My yearly tradition of getting away for my birthday was almost thwarted this year with my Palace on Wheels train journey through Rajasthan being so close to my birthday. But…Los Angeles was unseasonably cold and I couldn’t let my birthday pass without a little break somewhere.
If you read my travel dreams for the year post, you know that I am determined to use my Southwest Airlines companion pass as much as possible, so it was a no brainer that I must find a warm destination that Southwest flew to. I found several great options in Mexico, so it was difficult to choose, but Puerto Vallarta won in the end.
With an amazing range of accommodation options up and down the coast from Puerto Vallarta to Nayarit, and throughout Mexico, I didn’t know where to go. There are some great all inclusive resorts in Mexico that I had to choose from. I came across the Grand Velas Resort in Nayarit which looked exactly like what I was in need of – fabulous over the top luxury! Unfortunately it was booked, but their sister property Velas Vallarta had availability and offered us a beautiful 1 bedroom suite for our stay.
After several days in paradise, the little one and I got to know the ins and outs of Vela Vallarta and what you must do when you go there. Get cozy, and get ready to book your weekend away to Puerto Vallarta with our in-depth photo tour and guide to Velas Vallarta in Mexico.
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THE RESORT OVERVIEW
After what felt like an all day (actually only 3 hours!) flight to Puerto Vallarta, we grabbed a taxi from the airport for the 7 minute drive to the hotel.
Upon our arrival to the Velas Vallarta, we were given super star treatment. From the personal welcome (How did they know it was me?!), cold towels to cool off with and a delicious green juice to quench our thirst, we immediately felt at home.
The Velas Vallarta, overlooking the beautiful Banderas Bay, is an all inclusive hotel, a timeshare and has privately owned condos all seamlessly merged into one property. The hotel has more than 300 suites, all designed with a contemporary Mexican feel.
There are three restaurants, 2 large swimming pools and a kiddie pool in the center courtyard of the hotel, all surrounded by lush perfectly manicured gardens with a man made creek running throughout.
We stayed in a one bedroom suite on the third floor of one of the two buildings (the one pictured above!). Our suite was a 1 bedroom with a living room, full kitchen, dining room and the bedroom. Additionally, there was a private terrace running the length of our suite with beautiful teak furniture to relax on while checking out the scene below.
Last but not least, there was a private terrace running the length of our suite with beautiful teak furniture to relax on while checking out the scene below. The balcony offered a great view overlooking one of the swimming pools, with the ocean off in the distance. Our balcony was also the nightly resting place for one of the many peacocks roaming the grounds of the hotel.
The bedroom had a super comfortable king-sized bed, another TV, and a second entrance to the balcony.
The bathroom was perfect for families with a shower and a deep tub, with included slip mats! There were complimentary toiletries, a hair dryer, a magnification mirror and a full set of toiletry accessories.
Vela Vallarta is a true family friendly resort, with a great mix between families, multi-gen families and retirees. Even with a good deal of families with young children, the resort felt quiet and peaceful. Being a family I really loved that there were no areas that were off limits to kids. This may not be ideal for young couples looking for romantic pool time, but it was perfect for us.
From the lobby, the first pool you will encounter features a beautiful waterfall rock feature that provides a soothing backdrop. This is a more relaxed pool as all of the pool activities are located at the second pool. It is here that you will pick up your fresh beach towels everyday.
The second pool overlooks the ocean and is at the rear of the property. This is the pool for those who like to be right in the middle of the action. With a swim up bar, music playing and plenty of activities throughout the day, you can easily spend the entire day here.
Between the two pools is a lazy river that meanders through the gardens. It’s a great place to escape the crowds and search for the local iguana residents.
The kids pool is a small circular pool which is only 2 feet deep throughout. This is perfect for families who don’t want to get in with the kids and/or who plan to avail of the Kids Club which is also located here.
One of the great things about the pool area here are the abundance of chairs. The hotel is proud to provide chairs for everyone who needs one with most right up next to the water making it convenient for in/out water fun and to keep a close eye on the kids.
One of the many benefits of staying at the Velas Vallarta is having its own beach right in front of the property. Literally steps from the pool and you are frolicking in golden sands listening to the waves crash next to you. Velas Vallarta provides numerous lounge chairs with and without a shade canopy for guests to use during the day.
During our visit the red flag warning was posted almost the entire time, but this didn’t stop us from getting our feet wet while searching for hermit crabs.
Grab some buckets from the Kids Club, grab a lounge chair and let the littles enjoy themselves, while you finish your book surrounded by the comforting sounds of the ocean.
