Things To Do In Nuevo Vallarta Mexico

Last month we were in Nuevo Vallarta Mexico and participated in some of the excursions available there. What we found on the excursions we took, is that in this part of Mexico, service is pretty top-notch. Even though we didn’t get to do absolutely everything, I’d think it’s safe to say that you will have an incredible experience on pretty much any of them. I was also impressed by the prices which were incredibly reasonable.

Rhythms of the Night–this was hands-down my favorite. You cruise on a huge catamaran over Banderas Bay, enjoying the sunset, to Las Caletas. The island is lit only by candle light.

You enjoy a romantic outdoor dinner next to the beach. The buffet-style dinner was of unbelievable quality and offered shrimp, fish, chicken and beef along with many accompaniments and desserts. After dining, you may have time to go relax in a beachside hammock or you may proceed up to the amphitheater for the “Cirque de Soleil” style native show. (The performances were pretty impressive!)

After the show, you are entertained by your crew and dance under the stars on your catamaran ride back to Puerto Vallarta. It was worth every penny for the 4+ hours of entertainment, but maybe not worth the extra cost to upgrade the tour.

Pegaso Whale Watchingthis was an incredible, all-day excursion. You depart early in the morning on a sailboat going the opposite direction across Banderas Bay. On the ride to Las Marietas, you watch for whales and you may be lucky enough to witness them breach or see a Momma and baby.

You then arrive at Marietas Islands marine preserve for some snorkeling. When you re-board the sailboat, you are served a delicious “brown bag” lunch, and begin the sail home with cocktails. The crew does a great job of accommodating everyone’s tastes for lunch and keeping a cocktail in your hand.

This is a very relaxing trip, but is an all day affair that packs a lot into your day. It is, however, a great way to take in all the scenery of Banderas Bay.

Puerto Vallarta City Tour–this was another fun, full-day excursion that allows you the chance to experience the local culture by bus and on foot. You begin the day by visiting local landmarks and monuments such as City Hall, the Guadalupe church, and the Malecon boardwalk.

Sightseeing is interspersed with shopping opportunities until you re-board the bus and head south into the rain forest where you will enjoy a delicious lunch and beverages of your choice.

After lunch, you will walk around the corner to a small tequileria, where you will learn the history of the family business and process for making the tequila.

The process is pretty interesting and it’s nice that you are allowed to taste the different flavors and grades of tequila. Even if you don’t typically like this liquor, you will likely find one you do like.

The tour ends with one last shopping opportunity and that includes buying bottles of tequila before your ride back to your resort. We also learned that tequila is good for marinating and cooking with so we brought home a bottle of almond tequila and use it to marinate shrimp.

We found that every excursion we embarked on was somewhat educational, a lot of fun, and provided quite a bit of culture. Service on each of them was exceptional, which I believe to be consistent for most excursions in the area. There were other activities that we would have liked to have done as well, but we ran out of time. But on our next trip to Nuevo Vallarta, we will be checking those out.


Nuevo Vallarta–Pevonia Spa

For those of you who know me or read most of my blog posts, you probably know that I love going to the spa–massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, etc.–I love all of it. I especially love heading to the spa when I’m on vacation and a lot of the resorts we visit have one. During our trip to Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, we were lucky to have a Pevonia spa. Pevonia spas have many locations both stateside and in most of the destinations that we visit, and since I’ve used their services before, I couldn’t wait to check them out at Dreams.

Hubby and I decided that’s how we would spend our Valentine’s Day, since we didn’t have any excursions lined up for that day. When we went to the spa to set up our appointment, we were impressed to hear that they also had a hydrotherapy circuit we would have the use of. We are BIG FANS of hydrotherapy. If you’ve never used a hydrotherapy circuit you should try it out.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve physical discomfort and promote well-being. The circuit usually has multiple hot, warm, and cold water treatments that when alternated can help reduce inflammation and heal injuries, relax the body, and just make you feel a whole lot better. I know when I finish a circuit, I’m usually more than ready to go relax for the rest of the day.IMG_1778We arrived at the spa more than an hour early so that we could use the hydrotherapy circuit before the massages we had scheduled. We started off by showering in a warm shower and then moved into the sauna. After 10 minutes in the sauna, we took a cold shower and then headed for the steam room for another 10 minutes. Once we emerged from the steam room, we were ready for the Jacuzzi, but it hadn’t yet been filled all the way for the day.

