Trip Report - Feb 4 - 11, 2010 Warning - Extremely Long!

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helenf
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Trip Report - Feb 4 - 11, 2010 Warning - Extremely Long!

Post by helenf » Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:35 pm

Puerto Vallarta Trip Report Feb 4 – 11, 2010

Day One – Thursday Feb 4

Flight was uneventful. Flew with Sunwing. We were scheduled to stop in Edmonton on the way down to PV to pick some folks up and we arrived in PV 40 minutes early. – A charter flight that arrives early – isn’t that something? Flew through the shark tank and grabbed a cab to the San Marino. Cab fare was $260.00 pesos.

First thing we notice is that the Malecon is empty. Two thirty on a Thursday afternoon and there’s barely a soul wandering there.

We check into the San Marino. We ask to pay to upgrade to a oceanview junior suite and they say that they have none available and are booked solid. Oh well, hopefully our room won’t be too bad.

OMG – Our room is an absolute dump. Worst room we have ever stayed in. I knew that this hotel was rated 2 ½ to 3 star and so my expectations weren’t that high but Wow! We have stayed in other hotels throughout Mexico with the same rating, but this room was something else. Mold and holes in the ceiling of the bathroom. I remembered seeing someone’s photos of this exact room here on Tripadvisor. What are the odds that this is the room that we would get. Ugh!!! By this time, Doug has about died. He can’t believe that I’ve booked us into “such a dive”. (It was room 517). I just kept saying – “This hotel is all about the location Doug – Nothing else! It will be fine!” After a couple of days we got over our initial shock and just went with the flow. The location truly is awesome.

Lunch was still being served at the hotel when we arrived. Doug had a burger (looked like boiled mystery meat). He just laughed when he looked at the buffet and said – “OMG, you’re gonna starve all week”. Needless to say, I never ate anything for lunch this day. LOL

Doug had a nap after lunch and then we went to Burros Bar so that we could enjoy sunset. Burro’s has always been our favourite place to spend sunset. The times they are changing. The service was absolutely the worst service I have ever experienced in PV. We had to ask for our bucket of beer three times before we received it. They came to get our empty bucket and never once bothered to ask if we wanted more. We then had to ask for our bill two times and waited over 45 minutes for it. The waiters were mainly familiar faces to us, and it wasn’t as busy as I’ve usually seen it so I’m not sure what’s going on there. I was terribly disappointed as we are usually treated so well there and service is usually fantastic. Maybe it was just an off-day and it will be different on another visit – I hoped!

We had been up since 1:30am Calgary time so it was off to bed early.

Day Two – Friday, February 5th

Both of us wake up with the worst backaches. These beds are the hardest beds we have ever slept on. Usually I can sleep on about anything, but I was seriously in pain when I arose. We went down to ask for foam toppers for the bed with hopes that it will help.

Breakfast at the hotel today. I always manage to find something I can eat at an AI for breakfast. Even breakfast was terrible. Doug and I both had the same thought when I picked up a piece of bacon off my plate. It was just like “Beggin Strips” dog treats. Well, maybe I’ll lose some weight this trip. LOL

We walked north down the Malecon after breakfast. On our way back there were some introductions being make regarding the upcoming Charro Championship (Rodeo). I waited to see what was going on because they even closed the road. Got fed up waiting to see what was going to happen so I walked back to the San Marino. Apparently there was a parade of the competitors right after I left.

We stopped for lunch and a few beers at Langosta Loco located right on the beach north of Burros bar. Doug had a whole grilled red snapper, which he said was fantastic. It was a whole kilo of fish, which he couldn’t finish. Service here was fantastic. Doug’s lunch was $230.00 pesos and the Dos Equis were $15.00 pesos each.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel so Doug could have his nap and I sat by the pool reading a book. Then we got cleaned up and went to Coco Tropical for happy hour and dinner. This restaurant is a “must” each trip for us. Dinner here was wonderful as always. Appies, drinks (including wine), main course and dessert the bill was around $880.00 pesos. Extremely reasonable. They are in no hurry to push you out of here either, so we were able to sit and have a drink and enjoy the atmosphere after eating.

Headed over the Andales after dinner. Heard “Alice” which is another must each trip and headed back to the SM to catch some ZZZZZZ’s.

