Laurel and I are still glowing from the sun we soaked up last week in Puerto Vallarta. I am such a sun girl and there couldn’t be a better way to beat the post Christmas blues than with a good dose of Vitamin D. Before this trip, I was already a huge fan of Sunwing. My girls and I flew Sunwing last summer from Vancouver to Toronto and we were impressed with the friendly service, the new aircrafts and the low prices! So, Laurel and I jumped at the chance to take a Sunwing Vacation down to Puerto Vallarta! We had an amazing experience on the flight, from the quick check in at the Elite Plus Counter to the welcome champagne toast on the flight…it may have been a morning flight, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere! The flight was easy and comfortable. And our bags were waiting for us as soon as we got through customs…that was fast!
I have never booked a package vacation so this was a very new experience for me. We had our transportation to the hotel arranged through Sunwing and were greeted at the airport by a troop of Nexus agents in bright orange shirts. They immediately took our bags and got us settled in a taxi for our quick drive to the hotel. On the flight, travellers were told that even if they hadn’t booked transfers, Nexus agents would help them get into authorized taxis. They really make travelling as worry-free as possible!
We were greeting very warmly at The Hacienda Buenaventura Hotel and Mexican Charm. We loved the authentic vibe of this all-inclusive hotel right away, with the open courtyard, colonial architecture and extremely friendly staff. Smaller and more intimate than many other all-inclusives, we felt like it was reminiscent of Melrose Place, with all the rooms surrounding the pool area!
A Sunwing rep met us the following morning to make sure we were settled in and ready for the week (umm, so nice!). Brianda was extremely helpful and offered to book any tours through Nexus Tours that we wanted. She continued to be there most mornings to arrange whatever the hotel’s Sunwing guests might need. You can see a full list of excursions here, including Rhythms of the Night in Las Caletas, which we visited on our last trip. Sunwing really does provide a full-service travel experience.
The Hacienda Buenaventura is located in the north end of the Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone. We loved the location as it’s much quieter than downtown, yet you can still walk there. Laurel and I enjoy walking and exploring and we walked to the Malecon, which is the pedestrian-only esplanade along the waterfront downtown with shops, entertainment and street vendors. The walk took us about an hour to get there…you know Laurel and I…always on a mission to get our steps!
If you prefer, you can Uber for about $3 per way. Along the Malecon you will also see the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most beloved landmarks of the city.
Old Town, or The Romantic Zone, is about a 15 minute walk further. Old Town is just south of downtown and is the busiest part of Puerto Vallarta. The cobblestone streets are smaller and narrower, and there are more shops, cafes, bars and restaurants per square foot here than anywhere else in town. And make sure you get to take in a Puerto Vallarta sunset…this city has some of the best!
The Hacienda Buenaventura was also not far from Bucerias…about a 25 minute Uber ride. We had fun revisiting some of our favorite shops and street vendors from our trip there in November and enjoyed happy hour on the beach at sunset. The town has a very artsy feel and is known as a Canadian snowbird town. The Canadian connection down here is a real thing!
We also easily visited Sayulita, about an hour away…it was fun to explore a place with a totally different feel. Sayulita is a surf town with a hippy vibe and lots of healthy food (think acai bowls and smoothies) and great shopping.
Our pool view room at The Hacienda Buenaventura was very authentic, with tile floors, white walls and dark beams. The room was spacious, comfortable and clean and our room was always made up very quickly in the morning. The view of the pool area from our patio was stunning with palm trees, lush, tropical plants and vibrant bougainvillea.
The pool area really is something special…a tropical oasis….complete with some iguana friends! Unlike other resorts, you don’t have to be up at 6am to “save” a lounge. The pool was our favorite spot, with easy access to the bar for Dirty Monkeys (rum, banana liquor, kahlua, cream, and banana all put in a blender with some ice) and Gin and Tonics, which they made with Tanqueray for me. We also often ordered club soda muddled with fresh mint and lime…so refreshing!
