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Puerto Vallarta Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa de Mita
Playa Careyeros
Punta de Mita
Mexico
Tel: 52 329 298 4114
casademita@aol.com
www.casademita.com

Return guests book a week or more at this eight-room seaside villa on Punta de Mita, a hilly point with gorgeous beaches 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. Owner Marc Lindskog travels the world collecting furnishings and artwork to decorate Casa de Mita, and the result is an artsy mix of fainting couches and objets d'art from India and Southeast Asia, antique mirrors from central Mexico, oversize chairs, and canopy beds. Some rooms have indoor gardens, others open onto expansive shared terraces, and the one-bedroom penthouse has multiple balconies overlooking the sea. Hearty meals are included in the room rate, and the resident cooks serve up varied Mexican fare such as huitlacoche enchiladas and carne asada with all the fixings. The resort fronts a long semiprivate beach (shared with residents of the houses up the road); the best spot for postswim lounging is without a doubt the curtained cabañas in a garden above the sand.—Maribeth Mellin

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa Velas
311 Pelicanos
Marina Vallarta
Mexico
Tel: 866 612 1097 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 322 226 6688
info@hotelcasavelas.com
www.hotelcasavelas.com

Fairways and palms surround golden arches and terra-cotta roofs at Casa Velas, a gracious tropical plantation that's only a stone skip from the beach. Egrets are more common than seagulls around the swimming pools and koi ponds, birdies are all the rage on the adjacent golf course, and kiddies are nowhere in sight. The 80 suites at Casa Velas are spread between the main three-story building and twin two-story structures framing gardens and lawns. Expect cool marble floors in the rooms, stately pillars separating lounging and sleeping areas, warm splashes of saffron and terra-cotta, and plunge pools or whirlpools on balconies and terraces. The spa and gym are both peaceful retreats—no blaring beats here. Although Casa Velas is an all-inclusive resort, chefs don't stint on gourmet ingredients for the French-Mexican fare. The beach—and stylish beach club—are only a five-minute walk away, and also accessible via a complimentary shuttle at the Velas Vallarta resort across the street.—Maribeth Mellin

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Cuixmala
Carretera Barra de Navidad, Km 46.2
Costalegre
Mexico
Tel: 866 516 2611 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 315 351 0044
reservations@cuixmala.com
www.cuixmala.com

Cuixmala was once the family retreat of Sir James Goldsmith, an Anglo-French financier who helped to develop the Costalegre coast in the 1980s. The Cuixmala property has since grown into a 25,000-acre nature reserve teeming with wildlife, from burros to horses to zebras, and attracting celebs like Mick Jagger and Madonna. Throughout the reserve is a collection of villas and casitas shaded by tropical forests. The most luxurious is the Casa la Loma, the original Moorish-style family compound, atop a hill. It is comprised of a seawater pool, four bedrooms in the main house, and six casitas decorated with white silk drapes and hand-painted Talavera tiles—and comes complete with a dedicated full-time staff of housekeepers, gardeners, and a chef. Typically rented as one unit, for between $10,000 and $16,000 a night, it accommodates up to 20 people.

For those not traveling with an entourage, individual rooms in Casa la Loma are available on a nightly basis when the compound's not booked. Or you can rent one of three multiroom villas, with private housekeeper and cook, on another hill out of sight of the grand manse. Nine smaller casitas, whose porches are equipped with daybeds, binoculars, and books, are clustered in yet another forested area near the clubhouse and main dining room. (Breakfast and dinner are served, featuring organic produce from the property's gardens, coffee beans from a sister hacienda in the mountains, and fish straight from the sea.) You can explore the surrounding nature reserve on electric boats that glide silently through lagoons filled with blue and white herons, egrets, and pink spoonbills. Or you can hike past the farms of coconuts and mangoes, and the broomcorn that feed the horses, Brahman cattle, and those amazing zebras. The beach at the property faces the wild ocean and isn't great for swimming. It's better to take the ten-minute shuttle to the hotel's private beach club, which has padded lounge chairs, hammocks, and a restaurant serving light meals.—Maribeth Mellin