Day Three - Saturday, February 6th

Today I went on a so called “whale watching” boat trip. Doug decided he didn’t want to go, so I went alone. Ended up sitting with a gal who was on the tour alone as well who was from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The boat was the Princesa Vallarta. OMG – What a joke. They arrived to pick us up at the Maritime Terminal almost an hour and a half late. The boat definitely needs to be painted again. The rust is the first thing you see when she pulls into the harbour. The boat headed out towards Bucerias and headed back. Even though we were picked up 1 ½ hours late, we were brought back right on time. There was no interaction from the crew except to offer drinks. We did see manta ray and dolphins but the so called “marine specialist” didn’t bother to announce them or anything so not everyone on the boat saw them. No whales to be seen today – I know that this isn’t the boat crew’s fault. I could not recommend this tour to anyone. It doesn’t even compare to any of the Vallarta Adventures tours that I’ve been on. The staff at Vallarta Adventures are always fun and they interact with the passengers – not on this boat.

Tonight we had dinner at Amapas Sunset. This restaurant is next door, on the south side of the San Marino, on the beach. There was a wedding taking place there right on the beach with the tiki torches and a great 8 piece band. It was fun to watch. Even though the staff was catering to a large wedding, the service here was impeccable. Best service we’ve experienced this trip so far. One glass of wine, three beer, two appies, two main courses and a wonderful “Chocolate Explosion” dessert – total bill $806.00 pesos. Would definitely recommend this restaurant.

Day Four – Super Bowl Sunday – February 7th

We had breakfast at the resort. It was okay. I just had some fruit. No “Beggin Strips” being offered today. LOL

Went for a walk south down the beach from the San Marino and walked back to the pier to watch the local fisherman and the pelicans. I love the pelicans. I always think that their eyes are like sad little puppies. LOL

Lunch today was at Paradise Burger on the malecon. I had a BLT that was pretty good and Doug had a chicken burger, with two beer and two weird blue rum drinks (way too sweet for my tastes) and the bill came to $567.00 pesos. Outrageous price for a “fast food” type lunch in my opinion. We’ve had some pretty excellent 3 course meals this week that weren’t much more expensive than that.

We walked down to Steve’s Sports Bar hoping to catch the Superbowl Game. We headed down there around 2:30 thinking that if we went that early, we would get a seat. It was closed for a private Super Bowl party so we kept walking towards the Malecon figuring that we could see it there. Doug had remembered that there were a ton of TV’s at Glam (I believe No Name Café used to be at this location) and that maybe we should try to get in there. We grabbed a seat and were asked to move as they were apparently “reserved” so we moved up to the next level of the bar. Service was really good here, however, they did lose a few customers because they had trouble finding the “English” satellite feed and a few of the American folks there left to find somewhere else to watch it. By the start of the game, they were able to have the sound of the American satellite feed with the Mexican commentators on the screen. When in Mexico. . . LOL.

I don’t watch NFL football, however, we both decided to cheer for the New Orleans Saints as New Orleans appeared to be the underdog. We were glad to see they won. Glam is a bit on the more expensive side but I imagine its because it is right on the Malecon. No drink specials were offered for Superbowl.

Day Five - Monday, February 8th

Today we went on the Ameca River Hovercraft Tour. The cost was $2000.00 pesos for two people plus the cost of the taxi out there ($250.00 pesos to get there and $300.00 for him to come back and get us). Initially the cab driver had no idea where this tour was and of course, neither did we. He ended up turning around the block and going back to the tour place where we booked the tour to find out where we needed to go. We booked this tour through the tour company located across the street from the San Marino. This tour takes place out at Boca de Tomates, which is located between the PV marina and Nuevo Vallarta. You have to head down a dirt back road off of the highway. Nobody would find it if they didn’t have a local show them.

The fellas that run this tour are from the U.S., Bob and Chris. We started with an orientation about what birds and crocodiles we would see and then we were split up into two groups of 5 people. Our group went on a walk through the mangroves with a guide who explained the importance of the mangroves. Quite interesting stuff. Then we walked back out to the beach and a local fisherman taught us how to throw a fishing net. Then we were off on the river in the hovercraft. Very cool. We saw a ton of different birds along with many different sized crocs. You only spend about 30 minutes on the hovercraft portion of the tour, but it was great fun and I would definitely recommend this tour.

Boca itself is extremely rustic with no electricity there. It consists of a “co-op” of shack type restaurants where everything there is cooked on a grill. Doug and I ordered food at “Eduardo’s” to feed to the three stray dogs that we encountered there. Where ever we travel, we are feeding the street dogs. We did notice that there are much less stray dogs throughout PV this trip.