The snack bar at the pool offered hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch, but Laurel and I usually headed to the main restaurant and filled a plate with house made guacamole, chips and salsa and headed back to our lounges. It’s all about the guac for us!
Another favorite dish at the restaurant was the rice dessert. Laurel and I called it “milky rice” as this was something my mom made for us when we were growing up. It’s basically rice cooked with milk, cinnamon and sugar…ahhh, it’s so good! Pretty much not going to admit how many helpings we indulged in…
We had an awesome view from our room of the palapa covered bar and stage for the nightly entertainment, which usually wound down by 10pm. The bands each night played a variety of music that included hits from all decades. Laurel and I found ourselves singing and dancing many nights in our room!
Jaime, the captain of the restaurant, introduced himself to Laurel and I on the second day of our trip. At breakfast, he would always have a table ready for us at the edge of the restaurant overlooking the pool. He was very kind and attentive and always wanted to make sure that we had everything that we needed. Usually within a few moments of us sitting down for breakfast, a waiter would bring by a perfectly sliced, fanned out avocado that we would add to our toast and over-easy eggs that we got at the omelet bar. Avo, toast and eggs…ahhh my favorite breaky. We would add salsa, cojita cheese and cilantro…avo and toast Mexican style!
We usually had freshly cut up papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew from the buffet as well. One morning we tried the omelets which are totally customizable with fresh ingredients such as peppers, cilantro, mushrooms, and cheese and they were delicious.
Our favorite dinner was the barbeque buffet. We had reserved in advance to sit in the garden and it was an idyllic setting sitting under the party lights. The meats were prepared on a brick grill in the garden. The barbeque ribs were super yummy and smoky as was the chicken. The Hacienda Buenaventura offers special buffets on certain nights….there is a seafood night, a Mexican night and a barbeque night. A poolside board gave us the heads up on what dinner was coming up (you have to plan out your food for the day, right??) as well as listed other activities happening throughout the day, such as water aerobics or karaoke.
The Beach Club is about two blocks from the hotel, with ample lounges, a bar, a snack bar and washrooms. We enjoyed authentic tacos at the snack bar one day for lunch and topped them with freshly cut tomatoes, onions and diced up pineapple. So fresh and yummy!
We discovered the spa on our last day of our trip. The outdoor-style spa is tucked away, surrounded by tropical plants. The treatments take place in palapa roof cabins surrounded by lush plants and a relaxing brook. There is a traditional Temazcal sweat-bath, similar to a sauna, which looks like a clay dome on the spa grounds. Next time, we would love get massages there! Make sure you book one when you arrive to make sure you don’t miss out!*
Laurel and I loved the friendly and relaxed vibe at The Hacienda Buenaventura and Mexican Charm. It wasn’t a big party place…people were just chilling and enjoying themselves. We met a lot of fellow Canadians…many who were repeat guests at the hotel. We asked many of them what brought them back, and the common theme was the amazing staff….honestly, they are so charming and ready to help. The hotel really lives up to it’s name…”Mexican Charm”. It’s really a thing! We loved that after a day of exploring the city or another town that we felt like we were coming back home.
And after spending a week on a Sunwing Vacation, I know why they are #1tothesun . They look after every detail so that you don’t have to worry and can just enjoy your vacation…because that’s the point, right?! Laurel and I had the best week in Puerto Vallarta. We loved exploring and we had nothing but non-stop sun! Sunwing Vacations and The Hacienda Buenaventura and Mexican Charm sure know how to make you feel welcome and looked after. We came home feeling relaxed, but also rejuvenated…it’s really amazing how great the sun makes you feel! Why not treat yourself to a Sunwing getaway…it will be the perfect boost to get you through the rest of the cold, Canadian winter! And a little tip here for all of our valley friends…Sunwing now is offering weekly nonstop service from Abbotsford to Puerto Vallarta from December to April…and that makes getting to the sun even easier!**