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Typically, I’m not normally an all-inclusive type of traveler. I think you’ve seen here that I like to get local, devour the local food (especially from street carts and markets), and meet local folks.
And I am not much of a beach go-er as I do get bored lying in the sand too long (okay, I actually don’t even like sand that much and would rather be at the pool). But, I also can’t deny that more and more I do enjoy a luxurious break from my budget-travel ways.
The “all-inclusive resort” started in the 1950s with the famous Club Med and has grown into a huge vacation sector ever since. It is not for everyone, and can keep you in sort of a cocoon, but you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. You are still free to go off the resort and have all the local experiences you want…unlike a cruise ship which is even more of a bubble. I am a bit spoiled in that I am able to have so many different traveling and vacation experiences, but as CP pointed out, for someone like him that works very hard all year long, a beachy, non-thinking getaway is just what he needs sometimes. An all-inclusive typically includes a minimum of three meals daily (food is readily available all day long), most alcoholic drinks, gratuities, and possibly other services in the price. But they’ve also come along way in 60 years.
“I think that all-inclusives used to have a connotation of being cheap, having average buffet food, and watered down drinks,” says Beth Weinrich of Funjet Vacations. “[They] are so much more now and appeal to a wide variety of people. Hoteliers realized that some people might be looking for a a 5-star experience with gourmet food and high end accommodations [so] are really focusing on appealing to higher end travelers and have really focused on their food quality to include many different gourmet options, high end wines, and premium drinks.”
Because these types of vacations have become more sophisticated over the years, all-inclusives can appeal to different kinds of travelers. They offer many more activities and amenities than they used to, and can be affordable so you don’t feel that you need to eat every meal at the hotel. You can also choose a “European Plan” which typically does not include meals or drinks.
Case in point, we recently traveled to Vallarta-Nayarit (Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco and Nayarit is the state directly to it’s north) on the west coast of Mexico. The “Riviera Nayarit” is a newer tourism area which has grown rapidly in the last few years because of its beautiful location and proximity to the Puerto Vallarta area and airport.
Funjet Vacations is a family-owned business from the Midwest that has been helping folks plan their vacations for 40 years. They guarantee to price match any other vacation package out there. They have vacations to destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, all over the U.S., and Europe. And they have non-stop charter flights from some cities to their most popular spots in the Caribbean and Mexico. We took off from icy Chicago and headed straight to Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
The first three nights we stayed in a resort that was more like a boutique hotel resort rather than a huge resort complex like some other I’ve been to. I loved this. With only 80 rooms, Casa Velas truly does have a boutique feel. And there were no crowds at the pool or at the main restaurant.
Resembling a private estate, the charming hotel sits alongside the fairways of the Marina Vallarta Golf Club, within walking distance to a 500-slip marina and 15 minutes from the oceanside city center of Puerto Vallarta with its famous mile-long boardwalk, El Malecón.
Because it is smaller, the staff is trained to address every guest by name. Of course they know your name after you give them your room number, but still, a nice touch. And all of the staff, save one or two, were super friendly and smiley.
The food stood out for me. It was really fresh and tasty, non-buffet style, upscale Mexican food. I enjoyed one of my all time favorites, ceviche, wonderful fresh-squeezed juices, breakfasts, and great seafood.
I had my worries at the pool — that it would be so crowded we would never get a spot, and every day this worry was unfounded. We enjoyed the plush chairs, the cushy cabanas, and the swim-up bar. And it was never loud or crowded.
And then there was the spa. It sort of seemed small and unassuming, so I had a pre-conceived idea that it would not be great. I was wrong. It was small, but very inviting and very personal. It didn’t feel like one of these huge, resort spas that are so big that it can be impersonal and feel rushed.
Casa Velas is an adults-only resort. Since we were sans kids, we loved this. No shrieking or splashing. But the flip of this is that the guests seemed to skew older, which admittedly, at first we kind of made fun of as we ate dinner to the melodious muzak sounds of an instrumental Hava Negila and Hello Dolly. Ah, show tunes for the older New Yorkers who sometimes frequent these resorts. The percentage of 20 and 30-year olds definitely underwhelmed the percentage of 50-70 year olds, but you know what? In the end, it was kind of nice. It was quiet as opposed to a raucous resort full of Spring Breakers. No thump-thump night club here and that was just fine with us. We appreciated the quiet and serenity.
Our second stay was at the larger (and closer to the beach, but still not yet on the beach), Marival Residences. Wow. As much as I loved the intimate feel, at Casa Velas, our room at Marival, just blew me away. Incredible.
It felt more like a modern, urban condo, than a hotel room. Every contemporary, clean-lined room is a suite with kitchen, bedroom, living room, and balcony.
If you’re lucky enough to be on the sixth and top floor, you may have your very own pool. We were on the fifth floor with great views of the pool and ocean. The grounds are wonderful with one big pool meandering throughout the entire property.
Again, I had my worries — that it would be too big, too crowded, but it still wasn’t. There are about 3-4 restaurants to choose from and even a chic rooftop bar for drinks and a small plates-style dinner. It shares a beachfront with a sister property just a short golf cart ride down the street. Besides some excursions (coming up in the next post!), most days we enjoyed doing as little as possible – laying poolside in a cabana enjoying ice cold Pacificos and Micheladas (aka cielo rojo in Vallarta). And the entire seven-night stay was just perfect — enough time to decompress and really ‘get away’. I’ve been converted…thanks to Funjet Vacations!
Get YOUR Discount with Funjet Vacations!
Want to get away and out of this seemingly never ending polar vortex? Here is a special, limited time discount code just for readers of LLworldtour for up to $300 off!! Time to treat yourself.
Promo Code: ULTRAPVR5
Discount: Save up to $300 per reservation
$1500 – $2499: Save $125 per reservation
$2500 – $3999: Save $200 per reservation
$4000+: Save $300 per reservation
Booking Window: 3/3/14 – 3/17/14
Travel Window: 3/3/14 – 8/31/14
Minimum Length of Stay: 3 nights
Valid Origins: All
Valid Destinations: Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit
Valid Products: All air + hotel bookings and hotel only
Book here: Funjet VacationsDisclaimer: Promo code ULTRAPVR5 is valid for new bookings made 3/3/14-3/17/14 for any air+hotel or hotel-only bookings to Vallarta-Nayarit, for departures 3/3/14-8/31/14, minimum 3-night stay. Save up to $300 per reservation: save $125 on vacations $1500-$2499; save $200 on vacations $2500-$3999; save $300 on vacations $4000+. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply. Please see funjet.com for details.
Disclosure: During my time in Puerto Vallarta, I was a guest of Funjet Vacations. As always, all opinions are my own.