Having just returned from 8 days in PV, I though it appropriate to post some random comments and thoughts since I received so much help here making plans. Hopefully my impressions may help others. My apologies in advance as this may be more stream of thought than a prepared report, but I just don’t have the time to organize properly.
First interesting fact that I learned is that the typical headwinds that blow west to east are much stronger during the winter months across the US. This leads to an unusually longer flight time if you’re travelling east to west (and shorter west to east), i.e., the trip from NYC to PV took 6.5 hours and the return took 4. This may be well known to most, but it was news to me.
We stayed at the Westin Hotel, in a “grand deluxe ocean front room” on the 7th floor.
Lovely reasonably sized and appointed room with an oversized bathroom. The “heavenly shower” is pretty much a double shower head. With all the water reduction washers, it’s better…but far from heavenly. The “heavenly beds” are quite nice. Our room had a 10’x8’ balcony with a double jaccuzi taking up about 2 thirds of the space. It was nice, but not our particular thing. My 7 year old daughter got a kick out of it. The view was pretty close to perfect, overlooking the pools, the beach, the bay and downtown PV. Got to see most all of the New Year’s fireworks right from our balcony.
Hotel amenities were also quite nice. I think there were 4 pools, all of which had tall mature palm trees rising from islands within the pool and all around the pool areas. This was excellent since there were significant areas of complete shade and partial intermittent shade throughout the day as the trees cast wandering shadows as the sun moved across the sky. We gravitated mostly to one pool that was lined with darker blue tiles, making the water comfortably warm. Chaises are covered with pads which are then covered with towels that you must obtain and place by yourself (rather easily). Despite being a holiday week, we found it was not terribly difficult to find 3 reasonably located chaises every day. There was never a line of guests at the towel hut at 6AM (ala Aruba Hyatt). The fact that there was considerable “pool and pool side space” was a very pleasing experience. I can find little worse on a vacation then competing with obnoxious guests for chaises at the crack of dawn. Food and drinks are easily ordered to your chaise throughout the day. (Ice cold Pacifico beer! )
The beach (which I believe is typical of all the hotels fronting on the Bay) is acceptable. Rather short, dark granular sand with small waves. Nothing to write home about as far as exotic beaches are concerned. There is a “club” along part of the beachfront at the Westin (Nikki Beach Club) which serves lunch, dinner and cocktails along with mesmerizing club music throughout the day and into the night (live DJs included). We rather enjoyed having an afternoon drink there watching the daily singles scene spectacle of sun worshipers carousing on the many padded sun bathing platforms (no one lays on the sand). Even my daughter got to enjoy the pounding disco, while my wife and I couldn’t help but notice the amount of presentation exposed skin.
All in all, we found the hotel to be nice, but not premier tier. The staff was quite pleasant and helpful…when you could find them. It became a chore to have our room cleaned daily since the housekeeping staff was reluctant to begin their routine before 4PM, when we were often returning to our room for a rest before dinner. There was one day when they never came despite our multiple requests for cleaning before 4 PM and then while we were out in the evening. Frustrating!
Staffing was the most noticeable shortfall. Conversations with some of the concierge personnel suggested that qualified employees were a serious problem throughout PV. Regardless, the simple lack of staffing was evident. As an example, I spent a good hour of my vacation waiting on line at the front desk. Heading out to dinner, I would typically exchange some dollars for pesos which should take only a few moments, however it was seldom that there was more than a single employee manning the front desk; this despite having a manager walk out of a back office noticing 7-8 guests waiting on line. I can’t imagine much would be more important than him/her coming to immediate assistance of guests waiting irritably in line. The hotel has a rather grand entrance way which was, again, seldom manned by more than one single bellman. With 5 families waiting for cabs (beware the wait during dinner hours) and airport arrivals, it seemed ridiculous that this area was often left to one bellman! Despite the stress, I must say that those bellmen that were on duty were most pleasant and accommodating.