So, we took a dip in the immersion pool instead. The pool had a few stations of pressure jets that you could turn on to run for 2-minutes at a time. The foot bath was next and was actually more like a small pool itself. It was my favorite because it was just the right degree of warm for me and had strong jets that were focused on your legs and feet. I could have stayed in that pool all day.

Finally, the Jacuzzi finished filling and we were able to soak in it. A nice touch added by the spa staff was that they brought out a few ice-cold cucumber slices and placed them over our eyes while we relaxed. Afterwards, it was recommended that we relax in the lounge chairs and consume a lot of fluids until it was time for our massages.

IMG_1774Right next to the circuit was a nice little snack bar that had fruits, nuts, flavored waters –chlorophyllo (water infused with mint) was my favorite–hot teas and small cookies. Because it was Valentine’s Day, spa staff also brought us a small plates of sweets to nosh on while we waited. From there, we were taken to the massage suite. Our massages were incredible! We had signed up for the 80-minute, wine-infused oil massage and it was worth all 80 minutes.

While our entire time at the spa was pure, relaxing bliss, I couldn’t get over the fact that there were no other clients there. WE HAD THE ENTIRE PLACE TO OURSELVES. Granted, the price, even with the promotional Valentine’s rate we got,  was a little high I still never figured out why no one was there. It was Valentine’s Day for crying out loud! I thought it was a perfect way to spend the day, I just wonder why no one else thought the same.

Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Last month we finally got to head to Nuevo Vallarta, in Riviera Nayarit Mexico for a little fun and relaxation in the sun! I was kind of concerned that I may have pulled the trigger too quickly when booking this one, because I hadn’t done much research prior. When I checked Trip Advisor after the fact, it seemed like there were quite a few, not glowing, reviews. Here’s my feedback of our winter getaway:

Nuevo Vallarta–LOVE THIS PLACE! IMG_1716I think this is my new favorite destination in Mexico. Nuevo Vallarta is a small town just up the road from Puerto Vallarta and down the road from Bucerias. One thing I love about the whole area around Banderas Bay, is that it’s a conglomerate of numerous other small towns.  Nearby is Sayulita, which is known for it’s restaurants and souvenir shopping, the town of Yelapa is a small fishing village at the foot of the mountains and can only reached by boat, and the town I was dying to see, but ran out of time for, San Sebastian, which is a small, UNESCO World Heritage town frozen in the days of silver mining. Most of the towns were so beautifully colorful.IMG_1932Nuevo Vallarta was a part of Mexico that felt very safe. In the early morning hours, while on our balcony watching the sun rise over the Sierra Madre mountains, I would see people getting their walks or runs in on the street and sidewalks below. IMG_1727Our resort, which shared some of it’s amenities with a condo complex, was within walking distance to a farmer’s market, casino, and numerous restaurants. A lot of the snowbirds staying in the condos said they were able to walk or take a taxi to most places they needed to go.IMG_1736The local people were so friendly and accommodating. It seemed like everywhere we went, we had no trouble finding English speaking locals, which only meant my Spanish practice was again put on hold! Service, whether it be at the resort or in town or on an excursion, was top notch every where we turned. Everyone was just so nice, even those who wanted to step into the political discussions of President Trump’s policies.

We also befriended a couple of Canadian expatriates who were very elated to now be living there. They said that all they had to do to for temporary residency was prove that they had access to income the equivalent of 300 days worth of living at minimum wage (US$1400). For permanent residency, you would need to have an income the equivalent of 500 days worth of living (US$2,325). They had established a temporary residency and were living very comfortably in a 2 bedroom bungalow with all their monthly bills covered, along with the “typical” Mexican home conveniences of a cook, housekeeper, and a gardener. They were also in the process of establishing their own business of a fleet of sailboats for whale watching tourist excursions. IMG_1933They estimated that within 3 years their business would be thriving in the Mexican economy, especially with the good exchange rate of $19MXN to the $US1.

