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When Villa del Palmar hit Puerto Vallarta’s beach in 1983, its success encouraged The Villa Group owners to forge further into Mexico’s coastal destinations. It also fueled the concept of developing more luxurious brands with elevated amenities and services. In 2006 and 2008 respectively, the company enhanced its Vallarta portfolio with upscale Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa La Estancia in Riviera Nayarit. On a recent visit, I found it easy to distinguish how each appeals to distinctive markets.
Aside from prime beachfront locations, the trio’s common denominators include spas, multiple pools, fitness centers, ocean activities, markets and a selection of international eateries. All air-conditioned accommodations are decked out with private balconies and either a kitchenette or full kitchen. Guests can also boost conveniences and benefits with an all-inclusive option.
By nature, Villa del Palmar has a livelier vibe since it’s perched in Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Zone. Geared to families and couples who are interested in a casual retreat near all the action, the 562-studio/suite resort has a buzzing social scene, where guests interact through beach volleyball, children’s pools and an adults-only pool adjacent to a roomy 12-person spa tub.
Farther north, in an enclave tucked between Flamingos Golf Course and a span of unspoiled beach, The Villa Group’s Riviera Nayarit duo has a mellower mood.
At the 275-suite Villa del Palmar Flamingos, deluxe villas feature kitchenettes, while spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom villa suites up the ante with a full kitchen, a separate dining area, a whirlpool tub in the master bath, and an oceanview balcony with a wet bar.
I landed at the sophisticated Villa La Estancia, a 250-room AAA Four Diamond jewel that recently garnered Preferred Hotels & Resorts membership. While on-site amenities are reserved exclusively for its guests, they have access to its sister property’s 17,000-square-foot Tatewari Spa and restaurants.
While checking in, I noticed a more reserved atmosphere with its ritzy decor and ambience. A seclusion factor also prevails, with a wrought-iron gate opening to the Hacienda-style foyer where I entered my one-bedroom villa.
These 1,730-square-foot hideaways are plush with space that divvies into a living room, dining area with a table for four and an open-style full kitchen with granite countertops. Buffing up the amenities are a dreamy pillow menu, turn-down service, whirlpool spa, super-soft bathrobes and Loccitane toiletries.
As a diehard beachcomber, I searched for treasures while strolling along the 1.25-mile stretch of sand to the town of Bucerias. After devoting too much time to shopping and gorging on guacamole at Claudio’s Restaurant, I taxied back to the resort just in time for a Tatewari Spa treatment.
This proved to be a euphoric escape, especially after my lively Bucerias outing. After avoiding anything cold in the spa’s lavish hydrotherapy circuit, I blissed out with a “four-hands massage.” Two therapists work in tandem addressing each side of the body simultaneously, literally doubling the pleasure.
While foodies can tap into a private chef option for meals prepped in their villas, I grazed at the resort’s two restaurants. Aside from burgers, sandwiches, wraps and ceviche, the poolside La Parrilla whips up a wellness menu with savory dishes such as a poblano chili pepper stuffed with quinoa and mushrooms.
The crown jewel of The Villa Group’s restaurants is La Casona steakhouse, with its menu of fresh catches and Kobe and angus-certified beef. Cuisine aside, the restaurant dazzles with some of the best seats in the house for gazing across the grounds to Banderas Bay.
According to Jorge Villarreal, the resort’s director of sales and marketing, Villa La Estancia will welcome a Le Clefs d’Or head concierge at the end of November as it continues toward certification for other members of its concierge and butler staffs.
“We’re giving the proper weight to these areas of service so we can satisfy our discerning international guests,” he said.
Villarreal added that pool and beach amenities will be expanded to include complimentary hand and foot reflexology massages, food and dessert treats, tropical fruit popsicles and facial moisturizing sprays.
Once again, The Villa Group is taking a good thing and making it even better.
The Villa Groupwww.villagroupresorts.com
Nightly rates start at $89 for Villa del Palmar, $110 for del Palmar Flamingos and $199 for Villa La Estancia. Commission: 10 percent.