Nestled within an upscale residential neighborhood just a five-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport sits Casa Velas—a serene adults-only luxury boutique resort that’s helping set new and noteworthy standards in the all-inclusive realm. As one of the many properties in the Velas Resorts portfolio, which have earned no less than 43 diamonds by AAA, I had high expectations for my own stay—especially given it has garnered eight of those diamonds in its own right.
What I had not anticipated, however, was how at home I would feel while on site, which felt as much like a private estate home with an ever-attentive staff rather than a slick hotel operation with pre-programmed employees. Indeed, the layout of the grounds and the casually-elegant and intimate atmosphere evokes the sense of being in a private hacienda. Furthering this sensibility is a staff that all regard guests by name, who welcome you home upon arrival (with each outing) and generally do their utmost to ensure each guest’s needs and wants are being duly catered to.
All 80 traditional Mexican-styled suites at Casa Velas are top notch, with each boasting a private terrace and plunge pool or in-suite Jacuzzi, goose-down comforters, complimentary Wi-Fi, L’Occitane bath products and a fully stocked mini bar. For even more privacy and space, the exquisite 3,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Presidential Suite, which sleeps eight, is replete with original artwork by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante. It also features a large dining room, living room, master suite with a spacious marble-laden bathroom, and an expansive terrace with an oversize plunge pool and Jacuzzi.
While the Spanish-style architecture and interior design captivates, the setting in which it all resides is truly breathtaking. Lush tropical landscaping abounds with abundant flora and fauna at every turn that, of course, attracts wildlife. In fact, a bevy of wild peacocks have taken up residence at the property and can be seen meandering about throughout the day and night. A pack of “pet” snapping turtles live in a pond-like a water feature at the hotel’s front entrance. The valet staff will even eagerly provide you with food to feed them.
Adding to the serene green vistas is the fact that the resort overlooks the lovely Marina Vallarta Golf Course where guests enjoy special privileges like free greens fees. Other amenities include a full fitness center with Life Fitness cardio and Nautilus equipment, a full service spa and salon, and a pool area with plush lounge chairs, shady cabanas and a swim up palapa bar. If surf and sand are high on your vacation agenda, have no fear as the hotel will provide you with complimentary, on-demand shuttle service to and from its private and exclusive Casa Velas Ocean Club. There guests can enjoy cushioned loungers and cabanas on the beach itself, along with food and beverage service. There is also access to the pristine pool area and al fresco eatery, all overlooking Mexico's Pacific Riviera and beyond.
Even amid all of this haute hospitality, what is additionally impressive about Casa Velas is its elevated gourmet food and beverage program that has significantly raised the bar for all-inclusive hotels worldwide. With its gourmet restaurant Emiliano, one of only two restaurants in all of Puerto Vallarta that has earned the AAA Four Diamond award, guests are treated to unlimited access to high caliber cuisine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24/7 in-suite service. Beverages are equally progressive, particularly for an all-inclusive, with guests enjoying premium wines and liquor without restriction. They can also partake in fun nightly events like wine pairings; tequila, mescal and martini tastings; and other events that also allow guests to get acquainted and socialize.
With its efforts to continually innovate, coupled with the quiet, private and secluded nature of this Puerto Vallarta oasis, it’s no surprise U.S. dignitaries such as Condoleezza Rice, and two Mexican presidents have been hosted here. But, one need not be a dignitary to be treated like royalty, as the staff goes over and above to ensure each guest is having a personalized and pampered experience.