Puerto Vallarta is an irresistible destination with its beaches, water sports and nightlife scene. The town’s cobblestone center is home to the ornate Renaissance-style Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church, boutique shops and a wide range of restaurants plus El Malecón, a popular beachside promenade.
But for those willing to explore 15 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta to the Riviera Nayarit, there awaits a special treasure: a less touristy haven with immense natural beauty, a culture of warm hospitality, and ease of access. Riviera Nayarit has flat, pearlescent beaches flanked by staggering, rose-hued bluffs and densely tangled jungle. The picturesque coastline is punctuated by soulful fishing villages and artistic communities that demonstrate a fierce pride for their regional culture—places that brim with Mexico’s genuine knack for hospitality.
For your hard-earned pesos, we recommend you head straight for the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, an outstanding all-inclusive resort on Banderas Bay in a privileged natural setting with flowering, landscaped gardens beside a long stretch of pristine beach and a dramatic backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains.
We were immediately embraced by the friendly spirit of Mexico upon arrival, greeted by smiles, a cool towel and fresh pineapple juice in a sleekly contemporary lobby, a towering palapa alive with palms and fountains, cooled by ocean breezes. The centerpiece of the gardens is a three-tiered, multi-temperature infinity pool, a preferred spot for catching the legendary sunsets.
The resort features 267 ocean-view suites, some with private plunge pools, and all with fully-stocked mini bar, L’Occitane amenities and Nespresso machines. Wellness Suites include a personal training session and massage in-suite in addition to other fitness amenities, such as a Lifecycle Exercise Bike, organic soaps, Aromatherapy Kit, and more. All suites are large and bright and express oceanfront luxury at its best with private terraces and handsome teak furniture imported from Bali.
One of the great appeals of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is their devotion to culinary excellence. French-born Guillaume Morancé who is Executive Chef studied at the Hotel School of Brunoy and holds the “Brevet d’études professionnelles” (BEP), two distinguished credentials. And his expertise shows on the plate: of the resort’s six a la carte restaurants, guest can choose sublime French cooking at Piaf, authentic Italian at Lucca, gourmet Mexican gourmet Frida, innovative Asian fusion at Sen Lin, a relaxing lunch and fresh, light foods from ceviche to salads at Selva del Mar, and superb casual oceanfront dining (especially the extraordinary buffet) at Azul.
Of course, there is superb in-suite dining, cocktails and light fare at Koi Sports bar, and unlimited beer, soft drinks, bottled water and snacks such as peanuts, potato chips, and granola bars in the mini-bar.
We found top drawer cuisine and elegant presentation here. This was especially apparent at two very special events the resort held while we were there. They do special culinary events regularly so if you’re lucky, you will be there for one. Our first was The Freshest Catch Brunch, an indulgent oceanfront lunch that began with the chefs greeting fishermen coming ashore in their boats with just-caught tuna and mahi mahi which was promptly grilled over hot coals. Wine, Bloody Marys, mimosas, margaritas and an elaborate buffet was laid out for all guests to enjoy to the pulsating sounds of a live band. The second was an unprecedented tribute to France, a celebration featuring the creative talents of Chef Guillaume and Raúl Hernández, Executive Chef of Restaurant Piaf plus special guest Chef Steve Benjamin, protégé of “Chef of the Century” Joël Robuchon and Executive Chef of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. Imagine four evenings of the freshest ingredients interpreted and transformed into gourmet masterpieces paired with fine wines from the resort’s collection and you will understand how serious and dedicated the Velas cooking team is.
Very well fed, we felt the need to hit the spa. An oasis of wellbeing, Se Spa, has been included on Forbes Travel Guide’s list of The World’s Most Luxurious Spas. Besides elaborate baths and waterfalls, there are 20 treatment suites and more than 30 spa treatments, many inspired by the native traditions of Mexico and a signature water journey.
Other features include a fitness center, 24/7 in suite service, water sports, business center, tennis, baby concierge, Kids’ Club, and state-of-the-art Teens’ Club. The resort features more than 25,000 square feet of indoor meeting facilities, including the Grand Marissa Ballroom, which consists of more than 6,000 square feet and is easily subdivided into five separate rooms. The resort’s facilities also include four other rooms ranging from 681 to more than 1,954 square feet that offer several arrangement variations to maximize meeting productivity and efficiency.
Our on recent visit, when we weren’t dining in great style and lolling by the pool or in a tented beachside cabana, we went scuba diving and explored the lush jungle, then visited nearby traditional villages to do some souvenir shopping. Puerto Vallarta’s most spectacular championship golf courses just moments away, including Vista Vallarta Golf Club, Marina Vallarta Golf Club, El Tigre and the Mayan Palace Country Club.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is a breathtaking all-inclusive designed to captivate your senses and rejuvenate your spirits. In a sense they have reinvented the all-inclusive concept, elevating it to a “Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare” vacation. In addition to receiving ENTREE’s Golden E of Excellence, this resort has won numerous awards from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, TripAdvisor, U.S. News and World Report and Forbes, who named it one of the Top Ten Coolest All-Inclusives. Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit was built and is operated by Eduardo Vela Ruiz, founder and president of Velas Resorts, with brother Juan Vela, vice president of Velas Resorts, by his side. For reservations or more information, call 1-888-407-4869, email email@example.com or visit https://vallarta.grandvelas.com/.