A boulder the size of a washing machine sits in the lobby of Puerto
Vallarta’s Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center,
next to the elevators a souvenir from Kena, a Class 4 hurricane
that hit the hotel on Oct. 25, 2002. The gigantic stone came to
rest there, about 300 yards from the shoreline.
Visiting the hotel today, you’d hardly know that the boulder was
part of 180,000 cubic feet 1,000 truckloads of debris left by Kena.
After a $20 million renovation that was completed in February 2004,
the Sheraton Buganvilias looks like a new resort, especially on the
first floor and the grounds, which took the brunt of the damage.
The hotel’s new slogan, “Something’s Different,” rings true the
second you step into the spacious lobby, with its natural colors
and marble floors, accented by inlaid “stone carpets” and other
The project’s architect was Juan Carlos Name, a follower of Luis
Barragan, who pioneered Mexican regionalism in architecture. This
style embraces rusticity, filling spaces with color and light and
integrating the natural environment into the overall design,
according to Beatriz Gonzalez, the hotel’s sales manager.
Beyond the lobby, the building opens up to a newly renovated and
landscaped pool area and the Bay of Banderas beyond. The hotel
resurfaced and retiled its two swimming pools with 22,500 square
feet of Venetian mosaic. Its newly landscaped grounds feature
45,000 square feet of grass, foliage, shrubbery and flora,
including a heart-shaped garden near the beach for weddings and
other private gatherings.
A 50-foot-high palapa (thatched roof) crowns La Villita, the
hotel’s new, open-air, casual restaurant, site of an authentic
Mexican Sunday champagne brunch, complete with a roving mariachi
band. The restaurant evokes a decidedly Mexican ambience, with
local handicrafts such as baskets, clay pots and large,
pounded-iron pans adorning the structure.
Gaviotas, the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, offers an eclectic
decor and menu with indoor and al fresco seating. Above the dining
room is Patio Las Gaviotas, a new, indoor and outdoor space
offering a Mexican Fiesta night each Thursday for dinner. The
adjacent Embarcadero Bar (on the ground level) features live music
A lobby bar, two pool bars, room service and an open-air,
poolside restaurant serving light fare round out the food and
Fifty ground-floor rooms and 150 suites underwent renovation due
to hurricane damage, and the first-floor rooms now feature marble
floors. All 600 rooms had undergone renovation in 2001, but the
hotel went a few steps further this time and installed Sheraton
Sweet Sleeper beds in every room. In addition, the Towers rooms
(concierge-level accommodations on the top two floors) received new
furniture and Mexican-embroidered bedding.
Overall, the guestrooms are spacious and simple, with white
walls and few adornments, except for a ceramic sculpture in a
shadow box set into the stucco wall. Overhead, canned lights above
the beds substitute for table lamps. The bathrooms feature marble
finishes, separate sink and vanity areas and extra amenities such
as talcum powder and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Although only the first four floors of rooms offer balconies,
all rooms feature sweeping views of Banderas Bay. Tower guests
receive butler service, as well as complimentary continental
breakfast and afternoon wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres, in the
The property’s two spas one in the hotel, the other in the
adjacent timeshare building offer basic treatments such as Swedish
massages and facials. The spa in the hotel has a storefront facade
with floor-to-ceiling glass separating the brightly lit reception
area from the property’s main corridor. There are no lockers or
changing rooms. Its treatment rooms, however, are cocoon-like, with
subdued lighting, each with a private shower room.
New for meetings is a 5,582-square-foot exhibit hall (a former
parking area), a 1,200-square-foot meeting room divisible into two
smaller rooms, and five executive boardrooms. These areas, added to
the existing meeting areas, add up to 35,000 square feet of indoor
and outdoor meeting space.
The Sheraton also offers a business center, two lighted tennis
courts, a fitness center, and a golf concierge for booking tee
times at Marina Vallarta and Vista Vallarta golf courses. In
addition, an onsite Vallarta Adventures kiosk books tours to
attractions such as Las Caletas, a secluded beach playground that
was once owned by the late film director John Huston.
The hotel even revamped its infrastructure, with a new air
conditioning system, rain ducts and electric cables. And it
relocated its electric plant, air conditioning chillers and main
switchboard equipment from the basement to a new building located
on higher ground, farther away from the ocean.
More improvements are under consideration, according to Alma
Rosa Alvarez, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. Among
them are an expanded spa offering a more complete spa experience
and new menus with low-carbohydrate selections and calorie
These and other ideas are the result of the sales office’s
location in Los Angeles, where many of the hotel’s customers live.
Out of 22 years with the hotel, Alvarez has spent the last 19 in
Los Angeles. Gonzalez also is based in L.A.
“In order to understand your market, you have to immerse
yourself in it,” Alvarez says. Nightly rates start at $143 for a
standard room, $183 for a tower room, depending on the season and
specific room type. Travel agent fam rates start at $75 and $115,
Sheraton Buganvilias Resort
& Convention Center
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico
322-226-0404; 800-433-5451; fax: 322-222-0500
Hits: Gorgeous views; great food; plenty of
nooks and crannies to relax around the grounds.
Misses: The spa is very basic; not a complete
Be Aware: There is a nominal fee of about $4.50
for use of the fitness center, which is located in the timeshare
building; the business center is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Plugging In: Each standard room has five
electrical outlets at 100 volts. There is only dial-up Internet
service in the guestrooms, but the business center offers three
computers with Internet access. The cost is $7.50 per
Clientele: The leisure/business mix is 75/25.
Target markets are couples, families and meetings and
Rates: Standard rooms from $143; tower rooms
from $183. Agent rates of $75 to $115.
Commission: 10 percent