PUERTO VALLARTA — Celebrating a record year in 2015, Puerto Vallarta’s tourism industry is happily looking to 2016 for even more good news. With 3.6 million tourists in 2015, including 136 cruise ship arrivals, many travellers have rediscovered this part of Mexico.
“Canadians love the real Mexico,” says Alvaro Garciarce, the new President of the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Association, “ …because we make it feel like home.”
With a destination popular since the 1960s, Agustin Alvarez Valdivia, Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board Director says his region has been focused on new tourism additions and a joint marketing campaign with Riviera Nayarit. “With upcoming festivals like the Los Muertos Festival and a regatta from San Diego, we’re seeing many reasons for tourism numbers to continue to increase in Puerto Vallarta,” says Valdivia, “and you’re in paradise.”
Marc Murphy, Managing Director of the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau, explained that the two regions have benefited from the partnership. “We compliment each other very well.”
Murphy says the upcoming addition of a new flight from Air Canada from Vancouver as well as increase in service from Southwest Airlines, is showing the confidence that Canadians and Americans have in wanting to come to this area.
Last year Gala Puerto Vallarta was postponed until this year, with Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit working with their colleagues in Acapulco to focus on Tianguis Touristico 2015, which had returned to the city after a four-year absence.
With 22,000 hotel rooms in Puerto Vallarta and 12,500 hotel rooms in Riviera Nayarit, the regions have been highlighting the Pueblos Magicos, a new designation from Mexico’s Tourism Board, highlighting a town’s historical and cultural significance. San Sebastian near Puerto Vallarta has been chosen as one of the ‘magical cities’, while Sayulita in Nayarit is the first beach town chosen in Mexico.
Vallarta Adventures, the largest local tour operator, recently launched a new tour, Talpa and Mascota, highlighting the historic, gastronomic and cultural offerings of nearby small towns in the Sierra Madre Mountains, as well as already offer a tour to San Sebastian.
New projects in Puerto Vallarta include La Isla, a new 32,000-square foot shopping mall, located in the hotel zone and scheduled to open in September 2016. Another major project is the renovation of the Port of Puerto Vallarta, a five-year project, with the first phase including a new welcome centre and a tequila tasting centre for cruise ship passengers. The second phase will add an aquarium and the third phase will be an expansion and addition of shopping options.
Riviera Nayarit has been expanding its luxury offerings in Punta de Mita, with Four Seasons and St. Regis Hotels, and will soon welcome W Hotels in 2016 and One and Only Resorts in 2017. Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit has recently redone all of its suites, added a new teen club and is the only Mexican Pacific all-inclusive resort to be awarded Five Diamonds by AAA.
In Puerto Vallarta, there were several additions of new all-inclusive hotels at all price points in 2015, including the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, the adults-only Hotel Mousai and the budget-friendly Sunscapes Resort and Spa.
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta was the first of now four Ziva hotels opened by Hyatt Hotels and Playa Resorts a year ago in south Puerto Vallarta, located on a secluded beach and featuring the largest spa in the area. The Hotel Mousai is the sixth building in the Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa, located up on the mountain with spacious modern suites and access to the amenities of the other five buildings. Sunscapes Resort & Spa, which opened a month ago, is located within the hotel zone, with six restaurants and four bars.
But there are also decidedly different options in Puerto Vallarta, like the sustainably-designed Nemi Eco Villa. The first ‘green’ villa of south Puerto Vallarta, the four-tier modern accommodation on the hill is constructed from repurposed, recycled and local materials, runs on solar power and features locally-sourced contemporary décor, as well as an all-natural swimming pool. The villa is handled by Agave Villas Mexico.
Another glamorous option in Puerto Vallarta is Casa Kimberly, the former home of Hollywood legends Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Owned by the same owner as nearby Hacienda San Angel near Our Lady of Guadeloupe Church, the historic property is now an eight-room boutique hotel, with three rooms on the Richard Burton side, and five rooms on the Elizabeth Taylor side, still linked together by a bridge. The hotel is a spacious mix of Mexican antique wood furniture and décor and contemporary style, with selected art featuring the famous former owners.