Posted by: rkurzweil | 03/03/2010

Puerto Vallarta – encore performance

I just got back from Puerto Vallarta. This was my second trip there. I went in November 2008 with my partner and a couple of our friends. We had such a good time that we wanted to go back. We decided to go in February this time because it had still been quite hot in November. Well, the weather did not disappoint at all. Unfortunately, there were quite a few mishaps on this trip between our flight and our resort.

I have been on a fairly good run lately with on-time flights. That string was broken with this trip. We left Austin about 30 minutes late and left Dallas over an hour late for the flight to Puerto Vallarta. What always steams me about the airlines is how they can insist that your flight will leave on time even when it is obvious that it won’t (the flight is due to leave in 20 minutes and the plane has not yet arrived!!!). The joys of air travel.

So we finally get to Puerto Vallarta and that’s when we face the next problem. I retrieved my luggage and found that the shell (which is a hard case) had been literally ripped open. I went around looking for someone to talk to about this. Finally I was able to get someone from American Airlines and explain to them what had happened. There immediate and repeated response was to claim that they were not responsible and that their baggage handlers had not done it. I could not talk to anyone else, so I had to leave it that way. This was a bag I had just recently bought too!

The next hurdle came when we got to our hotel (the Plaza Pelicanos, which is part of our timeshare group – and the first property through our timeshare that I would not recommend). We were told we would have an ocean view room. We were placed in a room and sent on our way with the valet. When we opened the door and went in, it turned out that there was already someone else checked into that room. So, back to the front desk where they gave us a different room (after a lot of back and forth – turns out that the people from our timeshare are not there on Sundays so we had to deal with the main hotel and they had little or no authority over the rooms that were part of our timeshare. UGH!)

We get into our new room and find that it is musty and that the a/c does not work properly. It also has only a minimal view of the Bay/Ocean behind the resort. When we complained again, we were told that there were no other options until the timeshare staff came in the next day. So we put up with it for that night and the next morning went to deal with it all over again. We did finally get moved to another room that directly faced the bay and with an a/c that actually worked. So after much back and forth, the problem did finally get resolved.

The next hurdle was the fact that from practically the moment you check in, the staff is hounding you to do presentations. We were not interested. They were also trying to push us to purchase the all-inclusive option. This would normally have been $150 a day, but if we did the presentation, they would give it to us for $50 a day. We still were not interested and had to say no at least 3 times. As it turns out, the food choices at the resort were beyond horrible. We were SO glad on so many levels that we did not do the all-inclusive. (Of course, we probably never would anyway. We do not go on a vacation to just sit in our resort and do nothing else. If we wanted to stay in one place, we could just stay home).

Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Once we got past all of the BS, however, we did have a very good time. We spent at least 4 afternoons sitting by the pool at the resort. We spent several other days at the beaches – either in downtown Puerto Vallarta (at a beach called Muertos Beach) or in the town of Sayulita, about a 1 hour bus ride south of Puerto Vallarta on the Riviera Nayarit.

Puerto Vallarta is a truly charming town. There is a lot to do there, but probably the best part is the spectacular beaches and gorgeous sunsets. We were outside to watch the sunset on all but 2 nights of our trip. Our resort had a bar with 2 hot tubs up on the roof of our tower (9th story). It had the most spectacular view – both of Banderas Bay (due west) and of the mountains to the east of the city. Man were those sunsets gorgeous. There is a pirate ship (or several) that does cruises out on the bay. It created a neat silhouette against the setting sun. At about 9:30 each night, it would put out a small (very small) fireworks show.

Another thing that is really great in Puerto Vallarta is the food. We went to many restaurants all around town. Almost all of them were incredibly good. At one of them (El Rincon de Buenos Aires in the Puerto Vallarta Marina), I had one of the most delicious steaks I have ever had. Of course we ate plenty of guacamole and chips and salsa. And we had our share of beer and margaritas. I kind of slowed down on the margaritas when I found out that they have 500 – 600 calories each. Ugh!

Probably the best thing about Puerto Vallarta is how gay-friendly it is. There are approximately 25 gay bars in the city. That’s about as many as in Fort Lauderdale! We went to 6 or 7 of them and really enjoyed them. By the last night, we were so tired out from drinking, that we just stayed in. Imagine that.

I am sure that we will be going back to Puerto Vallarta in the future, but I am also really looking forward to exploring some other parts of Mexico too. Probably my next trip to Mexico will be to go to Cabo San Lucas. I have been wanting to go there for some time, and I think it will happen this year.

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