Category Archives: Mexico

The Crown Paradise Golden in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Many of my readers may know that my family likes to visit Mexico each spring. Often we spend our vacation in Ixtapa, Mexico, but this year we tried something different. It took a good deal of research to choose the next vacation destination, but the research paid off.

Last year in Ixtapa we found our hotel overrun with children. They were everywhere, including the adult’s only pool. They screamed, they ran amuck, and they were extremely rude. Don’t get me wrong, I like children. I simply do not want them on my vacation if they cannot behave and follow rules.

Since I didn’t enjoy the free-for-all last year I looked into all-inclusive adult-only resorts. I found several great places in Puerto Vallarta but in the end we went with the Crown Paradise Golden. This hotel is located next to its sister hotel which allows children and has a huge pirate ship themed pool area and several children’s activities. If you stay at the adult’s only hotel, you can still enjoy all the restaurants and activities next door. You get the best of both worlds.

The food at Crown Paradise Golden was exceptional. The themed restaurants require reservations and I do one-hundred percent recommend them. They can be a little slow, so plan for up to two hours when dining, but it’s worth it. The restaurants are Mediterranean, Italian, American, French, and Asian inspired. Most people seem to love the Asian restaurant, so it was a little more difficult to get into. My favorite restaurant was Salvador’s, which is gourmet cuisine. The staff was delightful, and the food was exceptional. All the restaurant’s menus change nightly.

If you are looking for quick and easy food and beverages, then look no farther than the buffet which changes daily. Most people do not realize this but during off hours you can get a menu in the buffet and order specific foods. Next to the buffet is a grill which has brats, pizza, burgers, and fries. There is also a beach bar which has fresh foods such as tuna salad, fruit, Panini, and other items. In the realm of alcoholic beverages, they can be found quite easily at the poolside bar, lobby bar, or two beach bars. You definitely will not go hungry or thirsty.

Outside of food the hotel offers many fun activities such as BINGO, beach volleyball, pool volleyball, beer pong, random silly games, nightly shows, and much more. On Saturdays they have a pool party and fill the pool with bubbles. With the music blasting and sun shining it would be hard to not enjoy one’s self.

Outside of the hotel you will find boats ready to take you parasailing, beach massage stations, and plenty of white sand to walk on while the waves lap at your feet. You will also find people wandering the beach selling an assortment of items. They will wander up to the beach bars, so if you are not interested, simply say no. If you show interest every single salesman will come directly to you.

At the front of the hotel across the street is a spa. This place had the best prices for massages and they gave an amazing pedicure. I highly recommend them. If you are looking for the boardwalk and restaurants off the grounds, you can get a taxi that will take you downtown for a mere $6 each way, though check ahead because this can change. You are also in walking distance to Walmart, the peer, and a grocery store in case you forgot to bring anything.

Keep in mind that March is the end of Puerto Vallarta’s winter so it can be cloudy and sometimes cool. April is probably a better time weather-wise, but we always go in March and intend to go back for ten days this next year. No matter the weather, it’s still one of the safer locations in Mexico and there are plenty of things to do at the Crown Paradise Golden.

For more information on the Crown Paradise Golden, please visit: http://www.goldencrownparadisevallarta.com/

Pipi’s in Puerto Vallarta

Prior to visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, my family asked around to find out which restaurants were recommended by others. Only one particular restaurant was mentioned consistently, and that restaurant was Pipi’s. Everyone seemed to have walked away with the same great memories and could not wait to tell us of their experiences.

Pipi’s is indeed Mexican food, but so much more. If you are looking for an atmosphere that basically pulls you into a fun time, this is the place to be. The food was exceptional. Our waiter prepared guacamole right at the table. The drinks we enjoyed were margaritas the size of boats. They had several flavors to choose from. I couldn’t finish the whole thing because of the sugar and decent pour of alcohol, but I would definitely go back for another in the future.

The live music was a ton of fun and added to the energy of the evening and made you want to sing along. We could have sat and listened all night, partially because we were too full to move. We watched as many people sang along and celebrated their own special events such as birthdays and anniversaries which were accompanied by sombreros and tasty desserts.

If you want a memorable experience with great food and music, check out Pipi’s, you won’t be disappointed: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150793-d1032796-Reviews-Pipi_s-Puerto_Vallarta.html

 

Puerto Vallarta City Tour

This past March my family decided to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. None of us had ever visited Puerto Vallarta previously, but we have all come to agreement that we will definitely be returning in the future. The trip was so much fun we can hardly wait to go back.

