Marcie Pickelsimer, founder of Grown in My Heart and a member of the Villa Group travel affiliate network, got the chance to visit Nuevo Vallarta and shares priceless vacation memories and tips.
I’m beginning to think that living in Mexico might not be so bad as long as I can live at the Del Palmar Flamingos and had my food delivered to me poolside everyday. I don’t think Jenny Craig would go for it though and with all the money I’ve been paying her lately it would be such a waste, wouldn’t it? Oh, but I could dream.
The entire family returned home last Saturday from Mexico, sun drenched and beer logged (at least the adults, that is). After literally living in paradise for seven days the leaves on the ground were not a welcome sight.
But I digress…Since this is a review I’ll make it easy and outline a few things.
While the resort only sports two restaurants and two bars (open at different times), the food is fabulous. The Bellavista Restaurant offers a causal breakfast buffet or menu dining, à la carte lunches, and buffet or à la carte dinners with themes such as lobster, Mexican, Argentinian grilled meats, and pasta. The open air Cafe is both pool and beachside and serves pizza, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican items, and tropical drinks (and beer and liquor) from late morning to early evening. The Cafe turns into an Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, at 6 pm for beachfront dining. They serve fabulous pizza, onion rings, quesadillas, and fruit plates. They also have the most incredible gelato.
During the day, servers cater to quests every whim: one only has to raise an empty glass or lift an eyebrow to signal their attention. Servers are hospitable, kind, gracious, and very child friendly. Although the all-inclusive information states no tipping the servers do expect tips and because the minimum wage in Mexico is so low we actually didn’t mind. It is the way they make their living.
The all-inclusive package:
My family chose the all-inclusive package because we took two young children and knew they would want to snack during the day. This was actually a great deal for us and in my opinion the only way to go if you eat more than one meal and drink more than two drinks at the resort per day. The daily cost for the all inclusive is $70 for an adult and $35 for a child under 12. When you add up food prices and drink prices it makes complete sense. Additionally, the all-inclusive package includes all of your non-motorized water sports, kids club, and the fitness center.
I have two boys that LOVE the water but they can only get so much of the beach and the pool. SO, it was a great option for us that the Flamingos had a Kid-Certified Staff. Everyday there were age-specific activities for our seven year old (two was too young). He could make bracelets, paint ceramic animals, play bubbles, join movie time, or even join in some good Pirate fun. During Prime Vacation season they also have Kids Nights that include dinner, arcades, discos and movies. My boys were exhausted by 5 pm because ALL they wanted to do was surf the waves or play in the pool waterfalls.
The resort also offers babysitting services which we used once. The service is $15 an hour and if you use it after 10 pm you will also need to pay $15 for a taxi. Pretty reasonable. The babysitter we used was the concierge from the hotel next door (also part of the Villas) who had a child the same age as our oldest.
The BEST activity of the week was the Sea Lions. Every Tuesday the resort brings in a Sea Lion named Maggie for all of the hotel guests (and neighboring hotel guests) to see. (It’s part of a tour promotion) Maggie was absolutely gorgeous and super sweet. She smiled, gave kisses to Gus, and was a blast to see.
My husband loved the adult activities, as he was able to play some vigorous beach volleyball, pool volleyball, and water polo.
The resort also has theme dinners on Sunday nights. It’s a little over the top but they have interesting Mexican entertainment, good food, great drinks, and entertainment for the kids.
Because my family was at the resort to review the property the General Manager offered us some fabulous extras so that we could see all the resort had to offer. I would not generally pay for these activities because, well, we can’t really afford these extravagances on just my husband’s salary. However, I do HIGHLY recommend that if you get the chance to try one or two of these please, do. They were absolutely fabulous.
My husband and I were offered the Honeymoon spa treatment at the Tatewari Spa that would include a European Seaweed Facial, Therapeutic Hot Towel Massage, Tropical Exfoliation, a bottle of champagne and Hors d’oeuvres. It is valued at $225. However, my husband is not really into spas. So, I offered to take my mother who was along for the trip with us. We were able to choose whatever treatment we wanted and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The spa is absolutely beautiful, a little pricey (but they are always offering deals), and the treatments are incredible. We both chose the mud massage and a facial and I honestly LOVED it, as I had never had either.
Dinner at La Casona;
Um, Heaven? We hired a babysitter for this evening because we wanted to be able to have at least one dinner without a child on our lap or food flung at us. It was well worth it. Chef Eugenio knows his way around organic foods, raw foods, gourmet delights, and even fabulous desserts. The menu includes specials like Kobe beef and his own specialty, Creme Brulee. Dining at La Casona is not included in the all-inclusive.
En Villa Dining with Chef Eugenio
The Villa La Estancia directly next door to Flamingos is an ownership community that is absolutely divine. We were invited to tour THE Penthouse and enjoy dinner created by Chef Eugenio and his staff. I can’t explain how special this was to my family. We were able to enjoy the sunset from the top of the resort, sip a cocktail, and dine with one of Mexico’s premier chef’s.
Cooking Lessons with Chef Eugenio
The last day of our trip Eric and I had the unique opportunity to have an afternoon cooking lesson with chef Eugenio. Yes, me…the one who does not cook. I actually learned to cut vegetables the correct way, learned a fabulous secret to REALLY good guacamole, and I now have an incredible recipe for Tortilla Soup (that I can’t wait to try!).
The afternoon included a Personalized Chef Jacket, lunch and wine, a recipe book, diplomas, and the lesson. The afternoon is valued at $200 per couple.
You can take a tour of the entire facility online at the Villa Del Palmar Flamingos.
*As a member of the Villa Group Travel Affiliate Network, The Villa Group Resorts gave my family the spa treatment, several dinners, the cooking class, and a portion of our stay in return for this review.
Visit Marcie online at Grown in My Heart, an adoption community where everyone can grow together.