Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta Mexico is a charming, warm and intimate hacienda-style boutique resort that offers guests a choice of an all-inclusive visit.
It is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, and the recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award. Conveniently located just 5 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta Airport and 15 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta, the hotel’s deluxe 80 suites (some with private pools and Jacuzzis) sit on the edge of Marina Vallarta’s 18-hole golf course. My mini-suite has an oval plunge pool on the terrace; the bed is extremely comfortable, and the bathroom oversized. The service here is very personal, and in one day, everyone knows my name and treats me like family. Angel Garcia, who was recently promoted to concierge, is most helpful in arranging flight changes and other requested services.
Manuel Oviedo, the General Manager, is a hands-on professional as he overseas the daily operation of this small intimate jewel. He is caring and personable as he greets his guests with the informality they seek, and as if they were indeed staying at a private hacienda. The veranda is a comfortable place for cocktails; the hotel’s pet peacocks strut by; and families of gold fish swim back and forth in small ponds. Several couples I meet have been coming here for years; others are on a romantic honeymoon, a golf vacation or just a relaxing break from home.
Emiliano’s, the hotel’s ala carte fine dining restaurant, under the baton of one of the area’s leading chefs, serves traditional and innovative Mexican and International dishes. I prefer breakfast and lunch on the terrace, overlooking the swimming pool, and golf course … and dinner in the elegant dining room.
After breakfast, I wander through the Casa Velas Botanical Gardens which are quite methodical in their planting; magical, fragrant and ablaze with color. The shuttle to the hotel beach club takes a few minutes, and I arrive in time for a swim in the pool that overlooks the sea and a late lunch from the bar’s light fare menu. When the sun begins to set I meet my therapist for a sunset massage in an open tent on the edge of the sand.
A large group of kids and adults are gathered on the beach near the water, and I walk down to see what is happening. This is place where sea turtles come to lay and bury their eggs in the sand. The eggs have just hatched, and hundreds of tiny turtles have been collected in buckets. I watch dozens of young children line up; they are each given a tiny turtle which they carry to the water. I am told that only 5 % will survive, but those that do will return to this same beach in 11 to 15 years to lay their eggs.
The New Old Puerto Vallarta
Thanks to Gustavo from the Latitude Public Relations Firm, Sara Sanchez from the Puerto Vallarta Tourist Board and I meet and spend the morning exploring the streets of what I call “the new old Puerto Vallarta” … a not- to- be- missed nostalgic town where tradition, culture, art, cobblestone streets, the ocean and clean sandy beaches come together in a vibrant colorful mix. It has been years since my last visit. Many places have come and gone, other enduring landmarks and attractions remain as I remember them, including the Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the art galleries, the Ramiz Barquet sculptures along the seaside promenade, the romantic zone where you can take a dip in the Cuale River, the handicraft market and streets lined with silver shops, eclectic boutiques and amazing restaurants serving traditional Mexican dishes.
Some things will never change such as Gary Thompson who has been influencing the art scene for 30 years. Gary is the owner of the prominent Galeria Pacifico was a friend to Ramirez … and can be met leading the weekly Art Walk along the marecon and into participating galleries, including his own.
Strolling the marecon, I stop in front of Ramirez’s bronze “Nostalgia” which portrays a man and a woman sitting on a bench, as a monument to love. Many of his sculptures are off the beaten track so I suggest you join Gary who is a rare treasure in his own right, for one of his entertaining and highly informative Art Walks.
I didn’t get a chance to take the short boat ride to Yolapa, a charming fishing village, but I did go on a bumpy ride up the river with Gary, Sara and Manuel for a delicious grilled fish lunch at a local roadside restaurant.
The heart and soul of the “new old Puerto Vallarta” continues to beat fast and furiously with renewed passion for its heritage and its future; it will always be one of Mexico’s most famous and popular destinations …and Casa Velas will remain a warm and welcoming “home away from Home”.
For more info: www.hotelcasavelas.com