Sunset at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Sundown at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Photograph by Amy Nelson

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, was simply the winter seashore trip I didn’t know I wanted.

A mixture of sand, surf, and delightful sunsets, this fast five-day journey was inexpensive, accessible, and simple to navigate. It was additionally my first worldwide journey in a very long time due to COVID-19 restrictions and many years since I had first visited Mexico, and the journey felt indulgent but protected.

My buddies and I had been speaking a few ladies’ weekend for months and eventually booked a visit to have one thing to stay up for as winter dragged on. Once we picked Puerto Vallarta, it was each a reduction and a thriller if we really would get to go, because the Omicron variant was shutting down a number of journey throughout the globe. We determined to attempt our luck with the longer term dates but in addition bought journey insurance coverage in case it didn’t work out.

Grand Velas sits on the Pacific Ocean coastline
Grand Velas sits on the Pacific Ocean shoreline

Courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

Puerto Vallarta is a direct and really inexpensive flight on each Delta and Solar Nation airways from the Twin Cities. I used some frequent flyer miles on Delta for my flight, whereas my good friend had a free voucher for her Solar Nation flight.

Whereas Puerto Vallarta was a brand new vacation spot for me, it’s clearly not a secret to a lot of Minnesotans. Each our flights had been full, on the Wednesday flight down and the Sunday return flight. We additionally made buddies with a pair from North Department on one among our excursions and met different Minnesotans at our resort. Many individuals I chatted with stated they had been return vacationers who go to the world yearly.

It was inconceivable to see all the pieces we wished on this fast journey, however we could also be like these different Midwesterners and return once more for extra. Right here’s a take a look at what we did pack in, with ideas and tips we realized alongside the best way.

At Casa Velas, live bands perform every night on the patio for happy hour
At Casa Velas, stay bands carry out each evening on the patio for glad hour

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Day 1

The practically five-hour flight from MSP to Puerto Vallarta could seem lengthy however, fortunately, each of our aircraft rides had been direct and departed inside 45 minutes of one another at an affordable mid-morning hour. We carpooled to terminals 1 and a pair of collectively and had been reunited in Mexico by 2 p.m., able to benefit from the 80-degree temperatures and escape the snowy climate again residence. We had been via customs shortly and effectively—in contrast to the overcrowded MSP wait on our return to the USA—and had been warned to disregard the holiday rental hawkers within the airport hallway as we made our strategy to the taxi stand for a journey to our resort.

Peacocks roam the grounds at both Grand Velas and Casa Velas
Peacocks roam the grounds at each Grand Velas and Casa Velas

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Visitors was very busy for a weekday mid-afternoon, and I used to be glad I wasn’t driving or renting a automobile to navigate the world. Our cab driver was pleasant and identified some landmarks alongside the 20-minute drive to the all-inclusive Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, an all-inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta, the place we booked our first two nights as a part of a particular media price.

The botanical gardens at Casa Velas is the ideal location for a picnic
The botanical gardens at Casa Velas is the perfect location for a picnic

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Generally first impressions make all of the distinction whenever you’re touring and in another country, out of your consolation zone. For me, Grand Velas was precisely what I used to be anticipating—after which some. There’s a giant wow issue as you stroll into the open-air seating space and spy peacocks strolling via lush gardens, a multitiered pool that fades into the horizon alongside the seashore, gleaming white sand dotted with non-public seashore cabanas, and the smoky grey Sierra Madre Mountains ringing the Banderas Bay oceanfront of the Pacific. We had been greeted with hand massages and margaritas in the course of the check-in course of and assigned our private concierge for the remaining go to who cheerfully helped us with room service requests in addition to dinner lodging.

We dropped our luggage in our room, marveled on the views from our non-public lined balcony, and shortly headed out to discover the remainder of the large property.

the spanish-inspired architecture at casa Velas includes several covered porticos
the spanish-inspired structure at casa Velas consists of a number of lined porticos

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Grand Velas is ideal for fogeys: There’s a child concierge, a separate wing the place mother and pop can drop off their preschoolers and elementary-aged youngsters for some supervised play time, and a formidable teenagers’ membership with online game stations and a smoothie bar. Adults can indulge, too, with a swim-up bar, health heart, sports activities bar, and personal seashore loungers, however the vibe is certainly family-friendly.

That first evening we made certain to look at a tremendous sundown over the ocean earlier than heading to our late dinner reservation at one of many resort’s 4 connoisseur eating places, the Asian-inspired Sen Lin. After a day of barely seeing another vacationers on the pool and questioning if COVID-19 had severely impacted the resort’s clientele, I used to be shocked to see the restaurant at capability with multigenerational households and {couples} eating within the semi-formal area. We dined on scrumptious dumplings, shrimp pad thai, and specifically requested macaroons. Then we took one final moonlit stroll alongside the seashore earlier than calling it a totally satisfying evening.

Guests start their day with beachfront yoga at the gazebo at Grand Velas
Visitors begin their day with beachfront yoga on the gazebo at Grand Velas

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Day 2

We left the balcony door open in a single day and awakened early to extra excellent climate the second day. My good friend headed all the way down to a yoga session whereas I checked in for a spa remedy, which began with a hydrotherapy circuit an hour earlier than my therapeutic massage. I had the swimming pools, sauna, steam room, and showers to myself throughout this morning session however was guided by a pleasant attendant who additionally supplied me drinks and the resort’s signature energy bars.

