One year and 3 months had passed since I last visited Puerto Vallarta (the place I once called home when I first moved to Mexico). I consider Puerto Vallarta to be the best beach destination in Mexico; it doesn’t have the crystal clear waters like the Riviera Maya but it has the perfect blend of personality, Mexican culture, modern nightlife, and decent beaches. After so much time had passed, I was happy to return to Puerto Vallarta and I was excited to see how my old stomping grounds had changed.
Around the time I was getting ready to move from Vallarta to DF, the city was working on a complete remodelation of the Malecon and I didn’t get to stay long enough to see the finished product. Besides the remodeled Malecon, there were other new additions that I was excited to see , like restaurants, hotels and the Old Town Pier!
Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts of the ‘New Puerto Vallarta’:
I wasn’t exactly thrilled with how this attraction turned out. In case you don’t know, the Malecón is the main ocean boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops, and night clubs. It took mountains of money and time for this remodelation and I was expecting something SUPER spectacular, like jumping fountains! What I found was dimly light walkway during the night and an overkill of street performers. The intricately talented sand castle makers where no longer prominent, the stone stackers were hidden beyond the ledge, and the Papantla Flyers in the middle of nowhere. However, with my high expectations set aside, it still remains one of my favorite things of Puerto Vallarta. Some positives to this new layout is that cars are no longer allowed on a majority of the boardwalk and the outdoor theater has more space.
Puerto Vallarta needed new hotels—desperately. It had been almost two decades since something new hit the scene close to downtown. If you cross the state border into Riviera Nayarit , you’ll find plenty of new, streamlined resorts…. but the problem with that is it’s too far and too expensive to get to Puerto Vallarta’s Centro from there. Vallarta is a city to be experienced, not a place to hide in your hotel.
The newest property to be added to the Hotel Zone of Puerto Vallarta is the All-Inclusive Hilton Vallarta Resort, only 7 minutes from the airport. Opened in October 2012, this hotel is equipped with 259 hotel rooms, 7 restaurants, and an impressive spa (all which I got to experience first-hand). Although there are some kinks to be figured out, the Hilton brand stands out among the older branded hotels in the area. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this hotel to people looking for something clean and an all-inclusive hotel near downtown Puerto Vallarta.
The second newest property comes from the line of AM Resorts, Secrets Bay Vallarta and Now Amber Vallarta. Opened in April 2012, these hotels are connected yet separate (Secrets is adults only and Now is family-friendly). This property really surprised me with how much personality and variety it had, I was literally captivated with something new every time I moved from the oceanside bali bed. It was classy, dramatic, clean, and unique. Hands down, if you are looking for the best hotel in Puerto Vallarta, this is it. I truly felt on vacation here! (Check out their YouTube Channel, and Secrets Society to earn FREE gifts!)
Sadly, the Malecón had many newly closed restaurants with nothing to replace them. The only new restaurant that stood out was La Cerveceria Union. They had a very nice open-air atmosphere and advertise a Mexican-menu and fresh osyters bar. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and some-what authenticity of the food. I have also been told that the oysters are legit (myself, not a fan). My mouth is watering just thinking about this place!
Another cool place I was surprised by was Los Muertos Brewing Company in Old Town –the first craft brewery in Puerto Vallarta. The beers were delicious and the batches are always changing, with wonderful variety and presenation accompanied with decent prices, this brewery is pretty cool. While I was there, they had a Chili Ale that had a nice kick.They make their own brick-oven pizzas and other American favorites like BBQ ribs (but I would only come back to this place for their beer)!
Old Town Los Muertos Pier
After a controversial three year wait for the pier, everyone is happy that it is finally open, including myself. It’s nothing wow, kind of random, but it’s good for generating traffic to all the restaurants in the area ‘over the bridge’. You can never have too many pedestrian friendly walkways and it is a nice addition to the Malecon.
So there you have it, the ‘new and improved Puerto Vallarta’. Besides the hotels, it isn’t all that shiny if you ask me.