Have you experienced a vacation to the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit area in Mexico? If not, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list!
I have been lucky enough to visit three Velas resort properties in the last year — Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Casa Velas, and Velas Vallarta.
This collection of award-winning, luxury, all-inclusive resort properties in Mexico are unique from each other in many ways, but they have the heart of Velas in each of them.
Here are the key things you should know about all three of these Velas properties.
What the 3 resorts have in common: The Velas touch
1. The luscious, gorgeous grounds
The grounds are filled with beautiful greenery and flowers everywhere. It almost feels like you are wandering through a fairyland.
Look at these flowers at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit!
2. They are ridiculously clean
I found all three of these properties to be incredibly clean. The bathrooms at the pools are even spotless — not even sand! — which is very hard to maintain and rarely seen at a resort. You constantly see workers keeping every aspect of the resort spotless. They can take pride in their work!
3. You'll always find top-notch service
No matter what level of the property, the service at these Velas resorts is top-notch. I always felt like there was someone helping me (but not in an intrusive way) when needed, and everyone was so warm and greeted me with a smile. I get the feeling Velas employees truly love their jobs and are happy to be there, which makes it enjoyable for the guests.
4. Outstanding food and drinks
Food and drink are my top criteria when deciding on a resort, and let me tell you, the food and drink quality and selection are outstanding at all three of the Velas properties. I find this to be very rare at an all-inclusive. I liked that the food and specialties differ by resort, but the overall quality was consistent across the board.
Truly beautiful food presentations at Velas Resorts.
5. Fantastic rooms
All three of these resorts offer massive rooms to stay in, which is so nice when traveling with your kids (especially the large bathrooms!). Velas Resorts also offer the comfiest plush bedding — they really allowed me to have a wonderful sleep and enjoy my days in paradise.
One of the enormous rooms at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.
Rooms come with your own private balcony pool at Casa Velas.
You can't go wrong, no matter which property you choose. But if you're struggling to decide at which of the Velas resorts to book your stay, I'm here to help! Let’s break it down to help you decide which of these three Velas resorts in the Puerta Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit areas is right for you.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
I have been fortunate to travel to many resorts over the past couple of decades with my family, and each member of our family is in total agreement that Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is our all-time favorite place. If we could move in, we would!
This is the highest-priced option among the three properties. If it fits your budget, I would go for it without a doubt. I have experienced this property with a family and with a friend (adult-only trip) and recommend it as a great option for both.
The resort is located in Riviera Nayarit, an easy 30-minute drive from the Puerta Vallarta airport.
From the moment you enter Grand Velas’ gigantic lobby, you'll feel the lovely breeze. You're handed a delicious drink, and treated to a welcome shoulder and head massage. The magic of the place immediately overtakes you, and all the weight of the world escapes you.
The property is stunning and the pools and restaurants truly impressive here.
4 highlights of Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
1. It's kid-friendly
There are lots of great options when it comes to your kids, no matter their age. Baby, kid, and teen options are INCLUDED for no additional fee during your stay. This means you can enjoy some adult-only meals and reconnect with each other without kids underfoot.
Want to enjoy activities with your kids? Family-friendly activities range from theme nights and entertainment in the amphitheater to treasure hunts, sandcastle building, Spanish classes, and more. There are also some really great activities inspired by Mexican culture, from making signature spirit animal crafts to a Wixáritari micro-adventure to visit the ancient holy site of Altavista in the hills of Nayarit.
If you bring a baby or toddler, you can take advantage of the resort's baby concierge service, which includes things like bottle warmers, baby bathtubs, and more. I especially loved the option for "My First Cut." Babies can get their first haircut experience while at the resort, complete with a certificate celebrating this important milestone!
The Kids Club at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.
Meanwhile, kids ages 4 to 12 can visit the Kids Club, which was recently remodeled with indoor-outdoor entertainment spaces, an illuminated dance floor, a cinema, a climbing wall, and more. It is not only gorgeous, but also packed with activities that will keep your kids busy all day and night long.
And teenagers? They get their own super cool club where they are welcome to hang out day and night. There are game tables, a dance floor, and even a snack shop!
2. The beach
This is really the highlight of what makes the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit extra special. The beach is gorgeous. It has white, soft sand and the ocean is warm and has nice waves. There is no crazy seaweed and rocks like resorts I have been to in other areas of Mexico, which lead you to spend your entire time at the pool. Another important factor to me personally is being able to go for a run or walk on the beach, and at this property I can run on the flat sand for as long as I want and feel safe. True bliss!
