Puerto Vallarta's Dynamic Duo

New Grand Velas and remodeled Velas Vallarta give visitors more options

By: Maxine Cass

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico With the opening in December of the Grand Velas All Suites Resort & Spa (see sidebar), Velas Vallarta Grand Suites might have been destined to become the ugly stepsister in town. Fortunately for travel agents and guests alike, the owner of the properties saw that two is indeed better than one, and decided to update the Velas Vallarta to bring it in line with its new sister property.

As Velas Vallarta Grand Suites Resort general manager Luis Angarita put it, “Eduardo Vela, the owner, had finished the Grand Velas and realized that it was unfair to have the other hotel so nice and this one not.”

Unfair and perhaps unwise, as the two properties will also help the company better compete with the nearby Marriott Casa Magna, Westin Regina and Fiesta Americana properties.

Even though Eduardo Velas had recently spent $100,000 on each of the 161 suites of the Grand Velas, the Velas Vallarta has invested $4 million on an extensive remodel of the property.

The renovation will include 220 of the 360 rooms; its Italian cuisine restaurant, Andrea; the seaside informal restaurant, La Ribera; and lavish flowering gardens. This summer, an additional $2 million will renovate the remaining 140 rooms.

This means that Velas Vallarta is undergoing its fourth renovation in 13 years.

Originally built as condominiums, Velas Vallarta rooms are large suites. Kitchenettes have a modern refrigerator and microwave. Bathroom amenities are comprehensive. Remodeling includes all-new furniture, and goose-down bedding and mounds of pillows beneath a seashell bedstead. Air-conditioning is state-of-the-art and very effective. A pillow menu and 27-inch flat screen televisions add to an atmosphere of relaxation.

The usual resort menu of activities includes kayaking tours, beach volleyball, water aerobics, water polo, beach soccer, introductory scuba diving, three lighted tennis courts and a basketball court.

Guests are constantly aware of the approximately 550 employees working around the 10-acre oceanfront property, with its three pools and a waterfall. Angarita claimed that there had never been a layoff, and not much staff turnover.

A separate entrance provides access to the 6,928-square-foot Convention Center Grand Salon Alejandra. A timeshare operates side-by-side with lodging for leisure travelers.

Velas Vallarta recently introduced the Gold Crown all-inclusive plan. The program includes restaurant, theme night and room service dining, bar beverages, fitness center, Kid’s club and more. The per day Gold Crown program cost is $85 per adult and $43 for children 5 to 12.

The property offers travel agents a $75 plus tax, per person, double occupancy Gold Crown all-inclusive plan introductory rate.



Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort

The Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, which opened in December 2003, has a modern, luxurious feel, with a several-story-high palapa over the open lobby; large black and white pebble tile patterns on the floor and an infinity pool by the ocean.

Room furnishings meld golden Mexican colors and wooden Balinese handicrafts. The 161-room, all-inclusive property has five levels of suites ranging from 690 to 4,360 square feet, all with ocean views. Nightly rack rates range from $290 per person to $3,300.

The 17,350-square-foot Grand Spa Velas has 20 treatment rooms and seven treatment styles. The Sabai Outdoor Massage Center opens onto the infinity pool, and is within earshot of the rolling surf.