Friday, April 27, 2012

Puerto Vallarta Skal Family Vacation


Skal International
San Francisco SIUSA Director,
Melita Wade Thorpe and Family
Vacation in Puerto Vallarta

With choices of a cruise, adventure trip, or big city vacation our family of nine selected Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The ocean-side Fiesta Americana fiestaamericana.com expertly managed by Skalleague, Francisco Rangel, was our choice for five days. 
With a large, meandering pool adjoining the white-sand, private beach was simply a pleasant place to unwind.  Our ages ranged from a three year old to the young at heart abuelas.  We had everything we needed at the FA plus, the Fiesta ninth floor offered complimentary canap├ęs at 6pm and Continental breakfast in the morning and a very watched over staff.

As soon as we checked-in we headed to the pool with plenty of lounge chairs and long fluffy towels available.  Nearby Fiesta Kids offered supervised arts and crafts for the 6 and 3 year olds but the pool became the only place they wanted to be.  Three year old Jack came to believe that the hotel pool was Mexico.

Lingering near the pool, dinner was al fresco with a cool, sea breeze blowing across the deck of the L’Isola Restaurant and a good view of bright Venus to the West.



Thursday, Day 2.           
Five of us headed to the Marina for Mike's Fishing Charters, pvmikesfishing.com owned by Puerto Vallarta Skal Club treasurer, Miguel Tejeda Guillemin.  We were met at the entrance of the Marina by Felipe, our fishing guide, who escorted us to the Isabella II, a beautiful 40' yacht with sleeping accommodations for 4 but we were on a half-day of fishing trip.  Felipe set our lines as we cruised out and around Banderas Bay.  As we did not get into the blue water, we were only pulling in the smaller catch of barracuda.   Felipe had all the right ingredients for ceviche and went to work as soon as we began to catch.  Mixed with lime juice, red onions, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and herbs, we agreed it was the best ceviche ever.

Back for more pool time before we headed downtown for dinner at the Coco Tropical, cocotropical.com, owner/chef, Heinz Reinz and Puerto Vallarta Skal president.  As we toasted the sunset and awaited the green flash, we agreed it was a great location for our dinner.  Heinz came out and welcomed the family warmly as we enjoyed a shrimp cocktail washed down with Mango Margaritas and beer.  Dinner was superb with Mahi Mahi for some, Osso Bucco for others.  Full and content we joined the locals along the Malecon back to the Main Plaza.  At the Plaza a folkloric show was performing to an exuberant crowd.


Friday, Day 3  
Most of the family opted for the snorkel cruise for the day while I joined fellow  Skalleagues at their monthly luncheon.  Francisco Rangel and new Hilton GM, Rolando Miravete, rode north beyond Punto Mita to the newest hospitality creation.  Far from the crowds, the street noise, set at the edge of Pacific is an artistic dream, aptly named LA TRANQUILITY latranquillaresorts.com Over 880’ of swimming pools front the property.

The accommodations were extraordinary and the grounds meticulously groomed with tropical plants of palms, crotons, bougainvilleas fronting the main building with paths down to the white sand beach.  The lunch began with duck in a puree of garlic and squash, followed by a whole red snapper (Huachinango frito banado en tequila), and the finale of Panacota de Jicama con lima.


Saturday, Day 4.  
Arrrragh.  Today was the Pirates by the Bay, an excursion
which proudly owns the WOW factor for all ages.  From the minute we arrived at the harbor till we stepped off the boat 7 hours later, we were entertained, generously fed, and laughed a lot.  An excursion for all ages, it went far beyond our expectations with breakfast and a hearty lunch included with drinks.  Pirate games, sword fights, and swashbuckling walk the planks into the cold Pacific, our team of pirates never stopped serving or entertaining us.  A wholesome, happy crowd we could watch again and again.

Our last night we lingered at the L’Isola enjoying the incredible talent at the  grand piano.  From Beethoven to Phantom of the Opera the pianist serenaded without the benefit of sheet music.  As the sun set, a wedding party began to emerge to a romantic beach setting on Fiesta Americana's private beach for some hundred formal dressed wedding guests.  The Mariachis were in their dress whites and serenaded the hotel guests as well as the wedding party.



Sunday, Day 5.
Sunday morning three of us ventured back to the central Plaza for breakfast and to watch Puerto Vallarta come awake.  Sand chess game was set and awaiting the fully sand covered players.  Slowly the many vendors pulled open their shops, families strolled the Malecon, and the first of church goers from Our Lady of Guadalupe emerge and stop by the street vendor for appetizing aroma of tamales.

We found a little place for breakfast to get our last view of Puerto Vallarta's pleasant climate before returning to the Fiesta Americana to bid adios to our friends and some of the family staying on another day.  The six year old was occupied at Fiesta Kids painting her caterpillar and making choices for the next event before more pool time.

One more splash in the pool, one more Margarita, a walk on the beach pondering our next family gathering.  No decision yet but what we do know is that Puerto Vallarta is not Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s sleepy, little hideaway anymore.  Tourism and Visitor's Boards are struggling with the perceived danger elsewhere while cities like Puerto Vallarta are painting a warm, friendly face where families vacation, stroll along the beach after 10pm, and crowd the Plaza for artistic entertainment every night.  Puerto Vallarta offers a very fine, family vacation free of care the upscale amenities and food choices are aplenty.


Hasta Luego Mexico Lindo!
Melita Wade Thorpe
Skal International San Francisco – SIUSA