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Located just a few miles off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, are the uninhabited, and virtually untouched, Marieta Islands. In the early 1900s, Mexico’s government took advantage of the uninhabited archipelago and performed military testing on the islands. Though the islands were formed centuries ago because of volcanic activity, it is believed that the hidden beach, and many other unexplained craters and caves on the islands are due to explosions and bombings by the government. Read more
When I travel to a new destination, I always like to ask for advice and tips from my well-traveled friends who might have been to that place and probe for any suggestions before I get on the plane. And then, upon landing, I try to check those recommendations with my hotel and with locals. When it comes to finding places to eat, I find this type of research to be critical. I asked around for restaurant ideas before on my recent trip to Mexico. Here are my top picks after having spent a week in Puerto Vallarta.
I had never been to Puerto Vallarta, so I was very excited about the prospect of visiting over the New Year’s holiday. Coming from New York, it is, obviously, a longer trip than heading to the east coast of Mexico. However, it is worth the extra few hours of flight time. Puerto Vallarta is a charming seaside town and the old city is eminently walkable. There is a popular promenade along the water, and a not so surprising assortment of tourist shops, restaurants, and bars line the blocks. Most of one’s time, however, is likely spent at a resort and not at beaches around town.
I stayed at the Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa, located about 15 minutes south of the old town. This was the perfect choice. While the Four Seasons is about an hour north of town, I feel that the Garza Blanca is a great pick in that it is upscale, a very good value, and located not far from town for those evenings when one may want to go out to eat off property. Unlike the congested hotel zone north of Puerto Vallarta, the area south of the city, where the Garza Blanca is located, is less developed and far more secluded. Read more
This weekend ushered in the official start of fall, but that doesn’t mean you need to put away your bathing suit just yet. With beachfront resorts from Mexico to Aruba to Fiji, this week’s top deals allow you extend your summer a little bit longer, so you can dig your feet into the sand – and not dig deep into your wallet.
On Mexico’s golden Pacific Coast, the Paradise Village Beach Resort in Nuevo Vallarta is featuring rates for just $86 per person, per night this fall. That’s a savings of over 25 percent at the sprawling all-inclusive resort. The one catch is that a four-night minimum savings is required to reap these savings, but with a championship golf course, two spas, a marina, and a wildlife preserve, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to stay for less time. In nearby Los Cabos, the upscale Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort & Spa is offering all-inclusive rates for as little as $148 per person, per night through October 31 – a savings of 55 percent at this 4.5-star resort on the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Read more
Romance is revving up all over the place during the month of February, from sun-kissed beaches to sophisticated big cities. Here are 25 deals and packages – from Fort Lauderdale to Fiji, Maine to Madrid, and St. Kitts to Sedona – that you can still book to make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable ever:
IN THE U.S. & CANADA
The Grand Del Mar: Unplug and relax with the “Disconnect Package” at the luxurious The Grand Del Mar near San Diego (shown above at left) and you’ll get one night’s accommodations (with the room TV unplugged and upgrade upon booking if available), berry-infused champagne cocktail upon arrival, choice of a 60-minute couples massage, or a 2-hour horseback ride for two, breakfast in bed for two, and late checkout, from $795/night. Read more
Want to book a trip to Mexico but not sure where to start? Head over to Aeromexico’s new Gran Plan site for vacation package bookings. The site conveniently bundles air and hotel for Aeromexico destinations like Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos. Gateways within the U.S. include major hubs like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities such as Fresno, Phoenix, and Sacramento. There’s also a just-launched (as in yesterday) route between Las Vegas and Guadalajara. On the hotel front, you can expect to find perks and offers like room discounts, third night free, resort credits, and kids stay and eat free. Note that many flights require a stopover in Mexico City, but Aeromexico connections are easy at the new-ish Terminal 2, which opened in 2008. You’ll also be able to check your luggage without paying fees, and you might even get a free meal on the plane! us.granplan.com/packages
For general trip-planning information, see our Mexico Travel Guide.
Puerto Vallarta’s superlative colonial-style Hacienda San Angel comprises multiple villas with commanding views of the muddled village and bay. The owner of the 2008 Smart Luxury Winner spent six years collecting fine colonial furniture and artwork (from quirky folk pieces to intricate religious art) to fill the spaces. A Mariachi band or a quartet serenades guests every evening in the courtyard where guests can enjoy sweet mojitos and complimentary snacks (be sure to sample the spicy guacamole). All rooms at the hacienda are charming, but the royal and master suites are divine. This summer through October, you can book three of the villa’s prize suites for a fraction of the cost – only $195/night. Rates come December shoot up to $535/night!
THE VALUE: This offer will save you a whopping 63 percent off typical winter suite rates.
THE CATCH: Sale rates do not include the usual complimentary breakfast, tax, or gratuity.
Located in one of the most family-friendly destinations in Mexico, the all-inclusive Embarcadero Pacifico is offering rates from just $67 per person, per night through April 17! Flanked by the Marina Vallarta, the hotel looks out onto serene Banderas Bay. With the Embarcadero Pacifico all-inclusive plan, guests receive three meals daily, buffet style or a la carte, unlimited domestic drinks, access to non-motorized water sports, nightly entertainment, dancing lessons, and more!
THE VALUE: All tips and taxes are also included in the price!
THE CATCH: You’ll have to plan your family vacation soon – this deal expires April 17.
THE DETAILS: Visit the Embarcadero Pacifico and reserve the all-inclusive plan.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find budget-friendly airfare to Puerto Vallarta.
Browse our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide for trip-planning tips and information.
Foodie couples should circle these two fall festivals on their travel calendars to savor gourmet cuisine paired with fabulous wines (and more) – all while enjoying soothing tropical settings that epitomize romance.
Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival From November 19-22, 2010 you can be the first to sample the unique flavor combos on offer at the inaugural food festival on this charming, Zagat-rated Caribbean island (shown above; courtesy of Barbados Tourism) that also happens to be the birthplace of rum. The four celebrated chefs invited to show off their skills are acclaimed New York chef and “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio, award-winning international innovator Marcus Samuelsson, Asian-cuisine impresario and “Simply Ming” host Ming Tsai, and talented Texas chef/restaurateur Tim Love. Events range from a moonlit mingle wine- and rum-tasting with the chefs to hands-on cooking demos to an epicurean extravaganza featuring the invited guest chefs plus top restaurants, such as The Cliff from all around this food-centric island.
The ShermansTravel Deals team hand-picks the special breed of deals that promises free perks ? no strings attached. The sleek, 170-guestroom Mama Shelter serves up five-star bedding, a wall-mounted 24-inch iMac with WiFi, and futuristic décor to every discerning urbanite within the 20th arrondisement of Paris. Hot off the sandwich press, Mama offers two free buffet breakfasts, two daily bus passes, and a disposable camera, in addition to dropping rates to $122/night on a luxe double or twin room, for travel from July 19 through August 26. Visit www.mamashelter.com to book.
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