Small gym, plus spa with hydrotherapy circuit, both with great views
Paddleboards, snorkels, and kayaks available
Organized activities such as hiking and bird-watching tours on the preserve
Kids' activities such as face painting and cupcake decorating
Fee for Wi-Fi (except for all-inclusive guests); costs are per day, per connected device
Beach is small and rocky
No true kids' club, and kids' activities can be limited (pro for some)
Room service not 24/7; only during restaurant operating hours
Time-share presentations offered, a nuisance to some
Occasional vendors at the beach can be annoying
Wristbands required for all-inclusive guests
All-inclusive guests must still sign checks for food and drink
Trolley needed to get around
Spa and gym only for guests 18 and over (pro for some)
Reservations required for restaurants, which can book up
Most tours and activities cost extra for guests not on all-inclusive package
Some rooms may get occasional road noise from highway
Garza Blanca Preserve is one of the leading luxury options in the region, and stands out for its 165 massive, elegant rooms (all with ocean views), as well as its location on the lush, jungly private preserve that gives the resort its name. There are three pools (two near the beach and one up the hillside), three restaurants (an all-inclusive package is optional and reservations are required), and a pretty cove with great snorkeling. Just note that the resort has towers on both sides of Route 200, and trolley service is needed to get around. Thankfully there's plenty to do on site, as the resort is around a 45-minute drive from the airport and 15-minute drive from downtown. The resort is family-friendly, so those looking for an adult-only experience should consider adjoining sister resort Hotel Mousai -- though note it is up the hill, farther from the beach.
A luxury resort straddling two sides of a highway, offering sweeping views, massive suites, and a secluded, jungly location
The Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa, first opened in 2010, is one of the region's top luxury options. It sits on its own preserve, providing a secluded, tucked away feel and lush tropical surroundings. The natural attractions -- from snorkeling in the small cove to hiking and bird-watching tours -- are a large part of the appeal for many. The resort also stands out for its incredible sweeping views (from just about every part of the property) and breathtaking sunsets. From the hotel windows, the beach and sea feel close enough to touch, as does the jungle draped densely on the hills behind the resort. But those looking to spend a lot of time exploring downtown Puerto Vallarta may find the resort to be too removed from the action. In terms of decor, the resort features plenty of natural wood, marble, granite and stone throughout.
It's important to note the layout of the property, as it is bisected by a busy highway and a trolley is required to get around (waits are usually around 10 minutes). There are five room towers, and Towers 1 through 3 are on the side of the resort nearest the beach, while Towers 4 and 5 are up the hill. The main building, housing a few rooms and the main restaurant, Blanca Blue, is on the beach side, while the steakhouse and one of the three pools are located on the hillside. Adult-only sister resort Hotel Mousai, opened in 2015, is also located across the highway up the hillside, and is home to the spa and gym that both properties share. Garza Blanca guests can also access a Japanese restaurant and (in the evenings) the rooftop bar at Hotel Mousai, but they're not part of the all-inclusive package. Though the trolley system runs between both sides of the property, there are also pathways and stairs that lead up through the jungle, though walking is only an option if you have plenty of time to spare.
The resort is a strong choice for both families and couples. The former will likely appreciate the massive suites, many featuring multiple bedrooms and kitchens, while the latter will probably appreciate the level of luxury and peaceful vibe. Though families are welcome here, they aren't heavily catered to, as there is no true kids' club -- though there are usually some organized kids' activities. Those seeking a more active family-friendly environment might prefer Hyatt Ziva, which has a true kids' club and robust activities program. Those seeking an adult-only alternative to Hotel Mousai can compare rates at Casa Velas in Marina Vallarta.
