Older property, with some wear and tear; last room renovation was in 2009
Vendors at the beach
Beach isn't as large as some in the Hotel Zone
30-minute drive to Old Town and the Malecon
Fee for Wi-Fi, and connection can be slow
Kids' club has a per-day, per-child fee
Fee for in-room coffee
Fee for boogie boards, pool floats, kayaks, and paddleboards
Much like the other sprawling resorts that line the beach in the swanky Marina Vallarta golf community, the CasaMagna Marriott features top-notch restaurants, pools, and meeting rooms, as well as 433 modern guest rooms and suites, all with private balconies and most with ocean views. Housed in two towers, this upscale hotel is especially memorable for its sumptuous Ohtli Spa and adjacent fitness center with indoor lap pool. It's also home to the city's only government-approved turtle sanctuary. The freeform pool has ocean views and a swim-up bar, and there's a separate large kiddy pool, as well as a kids' club. Those seeking a better beach may prefer Fiesta Americana to the south, though it's all-inclusive (CasaMagna's all-inclusive package is optional).
An upscale resort with terrific ocean views and a low-key vibe
With a number of massive resorts lining the beach in the exclusive Marina Villa golf community, the competition is fierce, so it's expected that the CasaMagna Marriott's guest rooms, public spaces, grounds, and amenities will be well-designed and well-maintained. And they are -- from the lobby on in, it's a great-looking place, with sweeping ocean views, lush gardens, and a large freeform pool surrounding two towers that house 404 guest rooms and 29 suites -- all with private balconies. Floors inside are of cream and green marble, and the lobby is open-air, leading directly to the gardens and pool, with great views over the bay. Decor is an attractive classic Mexican style, with wrought-iron chandeliers along the main interior corridor, and walls painted peach. A serene atmosphere extends to the resort's beautifully landscaped grounds, which feature towering trees, dense foliage, and a chili pepper garden. Agave plants are also grown on the property and are actually used to make a house-brand tequila that is sold at the hotel.
For a resort that’s been in operation since 1990, CasaMagna has held up reasonably well over the years, even if there hasn't been a major overhaul in quite some time. Rooms were last renovated in 2009, the convention salons in 2010, and Champions Sports Bar in 2015. The hotel was finishing up a brand new coat of paint to the exterior of the rooms during our visit in early 2016, proof of the resort's ongoing maintenance. However, there is some wear and tear, including worn-down marble and stone flooring.
CasaMagna is one of the most upscale resorts in the posh marina area. The Westin is a very comparable property, and also has optional all-inclusive rates. The CasaMagna usually has a quieter vibe than the Westin, with a low-key pool scene and few organized activities. Guests here are a mix of families, couples, conventioneers, and in the winter season, seniors. Beaches in this area aren't the region's best; for better beaches, consider a resort in Nuevo Vallarta to the north, or the Hotel Zone to the south. This community is quieter than downtown, and though it's closer to the airport, plane noise is not an issue.
Near the airport, in the exclusive Marina Vallarta golf community
Just south of the airport, you turn right at the statues of Neptune and the whales, and head into the marina. When you get past the golf course and the shopping mall at the end of the road, there are countless hotels to your left, more to your right, and the CasaMagna Marriott directly ahead of you. A statue of a golfer flanked by dolphins sits in front of the lobby and pretty much captures the essence of Marina Vallarta -- a swank golf community with a beachside location.
Marina Vallarta is north of downtown, just south of the airport, and has its own yachting scene, golf club and courses, and multiple posh apartment buildings, condominiums, and big resort hotels. The CasaMagna Marriott, like all the other hotels and apartments strung out along the oceanfront here, is entered from the east side with the beach to the west. The beaches here are not the region's best, but many guests enjoy watching cruise ships arrive in the mornings (some dock in the marina), and sunsets are also spectacular. There are a number of restaurants by the marina within a 10- to 15-minute walk. To get downtown, guests will need to drive or take a taxi.
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's most picturesque beach destinations, with historic whitewashed buildings, and cerulean seas set against a rugged mountain skyline. The massive Banderas Bay alone offers over 25 miles of seashore. With all this ocean comes a variety of water sports, like scuba diving with manta rays off Islas Marietas, boating around Los Arcos' reefs, and parasailing off of the popular Playa Los Muertos.
Other popular daytime activities include shopping -- not just the annoying beach vendor kind -- at Puerto Vallarta's mazelike markets. One of the best, Rio Cuale Flea Market, has multiple vendors selling wood carvings, handmade jewelry, and glass and beadwork (among many other items). But be prepared to haggle down those prices!
Puerto Vallarta stays awake when the sun dips below the horizon. Steamy salsa clubs light up the streets, and rowdy local bars supply a steady stream of cerveza for the thirsty traveler. Downtown Puerto Vallarta is the most happening and diverse area.
