We are so excited to announce that we now offer golf vacations to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. You’ll see some additions to our site after the first of the year. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Puerto Vallarta (PV) and I was blown away! You will be too when you book your Mexico golf vacation with Texas Golf Trails.
I flew from Austin to Puerto Vallarta with a short layover at DFW. Once I landed in PV, getting through customs was a breeze. I was staying at The Owners Club at Puerto Vallarta, a complex of four condos located at Marina Vallarta Club de Golf. Unlike other destinations I’ve visited in Mexico where you have to endure an hour long ride from the airport, I was in the heart of PV’s Marina district within 10 minutes! That was a pleasant surprise. Also nice was how easy it was to communicate with my taxi driver since I speak as much Spanish as you’d expect from someone who scraped by two years of high school Spanish class in Upstate NY. Just about everyone I dealt with in PV was bilingual, so getting around, ordering food, etc, was all very simple. More than that, I was blown away by how friendly everyone was, from resort receptionists, to cab drivers, to cart girls and caddies. Instead of just pandering to tourists and having a hospitality oriented economy, you could tell that the locals in PV are genuinely warm and inviting. It is very evident that welcoming guests is a large part of their culture.
After grabbing a delicious lunch of shrimp tacos at the club’s lounge, I jumped back in a cab to go play a round at Vista Vallarta Club de Golf. Vista Vallarta is home to 2 championship courses, one designed by Jack Nicklaus and the other by Tom Weiskopf. The club was only about 3 miles from the Marina district, but the ride took about 20 minutes since there’s not a direct route or highway to the club. Prepare yourself for cobblestone roads and some random speed bumps, because rides around PV can get a little rough at times. Vista Vallarta is beautiful and I was struck by the exotic flowers and trees as well as the towering palms as soon as you enter the property. My round on the Nicklaus course my first day in PV was a blast. I was able to keep it in the short grass off the tee thanks to wide fairways, but the greens were well guarded by bunkers and they had plenty of undulation. The course is set on the highest elevation of the club and offers some fun elevation changes. The views of the surrounding mountains were beautiful, and there were several holes where I took a break to just look around.
There was a line of taxis waiting for golfers at the clubhouse after I finished up. Twenty minutes after saying “Marina Vallarta Club de Golf por favor,” I was back at my condo. I never exchanged money to get pesos, and all the cabs took US dollars and stores and restaurants took credit cards. That night, I headed to Olas Altas, or “Old Town”, for dinner. It took maybe 30 minutes to get to La Palapa, a beachfront restaurant serving tropical Mexican cuisine since 1959. I found traffic to be pretty light in PV, and any delays I experienced were due to road closures resulting from my visit coinciding with festivals celebrating the Virgen de Guadalupe. My table at La Palapa was literally on the sand and I had maybe the best red snapper ever. The margarita I had before may have helped.
The next day I toured the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center. The breakfast buffet was served in a large, shaded open-air dining area. When you visit PV, I highly recommend having some banana bread every breakfast! The Sheraton completed a full renovation in 2019 and the rooms were bright and spacious. Every room has an ocean view, although lower floors really only see the pool areas. Similar to every other resort I visited, the lobby is open-air and extremely impressive. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by the feeling of being on a tropic vacation once you enter. Also, the Spa at the Sheraton was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. Whether you’re a massage guy or not, go ahead and enjoy the hydro-therapy options. You’ll feel like royalty.
Later, I visited the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, located just across the street from The Owners Club and Marina Vallarta Club de Golf. This resort also completed a full renovation within the past 18 months and the decor is inspired by Puerto Vallarta’s heritage, especially as it pertains to the agave plant and tequila. The resort even features it’s own tequila brand, the only one in the entire Marriott portfolio. They did a great job here, with the rooms, restaurants, and common areas all looking bright and modern, but still warm. You don’t feel like you’re in just any Marriott, but you can tell you’re at a high end resort in a tropical locale. Every room at this resort has an ocean view along with a terrace. Lunch here was amazing, as a chef joined me and helped me make my own shrimp ceviche! After that, I walked off my delicious meal by passing along the resort’s pool, the largest infinity pool in PV, and then took in the resort’s beautiful view of Banderas Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
In the afternoon, I played the Joe Finger designed course at Marina Vallarta. The course has a fun and challenging layout. I lost a few balls in the lagoons that line some of the fairways and guard the greens. I might have been able to find some of them, but the crocodiles made me more cautious than usual! My favorite hole was the only seaside hole, a par 3 on the front 9 that gives you a great view of the bay. The cart girl was super friendly and I saw her about every 15 minutes. When I was done, a gentleman offered to clean my shoes and then I headed into the lounge to enjoy one of Jose’s famous margaritas. I’ve never been a big margarita drinker, but I couldn’t help myself in PV. That night, I headed back to the Marriott to catch the Big 10 Championship game between Ohio St and Wisconsin at the resort’s sports bar, Champions. Get the shrimp burger!