Now, I’m not much for all day tours of the cities I visit. I usually prefer to explore on my own, but we were given a free city tour when we booked another excursion through our hotel. The funny thing is I enjoyed the city tour more than the snorkeling excursion we went on. I highly recommend the city tour if you are visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time.

The particular tour we went on departed in the morning by air-conditioned bus. We drove down to the boardwalk where we were given some time to take pictures and look at sculptures. We walked across the road to a beautiful church and then got back on the bus and went to several other locations.

We were able to visit a jewelry store, with open bar. We went to a candy shop where we got to try several local treats. We toured a tequila distillery and tasted seven different tequilas and then we ate lunch on location. Lunch was of our own expense, but totally worth it. There were several food choices which were all served family style. We ate shrimp, chicken, beef, and pork. There were also seafood options available, and the prices were minimal. After lunch we made a final stop at a coffee plantation where we were able to try some organic coffee and flavored tequila.

This tour has a little bit of everything included. We definitely got plenty to eat and drink. Our guide spoke both English and Spanish and he was also quite the comedian. He gave us tons of information about Puerto Vallarta which included stories about some of the rich and famous who had inhabited homes on the countryside. The views were beautiful and I would even partake in this tour a second time around, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

For more information on the tour, please visit: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g150793-d11485712-Full_Day_Puerto_Vallarta_City_Highlights_Tour-Puerto_Vallarta.html

5 Stars For Barceló Resort In Ixtapa

Visiting Mexico, it can be a scary thing for some people, and certain places are not as safe as others. My family visits Mexico every year and almost consistently to one location. Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, is where it’s at. We have never felt unsafe in Ixtapa, and we have always had great weather.

This year we chose to stay at Barceló, which is labeled a 5 star hotel. The stay was all-inclusive, and patrons are given the choice to do a general all-inclusive package, or an upgrade. My husband and I chose to upgrade to a premium stay which allows you a few more amenities, such as free WI-fi, a VIP room with food and high quality beverages, and free access to the night club, where music takes place on a regular basis. You can also choose to eat at their specialty restaurants every night if you desire.

Without an upgraded wrist-band, you will still have plenty of great amenities. There are three pools, tons of activities, which are led by the amazing staff, and nightly shows, as well as your unlimited food and drinks. You get to eat at each of the specialty restaurants once per every three days of your reservation.

The pools and grounds are all kept very neat and clean. Housekeeping will frequently leave flowers and towel animals if you tip them for their services. Every day you have the opportunity to play water volleyball and sand volleyball. The shows are different each night, and once per week, usually Saturdays, there is a fiesta in the entertainment hall, that guests can choose to attend. They also have an area for games and children’s activities, such as painting.

The food at the resort was quite excellent. There were two different buffets, a poolside restaurant where you could sit down and order food, poolside snack bar, an Italian restaurant, a seafood restaurant, and a Japanese restaurant. My favorites of the places to eat were the poolside snack bar because you could quickly get a cheeseburger, and their burgers were tasty. My other favorite places were the Italian restaurant, which featured great meats and tasty gelato, and the seafood restaurant, which speaks for itself. I love seafood. I was not impressed with the Japanese restaurant, and unfortunately the staff did not seem to understand the different dishes, so no one received what they had ordered. I have no idea what I ate that night, and I was sick the next day.

Even at a 5 star resort, you must be careful. You can still end up sick from something you are not used to consuming. My father and I both had some issues and needed to seek meds to end the excessive bathroom visits. The nice thing about this resort is that it is located directly across the street from the market and pharmacy, so you can easily get things to make your stay more comfortable. It does help if you know, or have someone with you who knows, some Spanish. If you are worried about becoming ill on your trip, speak to your physician and plan ahead for the possibility. I recommend not drinking the water in your room.

If you like to be pampered, you can easily find a masseuse. Barcelo has a great spa, and the massage I had was excellent. I would definitely go back for another massage at the resort. They incorporated hot towels and aroma therapy into the 50 minute session. It was totally worth it. I felt very relaxed when I left.

