How Do You Find The Perfect Puerto Vallarta Accommodation Option For Your Client? That Is The Question. Travel Writer Judy Waytiuk Has The Answer...
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It may be an older destination than Mexico’s other winter travel hotspots, but Puerto Vallarta’s enjoying more and more attention from Canadian clients these days.

This one-time little fishing village saw more than one million hotel room occupancies between January and May 2013 – that’s some 11,000 more than the same period in 2012. Indeed, almost 800,000 tourists arrived in the first half of 2013, reflecting an eight per cent rise from 2012.

So what gives?

Firstly, this destination has tourist interests aced, for everything from boogying on the beach to exploring the traditional small villages. Secondly: airlift. It’s growing steadily and the Canadian charter packagers love the place. Sunwing Vacations offers three dozen hotel options, WestJet more than two dozen, and Air Canada some 19. There’s lot of duplication in these offerings, and they’re almost entirely all-inclusives, which can be both good and bad.

All-Inclusives: Pros And Cons
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As Canadians are a price-conscious bunch, the all-inclusive provide a perfect way for a client know exactly what their vacation’s going to cost, though they do get what they pay for at these resorts. 

The high-end Hard Rock Hotel is not in the centre of the city – it’s in the neighbouring state of Nayarit, technically – but, like other high-end spots, the place is gorgeous, the food fabulous and the beach a slice of heaven on earth.

Upscale properties like Secrets and the Occidental Grand routinely include in their packages activities like snorkeling, kayaking, boogie boarding, beach volleyball, soccer, golf, aqua-aerobics and yoga, while older hotels on smaller land footprints, like the recently-renovated Buenaventura, offer fewer sports options – but more economical all-round package pricing.

However, the downside to staying in all-inclusive properties in Puerto Vallarta is clear: with so much to see, do, explore and taste, to stay on-resort and not take advantage of everything that the destination has to offer is a shame.

While Puerto Vallarta first-timers may choose all-inclusives, repeat clients may want to branch out because they’ve seen first-hand what they missed when they stayed inside the resorts. 

The Hacienda and the Samba Vallarta are two smaller resorts where meal plans are optional, while the Tropicana and off-the-beach Villas Vallarta can provide breakfast-only plans, and some hotels, like the Villa Premiere, offer optional all-inclusive booking.

Street Life
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Puerto Vallarta’s wide, raised Malecon (boardwalk) in the city centre, as well as its zocalos (town squares) are hotbeds of activity.

Pedlars sell everything from jewellery to sandals, artists and sculptors showcase their talents, street performers play for tips and snack carts feed the happily-wandering tourists. It all revs-up on Sunday evenings, the traditional day for quality family time in Mexico, when these areas get packed with happy locals.

Restaurants, art galleries and shops are everywhere, almost all ranging from very good to excellent. Mariachi bands wander in and out of dining spots, and will sing their hearts out for a dining couple at the drop of a 50 peso bill... Though in some cases it may be worth 50 pesos to ask them to go away – and they will – smiling the whole time!

Chilled-Out Vallarta
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The Isla Rio Cuale is a small island that’s separated from busy Puerto Vallarta by the older suburb of Olas Altas, dubbed the ‘Romantic Zone’ by the local tourism folks.

On the island, an eclectic assortment of cruise-ship passenger-worthy shops and restaurants competes against the huge authentic old flea market that edges the river on the city side.

While most of the resorts stretch along the beach north of Puerto Vallarta proper and all the way up to Nayarit, to the south of the city centre, the Olas Altas area offers up a little less bustle and a little more genuine Mexican flavour, as well as a thriving GLBT-friendly hotel beach strip at the southern end of the beach.

All along the beach from the Rio Cuale to the south, sand-in-your-sandals beachside restaurants are the perfect places to sip happy hour cocktails and watch for the elusive sunset ‘green flash’ – an optical phenomenon that sometimes occurs at the exact moment before the sun fully sets. When it does happen, it’s always greeted by enthusiastic applause.         

Excursions And Adventures
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The must-do trips to Los Arcos National Marine Park and Islas Marietas – a Unesco biosphere nature reserve – are the hot tickets from tour packagers like Vallarta Adventures and Nayarit Adventures.

Less well-known tours include: visits to traditional Huichol villages, forest canopy zip-lining adventures, horseback riding, dolphin adventures, excursions to traditional Mexican villages like El Tuito and El Pitillal, and daytrips to the smaller towns to the north like Rincon de Guayabitos, Bucerias and Sayulita. Reachable only by boat are Las Animas Beach, Playa Quimixto and the funky little fishing village of Yelapa. 

A Home From Home
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Whatever a client opts for – all-inclusive or independent accommodation options – Puerto Vallarta offers an extra bonus: a huge ex-pat population of Canadians whose presence around town adds a comforting familiarity to this traditional Mexican destination that has everything a winter escapee could ever want.

No wonder the place is doing so well...