites, so don’t forget to try those when you come. Life was far from rough on this trip. As far as the destination goes, the city itself is a dream come true, and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year! When you’re out on the town, take in a sunset walk on the Malecón. The lively Malecón area along the water downtown where stunning sunset. For dinner, off-property, I enjoyed eating at Iguana. Casa Kimberly’s open air restaurant, The Iguana, overlooks the city of Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay. This place serves contemporary Mexican cuisine in an elegant but informal ambience, and seems to be the one and only spot to celebrate birthdays. I think we noted them singing the song on more than 12 occasions while we enjoyed an amazing five course meal.
Having my fill of the land, on one of my final days in Puerto Vallarta, there was an edict that we will sail on a catamaran to a hidden cove called Las Caletas – once the private home of film director John Huston. There was nothing more that I would have rather done than exactly this, so off we went to spend the day on the water, in the water and around the water. I love prepositioning water! We had a chance to swim, snorkel, kayak and relax on the beach. Let’s also add drink, drink, drink, drink and drink. This is Mexico so tequila was never too far away. I cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed this side of the country, and staying at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta made it exactly the trip we wanted it to be. Location, location, location.