In Garza Blanca Preserve, a 15-minute drive from downtown Puerto Vallarta
The Garza Blanca takes its name from the private preserve on which it is located. The views are phenomenal, both over the ocean and the mountains behind the hotel. The only other things to see and do are within the resort. Otherwise, a car rental or expensive cab rides are in order. Downtown Puerto Vallarta is roughly 15 minutes away by car or taxi, with a variety of bars and eateries, for those who want to explore this historical seaside town. The airport is around 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
Huge rooms with natural stone and wood elements, plus balconies looking over the ocean
The 165 rooms and suites are all big, and their size is a major draw for the resort. They start with the 633-square-foot Deluxe Room, and range to three-bedroom suites with over 4,200 square feet. All rooms have at least some ocean view, and most views are exceptional. The Panorama Suites include wraparound terraces that allow for both mountainside and ocean views, and also feature sliding glass panels along the balconies that can be completely opened. Guests report that the even-numbered Panorama Suites in Tower 5 have some of the best views, and that the even-numbered Panorama units in Tower 4 also have a great outlook, while the odd-numbered units in this category can overlook more jungle than ocean.
Rooms have an earth-toned color palette, dark wood trim, marble tile floors, and decor that blends the modern and traditional. Standard amenities include Wi-Fi (there is a cost per day, per device for guests not on the all-inclusive plan), flat-screen TVs with premium channels, plenty of closet space, hammocks on the balconies and terraces, and safes. All rooms come with at least a fully stocked wet bar (items are free for all-inclusive guests, and include mineral water, soda, and beer). Some of the suites come with fully equipped kitchens featuring granite slab countertops, plus washers and dryers.
The natural stone and wood accents continue into the bathrooms. All have marble tile showers with modern fixtures and glass walls, as well as hairdryers and luxury toiletries. Deluxe Rooms have shower/tub combos while the other categories have separate tubs, ranging from jetted options to standalone tubs set atop river rocks.
Small beach with great snorkeling, three chic pools, spa with hydrotherapy circuit, and organized outdoor tours
The beach is on the small side, but attractive, with white sand (plus some significant rocky patches), white mesh loungers, and umbrellas. Vendors are occasionally present. The resort provides snorkels, kayaks, and paddleboards (free for all-inclusive guests), and there are rock barriers in the cove to help break the waves. Snorkeling is good right off the shoreline. For additional snorkeling, the enchanting Los Arcos diving rocks are a 20-minute paddle down the beach, and the hotel offers organized tours.
There main pool area comprises two pools (one with an attractive infinity edge) overlooking the beach. They are separated by a boulder-lined path that leads to the poolside bar, and one section has pretty spouting fountains. Several heated outdoor hot tubs are on offer, and there's an additional pool located up the hillside near Towers 4 and 5.
The beauty salon and spa high up in Hotel Mousai are available to guests 18 and over who stay at the Garza Blanca. Manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, and more can be scheduled, and the spa features a six-cycle vitality pool, a sauna and steam room, hot tub, and cold plunge pool. The small gym and the spa both have excellent mountain and ocean views.
For outdoor activities, there are a tennis and squash court, as well as the Garza Blanca Preserve to explore. Some of the organized tours include hiking and bird watching. Most of the adventure activities cost additional fees for those not on the all-inclusive package.
There is also a boutique in the main building for guests who need to buy sundries such as deodorant, sunscreen, and small clothing items.
A Mexican restaurant, steakhouse, and a poolside snack bar
Within the main building is the lounge area, concierge, and the primary Blanca Blue Restaurant and Lounge, where guests have views out over Banderas Bay and the Los Arcos natural landmark. The restaurant includes a wine cellar with more than 2,300 labels, and over 100 premium tequilas. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner options are available here, and the cuisine has a Mexican focus.
BocaDos STK opened around the same time that Hotel Mousai opened its doors. It’s on the upper side of the property and features fine cuts of meat and seafood dishes alongside ocean views.
The Aquazule Beach Bar & Lounge serves casual comfort food for lunch, such as quesadillas and wraps. It may open as an Italian restaurant at dinnertime.
Some guests state that the prices for the European plan are quite high, so the all-inclusive plan may be worth it. The all-inclusive plan covers breakfast and dinner (at Blanca Blue or BocaDos), plus lunch (at Aquazule or BocaDos). Alcoholic drinks and wines by the glass are covered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as are soft drinks, juices, and mineral water. Non-motorized water sports and organized on-site resort tours and activities (such as hiking on the preserve) are also included.
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