We spent a week this summer in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico at the Villa Del Palmar Flamingos. We flew American Airlines and had an overnight layover in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor on the way, and a couple hour layover in DFW on the way back. You bet Baby Flyer visited the Centurion Lounge on the way back, plus the adults all had 15 minute massages! It was a welcome treat after having an almost 2 hour wait for our bags at baggage claim after customs because everything shut down because of lightening. Of course, safety is important but the wait was unexpected.
We stayed in the Aloft in Phoenix on the way out which has a free shuttle, is very close to the airport, and has a relaxed playful feel. They just started renovating and updating the whole hotel, including the rooms. They have a simple bar menu and we weren’t in the mood to go out for dinner since it was already around 7:45pm. We had grilled cheese- a guilty but tasty dinner, and Baby Flyer roamed around and stretched her legs. While we were waiting for our food, the hotel van took me to CVS to buy Baby Flyer a bottle of baby shampoo. Something I learned- they can take you anywhere within a three mile radius of the hotel for free (excluding tip). It was perfect!.
Fast forward to finally arriving at the Puerto Vallarta airport- we got off the plane, cleared customs, (which is generally straight forward if all your passports are in order. Tip for Mexico- they give you back half the form. Do not loose this part, it’s your ticket back out of the country!).
This airport has undergone some expansions and renovation since we’ve started traveling there several years ago. It’s nice to see, and makes the experience better. There’s a small Priority Pass lounge, even, and the majority of the flights are served by standard jet bridges, rather than buses.
After customs, we moved onto the gauntlet of getting our reserved shuttle to the resort. For whatever reason, in Mexico this is usually the sticking point. The resort provides us one free transfer per year, which is great, but it does mean you have to reserve in advance, and then wait for them to verify it and find you a driver. In the end it works out, but it can take some patience. We did learn that Uber has arrived in PVR, and seemed operative and reasonably priced from the airport, but when CET tried to use it for her return trip, it said ‘no cars available’ from the resort.
That all sorted out, we arrived safely and simply put, Baby Flyer LOVED resort life! Her day typically looked something like this:
After she woke up, she would often visit the pool or play in the room with her Mema and Bumpa while I worked out. She slept in while on vacation too! She would wake to nurse around 6 and then go back to sleep for a couple hours. Think her later bed time, two hour time difference, and all the pool time made her sleepy. Then we would meet for breakfast and she got to pick a pastry of her choice (total treat) which she had along with some watermelon or berries and orange juice. Of course, her favorite was what I initially thought was a bran muffin, but turned out to be a chocolate muffin- another first for her. This also was her first time having orange juice and she certainly enjoyed it.
Once we were done eating, she would walk out of the restaurant and lead the way to the pool, so more time splashing around until it was time for her afternoon nap and a quick lunch. Afterwards she would head out to the pool once again, then play in our room while we all got ready for dinner. After dinner, she often would finish the evening with one last wade since the restaurant was next to the pool and it was too tempting not to stop as we walked back to our room. We paddle boarded and played a couple games beach volleyball one morning. It was fun, but let’s just say I have some room for improvement with beach volleyball.
Baby Flyer even managed to stay in her high chair during our long dinners. Something that has rarely been happening lately. But was a welcome change!
I never appreciated the pool as much as I did on this vacation. As silly as it sounds, I really noticed all the features of the pool while playing with Baby Flyer. From the wading pool to the sprinklers and waterfall steps, to the infinity edges and gradual beach shoreline slopes. There was so much Baby Flyer could do! She doesn’t always like being held in the water when she can’t touch the bottom so she loved being able to walk in so many areas.
I could have packed Baby Flyer a few less outfits but she did wear almost everything I packed. I thought I was being silly bringing a whole package of swim diapers but we left with only two extra. Her long sleeve UPF rash guard was my favorite since it covered all of her arms and I didn’t have to worry about sunblock. After one afternoon when she wore her short sleeve rash guard and it seemed like she got some sun, despite putting on sunblock multiple times (it’s strong down there!), I ended up just always having her wear the long sleeve top. It turned into a tan, but still…mommy guilt abounds.
We’ve been going to this resort for years now, and many of the staff are familiar faces which makes it extra fun. This year for simplicity, we opted for the all-inclusive meal plan so that meant we ate a lot of our meals at the resort. However, one night we took a cab to the neighboring small town, Bucerias. Pre-baby, we used to do the 30ish minute walk all the time, but since it was so warm that really didn’t sound like much fun with Baby Flyer. We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Sandrinas. They take Visa and MasterCard but offer a 15% discount if you pay in cash. We also really enjoy Mark’s and Karen’s Place. Both are in Bucerias. Karen’s Place is on the beach which is perfect for watching the sunset. In the past, they have been cash only but there is an onsite ATM (in the adjacent hotel).
Bucerias is a fun town to walk around and get more of an authentic feeling for the area. Since we’ve been going for so long, we’ve been able to see how it’s changed over the years. They have open air markets where you can find some good deals than from the sales people on the beach.
Baby Flyer loved spending some time on the beach too, especially as the sun went down and the sand cooled. Puerto Vallarta’s coastline is beautiful any time, but the sunsets were truly stunning. No better way to end each day.
By the time we headed home, we were already looking forward to coming back next time!
To read more about our trip, you can head over to Cruising Altitude for CET’s trip report and more photos.