The only drawbacks on this trip, is that I wouldn’t consider the restaurants to be the caliber of the “unlimited luxury” that the resort boasts. The buffet restaurant was comparable to any other all inclusive resort and accurate to the Trip Advisor reviews–lukewarm and redundant food choices. The a la carte restaurants were pretty good–but, for instance, the steakhouse did not serve prime grade steaks–which is what I would consider unlimited luxury.

It was the little details that the resort was missing the target on. In contrast, I loved the soups served at the restaurants and you can read that post here.

The other disappointment in our resort was how the staff–almost all of them–kept pushing the “Unlimited Vacation Club” meeting. You can read more about that here. If the staff had spent half their time paying attention to the little details of the resort, instead of the time they spent trying to convince us to attend the meeting (we had already attended an AMResorts meeting last year in Huatulco). I may have been able to consider this a top of the line vacation. Who wants to be cooped up in a 2 hour meeting while on vacation? I don’t. And once I said no thanks, I really didn’t need to be asked again.

Would I return to Nuevo Vallarta again? Most certainly! In the future, I would like to spend about a month in the area, so I would have the time to see what I didn’t get to on this trip and get more familiar with the area. Would I stay in the same resort again? Uhhh, probably not. But I would consider renting one of the condos on the other side.

Let’s Talk Soup–Nuevo Vallarta

I’ll bet you thought this would be a recipe posting.  Ha! It’s not. However, it is a food posting of sorts. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d go to Mexico and enjoy eating soup so much. I had it for lunch, and frequently had it at the a la carte restaurants for dinner while we were in Nuevo Vallarta.

We arrived to Dreams Villamagna in the late afternoon close to the end of the lunch time for some of the restaurants and we were waiting for our room to become available, so we headed to the buffet which would be quick and keep us close to the lobby so we could get our room key after eating. Now, I’m not usually the biggest fan of buffets in an all-inclusive resort, but it made sense logistically since it was the closest restaurant to the reception area.

Trying to keep it light, since we were getting closer to dinner time, I opted for a bowl of soup and a salad. The soup was a Cream of Chicken and Vegetable and man, it was incredible! You’d think in Mexico that a spicier option would have been more appropriate, but the cream soup was spot on.IMG_1785As the week proceeded, I sampled a lot of soup. Despite the warm weather, that first bowl had won me over and started a quest for my favorite.  First up, was lunch the next day, which was a Chicken and Vegetable. This was a basic take on Chicken Noodle soup without any noodles.  I was amazed at how flavorful the broth was.IMG_1786Later that evening, which was Valentine’s Day, we went to Portofino, the Italian restaurant. Just when I thought I had been eating some pretty tasty soups, they really impressed me with a Cream of Asparagus soup. It was off the chain and even came with a small, crunchy breadstick as garnish.

The next night we had dinner at the Seaside Grill, which would lead you to think we were dining at a seafood place. It was not. It was what I would consider to be the Steakhouse, since the majority of options on the menu were grilled beef selections. Considering I’m not a fan of creamed corn back home, I had low expectations for liking this one. To my surprise, I had a Corn Cream soup that would have knocked my socks off had I been wearing any. This stuff was delish! I hope someday to go back to Dreams and get a hold of this recipe!IMG_1913Oddly enough, the next night’s dinner was a Mexican BBQ in the courtyard of the pool area. This was also the location of my least favorite soup selection, which was a Chicken Tortilla soup. Granted, I didn’t add the tortilla garnish or cheese to the soup, which may have been what was needed, but this soup just wasn’t hitting the mark for me. It was ok, but not “knock my socks off” good.IMG_2003Basically, I was completely taken off guard by the quality of the soups at Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta. I had no idea I would end up sampling a bunch of soup at an “unlimited luxury” All Inclusive resort. But now that I have, I tip my hat to whoever they have on their kitchen staff that is making these soups. They have a real gem right there!

Our Apple Vacation—Nuevo Vallarta

I’m on our flight home from Nuevo Vallarta and am reflecting on our trip through Apple Vacations. We stayed the previous week at Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta.

