I recently stayed at Villa La Estancia Beach Resort & Spa, located at Paseo de Cocoteros 700 Sur, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit 63732, Mexico. I had booked the reservations through Costco Travel, which is currently offering a stay four nights for the price of three nights promotion at $279 per person, with a $300 resort credit included, which runs to $1,674. The credit could be applied to food, beverages and other services, excluding tips. While at the resort, I had encountered another guest that had booked their travel through a LivingSocial deal that included all meals, beverages, and unlimited massages for $1,630. Despite, the $300 credit, the $1,630 promotion is a better deal if you plan on taking all your meals on the premises. I had never thought about booking travel through a group buying website, so that was an eye-opener.
The resort itself is spectacular. Located on the beach, the facility looks and feels new. Based on the layout of the buildings, all rooms should provide at least a partial ocean view from the patio. The resort’s palette featured an abundance of warm, earth tones.
Housekeeping even provides a daily supply of L’Occitane Verbena Products, which like most items from France, is quite pricey.
For dining options, the resort has an outside swim-up bar by the pool, as well as a steak house just off the resort lobby.
I has one dinner at La Casona. While the service and ambience was refined, the food did not exactly knock me out of my socks. More on that later.
The best meal I had at the resort was at the Bella Vista restaurant located at the sister property–Villa del Palmar Flamingos–next door. The savory shrimp fajitas were absolutely delicious.
- Location. The resort is located at the northern end of Nuevo Vallarta, and quite distant from any outside shops, restaurants or other amenities. If you have an all-inclusive deal and you plan on spending your entire time lounging around the pool, this should not present any problems. However, if you want to get around the Puerto Vallarta and the other cities along the Bahía de Banderas, the transportation costs could add up quickly. Relied on the taxi service during the entire week. I did see numerous Turibus stops along the main Nuevo Vallarta drag, but I only saw that bus once. That Turibus does not operate with as much frequency as you would think.
- Beach/Pool. While the resort is located on the beach, I didn’t see too many people in the water. The waves can get quite rough, particularly in the afternoon when the winds pick-up. The pool itself is not that deep. I would guess that it is about four feet deep at most. The pool has an extremely shallow wading section for toddlers where the water cannot be more than a few inches deep.
- Internet Access. Wi-Fi available for free in the lobby. I could also access the Wi-Fi connection from the corner of the patio closest to the lobby. The room had an ethernet cable and port, but the AirPort Express that I had brought along was not configured correctly to create my own personal wireless access point. I either need the AirPort Express to be configured correctly before I leave home, or I need a way to reconfigure that device from an iPad. So close, yet so far away.
- Kitchen. I liked the ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Tower better. Absolutely inefficient to make short-term guests purchase their own cleaning supplies, as well as some ingredients that are almost always sold in bulk, like sugar and salt.
- Laundry. I am absolutely sold on the in-suite washer and dryer. However, like above, ResortQuest provided a daily box of laundry detergent, but Villa La Estancia did not. So, I had to buy a month’s worth of detergent at the supermarket to use for the week that I was there.
- Timeshare Salesmen. No one at Villa La Estancia pitched me on purchasing a timeshare. However, the salesmen at the adjoining property were quite assertive, though not in an overly aggressive manner. Basically, the routine would be to strike up a conversation, offer a few helpful tips, and then begin their sales pitch. So long as you know it is coming and remain persistent in dodging their offers (that is if you are not interested), you will be fine.
- Food. The food quality and quantity was uneven. Food pricing was even–evenly expensive. I get that at a remote resort, the seller has a near monopoly power to ratchet up prices. To be more expensive than local Mexican restaurants is expected. To be more expensive than restaurants in the United States, well, I did not see that one coming. That credit evaporates quite rapidly when fruit punch for the kids goes for $6 a cup. Not pesos, but US dollars. I dined at Bella Vista twice–once for dinner and another time for breakfast. Both times it was an all-you-can-eat buffet of decent quality. At US $20 for breakfast and $30 for dinner, I thought the cost was about double when I would pay in the states, but both meals were satisfying. I ate at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos outdoor restaurant once. Seriously, I’ve made better pizza in my life. And, the fish tacos were a bit shy on the fish. The big disappointment was the La Casona restaurant, home of the $6 fruit punch mentioned above. Between the extremely dry chicken breast in the shish kebab and the overly salty Portabello mushrooms, the meal had disappointment written all over it. The crisp calamari appetizers were good through–breaded and fried with three different accompanying sauces. Just did not realize that we had hit the high note so early on in the meal.
- Atmosphere. While Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa La Estancia are neighboring properties, the vibe of each location was different. Villa del Palmar Flamingos offered more activities, had more people in the pool, and provided better dining options. Villa La Estancia focused secluded tranquility. Despite the size of the premises, I didn’t see that many people around the resort or in the pool. You have the resort pretty much to yourself.
- Market. If you are looking to prepare some of your meals in your own suite, the Palmita Market at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos offers some basic provisions. A larger supermarket is nearby, just off the highway. The vegetables were not the freshest, but no worse than what I’ve seen at other markets in Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta.
So, I loved the resort overall, despite the misses here and there. I probably would have liked it even more if I had skipped the La Casona dinner. If you are going to charge $30 for a main course, you better bring your A game. I would return if the surrounding area was developed and offered alternate places to dine. I also thought I spent too much time and money on transportation. The next time I travel to Puerto Vallarta, I might look for a more centrally located property.