All types of families are welcome in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. On the Malecon boardwalk downtown, our path forged a wake of smiles, the wide ocean on one side and open arms of the sky above. We saw elderly couples walking hand in hand, two millennial girls hugging, a brother and sister posing for a photo in front of one of the 10 statues electrifying the walkway. We felt anyone could come and be what they wanted, be who they are and no one would do anything but be happy they came to visit.
The Rich, The Mid and The Lucky
We stayed at the family-friendly Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa in one of its recently remodeled 433 rooms, 28 of which are suites. The entire resort recently underwent a dramatic $20 million facelift. Even if you’ve known her for years, you’d walk right by her on the street, she looks so different now. The lobby is a brief barrier between the blue sky and ocean. Gentle breezes snake through couches and hanging pods. An ice-cream parlor offers instant gratification and, right behind, Champions Sports Bar and Ceviche and Tequila Bar, offering 180 brands of tequila. Each guestroom faces the reason you’ve traveled to Puerto Vallarta. Uncrowded beaches, sailboats nodding on the water, the curve of Banderas Bay showcasing the nearby Malecon boardwalk. It’s luxury living with Mexico affordability.
Marriott International owns more than 7,000 hotels in 30 brands across 131 countries, from the most exclusive and quirky to the standard and convenient. Many, like Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa, operate independently, creating its own programs and style. In the process of recreating itself, the Marriott PV makes sure to honor the hosts of the land where it lives, both sea and land. In that spirit, the Marriott PV participates in the success of 30 local charities with one of the most fun being the turtle rescue effort. Every year, between June and November, turtles emerge from the sea to bury their eggs in the sand in front of the Marriott PV. The resort hires a biologist to scour its eight kilometers of beachfront property and relocate them into the safety of a dedicated nursery the resort created to allow the eggs to safely hatch.
“It takes about 45 days for eggs to gestate and once they hatch, they must be released into the water within 48 hours,” Cristina Hernandez, PR & marketing manager, Marriott PV, told us. Guests are invited to release the hatchlings into the ocean in the evenings so they’re protected from predators by the cover of fading light as they waddle into the sea. We got to name our turtles and I rooted for Coco as she (or he) slowly made her way into the lapping ocean. Five year-old Chloe, jumping up and down next to me, in the long line of beach-side conservationists, couldn’t contain her excitement as the waves washed away her Martine right after they took my Coco.
The resort offers guests the largest spa in Puerto Vallarta, the 22,000-square-foot Ohtli Spa, a Huichol word translating to “path to wellness” the receptionist told us. The Huichols are a native tribe that live about two hours from town in the Sierra Madre Mountains and their influence can be felt everywhere, including the spa. Before our bodyworkers started our treatments, one asked if she could sing a Huichol song. Tea lights fanned rays throughout the dim room, spread around the ledge of the hot tub. Floating incense wrapped their strings around the space where we stood as she crooned to ancient gods. At the foot of our tables stood a hot tub that would later be filled with bubbles, a wooden tray of Champagne glasses and strawberries decorated in tuxedoed chocolate. Fifty splendid minutes later, we dipped into the warm, bubble water, with the other bubbly tickling its way down our throats. Definitely the best couples massage experience we’ve enjoyed.
Tequila in Mexico abounds and there are many tasting rooms offering free samples. But, the Marriott PV grows its own blue agave and bottles its own tequila, so it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. You can only buy their CasaMagna label at the property. Hotel Tequilier Audrey Formisano leads guests on an educational journey through tequila tastings and food pairings with lessons geared for levels 101 to 2.0 and Tequila Snob. She pairs the “sipping” tequilas with food dishes and educates guests on possible combinations, telling stories of why each tastes the way it does. This unique, not-to-miss experience is free for Marriott Rewards members and $15 for everyone else.
As a fan of train travel, I often choose a ride on rails over a drive or flight, especially in Europe, where I always relish the high-speed trains. In Tokyo, I once appreciated a speedy, efficient and easy-to-understand experience; but, speed isn’t the only appealing aspect of train travel. From Venice to London, on the Venice Simplon Orient Express, we traveled through the coastal cliffs of the Cinque Terra and dined in formal opulence; from Whistler to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer, we sipped tea while viewing the spectacular scenery.
While considering dreamy destinations for a romantic rendezvous, Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo immediately came to mind. I convinced my late husband, Bob, to take me there after a solo trip to Monaco (via helicopter from Nice-Cote d’Azur) on my first trip to the South of France. Our stays together left such an indelibly delicious memory that I’ve returned multiple times, including in 2018 and 2019. It’s a venue I recommend at any time, especially Valentine’s Day.
By Hainan Airlines
When considering a new destination for your family’s vacation list, solo trip, romantic getaway or just something to watch between trips, this list of wanderlust-inducing films should help. Watch a few of the family-friendly options with the kids and make it a movie night: