My husband and I stayed at Garza Blanca for 5 days last week (mid-November). This hotel is one of the most beautiful resorts I've ever seen and I can't think of a better place to visit if you are looking for a peaceful, relaxing vacation.
We arranged VIP transport through GB's concierge (Raquel) prior to our arrival in PV, and the instructions she emailed were perfect...we found our transportation quickly and easily, whisked past the time-share "shark-tank" in the airport, offered cold towels & water, and we were out of the airport on on our way to the resort in a snap. It was about a 30 minute drive to the hotel, through the hustle & bustle of the main streets of Puerto Vallarta, down a strip of highway, and suddenly we pulled into the main drive of the resort along a scenic stretch of road where the mountains meet the ocean.
A porter took our bags and brought us to the check-in desk, where we were greeted by a smiling and friendly young man who handled our check-in and gave us our all-inclusive bracelets. We were then each given a Cucumber Margarita (amazing!!) and escorted over to the Concierge, Raquel, who went over the details of the property, gave us some general information about Puerto Vallarta, explained the shuttle service (free transport to PV at 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 6pm & 8pm...with return service 45 minutes after each arrival - ie 10:45, 1:45, etc). She also gave us a map and and marked some points of interest, gave us a brochure about available tours along with a price sheet, and was quick to answer any questions, and stressed that if we had ANY questions or needed anything, don't hestitate to contact her or the other Concierge on staff.
Our porter then gave a us a quick tour of the IMMACULATE property....whoever landscaped this resort should be given an award. It is simply beautiful - lush and green with little orange Birds of Paradise plants scattered all around the property. There is music playing around the pool area - sometimes spa-like, sometimes "lite" reggae, sometimes spanish guitar...always perfect...combined with the water fountains in the pool and the crash of the waves from the beach.....I had arrived in Paradise.
Our porter brought us and our bags to our room (I wish I could remember his name, because he was so friendly), and gave us a quick tour of the room, showed us where the safe was and how to set it, and gave us a quick rundown on room-service.
For the next 5 days, were were in heaven...a perfect pool, fabulous service by the pool bar waiters (especially Jaime - he was great!!) & an amazing beach. There were always clean towels available, no "towel game" for chairs/umbrellas as they had PLENTY, sunscreen, games & non-motorized watersports available, and a number of FRIENDLY servers (we tip them even though it is supposed to be included- they work hard & deserve it!!). They kept our drinks refilled and were quick to offer suggestions for snacks (all of their ceviches were amazing - we loved the Txin Xic the best - Fish marninated in achiote - amazing!!) The Shrimp Fajitas are the best thing on the lunch menu - and I would argue the best thing to eat at the resort.
Which brings me to my ONLY disappointment, and the only reason that I didn't give Garza Blanca 5 stars...the food. Yes, Blanca Blue is an amazing restaurant with fabulous food - if you enjoy the "gourmet" experience. In fairness, we didn't eat from the regular Blanca menu, because it was Puerto Vallarta's Food & Wine festival so they had a guest chef with his special menu available. We ate there twice...and while his food was AMAZING, there simply wasn't enough. My Sea Bass entree was probably a 2 ounce fillet - smaller than HALF the size of a deck of cards. The flavors were phenomenal, but unfortunately, both nights were left hungry.
The only other option was the pool bar/grill - which remains open until 11:00 pm (it closes between 6 and 7 to change menus from lunch to dinner), but the menu is very limited. I can't understand why the pool restaurant doesn't serve some typical Mexican fare - simple Chicken Tacos or Pork Sopes would have been a welcome treat, but instead you are given a limited choice of small entrees that are good, but not great. Shrimp Fajitas were the best thing we ate, with the Club Sandwich being a distant second. The Guacamole & Ceviches were very good and made great snacks.
I would highly recommend using the free shuttle and getting some dinner in town...there are a million restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and it's less than 20 minutes from the hotel!!
We used room service a few times. Our food always arrived promptly and still hot - although the room service menu is identical to that of the pool bar/grill, so again the choices are limited. We reluctantly ordered a hamburger one evening (I've never had a good hamburger in Mexico but my husband was starving!!) and I'm sorry to say it tasted awful.
Breakfast was another problem - we ate at both Blanca Blue (which is open for breakfast - but no flip-flops, no bathing-suit coverups) and we had room service (these are your only two breakfast options) - both were hit-or-miss. My husband's room service steak & eggs were amazing the first day, then two days later we ordered the same at Blanca Blue and the eggs were undercooked with the whites still runny. My french toast was fabulous - but the chilaquiles were nothing more than leftover chips covered with warmed red chile sauce, and again, runny whites on the eggs (by runny I mean completely uncooked!). One morning the basket of sweet rolls was stale, another morning they were perfect & bakery fresh.
Our room was a Junior Suite, and it was amazing. Huge wrap-around balcony with a giant hot-tub, louge chair, hammock and table & chairs outside. Clean sheets, warm blankets, fluffy pillows - yes the bed was hard - as are almost all the beds in Mexico - I've come to expect it when I visit there!! Screened doors so you could listen to the ocean each night. Ceiling fan over the bed. Mini-Fridge & Coffee Maker (Bring coffee & filters - they charge $5 for each coffee pack you use after the first one - even as part of the all-inclusive option). The room was IMMACULATE. The maids came each day and left our room spotless - and we left her a tip each day as she more-than deserved it.
The drinks were great - and generous. Beware of those Cucumber Margaritas - they taste amazing but are dangerous when mixed with a hot sun - I had 3 with a bottle of water between each, and was lucky I had my husband to help me get back to the room to sleep them off!!!! No skimping on the alcohol on those!!!
This place is amazing - my only issue with it was the limited food menu. I'd suggest making that little pool bar/grill open for a casual breakfast, add some authentic mexican entrees to the lunch/dinner/room service menu (tamales would be a huge hit here) and maybe have a small convenience store on-site - things like chips/snacks, pain-relievers/bandaids/cortisone etc.
All in all, I'd go back to Garza Blanca in a heartbeat! Drinks & snacks alone at the pool/beach make the all-inclusive option a bargain, even if you choose to head to town for dinners. The staff is amazingly friendly and there's always someone around to offer you service with a smile. The grounds are beautiful and well-maintained. The rooms are spacious and immaculate. Limited dining options were my only negative.
My only warning is this is NOT a party atmosphere....if you're looking for entertainment, nightlife & belly-flop contests at the pool, this isn't your place!! This is a place to soak up the sun, relax under an umbrella, take a peaceful swim in the pool, and play in the thunderous waves...then head back to your room for a nap in a hammock and an after-dinner soak in a soothing hot-tub. Fabulously romantic for couples of all ages, nice atmosphere for families with younger children - but teens would probably get bored quickly if they're not into the beach!!
Great for a honeymoon....and once you're married, it's a great way to celebrate EVERY anniversary!!!!! I'm already looking at prices to go back when the snow is falling here in Chicago!!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Spectacularly flanked by the vibrant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the verdanant tropical forests of the Sierra Madre mountains, Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa nestles gracefully just minutes south of historic Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico's most dynamic and sophisticated vacation destinations.All Suites feature in-style decor that include marble floors, granite countertops, private terraces, whirlpool tubs and artisan in room amenities.Our ultra-chic gourmet restaurant is one of Puerto Vallarta's most sophisticated and premier dining options, catering breathtaking ocean views, a stylish lounge, a 230 label award-winning wine cellar, and a selection of unique contemporary dishes tailored to scintillate your senses. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort And Spa
- Garza Blanca Preserve Hotel Puerto Vallarta