One-Stop Shopping

Puerto Vallarta boutique company helps create unique itineraries

By: Eleanor M. Wilson

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 click.

“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 general.

“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 be reserved.

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 lavatory.

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 minutes away.

Simple Elegance

Delightful, charming, cozy and whimsical are apt adjectives for Casa Las Brisas, our back-to-earth stop in Punta Mita on the Bay of Banderas.

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 eco-excursions.

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 course.

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 lotions.