Here are what I consider to be the pros and cons of using Apple Vacations:


  • It’s relatively easy to put together your own trip on their website and prices are transparent. (You do have to pay for the entire trip to reserve.)

-check under flights to see when/if your airport has non-stop flights

-plug in the dates and location of where you want to go

  • Choose flight type and room upgrades.

-I only upgrade our room for special occasions or if they go on sale. For the amount of time we are in our room, a garden view is usually just fine

  • Add travel insurance if desired.

-I usually skip this as I get trip insurance elsewhere–see Why You MUST Buy Travel Insurance

  • You can add on desired excursions if you wish.

-I usually skip this as well, finding the prices on resort to be lower or negotiable

  • Apple always includes transportation in their packages.
  • I watch their sales and more often that not, they are priced better than the same trip on other travel sites.


  • While Apple does not have a loyalty program, they also own Amstar or AMResorts which offers a loyalty program for a certain group of resorts.

-the loyalty program gets presented as a way to get discounts on spa services and excursions–you just sit through a 90 minute meeting

-BEWARE–the meetings tend to last way more than 90 minutes and are pretty high pressure to sell you

-since AMResorts/AppleVacations own the loyalty program, it seems their resorts may be priced slightly better or given a higher rating. Comment below or check their link if you question which resorts are part of the group

  • AppleVacations tends to use different charters for their flights.

-bear in mind that these planes have more limited space and luggage limits (you may only have a 45lb suitcase limit instead of 50lb–do your research)

-the air upgrades may be worth it for the first on/first off perk, but for this trip (with Swift Air) it wasn’t worth it for the snacks and beverages. Even though we paid a little more for the Preferred Perks they were out of “snack packages” both legs of the trip and the cocktail selections seemed to be off brands. Additionally, there were no selections that were coffee mixable, similar to Bailey’s, Kahlua, etc

-if you’d like to see my more detailed opinion of Frontier Air, click here

Overall, I believe AppleVacations offers a good deal online as long as you know what you’re getting. You can easily price out their trips before you buy and it’s easy to find frequent sales. You may even be able to choose luxurious accommodations, but you likely won’t be air traveling in style. Additionally, beware of their group of resorts in the loyalty program. If you are lucky enough to sit through one of these meetings (regularly longer than 90 minutes) be prepared to give up some of your vacation time and either buy a plan, or end up saying no, A LOT, repeatedly, and then again. But if you’re fine with that, enjoy the freebies! You will have earned them!

Riviera Nayarit It Is!

I’m cold. It’s winter and I’m cold. Yesterday, we saw the temperature hover between 2 (-16C) and 12 (-11C) degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factors of -10F (-23C.) For those of you who live in warmer climes, you have no idea how cold that is. When you walk outside even for a brief moment, you lose your breath!winter-3088579_1920

Thinking warm thoughts and listening to the reggae station are not warding off the cold. There’s not enough hot cocoa. We’re just going to have to head to the beach for a brief respite and to rejuvenate enough to get through the rest of winter.

I found a really good deal to Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico. I know it seems like we spend a lot of time going to Mexico, but we can be there non-stop from St. Louis in 4 hours. Nuevo Vallarta is in the Mexican state of Nayarit, which is on the Pacific side and is a part of the country we’ve not yet visited before. The closest we’ve been on that coast is Huatulco which is 547 miles away, so not even very close.

I don’t yet know much about Nuevo Vallarta but I plan to do some research before we get there. It seems to be an up and coming area located between Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias, that is attracting the crowd that’s not interested in the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta, but would like all the luxuries of a resort area.

It looks like there’s a lot to do in the area on land or in the sea. There are numerous small villages to be explored and shopped all within a 30 minute drive, and there are a lot of beach areas in Banderas Bay. Whether we want to spend the day on a secluded beach, check out some of the “walking beaches”, or even try our hand at surfing, there’s a beach for it. I’m also hoping that we can see some of the humpback whales who winter there, frolicking with their babies. (I just loved seeing the whales in Alaska, check out Juneau, Alaska.)