If you have no qualms about receiving a massage on the beach, then you are in luck. At this current time, most of the tents are charging fifteen dollars for an hour. I often take part in the beach massages, and I have always enjoyed them, although I did cut my leg on a screw on a massage table this time, so I am now a little more precautious. Aside from the unfortunate cut, the massage was very relaxing.  I have heard a few men say that they received a little more than they were expecting on their massage. These women are a little bit aggressive at times. I am happy that I haven’t received more than I was expecting on any massages on the beach. I can’t complain, but if you are worried about someone seeing your body, or giving you more than you bargained for, then perhaps the resort is a better place to be pampered.

While in Ixtapa we opted to take a sunset cruise, through our resort. We boarded a Catamaran that toured us around for a few hours. While on the boat the beverages were unlimited. There was a bathroom, though you have to climb down some stairs into confined quarters to get to it. We saw the sunset and viewed all of the hotels from the boat. The ride was very relaxing and enjoyable. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes sightseeing with beverages, on a boat at sunset. They even included a snack, which was more like a whole meal.

The only complaint I have regarding this trip is that the resort becomes extremely packed with locals on the weekend. It is very hard to find chairs by the pool, and the restaurants are harder to get reservations at. There are tons of people everywhere, and unfortunately, some of them were very rude to the foreigners and hotel staff needed to get involved to diffuse the situation. On the other end, some of the locals were very nice and fun people that I greatly enjoyed meeting.

If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, plan to go on your trip for ten days or plan it so that the weekend is not at the end of your vacation and you can leave the resort on those days to snorkel or do other sightseeing activities. No one wants to end their vacation feeling like they were unable to relax and enjoy themselves for the last part of their trip.

I give Barceló 5 stars as well and I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice all-inclusive that is located on the beach and near everything else. For more information, please visit: https://www.barcelo.com/en-us/hotels/mexico/ixtapa/barcelo-ixtapa/

 

Ixtapa: My Favorite Place In Mexico

Now that it’s nice out, let’s talk about one of my favorite getaways from the cold weather. My family has long been in love with one specific location in Mexico. While several of us have visited other locations, we keep coming back to Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo.

Ixtapa is located on the Pacific side of Mexico. While you might see a few raindrops on occasion, this sort of weather is very rare in March, which is when we tend to visit. We love this locale because of the weather, the beaches, and the easy walk to the markets and restaurants.

While the water is a little rougher on this side, you can still spend time sunbathing and playing in the waves. Last year, while riding the waves, I had to choose between my new sun hat and my swimsuit bottoms, so obviously, the waves claimed my hat. You definitely need to be a strong swimmer to endure the current. If you get too far out the life guards will make you come in. I imagine somewhere there is a very trendy seagull with a black and white floppy brimmed hat.

If you are into massage, there are several tents setup on the beach where community massages take place. Be sure to bring pesos, because they charge you more if you give them cash, which makes no sense at all since cash is worth more than pesos to begin with. These massages will run you anywhere from twenty to thirty dollars for an hour. I still give a tip, but you can’t really beat the price. A word of caution, if you are a male, the women have been known to get a little up close and personal with their massages. It’s not a traditional happy ending, but you could be someone’s next husband if you aren’t careful.

When we visit Mexico we tend to do an all-inclusive stay so that we don’t have to leave the resort unless we want to. Some of the beach front hotels are definitely nicer than others. I have stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was previously El Presidente, and while they had nice accommodations and a beautiful property, I have been to resorts with better food options. The first resort I ever stayed at in Mexico was the Park Royal, and I very much enjoyed my stay. The food was excellent and they had this cool club where you could have drinks, play pool, or lounge on the lounge beds. I have fond memories of this resort, although one person in our party did have an ant problem in their room. Some of my other family members have also stayed at Kristal, Tesoro, and Barceló. Any one of these resorts would be a nice option.

While in Ixtapa you have many options for activities. I recommend visiting the little activity hut down the street from the hotels, they have given us great deals on many different excursions. Some of the things you can take part in are as follows: horseback riding, kayaking, ATV tours, snorkeling, tours of Zihuatanejo, and fishing. The two snorkeling excursions I went on included pickup at our hotel and drop-off at our snorkeling location, with lunch and one beverage, as well a return to our hotel; it was roughly twenty-five dollars per person. You can’t really beat that price either.

While I am sure that most tourist destinations in Mexico provide a great time, I will continue to visit Ixtapa. There is just something about Ixtapa that makes it feel extra special to me.

 

For more information on Ixtapa, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtapa

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico/central-pacific-coast/ixtapa