A Look at Puerto Vallarta's Huge Tourism Boom

A Look at Puerto Vallarta's Huge Tourism Boom

What’s new and exciting in Puerto Vallarta and nearby Nuevo Vallarta By: Meagan Drillinger
<p>Puerto Vallarta, a main tourist hub in Mexico, attracted 3.6 million tourists in 2015. // © 2016 iStock</p><p>Feature image (above): Vidanta...

Puerto Vallarta, a main tourist hub in Mexico, attracted 3.6 million tourists in 2015. // © 2016 iStock

Feature image (above): Vidanta Resorts and Destinations, which operates Grand Luxxe at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, has major development plans in the works. // © 2016 Grupo Vidanta

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s Pacific beach resort mecca, is often said to exude the soul of Mexico. Though this sleepy seaside town was once quiet with very little development, Puerto Vallarta — and nearby Nuevo Vallarta just to the north of the airport — has been booming with new hotels and entertainment in the last few years.

2015 alone was a boon year for the destination, as Puerto Vallarta saw the opening of the highly anticipated Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive Adults Only, Hotel Mousai, Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, Casa Kimberly and Garlands Del Rio. And it’s not stopping there.

A total of 3.6 million tourists visited Puerto Vallarta in 2015, and 136 cruises called in the destination. In 2016, it is anticipated that a total of 149 cruise ships will dock in the city. To handle this growth, Puerto Vallarta has planned a renovation of its port, which will include an investment of more than $20 million and will open in three phases over five years. The port will include a welcome center, an aquarium, a tequila center and shopping. 

Earlier this year at the Tianguis Turistico conference, held in Guadalajara, it was announced that Nuevo Vallarta was slated to open Costa Canuva, one of the biggest luxury development projects in Mexico. This oceanfront community will sit on more than 4 miles of coastline, with 630 acres of beach, estuary and mountains. The property will have five luxury hotels, more than 2,500 residential units, a PGA-caliber golf course, specialty restaurants, mountain-biking trails, a marina and more. Activities available on-site will include sailing, surfing and fishing expeditions, as well as golfing on a course co-designed by Greg Norman and Lorena Ochoa. 

As of now, only one of the five hotels has been announced. The opening of Costa Canuva will happen in stages, the first of which is slated for 2018. The first phase will see the debut of the golf course, beach club, 350 residential units and Fairmont Costa Canuva. Fairmont Costa Canuva will have 250 guestrooms and suites, with 40 Fairmont Gold rooms and residences. Other amenities will include six restaurants and bars, an outdoor swimming pool and a Willow Stream Spa. 

Vidanta Resorts and Destinations also has major plans for Nuevo Vallarta, as well. Building on its successful partnership with Cirque du Soleil in Riviera Maya, Vidanta plans to debut a $1.3 billion experiential, Cirque du Soleil-themed park in Nuevo Vallarta. The Park, as it is currently called, will bring Cirque’s immersive entertainment experience to life in a fantasyland complete with three hotels; a mix of interactive theater with water features; VIP hydrotherapy circuit for adults; experiential and interactive entertainment experiences; and embedded Cirque du Soleil actors. The Park is anticipated to have a major impact on Puerto Vallarta, as it is estimated to draw 1 million visitors in the first phase of opening and an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually once it is fully open. The first phase is set to open in 2018.