Alrighty then, I'll wrap this wedding stuff up, long that it is, I'm getting tired of looking at this trip report in my drafts. And it's long since PLA is sometimes such a contentious subject, so I'm just taking my time, hitting both the high and the low. I know a few people around here have some strong judgements about PLA, and wouldn't imagine doing what we did.
What the heck...here goes....
The goal was to make this wedding easily affordable for every single guest, to be located in town on the beach, and to feel like they really weren't anywhere like home. We had 30 people total from NYC, LA and Kansas City.
We had young married people just starting out, and parents helping out their grown but still young adults and spouses, and others who travel a lot, so we wanted it to be easy. And we had a family who still had to pay for attending a wedding in both France and Sweden this summer! We went AI since about half of the group were young people which took some load off the parents, but only because it was cheap.
There would be no hot tubs on the balcony, no swim up rooms, no room service, no stocked mini bar, ...although you could get a fridge for extra money, and no piped in scents. This was Puerto Vallarta the way it was when we began visiting 24 years ago.
Naturally a lot of people look for glamour and luxury for wedding venues, but after touring, video taping, and talking....PLA as an accommodation was the best choice for what we were trying to do, not the most glamorous, but the best choice and the most Mexican in flavor. And, I had read good reviews about the weddings, and as reported in part 1, the wedding was perfect.
I'll admit I was a little worried, the hotel is simple and much less than perfect due to wear and tear, and age. It also has a little more of a musty smell than some I've experienced in Mexico. But, affordable won the debate. We jumped in with both feet and invited them down, warning them just a little, and telling them to pack their sense of humor.
When you've talked about a destination for years, you feel extra pressure to prove how great it is. But, our family is well traveled and we're adventurous, and I didn't give them enough credit for not even batting an eye over some aspects of the accommodations, they were there to have fun and enjoy family and see what this PV place was all about. I was even concerned that PV would be too pedestrian for some of them, but oops once again on assumptions on my part.
I was glad when the wedding planner met people upon arrival with Peach Mojitos served in a champagne glass. People were asking where to find more of those, so we were off to a good start! Actually they were just made special for our group. Interestingly, PLA is not simple when it's the situation calls for pulling out all the stops on classiness.
Even so, I kept telling people that if they didn't like their room, they could ask to change. But, they later said their room was just fine, and I should relax. Two months earlier, the people at PLA and I reviewed each person's desires, so that made a difference in the room selections. That was another special thing PLA did for us, that I doubt a lot of places will do.
PLA is perfect for a large group. Being a compact property with one restaurant, everyone was able to find each other easily. The open air restaurant evolved into the morning meet up place, like being at a camp together, people slowly wandered in. The restaurant is unpretentious open air, with very comfy large equipale chairs,.... and so we lingered. Surprisingly even though the hotel was full, we often ended up with a table by the ocean, and never had a problem finding a place to sit. The new bar by the pool also turned out to be another good gathering place.
Some of our guests said they thought PLA was cute. Huh? OK I see it because It's full of personality with all of it's imperfections, yet proud and dignified Mexican service all the way. You have to stay there a few days to get the picture. I think it was even "cuter" because the hotel was mainly Mexican families. Everybody loved that aspect. In fact there weren't many tourists in PV as a whole.
In addition, it was a relief that everyone could take care of any needs at reasonable cost....with a pharmacy, laundress, small tiendas, and restaurants within steps of the hotel. Coupled with all the info we wrote, and JR's web site, we didn't spend much time having to answer questions or give directions to 30 people either.
Another handy thing...and a surprise...all the young people really liked Andales, almost across the street and with action every night. The music was younger than I'm used to hearing at Andales, so it was really a hit.
You can bet I also sent people to our buddy Roberto as the first stop for Silver. If he doesn't have it, he'll find it and he's honest. So, you can bet he got a few sales, and he was so grateful that I got a big hug for that. And he even offered to have me choose any silver I wanted to wear for the wedding, he said I could be his model for sales. I didn't take him up on it, I already had my jewelry chosen.
Obviously I should mention that a great feature of being in town was that people could so easily explore. It was hot, so short trips out with brief rests, and back on the go again worked out perfectly. Everybody walked around PV both sides, several did a tour or two, Yelapa and the zoo were popular DYI items, and we took a good sized group to El Eden for a cold swim.
I never witnessed any of the things a few have said about the pool area being trashed...it was well kept. It was very busy with families, albeit a happy busy. Buses pulled up around the weekend. The adult pool was reasonably enforced but not 100% of the time. They have a really cute kids club too.
If I could change one thing it would only be better ac in some of the rooms. Some are good and cold, and some are what I would call "luke cool", so definitely call the desk if you aren't happy. My son said after he called them, he thinks they put a brand new unit in his room.
I have a theory on why the ac is luke cool, but this is too long already. It was so hot in PV, and the only air conditioned space was in the rooms, that one of our guests said when she got home she was heading for her freezing basement, and never coming out. That's where the sense of humor plays a role. :-)
All said and done on the rest of the comfort aspects, all of our guests agreed that the rooms and public areas are clean, the beds are comfortable, the sheets are good quality, there are at least two types of pillows in the rooms, and the showers are strong and never lack for hot water, and the rooms have black out curtains.
So, in the end we had chosen an interesting Mexican hotel, with the rustic glamour of old Mexico. I think they should make more of the fact that all the furniture and doors were hand carved on site. Our particular headboard was gorgeous, and they're all different.
Well, everybody loved PV and was so glad we had a destination wedding, and said "Let's do it again!".
THE FOOD: I'll start by saying that everything we ordered a la carte was good. And the food for our sit down service wedding dinner was beautifully prepared and presented.
When we were in PV in March Rogelio the wedding planner invited us to a free night from the buffet, in order to try it. I learned you can't do just one day to make a decision. Something worth mentioning, you have a choice on the AI here, so a lot of people only went AI 3 days to fulfill our deal.
Throughout our stay, parts of the buffet change every day so we were always finding new things we liked, new things we could take or leave, and some of the same things. The snack bar was alright for the most part, more like your teen might make though, but the lunch buffet was also open, so there was a lot of food available from noon to dinnertime.
The main entree portion of the buffet morning, noon and somewhat at night is mostly all Mexican food, more evidence that this is a Mexican resort through and through. Do have the potato and cheese enchiladas (they actually look like an empanada) in the morning! So excellent that everyone liked them, and the lady making them couldn't make them fast enough because the entire hotel wanted one. I also thought the Mexican sauces were excellent and all are homemade. The ceviche I had was terrific.
So, some of the food was outstanding, some things medium and some you won't like. Plus, one person will like something, and another won't.....I had 30 people to compare items with.... so I know. There is no way you can go AI for one day here, or on a day pass and expect to accurately describe or rate the AI buffet. Maybe this is generally true of AI buffets. Just assume you'll find enough to eat that you do like.
Is the AI worth the money, I think it depends on your situation. For a group of this nature it was. Mainly people ate breakfast so it was a nice get together. Sometimes lunch or just fruit and a cheese enchilada, and dinner was usually out somewhere.
If you ever decide to go AI here, try things. There were choices I didn't think I would like. When I did try them, I was surprised by the seasoning...it was very good. The chicken stew is one example.
In the end, Playa Los Arcos stood on her own two feet, and we wouldn't hesitate to do it the same way all over again.