Written by Diane Webster.
When my husband, Bob, asked Joy at Classic Travel to “book us something for next week” – I was shocked. I didn’t think we had time for a vacation. Then I realized we had the time to go, what we didn’t have time for was planning a vacation. Joy took care of everything for us; she picked the perfect location and hotel, made all the bookings and gave us suggestions on what to do and what to avoid. There is nothing like knowing, first hand, the dos and don’t of any destination – and that’s what Classic Travel does best. It was the most relaxing trip we have ever taken and I did nothing to prepare for it, except pack. It was beyond wonderful!
So, where did we go? Puerto Vallarta! We had never been to that part of Mexico. It was the perfect get-away from Michigan ‘s dreary March. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s a “name-your-type-of fun” place. You can just relax and enjoy the stunning scenery; go in search of nature; or go off the ‘thrill scale’ with activities that will keep your adrenaline peaked (like zip lining through the rain forest). We were there to relax, but you could travel there with a crowd of different personalities and they would all find it to be exactly what they wanted.
Puerto Vallarta is beautiful, with mountains forming a backdrop to the ocean that make every sunset spectacular. But, as wonderful as the views are, the people are its greatest asset. Noted as being one of the friendliest cities in the world, everywhere we went we found people to be warm, helpful and friendly.
We loved our hotel – the Westin. It has three stunning pools with an ocean and bay view, a gorgeous beach, and great pergola cabañas. The pools and beach are so spacious that even in high season, we never felt crowded. The staff was extremely pleasant and helpful. Other amenities included a nicely equipped spacious gym and several tennis courts. They also have a full featured spa with sauna’s, beauty treatments, and massages. We tried the “romantic massage”–complete with candles and rose petals. The focus of our massage was relaxation, but they also offer deep muscle massages (for those that do more than just look at the gym). Another advantage to this hotel is that everything is relatively close and the taxies were always available and inexpensive. We took several taxi rides a day – and the average cost was 60 Pecos (about 6.00 US ). Geeze – that’s a tip in some major cities!
The first thing we did when we arrived was to make arrangements for whale watching on the sail boat Isis, a dolphin swim, and dinner at LaKliff. All of these were recommendations from Joy and Tom. Thankfully, we followed their advice and did it immediately. We ended up being the last whale watching trip of the year on the Isis and got the last spot for dolphin swimming before we returned.
The Isis offers snorkeling trips year-round and during whale season it takes you in search of the humpback whale. Casper, our guide, and the crew were wonderful. They pampered us with refreshments and provided a steady flow of music, humor, and marine life information. They stayed out an hour longer than expected in hopes of catching a glimpse of the whales. Fortunately the quest was successful and the sight of a mother and baby humpback swimming just feet from our boat is one I will never forget. On the way back from our watch, I leaned back, looked at the incredible view, a plate of guacamole and chips in one hand and a Corona in the other – and remembered it was MARCH! If I did nothing else this trip, I was happy.
But, we did do more. I swam with the dolphins and, as anyone who has done this will tell you, it’s a wonderful experience. We shopped – oh, the shopping – from galleries to flea markets it is a feast of finds everywhere you look. And, we ate – boy did we eat! LaKliff was the longest taxi ride we took – about 45 minutes from our hotel up through the mountains, but the view alone was worth it. Being under the largest thatched roof in the world, tucked in a cliff overlooking the bay and the mountains was incredible enough, but when the live band played to the sunset – it was magical. We also ate at The Blue Shrimp, the Shrimp Factory (can you guess my favorite food) LaDoche Vita, Carlos and O’Brian and had champagne brunch at the Nikki Beach Club (in our hotel) plus several other hot spots downtown. The Shrimp Factory was a particularly pleasant surprise–the casual decor gives no clue to the delights within. I had a delicious Lobster salad and garlic shrimp topped off with warm and friendly service. Puerto Vallarta has one of the best water treatment plants in the country – which may explain why we savored great quantities of delicious food and never experienced any tummy problems.
Puerto Vallarta is relaxing and beautiful. It was everything we wanted. But, if you wanted thrill-seeking action, it would be the perfect place for you too. Puerto Vallarta has it all and provides it in a gorgeous backdrop with exceptionally pleasant people. So, the next time you don’t think you have time for a vacation – realize that you probably need it more than ever and tell the folks at Classic to “book something” – you’ll be so glad you did!
Diane, Classic Travel’s President Joy Thrun’s sister, retired from the State of Michigan where she worked in the area of information technology and served on the original e-Michigan team that launched the Michigan.gov website. Travel is a family passion and, like her parents and siblings, Diane has delighted in traveling the world. She has enjoyed Hawaii, Alaska, and many destinations throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. She has also had the pleasure of traveling to China, Japan, France, Spain, Italy, England, Monaco, and Malta.