Whale in Alaska

While the resort touts itself as an unlimited luxury all inclusive, which to me usually means great food, some of their Trip Advisor reviews beg to differ. Even though I only take the reviews with a  grain of salt, there is usually a bit of truth to them. I’m trying to keep in mind that the people who did not have a great experience tend to write reviews more frequently, and I’m hopeful the resort has worked out whatever kinks were getting in the way.

Would we cancel the trip or change resorts because of negative reviews? Probably not. Maybe if this were an important wedding, anniversary, or group trip I would reconsider going there. But this is just a mid-winter vacay for hubby and I. We’re pretty laid back and will roll with whatever we find at the resort.

If you have ever stayed at this Dreams and have anything negative to say, please post a review on Trip Advisor, don’t comment on this post. I’d rather go in as uninfluenced as possible and form my own opinion based on what we experience. If you have anything positive to say, feel free to do so in the comments.

Regardless, I’m cold. All I am really worried about is getting out of this cold and taking a break on the beach and seeing some of that side of Mexico. After that, winter won’t seem quite as long and I’ll be able to get through it better upon our return.

Cozumel Mexico

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Cozumel, Mexico. As a newly certified scuba diver, I was chomping at the bit to go because Cozumel is usually considered one of the top 10 places to dive. A small island, located just off the Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel is a little more laid back than Riviera Maya. It has more of an island feel to it–a little smaller, and quieter.

To get to Cozumel from Missouri, we had two choices. We could fly non-stop to Cancun, then ride a bus for 45 minutes south, then catch a ferry for another 45 minute ride over to Cozumel or fly to Atlanta, have a quick layover, then take a second flight on to Cozumel. Since the idea of lugging our suitcases onto a ferry didn’t sound very appealing, we opted for the latter and flew into Cozumel.

We stayed at the Iberostar, which was a wonderful resort.

Our room was half of a circular-shaped bungalow. It was kind of different to stay in a room that was a semi circle–there were no corners in which to stick my suitcase. We were also located right in the middle of the resort, equal distance to the pool, dive shop, and beach and we could see all three from our porch (which had a hammock on it).

Although our accommodations were awesome and we had a lot of activities to do at the resort, we ventured into town one afternoon for a Pirate Dinner Cruise later that night, which still ranks up there as one of the funnest days ever!

We took a cab into town, which was maybe 10 minutes from our resort. We arrived at a small shopping area across the road from the pier, where we would be boarding the Jean Laffite. At the moment, we were really in search of free Wi-Fi (our resort charged in 10 minute increments), which we found at a small, unassuming restaurant named Polar. We ordered some Tecate Light beers, split some fish tacos (which hubby doused with an incredibly HOT hot sauce), and were able to access everything we needed. After sitting there for 2 and a half hours, I don’t think our total bill came up to $20US.

After leaving Polar, we did a little shopping and stocked up on souvenirs. We came across a Fat Tuesday which was a fun place to have a cocktail and people watch.

Then it was time to get to the Pier and board our pirate ship! The performers were a talented bunch of guys who had the obligation of plying you with quantity (not quality) drinks and getting you to participate in the games which were part of the show. We cruised up the coast of Cozumel with these pirates entertaining every one in the group and then our ship turned around and headed back down the coast so that we all had the most incredible view of sunset.

We were also served dinner at this time, which was your choice of steak, lobster tail, or surf and turf. I had the surf and turf and thought the dinner was unbelievably good considering it had all been prepared in the small galley of our ship. If you EVER get the chance to go on the Pirate Dinner Cruise in Cozumel, Mexico, GO! You will have really fun 3 hour tour!