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
El Tamarindo
Carretera 200, Km 7.5
Costa Careyes
Mexico
Tel: 866 717 4316 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 315 351 5031
reserve@eltamarindoresort.com
eltamarindoresort.com

Set on a 2,040-acre nature preserve, Tamarindo is a mini Eden where deer and armadillo wander through forests and fairways, and more than 150 species of birds take refuge on the 18-hole championship golf course. Golfers love the place, and so do families on weeklong vacations and couples desiring private hideaways with resort amenities. The 29 bright pink, yellow, and blue villas and three- to four-bedroom casas invite nature indoors with open-air living rooms and private plunge pools. Plush beds sit in white-walled rooms with highly polished wood floors and brightly colored Mexican textiles. Guests can get even closer to the action with wildlife preservation and bird-watching programs, or just relax on the more than ten miles of private beaches and at the earthy spa. At night, guests dine beside the ocean underneath lanterns hanging from La Higuera restaurant's fig tree, and find their way back to their villas with the aid of hundreds of candles.—Maribeth Mellin

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita
Bahía de Banderas
Punta Mita
Mexico
Tel: 800 819 5053 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 329 291 6000
reservations.pun@fourseasons.com
www.fourseasons.com/puntamita/

On a private peninsula 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, this 3,000-acre, 145-casita resort has become an escape for SoCal families who'd rather not lift a finger while on holiday. The usual Four Seasons–worthy service is especially impeccable here: Polite staffers suddenly appear beside your poolside or beach lounger bearing Evian spritzers and skewers of fresh fruit; your child's name is spelled out in colored bath sponges on the lip of your giant bathtub; and masseurs from the on-site Apuane spa make house calls—and beach calls—on request. If lounging at the shore grows tiresome, you can take a turn around the 18-hole, Nicklaus-designed golf course; play a few sets of tennis; or indulge in myriad water activities: diving, deep-sea fishing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking (the last three are free of charge). New amenities are always on offer—among the latest are a 55-foot yacht for private charter, a "lazy river" pool with inner-tube rides around the family-oriented Oasis complex, and a 9,000-square-foot, five-bedroom Coral Suite designed by architect Diego Villaseñor. Top off a long day of pampering with a tequila-pairing menu at Aramara restaurant—es magnífico.—Maribeth Mellin

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Garza Blanca Resort
Carretera Barra de Navidad, Km 7.5
Puerto Vallarta
Mexico
Tel: 52 322 176 0700
garzablancaresort.com

Cupping a small cove south of downtown Puerto Vallarta, Garza Blanca epitomizes the kind of sunny serenity you'd expect from a five-star resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The centerpiece is a free-form tiered pool staffed by butlers who deliver fluffy towels and chilled water to your umbrella-shaded chaise longue—plan on watching a margarita sunset from the horizon tier, which sits right above the beach. Inside, the 79 cream-colored, sea-facing suites have floor-to-ceiling windows, plush platform beds, and dark-wood furnishings; amenities include flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations, along with whirlpool tubs in the shiny marble bathrooms. Wrought-iron chandeliers hang above the suite dining rooms beside chef-worthy kitchens, and hammocks big enough for two swing outside on oversize balconies. The waterside tables on the terrace at Blanca Blue restaurant are in high demand, and the menu—which might include beet sorbet, shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, duck with foie gras, and amazing truffled poached eggs at breakfast—rivals any on the Puerto Vallarta's gourmet dining scene. The lunchtime scallop and mango ceviche at Aquazul, a casual snack bar by the pool, is mighty fine as well.—Maribeth Mellin

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort
98 Avenue Cocoteros
Nuevo Vallarta
Mexico
Tel: 888 261 8436 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 322 226 8000
contactcenter@grandvelas.com
vallarta.grandvelas.com

This resort north of Puerto Vallarta is "better than most all-inclusives in Vallarta, Cancún, or Cabo." Encounter "beautiful and well-maintained natural surroundings" and perfect-scoring airy rooms with Mexican art, Balinese furnishings, and marble floors. At Piaf, French dishes are "quite good." Staff "treat you like you are special."

