An October 2003 trip
to Puerto Vallarta by MaggieG
Quote: Puerto Vallarta is a great getaway. Leave worries at home and just relax.
We arrived about 3:30pm Friday afternoon at the Mayan Palace of Puerto Vallarta in the Marina district (an exchange through RCI), and we had a fast and easy check-in. And we were so impressed - at first - as it seemed really lovely. The lobby was neat with an open-air veranda and reflecting pool by it. There was also a timeshare sales desk in the lobby with pleasant but persistent scheduling representatives. We firmly declined and they never pestered us again at the resort, but Mayan Palace seems to have a huge recruiting team with really persistent representatives on almost every corner in El Centro (the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta.)
The grounds and swimming pools of the Mayan Palace were lovely, and the rooms were huge and very clean. There was the master bedroom with a king-sized bed, two closets, a wall of windows, and a master bathroom. The huge living room area had two sleeper sofas and a TV. The dining area had a table and four chairs, and the kitchenette along the wall of the dining area contained a small apartment-sized refrigerator and a two-burner electric stovetop plus a microwave.
Since I had hoped that my sister and niece could join us, I had requested a two-bedroom suite. The second bedroom was a lock-off and was like a hotel unit with two double-sized beds and its own bath and a large walk-in closet. (Both bedrooms had TVs.) I thought the furnishings in both areas were a bit worn and shabby, and I was disappointed that the wall of windows in both the master bedroom and the living room had no view (only of a rooftop) and no balcony, but I figured that we’d be by one of the pools most of the time. Then I sat down on one of the couches. OUCH! (That will teach me not to plop down – I should have gracefully lowered and "insinuated" myself onto the couch.) But I plopped down and practically bruised my fanny – I have never experienced any couch harder than that (we’re not talking "firm" – we’re talking solid and as hard as concrete! – I pity anyone who has to open it up to sleep on it!!!)
After we unpacked and wandered the grounds admiring the pools and the ocean beach, we went into one of the resort’s dining rooms to eat – and had a delicious meal with wonderful service and very reasonable price that we charged to the room. We experienced nothing but excellent food and service at the Mayan Palace - too bad the condo wasn't as nice as the public areas.
However, when we went to bed, I found that the bed was even harder than the couches (if possible) – felt like a mattress pad on concrete! I don’t think the Mayan Palace understands the concept "soft and fluffy"!
I knew that I couldn’t stand a whole week of being bruised by a couch and the bed. Frankly, I was disappointed that RCI considered the Mayan Palace in Puerto Vallarta a Gold Crown Resort, as I believe it fell short of that designation. From some of the owners by one of the pools (had a swim-up bar with wobbly stools - threw people into the water even before they had their first drink), I learned that this was the oldest of the Mayan Palaces and not as nice as the others.
We ended up switching resorts (downsizing from two bedrooms to one, which was not a problem since my family hadn’t been able to get away, and we weren’t able to use the second bedroom anyway.) On Sunday, we moved two resorts away to Club Velas – also in the Marina district - and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It also has lovely grounds and a gorgeous lobby and three pools in a tropical garden setting. It was also really clean and nicely furnished with upscale, new furniture. The Club Velas condo had a full kitchen (with a full-sized refrigerator and stove plus microwave), a dining area with a table and four chairs, a living room with two built-in bench couches (with thick pillow pads) and a TV, a master bedroom with a comfy king-sized bed and TV and a lovely master bath. It also had a balcony with dining table and chairs plus a couple of teak chairs and an end table, and the balcony overlooked the swimming pools, gardens and ocean (or, technically, the large Banderas Bay). Most evenings we enjoyed gorgeous sunsets from the balcony while sipping a glass of wine. I also enjoyed sitting on the balcony at night and watching the cruise ships leave port.
One of the very large pools at Club Velas had a swim-up bar and another had a waterfall into it – the two were connected with a swimming canal. These two pools also had built in underwater shelves and curved benches around the edge to allow people to stretch out and relax in the water. The third pool was separate and had children’s activities. There was also a snack bar with a cook who grilled hamburgers and hotdogs plus waiters who made sure that we had plenty to drink (water, pina coladas, coco locos, or whatever). We got settled into Club Velas on Sunday and really enjoyed the rest of the week.
Monday, we took a bus into El Centro (downtown). Cabs are reasonable – about 40 pesos (a little less than $4 US) to downtown, and the bus system is excellent. The stop was directly in front of our resort, and the bus ran about every 15 minutes for a cost of 4 pesos to downtown (more if you traveled out into the countryside). We poked around the market and bought our only souvenir – a Mexican blanket. One does have to bargain at the market – I’m not a ferocious negotiator, but was satisfied with the price we agreed on (a little less than $5 US), and from the vendor's smile, I believe he was more than satisfied.
Then we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Alvarado’s - a family-run place in town on Peru just a couple of blocks from the gas station. We arrived just as the fisherman was bringing in his catch from the morning (snapper) – guess what we had for lunch! Delish!
Wednesday, we had an all-day boat trip that included breakfast on the way to Los Arcos - the snorkeling site (beautiful clear water and gorgeous fish – but we had to wear a life jacket – what a bother!), a visit to a little fishing village on a pretty beach, a strenuous horseback ride up the mountains to see the falls, cross a gorge on a plank boards to sit down and have a drink (Coke or Tequila), then back down the mountain to the fishing village for lunch, back on the boat to another beach (Las Animas – gorgeous beach), and finally a beautiful sunset as we went back to Puerto Vallarta. All this accompanied by plenty of margaritas on the boat. I probably would skip the horseback ride and stay on the beach if I were to do this excursion again - the falls are not as spectacular as I had imagined.
Thursday, we chose to just stay at the resort and enjoy the pool and relax. Had a lovely day. In fact, all the days were lovely! The weather was warm (days were in the 80s and nights were low 70s) but not humid. (I understand that it is really humid in the rainy season that was just over when we arrived.)
Friday and check-out came all too soon. But we're scheduled back in Puerto Vallarta for this coming October. (As you may guess, not at the Mayan Palace, but at Club Regina at the Westin. I'll write about our experience there.)