Rooms are decorated with orange and yellow hues. // © 2011 Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa
Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa www.sunsetplaza.com.mx
Through Dec. 23, all-inclusive nightly rates
range from $200 for a deluxe guestroom and from $300 for a one-bedroom
suite. A two-bedroom suite begins at $200 per person, nightly.
Passing throngs of spring breakers in Puerto Vallarta's Hotel Zone, while I was en route to Sunset Plaza Beach Resort & Spa, I had my concerns.
I envisioned raucous pool parties, packed elevators and stiff competition for lounge chairs. Fortunately, however, my three-night stay at this new all-inclusive beachfront resort proved to be quite the contrary.
Certainly, families are an obvious niche for the stylish 106-room property since accommodations include 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom units sleeping up to eight. But instead of revelers, it skewed toward sedate with couples dominating the guest profile.
A sense of place was made clear from the start. I was greeted by a doorman who pointed out a beautiful Huichol-themed pebble mosaic. Deer, maize and peyote are the most significant symbols of the Aztec descendents who live in the rugged mountain ranges of Jalisco and Nayarit. So it seems fitting that the resort welcomes its guests with this local artwork.
Further elevating my first impression was the contemporary architecture -- from the avant-garde interior with clean modern lines to the exterior that curves gently around a lush beachfront sundeck with an infinity pool.
With a citrus-scented washcloth and glass of champagne in hand, I checked in at one of several individual desks and was assigned a personal butler, Jose Luis. Aside from orientating me to my one-bedroom suite, he was available for a slew of special requests, including pillow choices, aromatherapy scents, lounge chair reservations, tour arrangements and laundry service.
Even after the newness wears off, Sunset Plaza's suites will overwhelm with size and tasteful decor. They are warmly decorated in orange and yellow hues and sparkle with fine granite countertops, beige tile floors and elegant contemporary wood furnishings.
Fully equipped kitchens are so swank that they will likely lure guests into prepping a meal or two. Separating this jewel from the dining area is a bar-style counter with stools. The open space flows to a living area with an overstuffed sofa-bed sleeper, comfy chairs, a coffee table and a 32-inch, flat-panel television with a DVD menu.
Maintaining that high level of luxury, the master bedroom shines with a king-size bed, another television, a full-size desk and a chair with an ottoman. And just when I thought it couldn't get any grander, I found the master bath with a Jacuzzi large enough for two.
This inner-suite retreat is also outfitted with both single- and double-sink vanities, a private toilet, a separate shower and a walk-in closet that is the size of a small studio apartment.
As if this 1,200-square-foot nest isn't generous enough, a 323-square-foot private terrace stretches the entire suite width of the suite with a 180-degree view of the ocean and glorious Puerto Vallarta sunsets. Encouraging guests to spend more time outside than in, it's furnished with a pair of lounge chairs and a second dining table with additional seating.
"Since opening Sunset Beach Resort & Spa in December, we have seen such a wow factor with our guests," said Sergio Alvarez Menendez, director of sales and marketing. "It's the things you don't expect to have that are here when your arrive -- high service levels, free Wi-Fi and extra amenities such as kids'-size bathrobes and even telescopes on some of the terraces."
Once I finally worked my way outside, the wooing continued. The resort serves up three pools overlooking the ocean, with a sparkling infinity pool and a swim-up bar. There are also three large hot tubs, a fitness center, a Zen Set Spa, a kids' club, tennis courts and a self-service deli.
Most seductive in my book, however, is a sweet little beach spot adjacent to the adults-only pool. A dozen or so private cabanas are dressed up with thick memory foam mattresses and privacy curtains.
Guests can opt for an international buffet or a la carte dining at Mirador Bistro & Grill and gourmet Italian cuisine at La Trattoria di Lucciano. Just off the lobby is the Sunset Bar that's known for heating up the scene with live music on Friday evenings and karaoke on Saturdays. Round-the-clock room service is also available, although it's not covered in the all-inclusive rate.
"A lot of my clients love the idea of an all-inclusive that offers options to standard buffet lines," said Dick Slaker, a travel consultant with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Travel Leaders. "So it's nice to have table service and to also have a nice, new kitchen in your suite."