Adjacent to the Club de Playa is Nuevo Vallarta’s first world-class hotel, a palmy Mediterranean- style French-Canadian–owned twin development. Its older (circa 1990) section, the Club Suites Marival (Blvd. Nuevo Vallarta, esq. Paseo Cocoteros, tel. 322/297-0100 or 322/226-8200, toll-free Mex. tel. 01-800/326-6600, fax 322/297-0160, www.gomarival.com), sits beside the new, shinier Grand Marival.
The hotels sometime invite the public to drop in on their continuous party ($50/day pp), which includes sports, crafts, games, and food and drink. If you take a room in the Grand Marival, the all-inclusive food, lodging, and activities run about $200 per day for two in low season, $270 high. The Club section, being a half a block from the beach, is cheaper by about $10 per person. If you reserve through an agent, be sure to ask for a package or promotional price.
Along the beach boulevard, Paseo de Cocoteros, about two miles south of the original development, a line of big new hotels woos vacationers with a plethora of facilities and long, velvety beaches. The 344-room Vallarta Palace Resort (Paseo de los Cocoteros 19, tel. 322/226-8470, toll-free Mex. tel. 01-800/672-5223, fax 322/226-8471, www.palaceresorts.com) is the most established. Arrival there feels like approaching a small Elysium. Above the reception area rises an airy, angular atrium. Nearby, a garden of lovely ceramic fruits decorates whitewashed stairs leading down to a buffet loaded with salads, fruit, poultry, fish, meats, and desserts spread on one side of a spacious, guest-filled dining area. Outside are pools beneath palm trees along the beach, where crowds enjoy nightly dancing and shows. By day, guests lounge, swim, and frolic amid a varied menu of activities, from water aerobics and yoga to beach volleyball, bicycling, and kayaking.
Rates include all food, drinks, activities, and a deluxe oceanview room with everything. For walk-in guests, prices begin at about $260 for two, kids 4–17 about $80. If the season is right, you may be able to secure a reduced-rate package via the Internet or a travel agent. Be aware that this is partly a time-share property and the management is always interested in selling you a time-share.
Next door to the south, the Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta (Paseo de los Cocoteros 18, tel. 322/297-0400, toll-free Mex. tel. 01-800/907-9500, toll-free U.S./Can. tel. 800/858-2258, fax 322/297-0082, www.occidental-hoteles.com) offers a similar all-inclusive vacation package for about $190 for two in low season, $230 high. Children under 6 stay free, kids 6–12 stay for $50 in low season, $70 high. Day passes, including all in-house food, drinks, sports, and entertainment, run about $40 per adult; night passes are about $50. Bargain packages are often available by Internet reservation or through agents during non-peak seasons.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition