Let’s Go To: Puerto Vallarta

With stunning beaches and great weather all year round, it's always a good time to visit Mexico's Pacific Coast

While peak tourist season runs from November through April, there really is no bad time to go to Puerto Vallarta, and the oceanfront city’s many charms can be enjoyed just as well out of season. While days can get quite hot in the summer months, with your own private pool or beach, and cold drinks coming your way on command, you’ll have plenty of ways to cool down at your luxury retreat in PV.

Puerto Vallarta in Fall

Puerto-Vallarta-gallery7We sent our very own Shawn Gagnon to Puerto Vallarta in late October. Unexpectedly, Gagnon found that events were aplenty and that late October couldn’t have been a better choice for him and his group of 8 family and friends. During his stay, he got to attend a parade for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an ancient tradition celebrating the deaths of ancestors. It’s not as bleak as it sounds; the holiday can take an amusing tone, as it is celebrated with tamales, mariachis, and tequila.

A lesser-known highlight Gagnon is quick to point out is the Marigalante Pirate Ship; a 700-ton, four-deck replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria. The boat boards 240 people for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The latter is of the all-you-can-eat variety and features an open-bar and an accompanying pirate show. 

As much fun as the activities were, Gagnon said the trip was made for him and his family back at their first luxury villa: Casa Peregrina. The travelers were blown away, above all, by their houseman, Joel, who arranged group activities and provided one-of-a-kind hospitality at all hours of the day. While the villa’s elegance cannot be overstated, Gagnon stresses the houseman’s impact: “Without him, the house just wouldn’t be as good – that’s how good he is.”

Puerto-Vallarta-gallery4The houseman went out of his way to surprise Shawn and his party with a beach set-up consisting of chairs, umbrellas, games, and a cooler full of tequila and beer. He set them up on a day tour to a village only accessible by boat with 10 beachfront restaurants. And then, to top it all off, he hooked them up with a snorkeling tour off Playa Mismaloya. From above water, they had a distant but stunning view of the homes along the beach. Almost as if intentionally arranged, one home in the distance stood out to them, and it turned out to be the home they would be moving to for the second leg of their stay: Casa Castelli.

Iconic-looking from the outside, Castelli is just as lavish up close. Its views back out towards the water, from high up on the mountainside, are legendary. Even better, you get to enjoy it from your private infinity-edge pool, which seems to hang right off the cliff and into the ocean. Back indoors, a large kitchen and dining area offer those same views. Chef service is included, but you’ll also want to take advantage of the barbecue to grill up your own signature dish. The villa’s decor is colorful and playful; bright, multicolored pillows rest on top of white leather couches that are a signature of the home’s owner and can be found at his other properties in the region.
Live like Shawn at Casa Peregrina or Casa Castelli

Puerto Vallarta in Summer

Puerto-Vallarta-gallery2Stylish white leather couches and colorful pillows can also be found at Playasola, a private beachfront villa that is second to none in the Boca de Tamatlan village near Puerto Vallarta. That’s where Luxury Retreats’ Juan Ramon Martinez, traveling with his wife, infant daughter, and other family members, stayed this past June. He described his trip as “One of the best trips we’ve ever taken as a family.” Like Gagnon, Martinez raved about the dedicated service his family received at their vacation home. His favorite perk? Finishing a drink, and having a fresh one appear, seemingly by magic, in his hand.

Born in Mexico and having been to Puerto Vallarta more than 20 times, Martinez sure knows the area. He also knows his Mexican food, but that didn’t stop him from being blown away by Juan the chef’s delicious seafood, tacos, and salsa “to die for.” (In fact, the Martinez family even took some of Juan’s salsa home with them!) But it didn’t stop there. If Juan Ramon could have brought one extra thing home with him from his stay in Mexico, he admits, it would have been his on-site bartender, Sergio, revered for mixing a mean margarita and a perfect piña colada, and serving up as many cold Coronas as were necessary.

Puerto-Vallarta-gallery1Playasola is a villa you’ll never want to leave. Aside from full food and beverage service and a promise to leave your stomach satisfied as never before, the estate is filled with fun activities to pass your days. That is, if you didn’t plan on spending your whole day in the infinity-edge pool or with your feet in the sand of your private beach. To stay active, a beach volleyball court is a great family activity to get those competitive juices flowing. If your team is losing, just glance over at the sparkling bay water just off the court – your problems will be solved. You also have access to your own full sized basketball court and tennis court. Can you say tournament? If you’ve come with the whole family, there is a perfect little balcony attached to the adjoining casita, where about four people at a time can sit back, have a drink, and take in the action from high above.

You’ll have no trouble working up a sweat here, as temperatures in summer can average as high as the 90s with 95% humidity. Luckily, it’ll be easy for you to get out on the water as the ocean is just steps away from your door. Your villa is completely isolated – during their five-day stay at Playasola, the Martinez family didn’t see another soul on our around the property. The main mode of transportation is boat, and Martinez recommends you take one on a boat trip around the bay up to Punta Mita. This tour is a personal favorite of Juan Ramon, and he promises of it you can see as many as 100 wild dolphins along the way.

Puerto-Vallarta-gallery3You’ll also need a boat to venture into Puerto Vallarta’s city core, where our PV expert recommends one must-do. One of the city’s main attractions, and its heart and soul is the seaside promenade known as El Malecón. Strolling along the sea, you can take in an open-air art gallery featuring statues and street art, pop into the local stores, restaurants, and bars, or simply enjoy an 11-block walk in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Dining options are plentiful, so come with an empty stomach.

If you’re interested in booking Playasola with Luxury Retreats, Juan Ramon himself can help you plan your trip. Ask him about Juan, Sergio, and the famous salsa. You may never get him to stop talking!
Live like Juan Ramon at Playasola

Verdict

Puerto Vallarta is a town with so much character, it really doesn’t matter when you go. High season is high season for a reason, but the summer and autumn months can be just as good. Whether you’re just looking to relax, or you’re determined to see the city from every angle, this is a great choice for your next vacation. When to go to Puerto Vallarta is practically irrelevant; for its luxury accommodations, top-notch service, beaches, weather, and all-around good vibes, we say the best time go is right now.

See all Luxury Retreats in Puerto Vallarta

Photo Credit: Shawn Gagnon; Juan Ramon Martinez