The Puerto Vallarta region has many hundreds of lodgings to suit every style and pocketbook: world-class resorts, small beachside hotels, comfortable apartments and condos, homey casas de huéspedes (guesthouses), palmy trailer parks, and dozens of miles of pristine beaches, ripe for tent or RV camping. The high seasons—when reservations are generally required—run from mid-December to March, during Easter week, and during the month of August.
The hundreds of accommodations described in the destination chapters of this book are positive recommendations—checked out in detail—solid options from which you can pick according to your taste and purse.
The rates listed in this book are U.S. dollar equivalents of peso prices, 17 percent taxes included, as quoted by the hotel management at the time of writing. They are intended as a general guide only and probably will only approximate the asking rate when you arrive. Some readers, unfortunately, try to bargain by telling desk clerks that, for example, the rate should be $30 because they read it in this book. This is unwise, because it makes hotel managers and clerks reluctant to quote rates for fear readers might, years later, hold their hotel responsible for such quotes.
In Puerto Vallarta, hotel rates depend strongly upon inflation and season. To cancel the effect of the relatively steep Mexican inflation, rates are reported in U.S. dollars (although, when settling your hotel bill, you will nearly always save money by insisting on paying in pesos). To further increase accuracy, estimated low- and high-season rates are quoted whenever possible.
The listed hotel prices are rack rates, the maximum tariff, exclusive of packages and promotions, that you would pay if you walked in and rented an unreserved room for one day. Savvy travelers seldom pay the maximum. Always inquire if there are any promotions or packages (promociones o paquetes; proh-moh-see-OH-nays OH pah-KAY-tays). At any time other than the super-high Christmas and Easter seasons, you can often get at least one or two free days with a one-week stay. Promotional packages available during slack seasons may include free extras such as breakfast, a car rental, a boat tour, or a sports rental. A travel agent or travel website can be of great help in shopping around for such bargains.
You nearly always save additional money if you deal in pesos only. Insist on both booking your lodging for an agreed price in pesos and paying the resulting hotel bill in the same pesos, rather than dollars. The reason is that dollar rates quoted by hotels are often based on the hotel desk exchange rate, which is customarily about 5 percent, or even as much 15 percent, less than bank rates. For example, if the clerk tells you your hotel bill is $1,000, instead of handing over the dollars, ask the clerk how much it is in pesos. Using the desk conversion rate, he or she might say something like 9,000 pesos (considerably less than the 10,000 pesos that the bank might typically give for your $1,000). Pay the 9,000 pesos or have the clerk mark 9,000 pesos on your credit card slip, and save yourself $100.
For stays of more than a week or two, you’ll save money and add comfort with an apartment or condominium rental. Monthly rates range $500–1,500 (less than half the comparable hotel per diem rate) for comfortable one-bedroom furnished kitchenette units, often including resort amenities such as pool and sundeck, beach club, and private view balcony.
Airlines regularly offer air-hotel packages that may save you lots of pesos, especially if you’re planning on staying at an upscale ($100 or more) hotel. These deals, which seldom extend to moderately priced lodgings, customarily require that you depart for Puerto Vallarta through certain gateway cities, which depend on the airline. Accommodations are usually (but not exclusively) in luxury resorts. If you live near one of these gateways, it may pay to consult the airlines.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition