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.

Advertisements

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:

PROS

  • 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.

CONS

  • 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!