Feb 23-March 1, 2013
Velas Vallarta Family Vacation
We left Lake Chapala area very early in morning to be sure we were at Velas Resort when kids arrived to airport in PVR. We checked in at 1pm with Christian, who was so pleasant, thorough, and efficient. Check in was quick and easy. Orfi, gave a "check in" neck massage, which was so great after a long ride. Efren, the bellboy was great with our loads of luggage and we got settled in Rm 3222, with the kids having 3223 when they arrived, both One Bedroom Villa Plus Units. Our rooms were on second floor as per our request and had large balconies with table, chairs, loungers,etc.
Will be brief in description of rooms as have done many reviews with that. Large kitchen, with full size refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, dishes, utensils, blender, dish detergent, burner stovetop, lots of counter space and cabinet space. Everything you could need is in the kitchen. If you are on the AI plan you also get a basket of goodies stocked daily with oatmeal, cereal, chips, nuts, Marachuan soups, and such. They also stock the refrigerator with water, sodas, beer, & milk daily. There is lots of lighting throughout unit. The dining room has a table and 4 chairs and a hutch to one side with one drawer. Room service is 24 hours a day and the menu is in your room. The Living room is large with an "L" shaped couch, very large coffee table, armoire, flat screen tv, all in an open concept idea. The Living room leads to sliders onto balcony. There is a seperate bedroom, with king size bed, most comfortable mattress', armoire, huge closet space, full length mirror on door of closet, flat screen tv, draws for clothes, iron, ironing board, and safe. Two bedside stands with draws and lamps. This room also has sliders to balcony. The bathroom is one sink, marble counter, magnifying mirror, hair dryer, tub and shower and is stocked with amenities from Italy daily. ( L'Occitane ( sp)). This is something different from the Gilchrist & Sommes of before but I liked it even better. The unit is large, bright, comfy and holds some Mexican charm.
My kids, son, wifey and grandson were picked up via resort as included in AI plan, already checked in by Christian with us, so all they had to do was get keys and bracelets. Upon seeing the lobby they were very impressed with the high ceiling, architectural arches, marble floors, etc., then the beautiful grounds , incredible pools and their room, overlooking the pool with view to ocean, same as our unit. They were very impressed that the whole unit was just for the 3 of them, even commenting that it was almost as big as their whole house. My son had been to Velas when he was young but did not remember, so he really liked it and was impressed with the unit and the whole resort, the feel, the staff and the food, oh the food he said. They loved the 24 hour room service.
As usual wherever we went whether to lobby, restaurants, pool, beachside, our room, we felt the ever present personal touch. What a great place to have a get together of 3 generations of family.
We spent lots of time at resort so as to just chill, talk and have fun as a family but we also did a few things, fun for my son and his mate and also grandson. We did not utilize the kids club as we just needed time all together for as much time as possible but I would highly suggest it for maybe a much needed day off for parents.
We went to the Mexican Fiesta which is included in the AI plan. A great show was presented which my family loved. Food was very good, buffet, but huge variety. Drinks delivered to your table by awesome staff. My grandson just loved the show, all the bright colors of decorations etc...and the dancing, which he is quite good at. This is a great family night to partake of.
We varied our eating patterns day and night. Some morning we had room service breakfast , others at Andrea and others at La Ribera. Lunch we again did the same or ate by the pool or on beach in cabanas. Dinner we also alternated and then most nights roamed about, and or went to nightly show. The kids and grandson really enjoyed the shows , the Mariachis, and they planned to go into town with activities staff for Foam party but never did make it, we just wore them out all day. The food everywhere was of high quality , presented well and flavor great. Room service menu is quite large. La Ribera, overlooking the ocean , has your choice of a la carte menu ordering or buffet or both if you choose. Some great steaks and shrimp were had there. One night my grandson and his mom wanted tacos, just meat tacos but not on menu at night, no problem, they made him arrechera tacos special. Now that is personal touch. Andrea, slightly more fancy than Ribera which is very casual, has a small variety of buffet items and on the spot chef prepared items along with a la carte menu ordering, and a nightly theme, Italian, Asian, Internationl etc. They have indoor and outdoor seating. Reservations needed for Andrea.
Some staff members, who we found to be just awesome were Luis and Raul in the lobby bar, Jovan, Santiago, Teodoro, Moises, Ruben, Carlos, Ivan and Alejandro. The activities staff are great working day and night. For the life of me I cannot recall who works where LOL. I can say, this trip our best waiters, were Luis in the lobby bar and Alejandro in Andrea...both went above and beyond in personality, attention and service.
Donald Willis manager, made sure all went smooth with kids arrival and such which was so important to us all. Again it is the personal touches that make us return time and time again. It is also what sets one resort apart from another. Velas has been consistent in this and enforcing rules for guests comfort that should set them high on the rating scales.
