Cancun and Cabo are popular beach destination trips from Houston, but it’s time to add Puerto Vallarta to that list. Puerto Vallarta exudes natural charm with both beach and mountain views, and it has never been easier to escape from Houston airports, IAH and HOU, with three daily nonstops from United Airlines and one on Southwest Airlines.
Located between the western Sierra Madre mountain range and the Mexican Pacific, Puerto Vallarta is a delightful combination of warm, tropical forests, beachy temperatures and a fresh ocean breeze. It’s never a bad time to plan a trip, especially after a Houston winter.
Speaking of winter, we decided to escape our recent cold front and snag a last-minute deal to check out the all-inclusive Velas Vallarta. Wondering if it truly is a quick and easy Houston getaway? Spoiler alert: It is. A flight to Puerto Vallarta is about the same as a road trip to Austin, but the scenery is a tad beachier.
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive family playground in Puerto Vallarta, Velas Vallarta is a top spot to check out. Located on 10 oceanfront acres on Banderas Bay, Velas Vallarta offers an ideal beach location with so much to see and do nearby, including downtown Puerto Vallarta, which is minutes away.
The popular family resort features 345 suites spread throughout three eight-story buildings, all with easy pool and beach access. There’s a choice of three pools, three on-site restaurants and a rejuvenating spa that also offers spa cabanas on the property’s jetty. No man-made music is needed here as you relax and succumb to the true natural sounds of the emerald waters and oceanside breeze. Although the resort isn’t new, it is one of the best-maintained properties in the area with picture-worthy sunsets and palm trees surrounding every private balcony. Rates start at $200 per person per night with promotions offered from time to time.
Family-Friendly Spring Break in Puerto Vallarta
Known as one of the destination’s top family-oriented resorts, Velas Vallarta keeps convenience and family fun at the top of its agenda. The hotel offers suite layouts for any size family, with customizable options, including the luxurious 5,478-square-foot Presidential Suite, featuring a wraparound balcony and private pool.
Gourmet dining is available for the entire family, but the resort also knows the importance of having an on-site Kids’ Club and Mini Mart for essentials. It also offers babysitting and child-care services if you want a romantic dinner without distractions.
Add extra fun on-site with seasonal events like the art + spirits workshop that combines calavera (skull) painting paired with an ancestral drink tasting, or other activities like piñata and jewelry-making classes, nightly live entertainment like music and karaoke, plus a renowned magician who is sure to wow at dinner.
Where to Play in Puerto Vallarta
Táu Beach Club opened last year as an adult-only option for Velas Vallarta guests, offering a small infinity pool, chaise lounges, Bali beds and five-star service delivering exquisite drinks and authentic bites. Try the Pork Belly Tacos, featuring pork belly confit in a blue corn tortilla with pickled vegetables and grilled pineapple sauce, or the Táu Salad with peaches, caramelized almonds, prosciutto, goat cheese, red fruits, honey mustard vinaigrette and added grilled shrimp.
Boasting a front row view of Banderas Bay’s golden shores, this adult beach club is just a few steps away from Velas Vallarta, available by foot or the hotel’s complimentary shuttle.
Golf lovers will appreciate that there are three championship-level 18-hole courses located near the resort at Marina Vallarta and Vista Vallarta Golf Clubs and, as an added perk, Velas Vallarta guests receive 25% off. Another can’t-miss perk is the on-course beverage service, which includes handmade margaritas that will give any Houston TexMex spot a run for their pesos. Add an authentic chorizo breakfast burrito to your morning tee time and you’ll experience world-class golf and top-rated dining all in one stop.
The Malecon Boardwalk is a 20-minute cab ride ($7) from Velas Vallarta and is a must-see for visitors. The popular destination evokes the town’s spirit up and down the kilometer stretch of beachside businesses where you can catch kid-friendly open-air performances, unique sculptures, photo opportunities, shopping, and food and drink, including various Mezcal tastings.
If you do leave the hotel for off-site excursions like ATVs or fishing, take advantage of the hotel’s all-inclusive status by calling ahead and ordering a boxed lunch and six-pack of beer to go. If you’re paying for an all-inclusive vacation, you might as well take full advantage of it.
A must-try drink while at Velas Vallarta is the Carajillo — espresso, Licor 43 over ice. This is the perfect after-dinner drink available at Andrea Restaurant, the resort’s chic and artfully decorated dining hotspot. Consider it an upgrade to the Espresso Martini (and don’t worry, it’s included!).
Don’t have time to get to Puerto Vallarta for the adult caffeine boost? Houstonians can snag a Carajillo for $15 at Doris Metropolitan in River Oaks.