I'm swimming in the infinity lap pool at the Sky Lounge.
When I come up for air, I see nothing beyond the water to my right by ocean and jungle-covered mountains.
For a moment, I think: "This is how the rich people vacation. Who has this kinda view from their pool?!"
The Grand Miramar might not be for everybody, and it certainly has its drawbacks, but not only did we have a great vacation there, it changed our view of Puerto Vallarta for the better.
Our last stay in PV was a couple of years ago doing a timeshare trade into Villa del Palmar, a sprawling, dated hotel on the beach in the old hotel zone.
Miramar was everything Villa del Palmar wasn't. It's in the ritzy Conchas Chinas neighborhood. It 's a big hotel, but doesn't feel like a resort. And it's close to Zona Romantica, which is the coolest part of PV, even for straight folks like us.
But let me start from the beginning: As noted previously, the snakey drive up to the hotel is both crazy and impressive. The hotel, with its wavy, cruise-ship like facade, makes an impressive show upon arrival.
The lobby, not so much.
We checked in, and then we were directed to Audi, who introduced herself as our concierge. She showed us a map of the area and was extremely helpful giving us a lay of the land. Then, of course, she told us about the amazing room upgrade and other free stuff she had in store for us if we would attend a timeshare presentation. I HATE FAKE CONCIERGES! She was so sweet, but then turned mean, no longer playing on our greed but our kindness: "Can't you do anything to help me out here?" Really, since when did it say on my vacation contract, I gotta help YOU out?" Sorry, I digress, kinda.
We were shown to our room, a 2 bedroom unit on the first floor of the B building. Even on the 1st floor, you get a nice partial ocean view. But these are nothing like the elegant rooms with the hot tubs on the balconies you get if you go on the tour. (My wife won't go on another tour if they throw her free purses and shoes!)
So, nice, but you still get the sense that you're a bit of a second-class citizen here. Carlos, our bellhop, was so kind and helpful, though, that he almost single-handedly undid the damage done by Audi.
The pools are lovely, and the hotel was fairly empty so we had the run of them.
You may have noted that although this place isn't on the beach, it does have a "beach club" you can use: The Blue Shrimp.
A beach club? Really?
The Blue Shrimp is merely an overpriced beach-front restaurant with lounge chairs on the beach that we can sometimes use with our Grand Miramar bracelets. However, one evening, a waiter told us we can't stay unless we order something. We explained the cooperative arrangement the hotel has with the place. He came back and said we had to order something or leave. We sent him back again, gently explaining the situation before a manager came out and kicked us out.
To their credit, the Grand Miramar management was shocked to hear this.But still, second class citizen, people!
We rented a car for the week, and although the driving can be nuts, both in town and up that drive, it's better than relying on the shuttle and cabs. (Do beware that they tack on all kindsa charges onto what you think your daily car rental will be.)
I know it sounds like I'm complaining a lot. (The wifi is spotty, the restaurants in the hotel can be hard to find, the hot tub's too cold, I never found the market... i can go on-- I'm from NY) But we had a great time.
The units (even the ghetto ones) are luxurious, covered with marble tile everywhere, with a long granite countertop in the kitchen. We made breakfast in the room everyday and ate it on the balcony (trying not to think about those who had hot tubs on THEIRS.)
The common areas of the hotel are wonderfully maintained, and the service, when it's not provided by a timeshare shark, is stellar.
I'd go back.