New drink for us...Orgasm, suggested by Alejandro in Andrea, in such an unusual way we could not say no anyway,...after diner cocktail, as good as name implies, be sure to try one or two. It is served in a martini glass, made with vodka, Kahlua, Bailey's, coconut cream and Amaretto and chocolate syrup on glass, pretty, sweet and loaded with calories I am sure, but yummy!
Okay, so we went to, yes the Upgrade/TS thingy...I know, I know. Keep in mind we love our timeshares and hey maybe something will click or find new info. We of course did get something out of this and that was 2 massages of 1 hr. each and also 2- $40 US certificates. Me and Heatha got massages and pedicures with these and Anthony got candy from the store. Jesus was our first presenter, he was fairly new and very nice actually. Then we met with Dean & Tammy McLean, husband and wife team. Really friendly couple. They were offering to combine our 3 units into one contract, but make them all Villa Plus One bedrooms, ( one is a studio), each time used a week would include a 25 min. massage or mani or pedi/person. Maint. Fees would be applied to All Inclusive if wished, but AI was still optional. Sounded quite good for our situation since we always do the AI even if going out every night. Just too convenient for us. In the end though after only about 30 minutes we opted out as nervous about making any changes. The sales staff etc. remained as friendly as ever and no high pressure, so we met new folks, heard what is new and got a few bennies. There is a glitch to this story...later that night we spoke with many folks in lobby bar, and many are on this program and very happy with it...hmm. sleep on it. Well we did and the crazy beings we are, living for vacations decided it was a good option for us. So we got a hold of Dean & Tammy and met with them again, more explanations, etc. etc.. and we did, yes, I said, we did change our contracts. So far we feel okay with it will see when we actually take advantage of it. We did eliminate one MF per year by making 3 contracts into one, with same number of weeks, unlimited acceleration so should work for us.
One of the days Nana Pam and Papa Mike took Anthony by ourselves to the Crocodilario in Nuevo Vallarta, left the parents behind. Anthony , our 3 year old grandson was just so good, what a pleasure to have around. He sat quietly in the car..and then we went the long dirt road into Crocodilario, telling stories. Finally we arrived. We chose not to eat but just roam , & have a soda...we really were unsure how Anthony would be without his parents. We saw bunnies, goats, roosters, and other animals, many crocodiles, one even opening his mouth and making a loud noise, so of course now Anthony knows what a crocodile sounds like. We must have went back and forth and around and about ten times, Anthony did not want to leave he loved it.. this rustic out of the way Mexican place to house animals in need. You know they even had small casitas or huts you could rent, uh I think I shall pass. I have eaten there before though and the food was decent, reasonable and a fun way to pass the time in a rustic environment. They had crocodile eggs in various stages in jars to see, and also baby crocodiles in a plastic tub...with the typical Mexican pleasantry, one of the staff came over while we were admiring the babies and took one out, had Anthony feel it, and then proceeded to let him hold it...all this while Papa was in bathroom. He would die, I thought, he had promised Anthony he could hold a crocodile, thinking he would forget, but he never did forget so he was expecting that. When he returned I told him and so he wanted her to do it again. Not being shy, we told Anthony go ask the lady ( senorita) if you can hold again. Well off he went, and sweetly smiled at her and said Pleese hold crocodile again with Papa. She was busy waiting on people eating so she said okay in a minute. We waited and kindly she came and let them do it again, answered all kinds of questions and was just so, so helpful. We had Anthony give her a dinero treat for her help with a big "thank you" . They had keychains, and crocodile hats for sale, but Anthony did not like the hat at all, it was so cute but saved us money though was cheap and we had another one from a previous trip. He did not like the feel of it on his head, so you may want to think before buying, it was just a foam or plastic hat thing.
When we returned we headed to Andrea for lunch with Anthony, a few minutes later who appeared but his parents wondering what had taken us so long, we were gone maybe 3-4 hours...they were so worried ..Haha..payback.. anyway Anthony now of course wanted to go with his parents so off they all went swimming, while we had lunch.
One night Randy and Heather were invited to a dinner over at Emiliano at Casa Velas. We could have joined them but we just did not want to bring Anthony to dinner there, our romantic retreat. They dressed up , looked awesome and had a lovely time. The waiters were great they said, the food wonderful and no wonder we loved it there. We had taken them over an earlier day to see the grounds, the pool, and the restaurant etc...even Anthony came. We took some pictures, introduced and gave hugs to so many staff we know from repeat visits. It was such fun to share our family with our home away from home. We even took pictures with The manager, Mr Manuel Oveido who was thrilled to meet the family. He told the kids your parents home away from home is your home, enjoy it here as long as you wish. So very kind, but there were no other kids in sight so we walked around, then checked out the turtles in front in pond and headed back to Velas Vallarta. One day we got a call inviting the kids and us to the Ocean Club to dine. I had wanted to show them how awesome that was but we had to pass as we had plans already and they did not want to go without us and of course, the Casa Velas Ocean Club is adults only. It is okay, maybe they will come one day without grandson and stay at Casa Velas with us.