Being an all inclusive resort, you are inundated with food and drink options from morning to night. While we didn’t take advantage of the abundance of drinks available, we were definitely no strangers at the crepe station or ice cream stand! It was my birthday weekend afterall!
There are three main restaurants with additional specialized pop up stands. From gourmet Mexican food to Italian, the ever changing menus feature cuisines from around the world, so you’ll never get tired of eating the same thing every day.
La Ribera Steakhouse is the casual beachside dining option that is open from breakfast to dinner with no breaks. While breakfast here is similar to the Andrea Restaurant, it feels more lively at all times of day. La Ribera offers a breakfast buffet, a la carte lunch, and speciality and themed dinner menus that change throughout the week.
Andrea Restaurant offers a fusion of gourmet cuisines in a casual, but elegant environment overlooking the lush gardens of the hotel. Guests can sit outside on the lovely patio checking out the beautiful peacocks who will undoubtedly put on a show for you or you can sit inside where in the evening there is often live music.
The third restaurant on the premises is a Gourmet Mexican Restaurant open only for dinner. Here you can get gourmet Mexican dishes from a set menu in a lively, upscale environment.
Note, both Andrea and the Gourmet Mexican restaurants require reservations for dinner. You can check out the day’s menu while at breakfast to choose which place you will dine at for the evening. Book early as reservations fill up quickly.
I didn’t avail of either, but the hotel does offer a vegan menu as well as gluten free menus to go with the changing menu each night of the week.
In addition to the restaurants, guests are also free to order room service at any time during their stay. Orders generally take 20-30 minutes. This is a great option if you need to leave early for an outing or have the kids in bed and want a midnight snack!
The best by far for the little guests (well and the big ones too!) is the Crepes stand in the main lobby from 8 am – 8pm daily. We made several visits here over our stay testing out the various options.
In addition to crepes, there is also an ice cream stand by the La Ribera restaurant as well as a “snack” stand by the pool offering hamburgers and hot dogs from 11 a.m – 5 p.m.
Drinks, how could I forget! The Aqua swim up bar located at poolside is hopping all day long with beers, mixed drinks and blended drinks for everyone in the family.
The Kid’s Club here at Velas Vallarta is a bit different than kid’s clubs in other hotels in that it is not a drop off type service. Instead it is a place where kids can collect, mingle and make friends with other kids with their parents close by.
This worked out perfectly for us since our trip was meant to be for us to spend time together. However for families looking for drop off service, this may not meet your needs. Babysitting services can be arranged by the hotel if necessary.Within the confines of the kids club areas, there is a small play structure geared for kids 8 and under, the kiddie pool, as well as a foosball table and areas for arts and crafts. They have games, dress up activities and more. Check the schedule for a listing of what’s happening during your visit.
ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES
There is no shortage of activities available from nightly entertainment options in the lobby to classes during the day, you will always find something to keep you busy and entertained at the Velas Vallarta.
Our favorite thing to do was searching for all the amazing wildlife living on property. There are numerous peacocks roaming the grounds as well as a handful of iguanas. If you have animal loving kiddos, they will be in heaven here. See if you can find the albino peahen! Send me a photo if you find her.
If searching for animals isn’t your idea of fun, then head over to the pool area where there is a list of the day’s activities. Aqua aerobics are offered most days which hilariously gets quite a turnout! There are also arts and crafts sessions (for adults and families), Spanish lessons and more all organized by the ping pong tables.
In between organized activities, you can play ping pong, water volleyball, sand volleyball or even try your hand at the full size foosball court.
Away from the pool, you will also find tennis courts and basketball courts to get your game on. Lessons are available on a pre-arranged basis as well.
At night, you can look forward to live music, circus acts and dance performances. These all happened after our bedtime unfortunately so someone will have to let me know what we missed out on!
And if that isn’t enough for you, there is so much to do in Puerto Vallarta to keep you busy that a weekend away might not be enough!
Seeking a perfect family friendly destination to relax and get away from it all? Velas Vallarta is what you are looking for. Whether you’re staying for a quick weekend like us or a week, the service at this 4 star hotel will leave you rejuvenated, refreshed and with great memories too.
Our time totally flew by as we were having so much fun. As much as I love exploring from morning until night, it was the quiet moments sitting by the pool or laughing while chasing ping pong balls across the grounds that I’ll cherish. We loved our time at the Velas Vallarta and in Puerto Vallarta and can’t wait to return to check out what else this region of Mexico has to offer.
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