Westin Puerto Vallarta: Chillin' Like a Sea Turtle
[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven Tim Leffel has headed down to Mexico to check out the hotel scene in Puerto Vallarta. We will be bringing his reports all week long. Enjoy.]
Puerto Vallarta is a happening place, but parts of it are definitely a West Coast version of Cancun. There are plenty of spots on Banderas Bay where one hotel looks just like another and the main difference is what's on the buffet table for lunch.
The Westin Resort & Spa, in the Marina area, is a significant notch above most of the other hotels in Puerto Vallarta proper. For one thing, it occupies a huge amount of land. Part of this is taken up with a timeshare operation (you'll know you've wandered off to their side when you hear the Village People, the Bee Gees, and Journey blasting from the sound system.).
Still, it's an impressive complex with four endless pools, a long beach, fancy cabanas, and nice wooden poolside lounge chairs-a rarity in these parts. There are even some nice tile lounges built into the pool so you can catch some rays while staying cool.
Speaking of staying cool, there is another rare quality here: shade. The architect didn't plow down all the palm trees to build the swimming pools. Instead the pools meander around the palm trees. So while the beach offers plenty of sunburn potential, much of the pool area is shady enough that you can forget about sunscreen. Not that we recommend that of course.
More on the Westin Puerto Vallarta after the jump.
The rooms are Westin standard, which here is a good thing. "Heavenly beds" are hard to find in Mexico resorts, but you're sure to get a good night's sleep at this spot. A dehumidifier will even work on the humidity level if that's an issue for you. There's an excellent gym for those willing to cough up $7 more to use it, as well as $15 wi-fi. Looks like Starwood's Wi-Fi offerings actually get worse in Mexico.
The real highlight here for many guests though is the Nikki Beach restaurant and bar--the latter being the hippest chill-out spot on the beach. This extension of night spots in many cities features platforms in the sand piled with pillows, billowing fabric, hot waiters and waitresses, soft candle and torch lighting, and grooving music. Setttle in here until the wee hours, then reserve one of the comfy cabanas the next day. Leave the cookie cutters to someone else.
If all this debauchery is making you feel a little guilty, know that the Westin has been a key participant in an area baby turtle rescue project. You can see the sanctuary where the eggs are protected and if you're lucky enough to be there during hatching time, you can watch the little critters crawl into the sea. In the past three years, 46,000 of the buggers have left the nest, so the odds are pretty good.