Why were we in Puerto Vallarta?
When Southwest Airlines gave us a choice from their new non-stop resort destinations from Houston, Brunette immediately wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta and the highly-rated Marriott. This instantaneous response came from someone who can spend a year contemplating a pair of shoes (and then be annoyed when they are no longer available in the color she wanted.)
Flying from Houston Hobby Airport’s spiffy new international terminal was a pleasure and we enjoyed being on an inaugural flight. The crew was excited; several executives from Southwest were on board and held trivia contests for passengers to win travel vouchers. Spirits were considerably higher than on any other flight we can recall (even before the General Counsel picked up the tab for free drinks). The pilot must have had the pedal to the medal because we landed in Puerto Vallarta in less than 2 hours. The plane was sprayed with water upon landing which is apparently a custom for inaugural flights (we have no clue why but suspect it’s because men like to play with their hoses).
For the two weeks prior to our trip to Puerto Vallarta we anxiously checked weather reports. Every day predicted clouds and often thunderstorms and rain. This was not what we had envisioned and it was not what we got. Every day was sunny, proving that meteorologists in Puerto Vallarta are as flawed as those everywhere else.
Features of the Marriott Puerto Vallarta
Upon arrival at the Marriott we were given a tour of the Ohtli Spa, the largest in Puerto Vallarta. Generally when given a spa tour before we get fed or into the pool or ocean we act like resentful kids being dragged to Sunday school (or the dreaded mandatory childhood activity of your non-choice). But this time we were actually interested. The spa is peaceful, spacious, staffed with highly qualified professionals, beautifully (but lightly) scented and a destination in its own right. Before leaving we both eagerly scheduled appointments for later in the day.
On to our spacious ocean view room an ample balcony overlooking the pool and ocean. If we hadn’t been so hungry we would have lingered longer but instead we vamoosed down to the ocean side restaurant for a fresh fish lunch and some vino. The restaurant isn’t air-conditioned but has very effective ceiling fans and screening to keep out insects and birds that would otherwise choose to be your dining companions.
Finally time for the pool and ocean! Have you ever struggled into a tight bathing suit when you’re sweaty and perhaps not at the weight (at least in Blonde’s case) that you tell yourself is your “real” weight. Not pretty or self-esteem enhancing but a regrettable step on the way to aquatic bliss.
The Marriott Puerto Vallarta has an absolutely gigantic pool and, as we were there prior to high season, we had it almost entirely to ourselves. It’s an infinity pool giving you a view of the ocean and plenty of room to play, swim or float around.
To our surprise a genial looking man came bobbing over towards us smiling. We assumed that he was heading to his wife or someone else he fancied. To our amazement he was heading for us! He “knew us” from Twitter and we felt very famous and self-important. He was also a major loyalist for the Marriott Puerto Vallarta and has returned there with his wife for their wedding anniversary for over a dozen years. He was a great source of information about the hotel, restaurants, room selections and the sights of Puerto Vallarta.
We enjoyed chatting until it was time to go up to our room and prepare for our spa appointments. We stressed about what to wear, robes that would make us look weirder than usual when we got to the lobby or real clothes? What was our underwear policy going to be for our adventures? (One of us wore some and one didn’t, you can decide who you think did what.)
As soon as we got to the spa we realized our concerns had been totally unnecessary as the staff is too tactful to laugh at you if you get it wrong. We slipped into robes and slippers and were gently whisked off for our treatments. Blonde took advantage of an excellent special that included a 50-minute deep tissue massage and then 20 minutes of foot reflexology. Brunette did a shoulder and neck massage as well as foot reflexology.
When we emerged we were bliss puddles and found it hard to motivate ourselves to get cleaned up for dinner. We wanted to just go in our robes but now that we knew we were Twitter celebrities we didn’t.
That evening we ate at Mikado – a Japanese restaurant at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta where you get to see the chef do impressive knife tossing that makes you glad you bought travel insurance and determined not to raise any issues with your food no matter what. Blonde had a beef fillet and veggies cooked right there on the grill and really enjoyed it (but next time would ask for less soy sauce). Brunette was not as happy with her kitchen prepared meal so, as we should know by now, always order the thing that’s a restaurant’s signature dish/show and not their consolation prize.
Our luxury sailing trip with Vallarta Adventures
Fortunately, the next morning was also sunny as we had scheduled a luxury sailing trip with Vallarta Adventures, an activities provider with several locations, once of which is on the Marriott Puerto Vallarta property. (And their staff had the sense to talk Blonde out of trying a “flyboard” despite her faux bravado about attempting it.)
Vallarta Adventures left from the nearby marina. A total of 12 customers shared a fairly new and beautifully maintained 50’ Beneteau sail boat. Sun avoiders that we are we cleverly snagged seats under the bimini and met two friendly couples from the U.K. who were very enjoyable to speak with as we spent about an hour motoring out to our destination. (Yes, it was a sailing trip but the wind didn’t get the memo.)
We were each served a huge snack of chips and freshly made guacamole. Everyone protested that they couldn’t eat it all and then proceeded to eat it all.
The lagoon where we anchored for over an hour was as beautiful as any we have been in including Fiji, which is really saying something. We snorkeled – there were enough fish to be interesting but dead coral. Blonde then did stand-up (and fall off) paddle boarding while Brunette swam.
There’s a little restaurant (Ocean Grill) at the lagoon that you can get to by bus and boat from Puerto Vallarta and our Twitter groupie had highly recommended it. We had intended to go the next day for lunch but proximity at the lagoon was good enough for us so we didn’t dine there. However, reading reviews for it later made us realize that not eating there had been a mistake so, if you go, check it out.
Our fun crew (Carlos and Jay) prepared a beautifully presented, large tasty lunch. Why does food consumed on a boat taste so much better than the same food anywhere else? Who cares?
On the way back we had a bonus swim near Los Arcos de Mismaloya. Everyone was semi-dry and semi-groggy from beer and hesitant to bother getting back in the water. But we did and it was a truly wonderful swim in clean, turquoise water that was cool enough to be refreshing and devoid of rocks, currents, sharks and possible other undesirable ocean features.
Finally the wind had picked up enough to raise the sails and sail back to the marina. We refrained from singing “You’re the wind beneath my wings” to each other but we were the grit under each other’s feet later in the hotel room!
Our visit to the Marriott Puerto Vallarta was as relaxing as we wanted it to be and offered easy access to activities when we were able to stir ourselves off the pool chairs. It’s important to us that trip operators are well vetted and have good safety records so we appreciated the relationship between Vallarta Adventures and Marriott Puerto Vallarta .
One of the few relationships Blonde has ever seen as being worth the bother!
Disclosure: Neither of us are virgins. Oh no, wait, it’s something else the FCC requires. Here it is! We were given our room, meals and spa treatments for free at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta. Our sailing trip with Vallarta Adventures was also comped as were our flights on Southwest Airlines. Otherwise we never would have gone on the trip at all.