Grand Velas offers weekly mixology classes that focus on Mexican flavors
Grand Velas presents weekly mixology lessons that target Mexican flavors

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

The stress-free 80-minute therapeutic massage began with an aromatherapy session and featured flower petals scattered across the room. It was amongst top-of-the-line spa remedies I’ve skilled—together with a therapeutic massage I had in Bali—however is a dear further cost, plus tip. After the stress-free morning, we spent a lot of the afternoon on the seashore, studying and watching the paragliders, anglers, swimmers, and seashore walkers. For a late lunch, we tried the fish tacos and nachos with some expertly made margaritas.

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit offers a progressive taco tour to guests and the public, featuring dishes and drink pairings from its four gourmet restaurants
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit presents a progressive taco tour to visitors and the general public, that includes dishes and drink pairings from its 4 connoisseur eating places

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

I didn’t assume the earlier evening’s sundown could possibly be topped, however the scene from our balcony this second evening was breathtaking. We then headed to dinner on the genuine Mexican restaurant, Frida. Highlights right here included contemporary guacamole made tableside (with the choice of including dried crickets for protein) and a crunchy churros dessert. After dinner, we listened to a stay band carry out songs in English and Spanish on the patio earlier than we returned to our room to look at the celebrities, chat, and collapse into our extremely
snug beds.

It takes some courage to try the aerial yoga class at Grand Velas
It takes some braveness to attempt the aerial yoga class at Grand Velas

Courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

Day 3

The subsequent morning, I slept in whereas my adventurous good friend tried one other yoga class. We’ve traveled to Costa Rica collectively to do yoga and have been training for years, however I nonetheless couldn’t muster the braveness to attempt the aerial model the resort was providing. And after listening to about how dizzying and tough it was to hold from the material hammocks whereas stretching, generally hanging the other way up, I’m completely fantastic that I missed the expertise. My good friend stated one visitor within the full class talked about “an excessive amount of wine final evening” and practically everybody agreed. Nonetheless, I do want I had loved the resort’s many athletic actions, just like the boogie boards and seashore volleyball.

Casa Velas
Casa Velas

Courtesy of Casa Velas

This was a transition day for us, as we checked out of our family-focused resort into an adults-only property additionally run by the Velas firm, Casa Velas. One other good friend joined us and we spent the afternoon chatting by the spectacular blue-tiled sculptural pool. We had a chill day at this property in the course of a Mexican residential space adjoining to a golf course. The variety of single ladies on the pool made us assume that many had been visiting Mexico with their husbands, who had been most likely out {golfing} that afternoon. We agreed that’s what we seemingly can be doing, too.

Casa Velas
Casa Velas

Courtesy of Casa Velas

We additionally mirrored on how completely different the vibe of this resort was in contrast with the extra upscale Grand Velas, and the way a lot quieter and serene the resort was with out youngsters splashing within the pool and on the seashore. We ended the evening with a stunning dinner chatting with the chef of the on-site restaurant, Emiliano, and watching some proficient bartenders entertain a visitor’s request to pour an advanced flaming drink to everybody’s astonishment. 

At Grand Velas, guests gather along the beach and near the infinity pool to watch the sun set
At Grand Velas, visitors collect alongside the seashore and close to the infinity pool to look at the solar set

Courtesy of Velas Resorts

Day 4

The promise of whales and waves, snorkeling and crusing acquired us up early on the fourth day of our journey as we took a taxi from Casa Velas to the close by Puerto Vallarta terminal. I extremely suggest this fashionable five-hour snorkel tour with Vallarta Adventures and the skilled, personable crew. I used to be skeptical as we set sail from the port about 8 a.m., however the half-day journey proved enjoyable as we snorkeled, lounged, and grooved to a enjoyable playlist. For about $100 every, this cruise was a steal. We watched dolphins on the best way out, whales on the best way again, and felt like we noticed a few of Mexico’s true wonders alongside the water. Once we acquired again to shore, I want we’d have frolicked exploring Puerto Vallarta’s downtown as a result of it was our solely probability to see the world on this quick journey. 

That afternoon the resort organized for a physician to manage the COVID-19 checks that the USA required for entry. We had been relieved that all of us acquired adverse outcomes, but in addition joked that staying one other 10 days can be OK. We celebrated with some extra margaritas, and that night at dinner made buddies with Canadians, Mexicans, and different Individuals speaking politics, journey, and worldwide intrigue.

One of four gourmet restaurants at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Lucca features Italian-Mediterranean cuisine
One in all 4 connoisseur eating places at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Lucca options Italian-Mediterranean delicacies

Courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

Day 5

For our last day in Mexico, breakfast included watching the colourful yellow birds choose off pastries at a neighbor’s desk as we loved our sturdy espresso and weak eggs Benedict. We knew it was time to go residence but in addition wished we had a couple of extra days to discover the world. We walked the neighborhood, nodded on the others energy strolling the streets, and watched the big lizard close to the pool surreptitiously climb the pool palm tree. On our strategy to the airport, our driver knowledgeable us that Sundays in Puerto Vallarta are very busy as a result of the airport is among the few ports for each worldwide and Mexican areas alongside the peninsula. It was crowded, loopy, and chaotic. Nevertheless it made me understand Mexico is an ideal vacation spot for a fast winter getaway, one thing I used to be simply discovering—however that others have recognized for a very long time.

A phrase about all-inclusive properties: My solely different expertise with an all-inclusive trip was years in the past on a Disney cruise with my household. It took me a number of conversations with others to determine what felt so completely different for this journey: I had all the pieces I wanted in a single spot, which is each a luxurious and a disincentive to discover the remainder of the world and Puerto Vallarta. All of my leisure, meals, and leisure actions had been on the resort, for higher or worse. For some households, that’s precisely what they need. For instance, one child can order hen fingers and cheesecake to the room whereas the dad and mom eat on the on-property eating places. For me, after a day or two, I’d wish to spend extra of my very own cash on excursions away from the resort to get a greater sense of the vacation spot.


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