Clients can learn about the sculptures along the Malecon on an art tour. // © 2011 TIFF130
Scroll down for an air update on travel to Puerto Vallarta
In the Air
Alaska Airlines began a seasonal direct flight between San Diego and Puerto Vallarta on Nov. 2, 2010. It’s been a success, and San Diegans who bemoan the lack of direct flights to Mexico will be sad to see this one end on April 12. Alaska plans to restart the flight in the fall of 2011. The $385 airfare is a deal. After April 12, San Diegans will have to fly through Los Angeles, Dallas or Phoenix and pay upwards of $450. Your clients who love Puerto Vallarta will want to go now. www.alaskaair.com
Puerto Vallarta's tourism season peaks in spring as celebrants of all ages arrive on school and work breaks. Families gather at all-inclusive resorts along the hotel zone, couples retreat to villas and condos in lush hillsides and singles stick close to the beach scene and nightlife around the malecon (boardwalk).
As the spring season approaches, Puerto Vallarta's latest transformation includes a new pier at Playa Los Muertos and several highway improvements. New and faithful visitors will find an upscale performing arts center, updated menus at several venerable restaurants, exciting tours, new hotels and a jam-packed calendar of festivals and special events. On Stage
Lavender and coral lights play upon the modern facade of the Teatro Vallarta in the heart of downtown. The performing arts center, which opened just less than a year ago, has become a venue of choice for touring artists including the Russian State Ballet and the Bee Gees. "Fandango," a modern interpretation of Mexican culture in music, dance and special effects, is presented Wednesday to Friday nights; tickets are $45. www.teatrovallarta.comWild Luxury
Aptly named for the white herons gracing this 83-acre nature reserve, the Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa is one of the area's newest hot spots, located on the south coast of Banderas Bay. Its location, just a 10-minute drive south of downtown, near Mismaloya, is ideal for watching migratory birds fly above treetops. The resort's Blanca Blue restaurant, one of Puerto Vallarta's hottest nightspots, claims full-on views of Los Arcos and the bay, where humpback whales cavort just offshore. There are plenty of wonders inside as well, from the lavish suites with full kitchens to the impressive wine cellar. Several packages, including an all-inclusive plan, are available.www.garzablancaresort.com
Cuixmala is in the Costalegre south of the city and is a private collection of properties where zebras and dozens of bird species roam free on a 25,000-acre estate within the 32,000-acre Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve. The exclusive resort includes an over-the-top villa called La Loma, three private villas and several one-bedroom casitas. A special package available for Easter includes three nights in a casita with a meal plan; a lagoon tour, during which clients can view roseate spoonbills, among other birds; and many other extras for $1,900.www.cuixmala.com
Puerto Vallarta's hotel zone beach hasn't undergone the huge changes seen in other destinations, but a new resort is attracting attention and rave reviews. Part vacation rental and part hotel, the Sunset Plaza Beach Resort offers one- and two-bedroom units, all with kitchens and oceanview balconies. The beach is small, but water lovers are happy playing in the three pools and hot tubs. An all-inclusive plan is available, and buffets are nonexistent as meals are freshly prepared and plentiful. The location is ideal for hopping the bus to downtown. www.shellvacationsclub.comTasty Tidbits
Dining is always a big part of a successful Puerto Vallarta visit -- whether you prefer taco stands or linen-clad tables. As to be expected, there are several new standouts on the dining scene.
El Dorado, a longtime favorite on Playa los Muertos, has a new look and menu. Executive chef Juan Zuno of Boca Bento fame has joined several other partners in creating an exciting transformation with Latin-Asian cuisine (think duck carnitas and miso sea bass) and several gorgeous palapas, a broad wood deck and fire pits. On Monday nights, there is a fire show with flamenco and Arabian music. www.eldoradopv.com
If your clients enjoy dining, book their trip during Puerto Vallarta's Restaurant Week, taking place May 15-31. Fabulous restaurants discount three-course meals as much as 50 percent -- to as little as $20 -- giving clients a chance to try several fine restaurants without blowing their budgets. Participating restaurants often include Cafe des Aristes, La Leche, Trio, Hacienda San Angel Gourmet. Those establishments and many more will likely be offering
special menus in 2011. Posing on the Malecon
The many sculptures lining the downtown malecon are among Puerto Vallarta's finest attributes, but most visitors know next to nothing about the artists and their other works. Enter Gary Thompson, whose Galeria Pacifico has long been at the center of the city's art scene. Now, Thompson is leading weekly Tuesday morning Sculpture Tour walks along the malecon until mid-April. His insights into the artworks, their creators and Puerto Vallarta's art scene are invaluable.www.galeriapacifico.com