Care Package Help Wanted

We’ve recently returned home from a fun-filled week hanging out with in Mexico with our friends, the Beards. I originally met them 7 years ago at The Grand Palladium when they were a family of four. They are from England, I’m American. In those 7 years their kids have gotten older, their family is now a party of 5, and I’ve gotten married. We had a fun reunion! I introduced them to hubby, they introduced me to their newest family member Alfie Bear, and it was wonderful to see how their two older kids, Jasmine and Harvey, have grown up and matured.We got to catch up on some of the stories that we’ve each accumulated in the interim years. Hubby and Beard Dad, Matt, hit it off as I had predicted. They are like 2 peas in a pod with different accents. Mum Beard, Emma, told me the story of how she found out she was expecting Alfie Bear. Jasmine talked a lot about boys, like any teenage girl does. And Harvey shot me in an incredible game of pool. He’s pretty good, too!We got to eat, drink, and be merry together. We went snorkeling and hung at the pool together. We fed fish and went to see baby sea turtles hatching on the beach.We had cocktails in the lobby and watched some of the dance shows. We got to discuss the differences between our countries and make fun of each other’s accents.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention we also got to spend a little time with Emma’s parents, brother, and his girlfriend who were on the trip with them. Although, by the end of our time there, we were lucky enough to join in celebrating with them after Emma’s brother John proposed to girlfriend Robyn. We wish them all the best!

But as all good things come to an end, our 1-week vacay ended a week before their 2-week holiday and it was time to again bid adieu.We said our goodbyes and promised to meet again here, there, or on another vacay. We’ve returned home and re-entered the grind of daily life.

Here’s my dilemma. We’re putting together a care package to send across the pond. We have some personal requests for specific items like a Hooters T-Shirt , Twizzlers , Flavored Oreo Cookies, and Cheetos . But what else? Please drop me a comment and make credible suggestions about what an English family would consider a treat from their American amigos.

Grand Palladium, Riviera Maya Dining


IMG_1124Ha! We got off the plane in Cancun, Mexico and what were we greeted by at the airport? Margaritaville! If you’ve read any of my earlier posts Margaritaville Island or Smoky Mountain Getaway you’ll know that hubby and I are HUGE fans. I’m still wanting to get my hands on that frozen concoction maker!  Maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas.

Anyhoo, we actually bypassed Margaritaville this time.  I would have had to order a frozen concoction or a beer and I didn’t think that was a wise idea since I hadn’t eaten anything yet that day and we still had an hour commute to the resort. I didn’t want to be that passenger to stop our bus because I had to use the restroom.

We arrived at the resort in time for late lunch. We headed over to one of the buffet restaurants where I had the most delish cream of asparagus soup and some chicken wings. During the next couple of days we determined that the buffet restaurants seemed to repeat the same items for each meal. They didn’t really knock our socks off with a ton of seafood and we found what worked best for breakfast and lunch.  However, some of the displays were really neat to look at.

We decided that the a la carte restaurants had the best dinners at the resort.  Two of them–Sumtuori, the teppanyaki grill restaurant and the Fish & Rice Resturant were the only ones that required reservations. The rest were first come-first serve.

Here’s my quick rundown in case you are headed to the Grand Palladium in Riviera Maya:

Sumtuori (Teppanyaki grill)–the food was pretty good, but I think our chef was pretty new. He didn’t say a word throughout the show (in Spanish or English and our table was made up of both), and a number of our orders were mixed up. So, we didn’t really get the “show” but his cooking skills were good!

Chang Thai (Thai)–this restaurant was incredible and delicious! I started with the chicken soup and then had chicken for my entrée as well. The interior of the restaurant was very unique in décor as well.

Ribs & More (Ribs/Steaks)–my food was awesome!  I had a rib-eye (cooked perfectly to order) and baked potato.  I do think the food seemed even better because of the company we were with, the Beards.

Portofino (Mediterranean/Italian)–this was my favorite dinner at the a la carte restaurants. I had salad and lasagna that was incredible!

La Adelita (Mexican)–I had the steak fajitas, which were very good.  I loved the plates and décor of the restaurant and the menus were especially gorgeous!

Lola (Spanish tapas)–last but not least, the Spanish restaurant was good, but I had expected more of the Brazilian steakhouse. We had a lot of tapas (the salad bar was mostly tapas and our entrees were tapas) that were very yummo. Beyond that, the décor was beautiful and there was live entertainment which made the dinner very romantic.

I do have to mention some additional food and beverage options that added to the gastro experience at the Palladium. The beverage options were not only endless, but they were always presented beautifully, even when we ordered drinks to go, which were served in plastic cups.

And, one late afternoon, we had the “Chocolate Bar”. One of the indoor bars actually set up a display of nothing but chocolate. There were chocolate drinks, a chocolate fountain, white chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate cupcakes and many other goodies. Some of the goodies were also decorated with artisan chocolates which were my favorites. I really just wanted to take all the chocolate decorations off the desserts for myself.

So, if you are headed to the Grand Palladium, I would definitely recommend you eat at the a la carte restaurants, you will not have a bad meal at any of them. Be sure to try the unique selections and seek out the chocolate bar. You won’t regret it!

2 Ways to Souvenir Shop in Riviera Maya

Recently, while in Riviera Maya, Mexico, I needed to do some souvenir shopping. I’m the kind of shopper who likes to look around and weigh my options. I’m not very splurgy, I know who I need to buy for and I usually have a good idea of what I’m looking for for each person. I quickly determined there were two basic ways to shop at our resort.

The Grand Palladium had 3 large shops that were open while we were there.. I found some items that interested me. The prices were all listed in Mexican pesos, so I had to do some calculating for my USD brain. Let me also mention, I hadn’t converted any of my money to pesos. The store would give me an exchange rate of 17:1, which wasn’t the exact exchange rate, but was better than other shops that were going on 10:1 exchange or anything in between. When calculating the prices, I realized that the gift shop prices were slightly higher than I would have paid for similar items at home. So, while I would have saved money by paying in pesos, since I didn’t have any, I would actually be paying more. AND the prices in the shops were non-negotiable.

Luckily, I quickly figured out that the Grand Palladium allowed vendors to come in each evening and sell their wares. If you’ve ever been to a craft market in another country, you already know that their prices are negotiable. I chose to shop mostly with the vendors.My first stop was at this jewelry booth that was being worked by David Renteria. He basically had me sold on everything—it was all so shiny and beautiful! I really had focused in on a pendant that was decorated on both sides. One side had the Mayan calendar on it and the other side showed the Aztec calendar. It was so versatile with the colors on it.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t really planned on shopping that night and had limited funds with me. I had to remind myself that souvenirs for friends and family came first and it wouldn’t be smart to spend all my money at the first booth I came to. I settled on two cool identical bracelets with skulls on them for Harvey and Jasmine, two of my favorite, young English friends. I figured, even if they never wore them, the bracelets would be a funky reminder of our time in Mexico together. David sold me both for the asking price of one, which was so nice of him.

My next stop was at the booth being manned by Charlie Brown (he swore that was really his name too.) His specialty was in making pendants out of pesos.He had quite the collection and even demonstrated some of his craft while I was making my choices. When I asked what he would sell me my picks for, he shot me a price way higher than the amount I had left. That’s what I get for shopping when it wasn’t planned.

I went to go find hubby (he hates the haggling so usually disappears when I start shopping the vendors.) I emptied the cash from his pockets and went back to see Charlie Brown. I pulled out every dollar I now had, which still wasn’t his asking price, but he was so kind to sell me the pendants I had picked out for the kids for the amount I did have.I thought they were pretty neat looking and appropriate for each kiddo. I just hoped they would like them as much as I did. That wrapped up my shopping for that night since I had no more cash with me. But, little did I know, I wasn’t finished yet. 

A couple of nights later, we walked into another gift shop located in a different part of the resort. It had a lot of the same selection as the shop we had already visited, but a few different items. I didn’t buy that night, but a couple of nights later when we had to go that direction again for dinner, I popped back into that store and picked up a quirky little handbag I had seen previously. I don’t really buy much for myself anymore—I have way too many t-shirts and refrigerator magnets, but I do try to find one unique item for myself as a reminder of places I’ve been. Now, don’t laugh or think I’m one of those weird cat ladies, but the handbag I bought DID have cats on it. And the price WAS NOT negotiable, so it was honestly a splurge.Who knows if I’ll ever even get around to using it. In hindsight, I think I had cats on the brain. I was really missing our kittens back home by that day of the trip.Even though I’m sure they didn’t even notice we were gone, I still considered my two different shopping methods to have been a success!