As Arizona college students in the early ‘80s, Puerto Vallarta was one of our “Go To” destinations. Literally hundreds of flights called on the coastal Mexican city ferrying hordes of college kids and other tourists to the sun soaked beaches. Thanks to a peso devaluation in 1982, it was a cheap, good time. Tourism boomed, hotels and resorts seemed to blossom almost overnight, and other development followed. But, soon after the end of the decade, fickle tourists began booking the next hot, new destinations, such as Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. While tourism never abandoned the area, it surely slumped.Now, tourism is returning to the Pacific coast. In an area known as the Riviera Nayarit, new resorts are opening while luxurious standards get updates and improvements. Last August, Mexico’s first Hard Rock Hotel opened in Nuevo Vallarta. The all-inclusive beachfront resort is one of only three AAA Four-Diamond hotels in the Puerto Vallarta area. It has 348 guest rooms, six restaurants, and four bars and lounges. Two large swimming pools supplement the beautiful Pacific Ocean just outside the resort’s doors, one of which is a diving pool where scuba demonstrations and lessons are offered. Being a Hard Rock, there’s the signature Rock Spa along with the Body Rock Fitness Center and the requisite Rock Shop.
New to the area this year will be the 452-room Iberostar Playa Mita in Litibu, about 40km north of Nuevo Vallarta across the Punta de Mita peninsula. This will be Iberostar’s first property on Mexico’s west coast and will be an all-inclusive resort featuring spacious accommodations, including 120 oceanfront junior suites with concierge service. The beachfront resort promises to live up to Iberostar’s gourmet reputation with four specialty restaurants featuring Japanese and Mexican cuisine, an American-style steakhouse, and a buffet restaurant. There will be four bars, two pools, a fitness center, SPA Sensations, a kid’s club and splash park, and an 18-hole oceanfront, Greg Norman-designed Libitu Golf Club onsite. Prospective guests can make reservations beginning this month but the property doesn’t open until December 2013.
The small community of Nahui, situated along the Bahia Banderas coastline between Nuevo Vallarta and Punta de Mita, is home to the Nahui Complex, now under development. When complete, it will include Tau Resorts Nahui, a timeshare village with 172 units, a golf course and oceanfront water sports center. Major updates were completed over the past year at several area resorts, including the Four Seasons Punta Mita, Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta, and the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa. The Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta is also expanding with a new 144-room tower under construction.About Riviera Nayarit
If beachfront frolicking isn’t enough for you, the area also has sport fishing, world class surfing and other water sports, golf, hiking, cultural events, ecological tours, and history from the Spanish colonial era. There is also plenty of shopping, from simple markets to upscale stores.
Nayarit is the state to the north of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is in Jalisco but borders the southwest edge of Nayarit, so the Nayarit Riviera is the 200 miles of coastline from Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay, north to the historic port of San Blas, dotted with fishing villages, resort developments and upscale communities. The easiest access is by air to Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta.