A January 2004 trip
to Nuevo Vallarta by E. B.
Quote: I have never been to Nuevo Vallarta before. The only other time that I have been to Mexico was a very brief venture into Tijuana. Since I had glimpsed the seedier part of Mexico, I was ready to see the more glamorous side of Mexico.
The huge pool was cold since it wasn’t heated. The pool is next to a private beach. There is a variety of restaurants, spa and salon. You can pick up a calendar of resort activities. A train takes you through some parts of the resort. The boat and kayaks go through waterways, but it would be much nicer if the waterways and train tracks went through more of the resort. Buildings were under construction. The resort is huge and hilly. If you have a disability, you should ask for a golf cart.
Our unit was beautiful, but there was a bloodstain on the sofa. It wouldn’t be a good place for small children, although suitable for adults and families. The picture frames didn’t have glass covering them. Sticky fingers could ruin the art.
There was daily housekeeping and turn-down service. Maids leave Hershey’s Kisses on pillows. We visited the stores at the resort: a wine store serves food and a store sells souvenirs and resort wear. I bought a postcard to send to my parents.
We received daily calls for the timeshare presentation. We said no and the calls ceased. The water filtration system malfunctioned once during our stay. The faucet water was brown. Although it was an annoyance, it wasn’t horrible for us. We drink bottled water in LA, so we never drank the water. I finished brushing my teeth 30 minutes later. We weren’t in a hurry.
The resort is close to Puerto Vallarta and the Malecón, a water park, Porfidio Tequilería, Bucerías, and Punta Mita. You can take a bus, which is inexpensive.
Check-out had a glitch. They charge you for the bottled water in the room. I never opened it. I used one day of valet parking, then parked in the free parking lot from then on. They had charged me for the full week. They removed the charges that I contested without a problem. Service was very good.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 19, 2004
Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta
Av. Paseo De Las Moras S/n, Fracc. Náutico Turístico
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico 63735
+52 (322) 226-4000
We both ended up ordering Big Macs. It was like a trip down memory lane. In the U.S., Big Macs are served in paper containers and are cooked in vegetable oil since we have become so health-conscious. Big Macs in Nuevo Vallarta are served in the old styrofoam containers and cooked in oil that did not taste like vegetable. I think it was the old beef tallow that they used back in the '80s. The Big Macs were even the original size rather than the shrunken things they serve to keep the cost down. We were quite pleased with the Mexican Big Mac.
The french fries were a different story. They were not fresh, so stale fries in either Mexico or the States is not a good thing, but apparently the oil was also used to cook apple pies, so our fries tasted remarkably like apple pie crust. Another peculiar thing was that they not only supplied us with ketchup but jalapeño sauce. My sister decided that was going to be a cool souvenir to take back, a jalapeño sauce packet with a McDonald's logo emblazoned on it.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 11, 2004
McDonald's in Paradise Plaza
Paseo de los Cocoteros #85
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
When we ate the food in our room, we noticed that they provided us with ketchup and jalapeño sauce packets to go with the pizza. Interesting. Instead of red pepper flakes and mozzarella cheese, they give us what amounts to extremely mild salsa and mild jalapeño sauce. The food was too bland for my taste. The Nayarit area is not the spiciest fare I've had. The spiciest Mexican food I've had was supposedly from the state of Sonora, so I'd like to eventually visit that state, but for now we slathered on our jalapeño sauce over our somewhat bland pizza and made the best of it.
Perhaps the other dishes are better than the pizzas were. The salad was fine, and they included some bread rolls. Too bad they didn't also add pats of butter. If you want to check them out, they also have a website. They supposedly serve authentic Italian food. Since I have never been in Italy, I do not know if it's authentic, but it sure was too mild for me. BYOG (bring your own garlic).
Guido's Italian Restaurant
Blvd. de Nayarit, L-3
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
+52 (322) 297-2184
Restaurant | "Bakal Restaurant • Café"
We did not realize that we had daily maid service in our room, and our refrigerator was not working, so we left the food outside on the table since the air conditioner kept our room cooler than the refrigerator did our food. Unfortunately, the maids tossed our leftovers. We managed to eat a decent portion, though. Both our meals combined cost us about $200 MXN, which is about $20 USD.
The café has a breakfast buffet from 7am - 12 noon, but we are not fans of buffets since we are not able to eat a lot at one sitting. Every night there is a theme that is announced on posters all around the resort. On Mondays there is Lunada, or Moon Night. There is fire dancing and other performances while you eat a dinner buffet. On Thursdays they have a Fiesta Mexicana where you can watch mariachis, folklórico, Papantla flyers, dancing horses, rope wheelers, and fireworks while you eat a dinner buffet. Tickets for these events were sold by a woman named Felipa who usually sells helados y paletas (ice cream and popsicles) by the pool. Lunada is about $25, while the Fiesta Mexicana is $50. If you purchase them together, you can buy both for $50 USD.
We decided not to do it since we do not like buffets, and we can watch the same sort of thing back home in LA. One thing you can always find in East LA is a band of mariachis or folkloric dancing.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 11, 2004
Bakal Restaurant at Mayan Palace Nuevo Vallarta
Bay of Banderas
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Restaurant | "Balché Pool & Snack Bar"
When you're baking in the sun, it's nice to have someone offer to bring you a drink. I do not think it's a good idea to drink alcohol while you are in the sun. Alcohol dehydrates you, so you should be drinking water, not alcohol. I ordered a mango smoothie, but was disappointed when I tasted my sister's strawberry smoothie. Hers was so much better. The smudy de sabores cost about $3 USD.
We later ordered a piña sorpres sin licor, which is basically a virgin drink inside a scooped-out pineapple shell. I had a peach drink while my sister had banana. I preferred my peach drink to the banana. These drinks were about $6 USD, but there were twice as big as the other smoothies.
Since we were hungry from cooking in the sun, we ordered a hamburguesa de queso and a quesadilla con japaleños, but they did not have the jalapeños available, so they gave me lots of picante salsa instead. The cheeseburger and quesadilla cost about $14 together without the tip. We took the food and my pineapple drink back to the room. I ended up cutting up my pineapple shell and ended up with so much pineapple to eat that we avoided pineapples since we were tired of them.
Snack Bar Balché at Mayan Palace Riviera Maya
Km 48 Carretera Federal
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Restaurant | "Tumtah Seafood Restaurant"
A couple of nights later, we returned to eat our last dinner here. We both had margaritas. My sister had mango while I had strawberry. The bartender dumped a lot of tequila in mine, while my sister had less. We split an Ensalada Gorgonzola, which had gorgonzola cheese and caramelized walnuts over the lettuce. I really liked the dressing. My sister ordered the lobster quesadillas while I had the mahimahi cooked Islas Marietas style, which was steamed with a soy-based sauce that also had Serrano chiles in it. Both were excellent. We shared a Fresa Macerada con limón, strawberries soaked in lemon juice over a lemon sherbet.
I have to say, the food was worthy of the restaurants that I frequent in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Although the prices were not as inexpensive as some restaurants outside of the tourist areas, the prices were far better than what I usually experience in California and just as worthy. Just don’t expect quick service. This is fine dining for less money, so expect that the waiters will take more time even though there are not that many clients in the restaurant. It’s about ambience and languid conversation as you savor your food. Definitely a great place for a romantic dinner. If you want a quick bite, this is not the place.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 11, 2004
Mayan Palcace, Av. Paseo De Las Moras S/n
Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, México 63735
+52 (322) 226-4003
Attraction | "Kayaking through Algal Canals"
I enjoyed my short kayaking adventure, but I did wish the canals would extend all over the resort so that you could tour the whole resort by kayak or boat. There is also a boat that you can ride. It pretty much takes you where the kayaks go, but you don't get a workout. It can take up to about 20-25 people at once.
Afterward, my sister and I retired to the pool to relax our tired arms. We were still uneasy about sitting in pond scum from kayaking, so we left to rinse off in the shower in our room.
Even though this activity is free, make sure you bring a few bills to tip your kayaking attendant. Both Mexican pesos and American dollars are accepted at the resort.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 10, 2004
The Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
01 322 226 4000
It's not much for adults, but little kids get a kick out of riding on the train, and it's free. The train rides are every 30 minutes.
If they were to increase the track to circle around the entire resort (past the golf course, beach, swimming pool, all the resort buildings, and restaurants), then it might be a pretty cool train ride, but it might be inconvenient to all that pass through the tracks since you may have to wait for the train to pass. I ended up waiting a couple of times, but it's a very short train, so it wasn't that inconvenient. I'd say the payoff might be worth it. Plus, if it's a huge circle that is enclosed, the conductor wouldn't have to get out to change the tracks, so it would be easier on him.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 10, 2004
Train Ride through the Mayan Palace Grounds
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
At Wal-Mart we bought a huge jug of water (at least 5 liters) for only $13.87 MXN, while the hotel was charging $12 (about $1.20 USD) for a measly 1.5-liter bottle. Do yourself a favor - if you are going to stay for a while in Puerto Vallarta, definitely stop by the Wal-Mart.
Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Since it's located inside a shopping center, you can also eat at one of the restaurants there or gaze at the impressive beaded artworks displayed in the Huichol Indian Art Gallery in the shopping center.
Paseo Cocoteros 85 Sur Local A/14
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Attraction | "Destilería Porfidio (Porfidio Tequila Distillery)"
There were workers feeding sugar canes through a press. We were given samples of the raw juice to drink. I love sugar cane juice since they are sold often in Vietnamese markets, so I was eager to taste the fresh juice. My sister was a little reluctant since it appeared that the sugar canes were not washed first. Our guide showed us the difference between the blue agave which is for tequilas and the other agave plant which is used for mezcal.
We were delighted with the handmade bottles. There were workers who were using hot blowers to shrink-wrap the plastic around the corks in the hand-blown bottles. When we got to the tasting rooms, our guide poured us the blanco variety first, then the añejo. The blanco was ok, but I actually prefer Patrón Silver for that type of tequila. When I tasted the añejo, I realized that the famous Porfidio Tequila was rated highly for a reason; their añejo is superb.
We then tasted the new rum. He poured it as a rum and Coke. Their Japanese importers were requesting rum, so they started producing rum this year. The rum bottle had a palm tree inside instead of a cactus. There are also miniatures of their tequila with about a shot of tequila inside for about US$5. I bought the miniature now-discontinued Austrian bottle that they had made specifically for their Austrian consumers, and then a 375-ml bottle of the añejo tequila (US$50) and a 750-ml bottle of the rum (US$50). The 750-ml bottle of añejo tequila cost $100, so I passed on it. I didn't want to spend all my money.
What was really great was our guide signed our bottles with our names on it. It wasn't until he gave us a card that I realized that he was the owner, Ponciano Porfidio. He was so down-to-earth and humble. Wonderful man. I had a small clue that he was important in some way, since the workers treated him like he was the boss or something, but then to find out that he is the owner! I highly recommend visiting.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 18, 2004
Carretera a Tepic No. 5818
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
We were not hopeful when we stopped by the Paradise Village Grand Spa. It is rated among the top 25 spas in the world. This was the nearest spa to the Mayan Palace. We asked for a same-day appointment and got it for 7pm, even though we dropped by at noon. I asked for an Aromatherapy Massage, since they did not have deep tissue available. My sister decided to go with the Deluxe European Facial with Vitamins. Both treatments cost $72 USD for 50 minutes, excluding tip.
We arrived an hour early so that we could use the spa services. We first tried the steam room, which proved to be too much for us. It was our first time in a steam room. It was hard to see. A woman was completely hidden in one corner from the heavy steam.
Water droplets dripped from the ceiling as the steam condensed. We ended up going to the sauna room instead. It felt a little cooler, although it was going from intense humidity to none at all. It felt like sitting in an oven. After a few minutes of that, we showered so that we would be ready for our treatments. There was a whirlpool spa available that we did not use. Neither of us brought a swimsuit, and I did not feel comfortable enough to sit naked there since the whirlpool room is surrounded by chaise longues that face towards the whirlpool spa. To sit in the spa means that everyone is looking at you. It did not feel comforting, so we skipped it.
We sipped mint-infused water and an attendant came to take us into another room where they have you sit with a neck pillow. It was very warm with the scent of cloves and tangerine. There are also mints or raisins and almonds for you to munch on while you wait. I was taken into my treatment room where a woman poured spearmint-scented oils on my back and asked me to inhale through the hole in the massage table as she held the oils under my nose. She used Swedish technique; although I did ask for deep tissue, I do not believe that it was communicated. Her English was good, but when I did ask for more pressure, it was still Swedish. For Swedish, it was a very good massage, but I am used to deep pressure massages, so it was OK. I prefer to be bruised and beat up from deep tissue massages due to a car accident injury.
My sister finished her facial about the same time as my massage. Her skin looked great. I highly recommend this spa, although I think it would be better if the chairs were not all facing the whirlpool spa. You can peruse their spa menu on their website and even book an appointment online.