Recently our family traveled to the destination of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a long, overdue family vacation. Sure, we had mini-vacays here and there over the past four years but those were more work related with some fun sprinkled in. And ironically (because I work in travel), our family hadn’t taken a real beach vacation in years. So it was time.
We chose Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, in the south part of town for many reasons – one big factor was that the offer at the time included “Kids Stay Free”. This was music to my ears as the bill for three kids (who eat) can rack up quick. We chose PV not only because is it well-known for being one of the friendliest cities in the world (according to not only me but Travel + Leisure), but because of its proximity and direct, non-stop access. Plus we love the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit region in general.
We chose Alaska Airlines because or the direct access from LAX and plus we have flown Alaska so many times, we know we can depend on excellent service and friendly staff. And we have an Alaska Airlines credit card which sends us a $99 companion ticket each year. (Side note/big news: Alaska now departs from Orange County to Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos).
Since I am the official travel advisor of the family, here are the 11 things that I loved the most about Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. These stuck out for me personally at the hotel and range from the most simple and practical to very unique. For reference, we stayed in the Club Tower section in the Plunge Pool Suite category which was top-level, two-story, 1 ½ bath with a king-sized bed upstairs and sofa bed on the first level.
(1) Friendliness of staff: This is one, if not the most important thing I observe in a resort hotel (and I have site toured hundreds of hotels in Mexico). If you have a warm, friendly, helpful staff, there is a good chance that guests are coming back. Bonus: good moods for all.
(2) Private beach: This was my second favorite thing about the resort; Not many beach resorts are bookended by lush green mountains, but this one is, which makes it secure, calm and very tranquil. Bonus: gives you the feeling of being in your own private enclave.
(3) View(s): the view speaks for itself but I’ll let you be the judge (see photo) Bonus: gorgeous days made for happy moods, followed by romantic sunsets (and a few spectacular lightning and thunder shows in the evenings).
(4) Plunge pool: This was the first time I had ever stayed in a room with its own plunge pool and so worth it – especially because of the kids. The pool was situated on the first level balcony (of the 2-level accommodations) and was bigger than an average-sized Jacuzzi and had enough space to move around, play or just relax. We brought a mini bluetooth speaker which we kept low but it also complemented our experience. A maintenance team came by everyday to check the pool and test water, etc. which I appreciated. Bonus: added/extended fun time with the kids.
(5) Double lookout holes: Safety first with the pint size view holes for the youngsters in the door to the room. I found this to be helpful if I couldn’t make it to the door in time, our kids were able to let us know who was knocking. Bonus: kids felt appreciated and more responsible.
(6) Rain shower: Personally I love this feature (fixture) in a shower because of the water pressure and free flow from the ceiling. A hand-held washer was also available in the shower, which the kids ended up using quite a bit. Bonus: feelings of total relaxation.
(7) Club Tower snacks: I appreciated the fact that when booking in the Club Tower section, it included a private check-in and snack section. There was plenty of juices, coffees, teas, beers, wines, and appetizer snacks to keep one satisfied until one of the restaurants opened or if guests prefer not to order room service. Bonus: less “hangry” family members.
(8) The daily/nightly entertainment & resort app: The motto of this trip was just to relax at the resort and try not to do too much. We focused more on all that the resort had to offer. We downloaded the resort app, which varied sometimes from the activities billboard in the activity center but regardless, we ended up participating in 90% more activities than we ever would have if not downloading the app. The kids loved checking the app throughout the day. Bonus: added family bonding time.
(9) Kid pools: This is standard for a family-style resort but I still appreciated the fact that it existed and spent most of my time in this pool with the kids. Since this one had basketball hoops at both ends, there were many games going on throughout the day, plus this pool was the epicenter for most of the water activities led by the activities staff (water workouts, etc); Bonus: met a lot of nice families.
(10) Complimentary mini-massage on beach: In order to promote their spa sale taking place the week we were at the resort, each day representatives from the spa gave complimentary massages on the beach. Even if they were only five minutes, it was still enough to entice me to the spa for a few treatments. Bonus: alone time in the spa.
(11) The ocean: Not that the resort has any control over the ocean, but the resort is lucky to be situated in a calm enclave where swimming in the ocean is the norm. Now, I typically don’t go in the ocean to swim around (just because I prefer the pool) but on this trip, I found myself swimming in the ocean everyday with either my husband or kids. We would switch from the ocean to the pool, to the beach and back again. The water in the ocean was warm so it made it easy to relax. Bonus: we saw stingrays daily.
1. Outdoor shower: Pool showers made hot days and our sandy bodies feel clean and refreshed.
2. Large-sized bath towels: Where some hotels might skimp in this category, this one did not. Bath towels were large in size and enough so to swaddle up in pure comfort for a good while.
3. Hotel amenities: The hotel product supplied in the room (KenetMD Dermatologist Approved) was high-quality, bountiful and replaced everyday. Not only did it include the basics: shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in full size packaging, it also included shower body wash as well as a tray of after sun care, SPF 15, facial wash, a loofah, foot lotion, pillow spray, and more.
However, amenities and experiences will vary depending on the room category so if you can upgrade from a standard room to a higher level category, I highly recommend it.
Of course none of us wanted to leave and saying goodbye was not an easy task. Our family met some lifelong friends on this special vacation. We will be returning for sure!