My last day in PV, I toured three amazing, all-inclusive resorts. Unlike other all-inclusive packages, these three resorts offer a “Beyond All-Inclusive” experience that includes all meals as well as top-shelf liquor and high-end wine. Even gratuities are already included, so you won’t get surprised by unexpected charges upon departure. Other than spa services, there’s not much else at these resorts that is not part of their all-inclusive offerings. The first resort I visited was the all-suite, beachfront Velas Vallarta. The brick arches in the grandiose lobby immediately catch your attention, but also notable was the resort’s general manager greeting guests by name as they checked-in and saying goodbye to those checking out. Maybe more impressive was that the guests all knew the general manager’s name, Luis! I had breakfast at Velas Vallarta and this is where I had the best banana bread along with a beef tongue taco. The gardens at this resort make you feel like you’re in the jungle, but then you emerge and find a gorgeous pool and poolside restaurants, where you can enjoy cheeseburgers so good, the resort’s owner often visits just for lunch. The rooms at Velas Vallarta are all suites that pamper guests with a living area, kitchenette, and spacious 1, 2, or 3 bedroom options.
The second resort I visited was Casa Velas, an adults-only, all-inclusive luxury resort. This was the only resort I saw that was not right on the beach, but they took me to the resort’s private beach club. After a 5 minute ride, I saw a little piece of paradise with a sandy beach, infinity pool with jacuzzi, and a restaurant and full bar, all part of the resort’s all-inclusive package. The resort’s rooms are gorgeous, many of which offer views of Marina Vallarta’s 10th fairway. The pool at the resort is shaded by huge palm trees and some of the rooms even have their own plunge pool. There is a path near the Casa Velas’ pool that takes you to Vista Vallarta’s course, and the club will come pick up your golf bag and take you to the clubhouse. This resort certainly had a more boutique feel to it and the vibe is much more private and secluded than the other resorts I visited.
The last resort I toured was by far the most impressive. We traveled about 20 minutes north to Riviera Nayarit to see Grand Velas. There’s no front desk in the soaring, open-air lobby because the front desk comes to you. If you were a guest in a Mexican hacienda, you would be seated in the living room and everyone would come to you. That’s the mantra at Grand Velas, where upon arriving, you are seated, offered a welcome drink, and then treated to a five minute massage! The resort’s staff comes to you to handle the check-in process and then escorts you to your room. Grand Velas is the only resort on Mexico’s Pacific coast that received Five Diamonds from AAA. I had lunch by the ocean at Azul, where the tuna ceviche and flank steak were exceptional! The resort has six or seven beautifully designed restaurants where the flavors of Mexico, Asia, Italy and France come to life, all included in your stay. The resort’s location a little north of Puerto Vallarta is, again, only 20 minutes from Marina Vallarta and 30 minutes from Vista Vallarta. The beach here was also the most beautiful of all the resorts I saw.
Afterwards, I headed to Vista Vallarta to play the last round of my trip at the Weiskopf course. Each of my rounds were in the afternoon due to my schedule, but all were pleasant with temperatures in the low 80s. I think the Weiskopf course was my favorite of the three. The fairways were a little tighter than the Nicklaus course, but there was more margin for error on my approach shots. Also, the course lives up to its billing as a “jungle course.” You travel through some dense canopies along the cart path and it all makes for a very unique experience. Afterwards, cabs were waiting again and I headed back to The Owners Club.
That night, I strolled along the piers of boardwalk area in the Marina district to find my dinner. I stumbled upon a pizza joint with NFL games on the TVs and enjoyed a chorizo and jalapeno pizza with a Corona. After that, I found a bakery and finished the night with a slice of Kaluha pie. This was after dark and there were a lot of people out walking around. I didn’t know what to expect before my visit, but throughout my time in PV I noticed obvious tourists just strolling around, both day and night. Any concerns I had about safety soon disappeared.
I had an early flight out the next morning, had an hour and a half long layover in Mexico City, and then breezed through customs again once I arrived in Austin. I’m so excited to help our customers experience a golf trip to Puerto Vallarta. The three courses we now partner with are all beautiful, fun layouts designed by some of the best in the game. We’ve also partnered with luxurious resorts that exude exceptional service where you are sure to have a good time in this tropical paradise. I’ve already planned a return trip with my wife and kids. Can’t wait to get back to PV!