Welcome back to the fourth installment of the Puerto Vallarta Trip Report. What do you do after you’ve gained eight pounds from eating too much food at an all-inclusive resort? You move to another one! If you are jumping into the middle of the story, use the below links to catch up.
Trip Report to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: Westin Puerto Vallarta
We learned to expand our stomachs and maximize time spent contemplating the meaning of life at the Hyatt Ziva PV and now we were on the way to the Westin.
Using points to book the Westin
There are three SPG options at Puerto Vallarta, the St. Regis, the Westin, and the Sheraton. Filtering by price, the St. Regis was out of the picture (it’s also in Punta Cana, which is out of town). I researched the remaining two properties on trip advisor and spg.com before booking. After looking at pictures and reviews, I chose the more modern Westin. While I was there, I learned of an upcoming renovation that would carry into next year, so the next time you visit you will likely experience even better amenities.
Both properties cost 8k points per night, which is a good value given their standard rooms go for around $200 per night (just the stay). You can get points from signing up and using the Starwood Hotel’s credit card issued by American Express. They also have all-inclusive options in case you didn’t want to worry about food. Unlike the Hyatt, the Westin is in the marina of the actual city, so we decided to try the local cuisine outside of the resort instead of taking the all-inclusive option. You could walk to several places within 10-15 minutes.
We arrived in the evening by taxi and it was right after sundown. The check-in was smooth and we were informed that we were upgraded to a suite. Sweet!
As we walked to the room, my first impression of the property was that it reminded me of that Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple. Have you watched that? The architecture was a cross between an Aztec temple and the Transamerica building in San Francisco, with recessed, tiered terraces. Coincidence? I think not!
When we arrived at the room and opened the door, we saw a working nook/foyer, which opened up into a spacious 10 x 20 room with a bed on one side, and a couch/living area on the other. The foyer also lead into the bathroom which had a his/hers vanities (wish we had one at home) as well as a separate shower and tub (one day…).
But the surprise was when we opened the curtain to peak outside our window. There were two curtains, one in front of the bed and one in front of the couch. I thought it would have a nice view of the property, but there was so much more. It turned out that there was a private soaking tub large enough for four people in the patio right outside our room! Next to that were two loungers facing the Pacific Ocean. I immediately took advantage of the tub to relax and cool off after a warm day. And still being somewhat in saving water mode, I made double duty and took an outdoor bath as well! I take short showers at home, so when I am in a region that is not water scarce, I take advantage of the natural environment. There are many places in the world that receive too much water and there is no way to move that water to California. Bath time!
The next day, we noticed the skylights in the vaulted ceiling of the bathroom. That’s when we realized that we were at the top of the building. And the view outside was fantastic – we could see the curvature of the bay and if we had binoculars we could actually see the Hyatt Ziva in the distance.
By this time I had mentally dealt with my failure to bring my ATM card. I always keep emergency backup and since we stayed at the all-inclusive, we didn’t need much cash. In fact, we were able to get by for this entire trip just on the cash we had in hand. We had exchanged money at the Hyatt the day before, enough to get us to the Westin. We also tipped in US dollars, which we heard was appreciated because it was a relatively more stable currency.
We needed more Pesos for the day out, so went to the front desk to exchange some more. Surprisingly, rates at both hotels were close to the spot market standard (Forex website). We got almost 17 Pesos per dollar at both places. Even the currency exchange stands we walked by downtown were only around 18. And the Westin does something different than the Hyatt. Instead of direct cash exchanges, they charge your credit card (regular room charge, not cash advance) for the amount ‘borrowed’ at the end of the stay (it functioned like an advance). Furthermore, they mentioned that if I was able to somehow get the pesos during the stay I could pay off the balance.
The rest of the stay was quite enjoyable as we swam in the pool, walked along the beach, and went to a neighborhood where most of the locals lived. We also celebrated Easter by attending a local service and reflecting on Jesus’ love for us – what a great God we have!
Thanks for reading and in the words of Southwest Airlines, “come back real soon,” to finish off the series in my next post about the PVR airport lounge and the flight back on Alaska Air. I will share about the best flying cheeseburger known to mankind!