10-minute drive from Licenciado Diaz Ordaz International Airport
15-minute drive to Plaza Caracol shopping mall
25-minute drive to Old Town Vallarta and the Malecon
Modern rooms with private balconies, and views over the gardens, pools, or ocean
All rooms and suites have a tropical vibe, with dark wood furniture, white down comforters, light walls, and bright, colorful fabrics and art for contrast. They haven't had a major renovation since 2009, but they have been well-maintained. All rooms have private balconies with bougainvillea planters, and views are either of the garden (these rooms typically face the interior grounds and can still have a partial ocean view), the pools and ocean, or in the oceanfront category, just the beach and ocean (these rooms are also physically closest to the water, and it's possible to hear the waves).
All rooms have 42-inch flat-screen TVs, with HDMI connections over the curved desks, where there are also multiple electical outlets. Note that the Wi-Fi is not free in the rooms. Other amenities include minibars stocked with beer, soda, and water, and coffeemakers; fees apply for minibar items and the coffee. 24/7 room service is available. Digital music players are also provided, as are robes and slippers, and tap water is clean thanks to a water purification system. Bathrooms have shower/tub combos with marble tile.
The vast majority of rooms (404, of 433) have either a king-size or two double beds, and all also have sofa beds. These rooms start at 221 square feet (34 square meters). Three are 29 suites, starting at 595 square feet (55 square meters); these all have separate living rooms. The largest unit is the Imperial Suite, which has two bedrooms and is over 2,000 square feet. There are six ADA compliant rooms on the first floor, and adjoining rooms are available.
Ocean-view infinity pool, turtle sanctuary, fitness center with lap pool, and kids' club
The CasaMagna has all the features one would expect from this caliber of resort, and its oceanfront infinity pool with swim-up bar is a highlight. There are plenty of loungers and umbrellas, and poolside service is available. Crowds are rarely a problem and the vibe is pretty quiet; it's a great spot to read a book (and ledges in the pool make it easy to sit in the water). There are activities (such as staff-led dance routines) and some weeks there can be a lot of kids, but in general it's a pretty low-key environment. The Westin's two pools are perhaps larger overall, but lack the dramatic views here.
Just around the corner is the kids’ club, which also has its large kiddy pool and adjacent playground. Organized kids' activities may include fish feeding and art class. Adult activities include tequila tasting in the late afternoon on specific days of the week, featuring the resort’s signature five different labels.
The turtle sanctuary is a particularly special offering. This is the only resort in Puerto Vallarta registered with the National Institute of Fisheries, and it works alongside the Fishing and Marine Biology Station at the University of Guadalajara. The first year of the program saw the release of only 700 turtles, and that number has grown over the years; in 2015, the resort helped release around 70,000 turtles into the wild. Children and families can participate in the release and earn a special badge for having helped protect a natural species. The program runs from June to December.
Other highlights include the big fitness center with spin studio and indoor lap pool, and two tennis courts, which were remodeled since our first visit in 2011.
There’s over 9,000 square feet of convention space. Roughly 40 percent of the hotel’s occupancy is business and wedding guests, with May and June the heaviest months of the year.
Quality a la carte food, a sports bar, deli, and optional all-inclusive plan
Food at CasaMagna is a far cry from the bland buffet far found at some all-inclusive resorts -- and that's partly because many guests here choose to pay as they go, rather than buy the all-inclusive package. So food is almost entirely a la carte, aside from the breakfast buffet at La Estancia, and some non-guests come here to dine as well.
There are three main restaurants. La Estancia is a casual indoor space serving a breakfast buffet as well as a la carte Mexican for dinner. Las Casitas is an open-air, beachfront restaurant serving Mexican-influenced cuisine for all three meals; there are a number of excellent fresh seafood dishes (poolside and beachside food orders come from here). Mikado is open in the evenings and focuses on Japanese cuisine and sushi; it has teppanyaki show cooking. The lobby bar offers amazing views out over the gardens and bay. We were able to see a cruise ship coming in during our early morning visit and it was spectacular. Champions was remodeled in 2015 and is the resort’s sports bar, open from late morning until past midnight. Los Mangos Deli focuses on snacks, coffees, wines, and sandwiches from early morning until late evening.
There are also more eateries within walking distance by the marina.
The 22,000-square-foot Ohtli Spa is one of the largest in Puerto Vallarta (the hotel claims it is the largest, and it was certainly the largest we saw during our trip to the area in 2016). With multiple massage rooms, pedicure stations, hot and cold hydrotherapy plunge pools, Swiss showers, and other features, it is an extraordinarily lovely and inviting facility. Its extensive selection of treatments includes healing rituals based on the traditions of Mexico's Huichol indigenous group. An elegant black fountain adds to the facility's tranquil ambience.
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