PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico Mexico is a multi-layered vacation
destination offering culture, crafts, beaches and history and some
clients want to see it all in one trip.
One company offers an innovative system that might help. Mexico
Boutique Hotels has developed Circuit Tours, which allow agents to
book a number of hotels in one trip with just a phone call or
“Our program allows agents to customize an itinerary among
several hotels or destinations without all the arduous research
this usually takes,” explained John Youden, the company’s director
“We represent 28 unique hotels in 20 Mexican destinations, and
continue to add to the collection. With our help, agents can thread
together an intriguing route based on client interests or adapt
from our sample itineraries.”
To check this claim out, we requested a weeklong Puerto Vallarta
Circuit Tour, choosing three hotels out of a possible eight. Our
requirements: unwind for the first two days in pampered seclusion,
gently reconnect with society for the next two and end at a
full-service, centrally located resort.
Las Alamandas, described in the illustrated directory as
“luxurious, secluded and spacious,” is exactly what we ordered on
the scenic Costalegre coast. Only six villas with 14 suites rest on
1,500 beachfront acres in a lushly landscaped country club setting.
Most floor plans allow the ground floor junior suites to be rented
separately from upper level master suites, or the entire villa can
Our master suite in Casa Azul contained a spacious sitting room
and a bedroom with no walls or doors between. The brightly tiled
bathroom had two arched entrances, but the only door was to the
We spent the first day on our large, roofed terrace, with a
dining area at one end and a living room setup at the other. Here,
all three meals were artfully presented and discreetly served.
The next morning, we had breakfast under a palapa right on the
beach, and later, an excellent dinner on the restaurant’s outdoor
patio, surrounded by nature’s night sounds. In between, we floated
in the pool, walked on tile garden paths and took a shuttle ride
around the undeveloped areas to the airstrip, where guests receive
complimentary parking for private planes.
Charter flights from the Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo airports
cost around $1,250 for a four-passenger Cessna.
That’s how Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston arrived so we learned
from their snapshots on the activity board. Another regular, Robert
De Niro, donated gym equipment several years ago so he could work
out as well as relax. The resort offers mountain biking, horseback
riding and tennis, and will arrange golf at El Tamarindo, about 45
Delightful, charming, cozy and whimsical are apt adjectives for
Casa Las Brisas, our back-to-earth stop in Punta Mita on the Bay of
This seven-room private enclave with restaurant and pool is
nestled around a gorgeous beach. Owner Marc Lindskog met us at the
front gate, just as one would greet friends who stop by, and that
set the tone for our entire stay. The captivating boutique inn
defines “romantic hideaway” but with lots of guest interaction. Our
room had a small balcony, ocean view, great bathroom shower and a
constant breeze. Lindskog’s offbeat art and craft collections are
on display in guestrooms and public areas.
Meals are served under a big palapa by the pool with the bar at
its edge. The chef deftly blends American and Mexican cuisine, and
is quite obliging which, in my case, meant, “hold the chilies.”
Desserts are confectionery masterpieces. Your genial host gladly
arranges watersports, golf, horseback riding and
Having It All
Quinta Real Puerto Vallarta adjoins the Marina Vallarta Golf
Club in a residential neighborhood. The recently completed $6
million renovation resulted in a sophisticated mixture of local
charm and sleek elegance, complemented by an outstanding staff who
seem to sincerely enjoy meeting you.
Our townhouse-style villa had two bedrooms, marble baths (one
with Jacuzzi tub), TVs, phones and all the amenities. A foyer (with
powder room) led to the living/dining area. Sliding glass doors
opened to a patio and our own plunge pool bordering the golf
Dining is al fresco around an eye-pleasing freeform pool with
white cabana tents, or in El Candil, where full-length windows
overlook the same scene.
Lunch and dinner are also served at the resort’s Beach Club,
reached by a free shuttle, where a delightful view across the bay
is visible from indoors or on the deck. At night, the city glitters
on the horizon.
In the “Gran Spa,” total rejuvenation begins with a gentle foot
soak amid floating rose petals, while sipping a cleansing
chlorophyll drink. A hot stone massage follows. Steam room, sauna
and Jacuzzi sessions are complimentary. An attentive staff guides
each guest through the treatments, always ready with towels or