The Spa is seriously lacking with regard to typical aesthetics and ambience. I was shown to a simple locker room and then to a large, stark massage room without candles, music and flowers, etc. (so typical of spas). That being said, the actual message I received was rather good, despite the fact that I received a 60 minute version rather than the 80 minute I had reserved. Upon exiting, the (of course) overwhelmed single receptionist was completely befuddled by the mistake looking at the clock and counting up the minutes at least 5 times while the horde of waiting guests grew more and more irritated.
With regard to location, we were pleased with our choice in the Marina “district”. We enjoy walking, so the nearby marina walk was pleasant with its restaurants, bars, retail shops, coffee and ice cream shops and yachts were a welcome stroll destination. Downtown is about 15 minutes by taxi (despite holiday traffic) and the fare is 60 pesos ($6) to the near side of town and 80 ($8) pesos to the far side. The Four Seasons would have been our first choice, except for its isolation. The Marriott is closer to town, but not close enough not to have to take a taxi so we’d prefer to be at the marina rather than be “taxi bound” between it and town. It was also convenient to be literally 3-4 minutes drive to the airport.
I should note that we had a grand time despite the staffing issues. It just illustrates a definitive difference between “4 and 5 star” hotels.
A few thoughts about food and activities:
Café Des Artistes (in town)
Wonderful. Surprisingly excellent French dining.
Thierry´s Prime Steakhouse (between hotel and town)
Again, surprisingly excellent ribeye and porterhouse steaks.
This coming from a NYC Steak fanatic.
Tikul (in Marina)
Lovely décor, but the food was slightly disappointing.
La Palapa (way in town – Los Muertos Area)
We had a lovely dinner directly on the beach at a private table with their tasting menu. It was a bit expensive, but quite nice and unique nonetheless.
Agave Grill (in town)
Excellent authentic Mexican fare. Unusual guacamole.
Porto Bello (Marina)
Good solid Italian in the Marina. Nothing remarkable, but worthwhile.
We also had a meal at another Italian restaurant at the Marina. I think it was called “The Terrace” since it has a distinctive terrace built out over the water. Similar to Porto Bello, perhaps a bit more informal. Good food, but nothing particularly distinctive.
We took the Los Veranos Canopy Tour due to forum recommendations. Thanks! An excellent choice. As far as I know, “canopy tours” came about to allow us to study canopy indigenous animals, insects and fauna. To allow us to linger in the tree tops to view and admire distinctive life. If that ever was the case, that is ancient history! The words “linger” and “canopy tour” can no longer coexist in the same book, let alone the same sentence.
WOW! For me this was the closest I will ever come to bungee jumping and skydiving. If it were not for my daughter’s excitement, I might well have waited in the bus, but I did the “tour” and I’m proud of it. GREAT fun once you catch your breath from the climbs and the fear. As often reported, the staff is perfectly responsive and add to the experience (of overcoming death ). The little petting zoo is a nice addition. Lunch is reasonably good. A suggestion: you will be offered both a CD of photos and a DVD of video. Take the CD and consider not buying the DVD since the latter is expensive and includes video of everyone there (in your group) and much promo video along with the 20 seconds of you or your family. Overall, an extraordinary experience.
Horseback riding ranch.
Excellent 4-5 hour ride on a private tour. This was a great experience especially since it was just us and our guide. We climbed mountains and crossed rivers, all the while we passed only one or 2 locals on horseback tenting to their cattle. Lovely, formerly Californian owner who seems to really care for her horses and guests. This ranch is also only about a 15 minute drive from PV so you spend significantly more time on horseback rather than commuting.
All in all, we had a wonderful vacation. We will very likely visit again as PV has a very nice combination of resort, dining and culture. There’s still some Mexico left in PV.
Again, I’m sorry for the rambling, but I’m pleased to give back to this forum since it’s been so helpful to us. Please contact me if I can help…hopefully before my memory fades.