Day Six - Tuesday, February 9th

Today it’s breakfast at Cuates Y Cuetes (CyC’s). One continental breakfast and a fruit plate with lots of coffee came to a total of about $200.00 pesos with tip. Service was great. Waves were a bit high today so it was funny watching folks get onto the Yelapa water taxis at the pier.

Doug has absolutely fried his forehead and is unable to even put on a hat to protect it now. LOL Not so good, when we have chartered a fishing boat for tomorrow. LOL

Happy hour today was spent at La Bodequita del Medio (on the Malecon). It was extremely quiet in here today so Harvey the owner spent a lot of time chatting with us, gave us some Mojitos to try and some free munchies. He told us all kinds of jokes. Funny guy. Service here was fantastic.

Dinner was at the hotel tonight. Yuck. All I could eat was the soup.

Day Seven - Wednesday, February 10th

Went fishing this morning with Red Bone Charters. Great boat with a bano. (A must have for me when out on the water). We didn’t wake up on time so they were phoning us to find out where we were. They waited over an hour for us to get there and we thought, jeez they aren’t going to be very happy with us. This may not turn out to be a great fishing trip. We were wrong. The captain and his mate were fantastic. Doug reeled in a 30 lb jack fish. I reeled in a fish the size of their bait fish and lost it just was it got up to the boat. LOL. Great day on the water we saw tons of dolphins today. Started off cloudy and ended up being nice, hot and sunny. (Doug’s head is now glowing in the dark, it’s so red). Four hours on this boat and it only cost us $350.00 US. We’ve paid double that for this size of boat in other locations we’ve traveled to and not caught a darn thing. LOL

After fishing Doug went for his nap. I went shopping and stopped at Vitea for lunch. Had a great BLT with garlic aioli (instead of regular old mayo), a coke and a bottled water. Price including tip was $200.00 pesos.

Dinner tonight was at Marazul (Olas Atlas #336) right on the beach. This restaurant is a big palapa on the beach. Very wonderful setting with live band during the dinner hour playing some soft blues and jazz. Really enjoyed our dinner here and prices were extremely reasonable. Again, appies, main course and drinks each and it came in around the $800.00 peso range. It was packed. We had hoped to eat our last meal at El Palomar de los Gonzales but we forgot to make reservations and figured we wouldn’t get in. Marazul was a good choice!

Departure Day - Thursday, February 11th

Today we head back home and it’s raining today. Check out time is at noon so we were done checking out by about 12:30 and took our own cab to the airport. We didn’t want to sit in the lobby and wait for Sunwing’s provided transportation. This wasn’t to arrive until 1:00pm (I had advised our rep of this in advance so that they didn’t send anyone for us).

Checked in at the airport, did our duty free shopping and only had to wait for a short time before we started boarding. Flight left early and we arrived back in Calgary 30 minutes early. Sunwing Rocks! Right through immigration. Our bags were first off the plane and we had prearranged a sedan service to pick us up and he was there so we were home in no time at all.

General Observations

Service in some places has gone right down hill like Burro’s for example. We did stop a couple more times for a beer at Burro’s and always ended up leaving after a bucket of 3 to have a drink elsewhere because the service was just terrible each and every time. Folks on TA are always told to head to Burros for sunset and how great it is - by me included. If service doesn’t improve to where it used to be, they won’t have any customers. The state of most of their umbrellas is horrible as well.

San Marino is in the best location in all of PV in my opinion. It’s a shame that the owners don’t do some upgrades on the property and serve food that is even a little bit more edible. Our first trip to PV 10 years ago was at the Blue Bay Getaway. Absolutely it was a dump, but I don’t remember the food being that bad and our room at the BBG was great. Imagine how much more travelers would be willing to pay if the place was spruced up? Even with the foam toppers on our bed, it didn’t help with the backaches. At one point Doug was taking Robaxicet (sp?).

The service from ALL of the staff at the SM was excellent. They are wonderful and friendly. The maid had our room cleaned before 11:00am everyday. Any other resort we have ever stayed at – the maid doesn’t show up until late afternoon. It’s great to have it done while you’re off having breakfast.

The timeshare hawks left us alone for the most part. They were much less pushy than previous visits - same with the beach vendors. It still amazes me though, how pushy the TS hawks are at the airport. The first timers to PV get sucked in still, even after warnings by the plane’s PA system prior to disembarking.

