Jacuzzi with a view at Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. (Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel)
January 15, 2011, was the day I said “I do” to my husband, for better for worse, in sickness and in health, till death us do part. Little did I know all three vows would be tested on our first day of marriage. Five hours before the ceremony I was hit with horrific abdominal pain that took us from urgent care, to the wedding (wearing my best forced smile), and eventually to ER. Our honeymoon adventure — supposedly a week of surfing in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit — was put on hold until we found answers. Poking, prodding and tests determined my fallopian tubes needed to be removed. Over the next few years, we went on to survive ICU, failed in vitro attempts and a miscarriage. Once the “why us” faded, we made a pact to say goodbye to the past, live in the blessings of today and love one another with reckless abandon.
So six years later, with 10 open days on our calendar, it just seemed right to relive the honeymoon that could have been. This time we were pain free, openhearted and anxious to explore all that was new in Riviera Nayarit and neighboring Puerto Vallarta.
Ironically, this Valentine’s Day, Riviera Nayarit celebrated its own 10-year anniversary with its 192 miles of coastline framed by the Sierra Madre mountains. Just 20 minutes apart, Puerto Vallarta (or “PV”) and Riviera Nayarit might share an airport, but they’re in two different states with their own personalities.
After landing in Puerto Vallarta, we stayed local at Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel. On Banderas Bay, the adults-only property is five minutes from the boardwalk at the entrance to PV’s historic center. Last year, the resort underwent a $3.8 million renovation to unveil an infinity pool, new restaurants and 80 remodeled guest rooms with contemporary Mexican décor and fabrics woven by the Huichol tribe. Kicking off our “honeymoon” (and every guests’ arrival) was a welcome massage, Champagne, aromatherapy-and-pillow menu, and butlers reachable by WhatsApp.
The following morning, we visited Vallarta Botanical Gardens, 30 minutes south of old town, and home to the largest collection of Mexican orchids in the country. Within the 75 acres are blooming vanilla and Mexican magnolia — making it the only garden in the world to showcase that flower. Their restaurant Hacienda de Oro — and nearby swimming hole at Rio Horcones — draw almost as many visitors as the gardens...
Our best meal in Vallarta was at Deux Mec in the Romantic Zone. Specializing in European classics, chef Andreas Fischer served pork with fig marmalade and squid-ink risotto with asparagus and saffron cream.
The next two days were spent at La Troza, now teetering on my list of favorite hotels. Only accessible by boat, privacy is top priority at this PV resort cradled between Bahia de Banderas and the Sierra Madre mountains. Accommodations for 16 guests are housed in four residences, meaning you’ll have your own beachfront estate complete with an infinity pool, white-sandy beach and private chef from La Palapa. Other than a paddleboard session and jungle hike to Las Animas, we just sat under the shade of swaying palms and listened to the sound of crashing waves.
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