The night the kids were dining at Emiliano, we ate with Anthony at Andrea, he behaved like an angel, then we went to lobby for show and dancing. Well he was the hit of the lounge, up dancing around with all the people , and hip hopping to the mariachi, shaking your boooty and having a grand time. Later he used Iphones to take pictures of Nana & Papa in entrance, telling us exactly how to stand etc. It was just so great, and the resort, staff and everything were just so perfect for a family gathering.
We spent one whole day downtown.. along the Malecon after a big breakfast. We walked from one end of it to another, shopping , looking at ocean, shopping, looking at sandcastles, shopping, sitting, playing with things in stores, buying things in stores...We re-lived childhood seeing the malecon thru our grandson's eyes, such fun. Oh yes, McDonalds, was on my mind for an ice cream cone, and everyone just decided they wanted a Mexican McDonalds treat. Despite it being so American, they loved it, checking the bags of fries in Spanish, taking pics, of it in Spanish etc. Weird place to have lunch, but we all enjoyed it. We finally left when the parents, yes the parents got too hot and tired...the grandparents and grandson were all hyped and raring to go. Heatha and I both bought as special treats pictures painted by the "MouthPainter" Xaime Ximenez. You can read about his works at this web site www.xaimeximenez.com. My painting is very colorful, as they all are and it shows cobblestone streets, the seahorse statue, the church, his face to side with a brush, a boat on the ocean etc., in other words a depiction of parts of Puerto Vallarta. It hangs very nicely in my house now. Did I mention we went shopping, hehe. We did buy a really cute shirt with a crocodile on it for Anthony, some Mexican toys, and on way back to car we ran into a clown. Anthony loved that and he gave him balloons of different shapes, what fun.
Many nights while dining at La Ribera, the pirate ship would be sending off fireworks etc. Anthony and I played Captain Hook and losing his arm by a crocodile, oh what fun.
One day we slowly drove to the zoo. Pointing out sights along the way, stopping to check out views etc. We spent quite a few hours a the zoo. The highlight for my grandson was feeding the giraffe a carrot by his mouth. Afraid at first but after mommy Heatha, did it, he was game. We fed many animals, learned about them by reading the signs, asking noises they make etc.
We did attend a special members brunch they held one morning, with a special buffet breakfast, mimosas etc, very good, met many members, chatted with staff , all the ladies got a nice pareo or shawl, and there were some drawings for some free things, no I did not win anything.
The rest of the vacation was spent in the pools, on the beach , or eating and drinking around the resort or on our balconies, in lobby or rooms. We did try to catch most of the shows at night and Anthony loved the Circus show. We all loved walking the grounds, checking out the iguanas and peacocks, and looking at the flowers. The little flirt would pick up bouganvilla leaves which are actually pink of course and hand them to me and say "I wuv you Nana", my heart be still. The beach was fun, dealing with vendors, digging in sand. Swimming in the pool of course was incredible and the kiddie pool only lasted one time then it was the fun , big pool with the swim up palapa bar. We all ate, drank, played and slept well. Velas Vallarta was a perfect choice for our family get together and everyone cannot wait to do it again. Heatha was shocked at the amount of English spoken by staff etc. While Randy refreshed his Spanish, the staff calling him compadre.
Sadly on saturday March 2nd, we departed for another resort while the kids got the hotel transportation to the airport, included in All Inclusive. The bellboys were great as usual. Check out for both rooms was a breeze. They put the outgoing luggage on one side of entrance until you check out etc...Anthony found it and was guarding it, so funny. And then.....cry :( , it was all too soon time to say our goodbyes for now. Holding in my tears, thinking I am doing so good, Anthony says, "no I want to stay with Nana and Papa". Okay floods let loose...we kissed , hugged , waved goodbye...and though we look forward to returning soon, Randy and Heatha are already saying let's make this a yearly thing. Velas was wonderful, I give it a five star for staff, amenities, activities, and just the whole feel....I suggest you try it out for yourself, you too will want to go back...again and again. It sure was a different vacation for us with kids again, big and little ones and Velas sure did please on all ends, I say it is great for couples and families alike. Kuddos and thanks you's to all the staff of Velas Vallarta!
Higher up better view...Villa plus better rooms, studio nice but small and no balcony for most
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.