It was a tough job—spending five days surrounded by the crystal-blue waters and lush green mountains in Puerto Vallarta for Gala Vallarta-Nayarit, one of Mexico’s leading tourism events. The trade show, sponsored by the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau this past January, immersed our group in the vibrant underpinnings of the area, while also emphasizing the Puerto Vallarta luxury in its many forms and the importance of meetings and events to local economies.
We learned about some of the new hotel openings and happenings in the area—at least 11 hotels either recently opened, or underwent renovations, giving your groups more modern choices.
“We have officially recuperated what was lost in 2009,” says Marc Murphy, director of the Riviera Nayarit Tourism Bureau. Although Puerto Vallarta’s inviting beaches and mountain views are luxurious enough to attract swarms of vacationers every year, the CVB has turned its gaze to the MICE market. “Now we’re trying to bring more conventions and conferences to Puerto Vallarta during the low season,” adds Miguel Andres of the Puerto Vallarta CVB.
Puerto Vallarta Luxury Hotels
A few hotels in the area stood out during our visit. Take Nemi Eco Villa, a recently opened 6-bedroom villa tucked into the Sierra Mountains. Groups can buyout the villa, which boasts an attractive sustainable design of repurposed shipping containers, locally sourced materials and solar power in all bedrooms; a chef and service staff are on-site to attend to their every whim. This exclusive experience is topped off with a chemical-free eco pool, outdoor showers and gathering spaces that merge the surrounding ocean, jungle and architecture.
Casa Kimberley, the former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, also exudes luxury from every nook and cranny. The hotel features nine suites spread over Burton’s side of the property and Taylor’s side, which are connected by the Lovers’ Bridge. Groups can dine in an open-air rooftop restaurant while taking in charming views of Banderas Bay and the iconic red clay-rooftops huddled around mountains.
We stayed at the all-inclusive Hilton Puerto Vallarta, which offers great meeting spaces and expansive views of the ocean from just about any spot on property. The AAA Four Diamond property also offers Spa Ki, various dining options, a nightclub and an adults-only infinity pool and sushi lounge on the top floor.
Action & Adventure
Groups can opt for one of Vallarta Adventure’s tours, including the recently released Talpa and Mascota itinerary, which takes them on a 2-hour drive through the Sierra Mountains.
San Sebastian was added to the itinerary during our visit as a bonus. There, we had a traditional family-style Mexican lunch outside under an avocado tree. Lunch was prepped by locals, with pastries made by a local family; cheese made by the students at the Centro Bachillerato Technologico; and hot chocolate and cookies at Panaderia Blanquita in Mascota later to come.
The CVB is working toward better synergy between hotels, villas, nightlife and restaurants so that groups who come for a conference become repeat visitors. This was evident in the Food Park, showcasing everything from ceviche to tacos to pizza and doughnuts via an array of food trucks. The Food Park’s ambiance of live music and breezy outdoor eating make it not only a great place for groups to take in a bit of the local flair, but to also mix with locals.