(267 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hacienda San Angel
336 Miramar
Puerto Vallarta
Mexico
Tel: 877 815 6594 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 322 222 2692
info@haciendasanangel.com
www.haciendasanangel.com

Forever associated with the 1964 movie The Night of the Iguana and the era of Burton and Taylor, Puerto Vallarta has a certain glamorous reputation to live up to. No place better recaptures that age of chic than Hacienda San Angel. Originally commissioned in 1977 as a Valentine's Day gift from Richard Burton to his (post-Liz) wife, Susan Hunt, it was acquired by San Francisco designer Janice Chatterton in 1990 and opened as a hotel in 2003. Chatterton now lives on-site, and her attention to detail shows in the 16 suites and the separate one-bedroom villa. All are artfully decorated with colonial antiques and custom tile work. Seven suites and a wedding chapel are located on a steep hillside across the street from the main hotel, affording spectacular views of downtown Puerto Vallarta, the malecón, and the bay. A funicular carries guests in these rooms up and down the hill, and though earplugs are provided to block out the hourly ringing bells from the cathdral right next door, light sleepers might still be happier in the original hotel building. Throughout both sections are secret courtyards with fountains, and terraces with sweeping views over Banderas Bay. Modern-day conveniences include three heated pools, a rooftop hot tub, Wi-Fi, a DVD library, and a restaurant serving chef Gonzalo Raul Noguira's Mexican-infused international cuisine. Puerto Vallarta's best galleries and restaurants are just down the hill—100 steps down, to be exact.—Maribeth Mellin

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel at Imanta Resort
Montenahuac Lote L
Higuera Blanca
Punta de Mita
Mexico 63734
Tel: 877 370 5427 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 329 298 4200
info@imantaresorts.com
imantaresorts.com

Within the many luxury hideaways that populate the wild coast surrounding Puerta Vallarta, Imanta—a 250-acre enclave of gorgeous rain forest fronted by a miles-long private beach—sets the bar even higher. Perched above the beach, its seven striking villas use mostly local Mexican stone, wood, and glass but have an almost Asian feel, with huge floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and sunken tubs, as well as large private terraces and individual pools. Staff are personal and professional; baby-sitters can easily be arranged at the last minute; and the chef himself comes out to ask what you want to eat. With yoga, kayaking, surfing, golf, horseback riding, and spa treatments all available on-site or a short drive away, Imanta has an enviable combination of location, low-key luxury, and service.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Catedral
166 Hidalgo
Puerto Vallarta
Mexico
Tel: 52 322 222 0604
info@hotelcatedralvallarta.com
www.hotelcatedralvallarta.com

Got a favorite color? Well, the whole spectrum is on display at Hotel Catedral, a restored hotel in the '50s-flashback neighborhood of Viejo Vallarta. The 21 rooms (all named for Mexican ballads) sport a kaleidoscope of colors, from rosy leather equipale chairs and matching pink walls in one room to an original mint-green tiled bathtub in another. Much of the original building remains, including brick balustrades and black-and-white tile floors, which blend in surprisingly well with the hodgepodge of old-school and contemporary touches, such as colorful embroidered pillows from Chiapas and Oaxaca on the beds, tin mirrors that hang above rustic wood bureaus, and tiny modern balconies overlooking the busy market streets. Coffee, fruit, and pan dulce are served every morning in the first-floor dining room/library, and guests linger at tables in the interior courtyard come nightfall. The surrounding streets are lined with simple cafés, high-end restaurants, modest farmacias, and trendy resort-wear shops; the plaza, cathedral, and malecón are practically next door.—Maribeth Mellin

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel des Artistes del Mar
5 Avenida Anclote
Punta Mita
Mexico
Tel: 52 329 291 6857
reservations@hoteldesartistes.net
www.hoteldesartistesdelmar.com

Punta Mita's El Anclote neighborhood is a fun, laid-back community where shoes (and shirts) are optional. And this waterfront hotel is the classiest place on the beach, jammed between casual restaurants and water sports shops—perfect if you're into surfing, paddle boarding, or sipping an icy mojito under the sun. Don't let the unimpressive entryway fool you: The dirt street leads to an art gallery, a fitness center, a full spa, and a four-story building housing 12 apartmentlike suites that have front-row seats to primo surf and a lively beach. Most of the suites are fully equipped with kitchens and multiple bedrooms, and are decorated by individual owners (styles vary from urbane granite, glass, and steel to clubby brown-leather sofas and yellow-ocher walls). Chef Thierry Blouet, a star among Puerto Vallarta's finest, oversees the superb Café des Artistes del Mar. Bikinis are the outfit of choice at the hotel's rooftop El Cielo bar, where the view of the crowded beach scene is enhanced by an infinity pool, several lounging areas, and chill-out tunes. Both destination weddings and surf clinics take over the property at times, testimony to its beach-chic vibe.—Maribeth Mellin

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
Carretera Federal 200, Km. 19.5
Punta de Mita , Nayarit
Mexico 63734
Tel: 52 329 291 5800
www.stregis.com/puntamita

One might forget that the 120-room St. Regis is actually in the middle of a gated community of luxury hotels, private villas, and a golf course just north of Puerto Vallarta. The secluded atmosphere is achieved through unobtrusive design and landscaping and an enviable position hemmed in by rocky headlands. From the quiet reception villa atop the bluff, a series of reflecting pools and villas run down a gentle slope. The beach itself, just beyond the infinity pool, is ideal for swimming. The hotel has an effortlessly relaxed sensibility, with huge beds, indoor and outdoor showers, and ample terraces with a table and a chaise big enough for two. The butlers are helpful but not obsequious, and the food at both restaurants is simple yet delicious.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Verana
Bahía de Banderas
Yelapa
Mexico
Tel: 866 687 9358 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 322 222 0878
reservations@verana.com
www.verana.com

Verana makes you work for its gorgeous views: You reach its aeries by climbing a steep hill or riding up with your luggage on a burro. But the solitude, the laid-back vibe, and the hand-crushed strawberries in your daiquiri make it worth all the effort. Movie industry pros Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre chose this mountaintop on the south side of Banderas Bay as the ultimate setting for a rustic-chic escape constructed with local materials and a lot of imagination. They created the Palapa first, using it as their home while designing seven different casas. Decor varies from casa to casa—the Tea House has low beds on polished wood floors, the Studio has cantilevered window walls framing views of the sea—but all share a comfortably rustic vibe with rough-hewn furniture, pillowy beds, and a focus on bringing the outside in (think large windows, outdoor lounges, and more). Our favorite casa is the aforementioned thatched-roof Palapa, with dining nooks, an outdoor shower, hammocks, a large stone-floored terrace, and a net-draped bed on a platform overlooking the sea. Delectable meals (homemade yogurt with mango and granola, fresh-from-the-sea shrimp, spicy Thai beef) are served poolside or on the dining terrace. Outstanding therapists perform magic at two spas—one solely for hotel guests, the other a day spa with café for outsiders and guests. Activities include nature hikes to waterfalls and isolated beaches—and nightly cocktails with couples celebrating their honeymoon or engagement. Romance is inescapable here.—Maribeth Mellin

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Villa Amor
Playa Sayulita
Sayulita
Mexico
Tel: 52 329 291 3010
Tel: 619 819 5407 (U.S.)
info@villaamor.com
www.villaamor.com

Surfers and recluses have been trying to keep Sayulita a secret for decades; the small village, just 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, has been a magnet for North American back-to-nature types since the highway first pierced this remote coastline in the 1970s. The best hotel in town, Villa Amor, has all the right touches—curvaceous architecture blending into hillsides, a location right above a reliable surf break at Playa Sayulita, and some of the best Mexican food in the neighborhood. Stairways snake up steep hills to the 33 rooms, all of which have fabulous views from their comfy open-air living rooms (the separate Grand Villa, popular with honeymooners, has a private pool overlooking the bay). Surfboards, kayaks, boogie boards, and snorkeling gear can all be borrowed free, but you'll want to claim your gear early if the place is full. Yoga groups sometimes take over the property for weeklong camps, taking full advantage of the laid-back setting.—Maribeth Mellin

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.