Guest Author - Kara Williams
Just a five-minute walk to Puerto Vallarta's main oceanfront boardwalk lined with nightclubs and restaurants, the Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Spa is a fabulous resort for young honeymooning couples who would like to be close to Vallarta's vibrant nightlife.
But there's plenty more to the Buenaventura than its rock-star location -- namely it's roomy suites, varied fare, expansive pool area and value-priced honeymoon and destination-wedding packages.
My family and I spent three nights in June at the Buenaventura, which underwent a huge renovation in the winter of 2007/8. We bunked in a very spacious Junior Suite, which consists of a bedroom with king-size bed, balcony, closet and flat-screen TV, as well as a huge living/dining room, with fold out sofa bed (likely not needed for honeymooners!) and an in-room Jacuzzi tub built for two (definitely a plus for honeymooners!), mini-fridge, dining table, coffeemaker and balcony, see photo at left. The pretty, blue-tiled bathroom had a roomy shower (and great water pressure).
By all means, if you appreciate the ability to spread out, and don't mind spending the extra dough, I highly recommend the Junior Suites, all of which are oceanfront, and offer amazing views -- especially at sunset. There are only four of these types of rooms at the resort, and I imagine they are reserved sooner than later.
But there are also 14 Honeymoon Suites, which have pretty four-poster king-size beds, a CD/stereo and oceanfront views; some have in-room Jacuzzis, see photo at right. Deluxe Rooms, of which there are 216, are not huge, but offer adequate space with a king bed option; do ask for ocean views. The rooms that face the street aren't nearly as scenic, and you may deal with unwanted noise from cars and passersby below.
We enjoyed the All-Inclusive Plan, which allowed us unlimited eating and drinking on the resort's property (a room-only European Plan is also offered). During the day, the beachside restaurant is the place to go for ordering lunch and snack items like sandwiches, chips and dip and quesadillas off a menu. In the evening, the same venue transforms into a more sophisticated dining area, also with a la carte options.
We ate our meals at Frutas and Flores in the evening, which offers themed buffets (Mexican Night, Pasta Night, Seafood Night). We found varied main dishes, with a generous salad bar and dessert table. The breakfast buffet at this open-air restaurant is stellar: made-to-order omelets and waffles, plus lots of fresh fruit, cereals, sausage, potatoes and more. (If you've partied at the Puerto Vallarta clubs all night, you'll appreciate that breakfast is served until noon daily!)
Reservations are required at Rodisso Steakhouse, a Brazilian-style restaurant. Honeymooning couples should book a meal at Miramar Restaurant, the intimate dining area, with a table set only for two, above Frutas and Flores. Here, the chef creates a special dinner menu just for you, and the views of the bay at sunset are amazing!
The freeform pool and the activities pool, with nets for volleyball and waterpolo, are the places to be during the day. The activities staff keep guests busy with soccer and volleyball on the beach; you can borrow kayaks to take out into the ocean, too. Note, however, that the beach is not great for body surfing, since it's pretty rocky -- you'll want to head down to Los Muertos in Old Town Puerto Vallarta (a short taxi ride or bus trip away) for frolicking in the surf, with fewer rocks.
Wireless internet is available at the hotel at no charge if you've brought along your wi-fi-equipped laptop. However, my husband and i had trouble connecting in our room. It only seemed to work in the lobby.
The on-site Shakti Spa is absolutely gorgeous. The open-air, rooftop location (above the pool/beachside restaurant) offers spa-goers a relaxing atmosphere. You receive treatments in palapa huts; couples massages are available.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you are honeymooning in the summer months, keep in mind that this property is family friendly; you'll likely encounter families with young children on their summer breaks from school. This resort is popular among not only visiting Americans and Canadians, but Mexicans as well.
During our June stay, the resort was also filled with dozens of recent high-school grads. The Buenaventura Hotel was one of the properties used for GradCity.com, a tour operator that arranges trips for graduating high-school seniors. You may want to ask if a similar packaged vacation is happening during your honeymoon stay here, unless you don't mind the pool being taken over by several 18-year-olds enjoying plenty of pina coladas...
Also note that the entrance to the Buenaventura is right off the street in a busy section of town. While the lobby is lovely, you're not going to enjoy a grand entrance that some of the resorts in the hotel zone have. What's nifty, though, is that when you take just a few steps past the reception desk onto the pathway to the pool and the beach, you're transported into a lovely garden setting filled with palm trees and lush vegetation. Once you're set up with a frothy drink from the poolside bar, you won't even notice that you're less than a block from busy city streets!
Destination Wedding Packages
Now through December 20, 2008, couples who would like to get married at the Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Spa can enjoy some great package deals. With the Spiritual Wedding Package, you get three nights of all-inclusive accommodations in a Deluxe Room (upgrade to Honeymoon Suite for $55/night), flowers for the ceremony, sparkling wine for a wedding toast, small wedding cake, choice of ceremony site (on the beach or around the pool, perhaps), officiant, wedding planner and more for $1,131.
The Grand Wedding Package for $1,318 per couple includes all of the above, plus the fees for the marriage license, judge, blood test and translation of legal documents, plus special in-room decor with flowers, fruit basket and sparkling wine.
To learn more about these destination wedding packages, as well as honeymoon packages, on the hotel's website, click on the Related Link below.