Welcome back to the final installment of the Puerto Vallarta Trip Report. The Westin experience was a delight and a great use of SPG points. If you are jumping into the middle of the story, use the below links to catch up.
Trip Report to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Lounge at PVR, PVR – SFO on Alaska Air
Street food and smiling faces
Before we left Mexico, we wanted to go off the beaten path so we asked the concierge, the waiters, and the servers at the hotel where they go to eat during their days off. I specifically asked for a place that sells menudo, but apparently that isn’t popular in PV. Instead, a couple of people recommended the neighborhood of La Florets for local street tacos.
We were in the suburbs and we felt very comfortable and not too awkward, even though we were clearly not locals. As much as I want to blend in, I couldn’t hide the fact that we were the only Asians in the neighborhood. We wandered around a few blocks, observing the apartments and churches at almost every other corner. Our nose led us to one of many street side taco stands selling birria tacos and I engaged one of the customers asking in Spanish what kind of taco he was eating. He smiled and replied in perfect English and even offered to help me order. Wow, crispy on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside, and we ordered a large horchata to go with. The below picture is of the last bite before heading back to the hotel to pickup our luggage and head to the airport. Note how popular this stand is (there were about 30 people eating/waiting for the 30 minutes we were there).
The PVR airport is small and easy to navigate. Two hours lead time is recommended before your departure but we were through check-in and security in five minutes. Since we had one more Lounge Club card credit to liquidate, we headed to the”VIP Lounge”.
The size of the lounge was about 30 x 40 feet and filled with an assortment of single armchairs chairs and two-person couches. There was also a row of high chairs facing a 10 foot long counter full of outlets. We found a couch close to the window – what a view of the tarmac! We could see both common carriers and charter/private aircraft side by side.
Towards the back of the lounge is the bar and food counter and everything is made to order. You pick from a menu of real items in saran wrap, from a turkey croissant sandwich to a Reuban. I had a mezcal margarita that was artfully made while I sat at the bar and a turkey sandwich that had fresh avocado and was toasted on the outside. Well done! There is an attached restroom that was clean. I mention that because some of the smaller lounges internationally often share restrooms with the main airport.
The flight and that burger
Boarding was orderly and we were pleased to have been complimentary upgraded to first (read the second post of the series to learn how you can increase your chances of an upgrade). We sat down and enjoyed some pre-flight water, but I could not contain my enthusiasm for what I was anticipating…
Alaska has an little known meal pre-booking program where you can reserve hot meals for your flight from a week up to 12 hours before departure. You can select the meal on your Alaska Air iPhone app and I was able to reserve this “beloved Northwest specialty”, which interestingly is only available on flights from Mexico:
I had heard about this burger from a friend years ago, but didn’t think I would have the chance to try it. He said that it was one of the best burgers available in the sky (or only, I don’t remember). After many days of Mexican food, I was ready for a good ol’ burger. I reserved it two days prior to the flight and it did not disappoint. When the meal service started I almost lept out of my seat when my burger came.
The angus burger was juicy and thick and the Tillamook cheese balanced the meatiness well. Some how the buns were toasted and not soggy, which I would expect from the all-in-one package reheating process.
I don’t remember having a cheese burger on any other airline, so this was quite novel and unique. Please leave a comment if you know of other airlines that offer this. After the meal, we were given another surprise: Zesty Ranch Snacks, courtesy of United.
At first I thought it was an early April fools joke, but I looked around and the entire plane had this. Was this a foreshadowing of a future codeshare agreement between Alaska Air and United? Did Sky Chef deliver the wrong package to this plane? Or did they run out and go next door (gate) to borrow some? The mystery remains unsolved.
And with an unsolved mystery, we end this trip report.
In summary, we
- Planned our flights by comparing SJC/SFO – PVR options and found AS most efficient factoring in the companion pass from the AS credit card.
- Enjoyed free texting and great service aboard AS on our way there.
- Made fantastic use of Hyatt points at the Ziva, including gaining eight pounds.
- Relaxed at the Westin, a solid value at 8k points per night.
- Ate a burger on the way back.
I will be traveling the rest of this week to a surprise location, so posts may be light, but I hope to be sharing stories of that travel when I return. What did you like about this trip report? Share your thoughts below.