Gala Vallarta Nayarit: We’ve Got the Intel on Destination Happenings

Views of Puerto Vallarta from the lighthouse at El Malecon.
Views of Puerto Vallarta from the lighthouse at El Malecon.

Our Associate Editor just spent five days surrounded by crystal-blue waters and lush green mountains in Puerto Vallarta. But she wasn’t sipping away on margaritas by the pool. Instead, she was attending Gala Vallarta Nayarit to bring you what’s new and what’s happening in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

In regard to tourism in the area, “We have officially recuperated what was lost in 2009,” says Marc Murphy, Director of Riviera Nayarit Tourism Bureau. “Our objective is to continue marketing the destination as luxury.”

Though both Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta have joined their dollars in joint campaigns and to organize Gala 2016, Murphy says both destinations are very distinct from one another. “Nayarit has a more modern theme, more celebrities and five-star accommodations, while Vallarta has a more Mexican feel.” However, he does note that combining both of their budgets has been a success for both destinations.

Entertainment at the Welcome Cocktail for Gala Vallarta Nayarit.
Entertainment at the Welcome Cocktail for Gala Vallarta Nayarit.

In fact, tourism is booming. As Augustin Alvarez Valdivia, Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board Director, notes, “2015 was a record year and we’re expecting a better 2016.” One growth is that in 2015, 136 cruises called to Puerto Vallarta, where as for 2016 there are already 149 scheduled with Puerto Vallarta as a port of call. In addition, the average hotel occupancy has been up by 65 percent overall in 2015 for the 34,000 hotel rooms available between both Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. “People identify all of Mexico the same. But safety isn’t an issue in Puerto Vallarta. It’s not for nothing that airlines are starting to fly again,” says Alvarez Valdivia.

Alvarez Valdivia adds that, “New hotels are booming. We didn’t have many [new ones] for a while. Boutique hotels are also coming in more now.”

But hotels, cruises, and flights aren’t the only new happenings. We had time to chat with Vallarta Adventures and they have a few new excursions up their sleeves, such as a new Adventure Cove for teens and new tours to a few Magical Towns. “We do the fun stuff. We do the attraction that makes the vacation unforgettable,” says Gareth Price, Vallarta Adventures’ commercial director.

The balcony at Hotel Mousai, complete with a Jacuzzi and a hammock.
The balcony at Hotel Mousai, complete with a Jacuzzi and a hammock.

Here are new openings and fabulous stays that will take your client’s breath away, just like it did ours. Plus, a few new fun attractions to do around town.

New Hotels & Offerings in Riviera Nayarit:

  • W Punta de Mita will open by summer 2016 featuring 120 villas
  • One&Only La Magdalena is expected to open by mid-2017.
  • Grand Velas added a Teens Lounge in December 2015.

New & Updated Hotels in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Fiesta Americana Grand opened in late 2015.
  • Casa Kimberly, the former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is a luxurious property that opened in December 2015.
  • The modern adults-only Hotel Mousai opened January 2015.
  • Sunscape Resort welcomed its first guests in December after going through various renovations with more to come by the end of 2016, including a new spa, suites and updated event spaces.
  • The Sheraton recently renovated 180 suites, the club level, the club lounge, and the gym. This year it will renovate an additional 180 suites, add a new spa, a ceviche restaurant, and event spaces. By 2017, all of the guestrooms will be renovated.
  • Villa Premiere just completed renovations to its suites and offers a zen, adults-only atmosphere.
  • Nemo Eco Villa (made out of shipping containers) is a 6-bedroom villa that opened in 2015. Guests can rent out the entire villa or a minimum of six rooms. A chef and house personnel attend to guests’ during their stay.
  • Costa Sur is currently undergoing room renovations; the Honeymoon Suites were just renovated in 2015.
  • Studio 6 (a business-focused hotel) is expected to open in 2016.
  • Just two months ago, Vallarta Adventures started to offer a tour that showed the more rural Mexican life. The Talpa & Mascota tour, which I had the opportunity to take part in, showcases a slower, more homey side to Mexico.
  • Vallarta Adventures is also working on a new adventure geared for teens. The Adventure Cove will feature a zipline that ends in the water, a slide, and a platform with a DJ playing, plus kayaks, snorkeling with sea lions, kayaking and canoe rides. But they won’t forget about mom (or dad) as massages will also be offered. The Adventure Cove is expected to open by the end of February 2016.

Air Updates:

  • Air Canada has a new flight from Vancouver.
  • SouthWest also plans to open new gateways in 2016 for Riviera Nayarit. It has also added flights from Denver and Orange County.
  • As for JetBlue, there are rumors they’re interested in adding flights to the area, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

Around Town:

  • During April, the destination will host the Laser World Championship—currently 600 boats have already registered.
  • November will once again bring foodies to Puerto Vallarta with the 20th Gourmet Festival.
  • The International Book Festival, which Guadalajara is known for, will also now take place this November in Puerto Vallarta.
  • The Food Park opened in December, featuring various food trucks, outdoor eating area and live music. It’s a great spot for both tourists and locals.
  • Las Islas, a new luxury shopping mall, is expected to open by September.
  • A $20 million renovation to the cruise port will begin and continue for the next five years; it will include a Welcome Center, a Tequila Center, an Aquarium, and additional shopping.
  • Nearby Sayulita, which is an hour away by car from Puerto Vallarta, was named a “Magical Town.”