Sunwing has got to be the best charter company without a doubt. We flew with them last Christmas to Huatulco/Puerto Escondido and we were early to arrive there as well.

I realize that alot of my report may sound like I'm a bit negative but all in all, it was a fun visit. This truly is the first time, I've ever complained about anything in PV.

Helen

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Post by pvgemini » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:31 pm

Helen, you are hilarious!! Thanks for your honesty. I have been wanting to try Amapas Sunset and Marazul, and now they are on my list for my upcoming trip in March.

When eating lunch on the Malecon, we have always been satisfied with the food, drinks, prices, and view at the Cheeky Monkey. I have heard from others that Paradise Burger is expensive.

I am curious, since it sounds like you paid for AI at the San Marino, how much did you spend per day/night at that hotel? Since you ate out anyway for the most part, I am comparing the price of staying there with renting a condo and eating out most of the time, but having some simple meals at the condo.

Does the San Marino include alcoholic bevvies as well? There must be some value there, if there is a nice place to sit and drink, but you went to other nearby places to watch the sunset, so I wonder if the San Marino has beachfront chairs/bar?

Sally

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San Marino

Post by helenf » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:46 pm

Hi PV Gemini,

I will go back and look at what we paid to stay there for the week and post it later, but I wouldn't recommend staying there to anyone.

I drank all of one beer at the resort and Doug maybe had two and believe me, we usually take advantage of the AI booze and the breakfasts at any other time. LOL. We seriously didn't spend any time there except during Doug's naps. That's when I would sit by the pool and read my book.

As I said in my trip report, we've stayed at many AI's including 5 other places in PV and this was the worst of all of them. Not just the food, but the rooms as well. Even the atmosphere at the resort wasn't quite right. We always manage to make new friends when on vacation at our resort, but during this trip, the only people we spoke with were the staff.

I would suggest to you that if you can get a great condo in the area to go that route. I did look into that for us this trip but there just wasn't anything available right in that area.

Helen

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Post by pvgemini » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:18 pm

I was just wanting to compare prices. We stayed at a really cute little condo just a few blocks south of the San Marino. This building is on Amapas Street just past the Tropicana Hotel. I highly recommend it, especially for the price. So close to all the activity, but quiet at night. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach from the bedroom.

And......it is owned by Canadians who own and run a B & B in Vancouver, BC.....how cool is that? Here is the link:

http://www.vrbo.com/121856

So during high season, you would be spending about US $100/night on the condo, and we budget $80/day on food and drinks (all dinners out--we often split entrees; some meals/drinks at the condo; some lunches at street vendors). This has to be cheaper than paying for AI and going out to eat anyway!!

Sally

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Thanks Sally

Post by helenf » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:41 pm

Hi Sally,

Thanks for that link. Condo looks marvelous. I did go onto vrbo and pvrpv websites to see if there was a condo available for our dates, but nothing came up for my dates at that time.

I think we paid about $2240.00 cdn AI (taxes included). The taxes alone were $280.00 each (robbery I tell ya - LOL).

I will certainly keep this link though. I wouldn't hestitate to stay there.

Thanks again,

Cheers,

Helen

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Post by Plus4 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:59 pm

After reading your report It seems to me you had some very nice times and some great food at times but also some of the trip was not pleasant ..Thanks for sharing with us your honest report....
I can picture you telling Doug that the Resort was all about location...Did he buy it? :)
Is he peeling yet? :lol:

Looong reports are good... :)

You fish like I do... ;D
Seeing the dolphins must have been wonderful... :)
The Marazul dinner out sounded lovely...

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Helen And Dougs Trip

Post by smitty » Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:57 pm

Fun report Helen ! Entertaining and informative . :)

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Post by beachluvr » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:46 pm

funny stuff - i too could see myself saying to my wife 'it's all about location'
and her say 'bulls#*t', it's all about the mattress!'.
sorry to hear the negatives - we stayed at vallarta shores 2 yrs. ago
and walked past the s.m. daily - always looked inviting and in perfect
location.

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Post by keyjus » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:45 am

Thanks for your great Puerto Vallarta trip diary. A lot of useful information for people who want to go there. I 've also been to Puerto Vallarta a few years ago during Super Bowl, I did a Super Bowl road trip with some friends and it was really great.Watching the game in Mexico is a very special thing, I think I've never had so much fun during any other Super Bowl game.
Threads like this make my heart ache and I want to go to Mexico again, to relive some of the glory days I had down there ...

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