Our family had a lot of points saved up. These points accumulated by using credit cards for literally all purchases, and then paying off the balance each month. My wife also had some corporate points.
We have been going to the Marriot hotel in Puerto Vallarta for a few years. We were worried that this year we just wouldn’t have the funds to do this week-long trip. But by using points, and getting a bit lucky on the United Airlines flights, we were able to do the week at our favorite hotel!
This hotel is very nice. One comment I would make is it is a Bonvoy category six hotel. I think that’s a bit too high. It causes you to dump your Bonvoy points at a higher value level than the underlying cash value. It’s not an efficient use of points. However, we are in the market for a new credit card anyway because it seems like Chase cards might be a more efficient use of points for this hotel.
Puerto Vallarta Secrets – Marina restaurants
First on the list should be Victor’s Place. Located in Marina Vallarta, this is your “down home” feel Mexican restaurant. Though it’s simple, it is quite entertaining. The waitstaff are professionals who efficiently make your evening enjoyable from the welcoming tequila shot, to the free desert. The food itself is very solid. The views of the marina are from every table, and provide a calming backdrop to your evening. We plan to visit this restaurant twice in our week.
I tend to shy away from hotel restaurants. I’m not sure why other than I have suspicions that the quality and value will be lower due to corporate bureaucracy. But I certainly make an exception for Las Casitas restaurant in the Marriot, Marina Vallarta. We have a tradition of having dinner here on both our first and last nights. While more expensive than some of the Marina restaurants, it sits literally on the beach, and the food is great. Again, this restaurant gets the kids’ stamp of approval.
Food and Drink Hacks
When I travel to a different country, I try to be as much of a cultural chameleon as possible. When in Mexico, that means drinking the local cervezas instead of my usual microbrew IPA back home. It also means my liquor choice will be different. I tend to really like gin, but my Hendrick’s in Mexico is quite expensive. Enter Presidente brandy . This is the number one selling spirit in Mexico which is shocking in the land of tequila. But it’s relatively cheap, and a great way to cap a meal while in Mexico.
For cheap food, eat local. On our last trip, my son and I were hanging out on the beach when a man walked by selling freshly grilled fish and shrimp on a stick. It was great and cheap, and so my six-year-old son and I made it a point to find this guy for the rest of our trip and have that afternoon protein snack. I didn’t see any other gringos giving him business, which was a proud teaching moment for my son to step off the well-worn path sometimes.
The Marriott has two tennis courts that have seen better days. But, you are in Mexico after all, on vacation, who cares about the condition of the courts? We are bringing balls and our rackets this time and plan to try and play each day while the kids are at Kids’ Club. We get one free hour of kids’ club each day as part of the resort fee, and our kids actually love it. It offers them a beak from the sun, and their parents a little bit of freedom. We’ve done jet skiing, SUP paddling, bike riding, tennis, and just hanging out during these breaks. By the end of an afternoon like this, everyone’s ready to make the short walk to the Marina for dinner. Rinse and repeat.