Travel Stories

Three Days in Paradise: My Trip to Puerto Vallarta at the Grand Fiesta Americana

Three Days in Paradise: My Trip to Puerto Vallarta at the Grand Fiesta Americana

When it comes to choosing a vacation in the tropics, Puerto Vallarta can't be beat - prices, convenience, and stunning natural beauty.

After boarding my nonstop flight on Alaska at LAX, I was three albums’ time away from paradise. I’ve been to the presentations, seen it on Love Boat, but I was not fully prepared for the tropical and remarkable beauty of Puerto Vallarta.

Being from Southern California, I was completely blown away by the humidity. I felt it as soon as I deplaned. You could feel it. But I will say, I mentally expected humidity, being in the tropics. It was very easy to go through customs and find the prearranged transfer I booked through GoGo Vacations. I love that Olympus Tours wears orange shirts. It’s a great way to be recognized and feels friendly.

Because I was traveling for only 3 days (2 nights), I packed very light. In my backpack I brought a tiny purse, undergarments, two bathing suits, three shirts, two pairs of shorts, an a nice dress and flats for evening dining Tuesday night. Along with minimal cosmetics, reading glasses, chargers, and a book, I was set to go. I wore flip flops and a light hoodie on the plane.

The Grand Fiesta Americana is at the south end of Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta and about a 30-40 minute ride from the airport. As I was being driven to my resort, I was mesmerized by the foliage, the beauty, and the people. It rained lightly while we were driving; it was magical.

Unlike many resort areas, Puerto Vallarta in the Jalisco State and its sister in the Nayarit State, Riviera Nayarit, are thriving towns in their own right. Once I posted that I was there, two of my Facebook friends remarked it was their hometown. That made me feel like I became part of my friends’ stories.

I was dropped off at the front door of the Grand Fiesta Americana, a pair of modern, white buildings reaching fourteen floors high. A bellhop immediately opened the door for me, offered to take my backpack, and brought me to the concierge. Because I came from a travel industry event, I was brought up to the Grand Club on the thirteenth floor to be checked in and to settle in with the view. Greeted with smiles, lots of mucho gustos, and a very nice tequila was a good way to start the day.

While I was attending the Visit Puerto Vallarta Tourism event, I won three days and two nights in a junior king suite at this all inclusive resort. I decided to come alone, enjoy the solitude, and take lots of photos.

The room was great. Better than I expected with in-room coffee, a very comfortable bed and linens to rival the Marriott, lounge, private deck, cable TV, air conditioning (yes, American-style AC -- not European style), a bathroom equipped with my favorite product and scent L’Occitane Verbena, and a private balcony. I loved waking up in the morning to the sound of the ocean, drinking coffee on my own balcony -- in the resort provided robe and slippers, of course. The view from the 11th floor was breathtaking -- you could see the whole bay. I spent a few hours resting both days with the slider open to hear the ocean breaking on the shore. It’s an unmistakable way to relax.

Since I arrived in Puerto Vallarta the late afternoon (it’s in the Central Time Zone), I wanted to change into my suit and get down to the beach before dinner. The resort provided a nice beach bag and towels are available at the pool and beach areas. They recommend against bringing your own towels. It’s so humid there, they’ll never air dry.

The elevators in each tower go directly down to the beach and pool area so you don’t have to walk through the lobby with your suit on, though I wore a cover up. I walked around the pool to check it out; the Jacuzzi was too cool for my taste but it was quite warm at over 85 degrees.

Puerto Vallarta has a low season (summer) where it is more humid and not as occupied. This was my dream vacation. I love thunderstorms, solitude, and less crowds. If you want to be around the energy of people, come in the high season (December through April). On Tuesday night, I went up to the rooftop bar just to enjoy the lighting storm. It was really lovely and something I hadn’t seen in person since an Arizona trip a few years back.

I had the pick of any spot on the beach under a lovely red umbrella. A gentleman came by and asked if I’d like a drink. It was perfect. After taking a few selfies and SnapChat for my friends at home (well, I am a social media nerd), I went into the ocean. Wow. It was as warm as a bath. Warmer. Soothing salt water enveloped my body. The man-made jetty created a personal lagoon. I spent about an hour just floating and enjoying.

I rinsed off at the outdoor showers and went to the swim up bar for tequila. There were a few couples there and some women. It was nice to walk (in the pool) to the edge and watch the waves. I was feeling a bit shy and didn’t engage in conversation much.

For my first meal, I decided to try the buffet at D’Brick. They had a great selection of proteins, fresh salad and fruit, side dishes, a salsa and guac bar, and desserts.The quality of the choices and food was great. The service was attentive. The surroundings were ideal. I drank a nice glass of prosecco with my meal and watched a glorious sunset. The colors were so vivid in sherbet pinks and oranges. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

There were many opportunities to join in activities at the resort (both included and upgraded) and off campus especially with Olympus Tours. Anything you can think to do in a jungle is there. Water sports, zip lining, tequila tours. The second night I went to the Michael Jackson Dance Show in the lobby of the hotel. It was really good. Of course, there are wait staff to serve you cocktails there, too. It is adults-only after all.

I opted for room service for breakfast. I chose the American Breakfast -- scrambled eggs any way you like it with fresh fruit and coffee. The melons were so fresh. The coffee was great. I was most surprised by the side of refried beans. They were so creamy and smooth. Very well done.

I began my second day at the resort with my second bathing suit and some relaxing time at the pool. There is a gift shop to buy souvenirs for your family or pick up sunscreen if you forgot it like I did. Don’t worry, they take credit cards.

The infinity pool is all that it’s you think it is and more. What a great way to relax. You’re still close enough to the ocean to hear the calming waves crash on the shore. A waiter came by and asked if I needed anything and brought me a cup of coffee. I spent some time in the jacuzzi and the pool.

Since one of the main purposes for my trip was relaxation, I had quite a few naps and movie breaks in between being in the pool or ocean and eating. It’s boring to write about but helpful for my soul. Though I will say, ordering nachos at 11 pm is always nice. ;)

For lunch I went down to the Cevicheria which specializes in ceviche for the fish tacos. Generally, I’m not a fan of seafood or fish tacos but these were amazing. I figured if they’re not good here, they’re not going to be good anywhere. I had those with chips and salsa verde and a few cokes on ice. The lunch was finished with homemade strawberry ice cream. At this point, I could have died and gone to Heaven -- completely spoiled.

After an evening swim at the beach, I showered and put on my dress to try the Italian restaurant called Gulietta. I had the spinach salad, smoked bistecca, and tiramisu accompanied by a nice glass of prosecco.

When booking your next vacation consider Puerto Vallarta. I cannot wait to return to the Grand Fiesta Americana and next time I’m going for a hike at the botanical gardens.

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