3. It's the perfect size
This property size at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is fantastic for kids. It is not so massive that they can get lost but not so small that they will get bored. My kids loved the independence I was able to give them at this resort.
Fresh fish, just pulled from the water, for lunch at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.
4. Gorgeous restaurants with amazing food
What a treat you are in store for when it comes to the food at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit! The breakfast buffet includes omelet stations and every kind of fresh squeezed juice you can imagine (even strawberry and cantaloupe!). At lunch, you can enjoy fresh-caught seafood lunches on the beach (they literally catch the fish right there and grill it up in front of you!).
And dinner? Save room, because there is Frida (gourmet Mexican cuisine), Piaf (traditional French cuisine), Lucca (Italian-Mediterranean cuisine) and Sen Lin (Asian Fusion). They also have bars: Koi Sports Bar and Aqua Bar and for breakfast/lunch: Azul and Selva Del Mar (poolside snack bar with lunch and light fresh foods). Everything was extremely high quality, and they had healthy options like cucumber chips stocked in our room. Amazing!
There are many other surprises to be had and other interesting tidbits about the resort, but I want you to experience the magic yourself when you get there! This resort truly has it all with everything top-notch and thoughtfully crafted to make sure you leave feeling relaxed and having loved every minute of your stay.
Casa Velas is a small, boutique, adult-only, all-inclusive property located on a golf course a short drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport. It is not on the beach, but you can take a quick shuttle ride over to Táu Beach Club on Banderas Bay where you can enjoy a beachfront pool and jacuzzi, along with a restaurant and bar.
5 highlights of Casa Velas:
1. A peaceful pool
The pool at the adults-only Casa Velas is not as big as Grand Velas, but the warm temperature was absolutely lovely, and felt so incredibly peaceful. With the swim-up bar, I could have spent my entire day lounging there!
2. It felt small and intimate
I loved the way the resort felt so easy and personable since it was so small. I could go back and forth between my room and the pool super quickly, which was very convenient.
3. Spa and gym
I had a really nice spa experience at Casa Velas, starting with a pre-treatment water experience that included a personal spa employee guiding me through the cold and hot rooms. My massage was excellent. I was also able to enjoy the resort’s gym, which overlooked the pool and grounds, making it a very enjoyable workout session.
4. Lots of fun and inspirational activities
Despite it being a small property, we kept plenty busy. We took part in a yoga class on a beautiful lawn, which was located near the resort's herb garden. We also attended a Mexican spirits class and tasting experience, and were even able to participate in a special career transformation retreat they held while we were there.
5. Two gorgeous golf courses
I am not a golfer, but the travelers I was with went for a day of golf and raved about their experience. World-class golf has helped make Puerto Vallarta a destination of choice for vacationers from around the world, and Casa Velas' privileged location allows guests to enjoy the best of the sport with two magnificent courses. The Marina Vallarta Golf Club envelopes the hotel, and Vista Vallarta is just minutes away. Both offer practice facilities, a luxurious clubhouse with a restaurant, bar and lounge, verandas, a golf shop, and on-course beverage service. Marina Vallarta is an 18-hole golf course designed by the famous American Architect Joe Finger and is a marvelous mix of the tropical ambiance of the Mexican Pacific with views of the Sierra Madre and Banderas Bay.
Casa Velas is a great option for an easy, quick getaway with your partner or some friends OR even for hosting an event like a milestone birthday where everyone can spend time together. The cost falls about halfway between Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Velas Vallarta. My friend and I truly had a lovely time at the property and left feeling pampered, relaxed, and having drunk many, many delicious cocktails!
Velas Vallarta, located in Puerto Vallarta, is my top pick for a budget vacation. It is an incredible value for a beautiful resort.
For me, the absolute highlight at Velas Vallarta included a chance to see baby sea turtles hatch! There's obviously no guarantee when turtles will hatch, so I felt incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time for this experience. The resort has a nursery for hatching sea turtles to help with their reproduction and care. If you're there at the right time, you can wish them well before they head off to the sea on their grand life adventure!
Check out my full review of Velas Vallarta, and read more about our turtle release.
Whichever Velas resort you visit in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, you are sure to have a memorable vacation. Now if only an airline could just start a direct route from the DC/Baltimore area, where I am from, to Puerto Vallarta ... I will be golden!