All Inclusive in Nuevo Vallarta:
After two wonderful days in San Blas in the coastal heart of the Riviera Nayarit region, it was time to head South, back to Nuevo Vallarta to sample some of the larger family orientated all-inclusive hotels.
The purpose of my trip was to attend the Family Travel Summit, organized by but before it began I wanted to see as much of the area as possible and compare some of the family orientated destinations both off and on the beaten track.
Travelling back down from San Blas takes you along the Mexico 200 highway, which compares to any American highway in terms of quality and safety. It winds up and down through the hill, offering splendid views of the almost jungle like forests in the hills and vast farmed fields on the flat. Passing through numerous villages with roadside stalls selling all the freshest farm produce and prepared street food, there is never a shortage of colour or sights.
The route takes about 3-4 hours, but there was no way we were going to do that as we stopped at various towns and took more pictures of the amazing scenery. I was genuinely surprised by how green and fresh everything here was, as well as impressed with the quality of the roads and transport. Even on the backroads, I hadn’t seen a donkey or a man asleep in a poncho under a sombrero; it really is time to throw away the old preconceived ideas of Mexico.
My first hotel stay was at the Marival Resort Hotel, a large all-inclusive hotel. The all-inclusive lets holiday makers plan for the cost of their holiday with no surprises and is a growing area for the Nuevo Vallarta hotels.
The standard rooms are large too, with plenty of space for clothes and bags. A nice feature was the double sided wardrobes, accessible from the room or the bathroom. Clearly thought had gone into what holiday makers want and find easy to use.
And the view from the room wasn’t bad either, overlooking the central pool areas. There are 3 pools, with the children’s pool separate from just adults, with lots of hotel staff on hand to play and keep them safe. The palm trees around the sides helped keep any noise down making for a relaxed and worry free family environment.
Although the larger hotels are all-inclusive, there is no reason not to leave the hotel and go into town. You can walk, cycle or take a tour-car (which only takes a few minutes). Nuevo Vallarta is a busy working town, but still takes pride in its tourism and history. Mock buildings promoting the Aztec culture can be found in areas you would normally just have a roundabout, reinforcing the cultural heritage this part of Mexico has.
A stroll further on takes you to the harbour zone, with its mix of small fishing boats and mega super yachts. The daily fish market serves all the hotels as well as the locals, and the fishermen are happy to smile and pose for the camera, expecting nothing in return. Boats lie moored up with men gutting the fresh catch. Cormorants and pelicans sit patiently watching ever move, ready to devour the scraps thrown to them.
Although the hotel beach was quiet, a few further on round the coast takes you to some of the whitest sand beaches that are completely empty, apart from the odd bar supplying cocktails, cool beers and really good street food.
And seriously, the beaches are that empty. I really love Nuevo Vallarta, and whilst it is growing its tourism, I think the beaches will remain peaceful for some time yet.
The noisy popular resort of Cancun is over a thousand miles to the west, and as I sipped on a long cocktail with nothing to hear but the sea, I was really happy to be this side of Mexico. It’s no wonder that Mexicans come here for their holidays too.
Almost all the hotels have their own wedding chapels or wedding areas. The all-inclusive pricing allows the guest to budget so there has been a big increase in people coming to get married and have their honeymoon here, along with guests.
With the Conference about to start, I moved north by about 10km to the Iberostar Hotel next to the town of Sayulita. This hotel has a superb reputation as a conference centre as well as a good family hotel destination. As with most of the large hotels, it offers an all-inclusive package and could be considered a great location to take your family with you if you had a conference to attend.
The hotel borders the sea, with miles of empty beach, but has green lawns and lakes in the centre to keep the tranquillity and cool within the hotel.
The hotel offers lots of activities for both children and adults, as well as excursions out to take in the surrounding scenery. A boat tour early in the morning to the islands off Sayulita and the bird sanctuary there delivers rewards undreamt of on any regular holiday.
Coming back in daylight, we stop off at the small town of Sayulita, only minutes from the hotel. This may be considered more of a tourist town, but there is no pressure to buy anything, and most of the locals are just going about their normal business. Here, just as in Nuevo Vallarta, the beaches are almost empty, a few children flying kites and kicking a football around in the street.
All too soon it is time to return home. Look out for a more detailed post on the activities and places I enjoyed in Riviera Nayarit, as these last 2 posts barely scratch the surface of the beauty I have seen. This is one place I will return to again. And again.