As I walked past lush landscaping through the elegant open-air lobby of the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, I was immediately drawn to the immense vanishing-edge pool and ideal beachfront location. I had the pleasure of being hosted at this hotel by the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board this past September as part of a recent press trip exploring the gastronomy of the region. The CasaMagna is conveniently located five minutes from the airport, steps from the Marina and 15-minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Friendly staff made the check-in process swift and painless. I was a fan of the three flavored water dispensers in the lobby that changed daily: cucumber, pineapple, strawberry and more. I also enjoyed the unexpected afternoon treats that the kitchen provided such as scrumptious chocolate brownies. What a delightful pick-me-up after a long day traveling to my destination.
I took a glass elevator that ascended past salmon colored floors with cascading plants and waterfalls up to my sixth floor room. The view out the balcony sliding glass door past the hotel grounds revealed sweeping panoramic views of Banderas Bay. The comfy bed was set with plush white linens. Although not new, the bathroom was spacious and clean with elegant marble tile. There was an ample desk area to work at set with welcoming snacks of dried pineapple, papaya, peanuts, bottled water and a couch festooned with colorful pillows.
It was an easy hop in a taxi downtown to stroll along Puerto Vallarta’s iconic seaside promenade called the Malecón. This car-free zone with the waterfront on one side and a plethora of shops and restaurants on the other, is essential to experience because it’s the town’s most important landmark. As an artist, I appreciated the impressive range of public sculpture including “The Subtle Rock Eater” whimsical bronze of a man eating a rock, “The Roundabout of the Sea” surreal circle of statues/high-backed bronze chairs and the famous “The Boy on the Seahorse” bronze by Rafael Zamarripa that became the symbol of Puerto Vallarta.
That evening, I attended an engaging tequila-tasting session and dinner on the jetty overlooking the beach. The alfresco setting alone was unforgettable. The table was laden with tropical flowers, votives and a vibrant red Mexican runner. As the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, candlelight glowed as I was savored the feel of warm tropical breezes and the sound of the surf.
CasaMagna is one of the only resorts in Mexico to cultivate blue agave on the premises in the cactus garden and produce its own line of premium certified tequila. Resident tequila sommelier Audrey Formisano enthusiastically shared her knowledge of the agave-distilled spirit. Out of the three distillations that I sampled —joven (young), reposado (rested) and añejo (aged)— I enjoyed the smooth, dark honey-colored añejo the best.
Then came time for superbly talented executive chef Kelvin Valenzuela to lead me on an incredible culinary journey through his “Dine Around Mexico” six-course tasting menu. Courses included a mini quesadilla called Tlayuda from Oaxaca, Lime Soup from the Yucatán, Crab Enchiladas from Veracruz and a Corn Bread dessert with coffee sauce served in an edible chocolate pitcher from Chiapas. All dishes were exquisitely prepared and plated to let the diverse flavors of Mexico shine through. That night, I drifted off to sleep to the sound of crashing waves with a new understanding of Puerto Vallarta’s magical allure.
In the morning, I rose early to kick off my shoes and squeeze in a walk along the golden sand beach that passed various resorts along the way. Upon returning to the hotel, I checked out the hearty breakfast buffet. There were plenty of scrumptious options to satisfy any palette such as fresh-squeezed papaya juice, two types of tamales, a pancake station and a made-to-order omelet bar.
Sea Turtle Rescue Program
I spent the afternoon lounging by the pool. Did I mention the swim-up bar and poolside food service? And learned that it just so happened that I was visiting during turtle hatching season (June through November). CasaMagna’s is part of an ongoing Sea Turtle Rescue Program. On select nights, guests can visit the property’s turtle nursery, learn about marine conservation, name and then release a baby turtle to the Pacific Ocean. As a sea life admirer, I will always treasure the chance to partake in this once in a lifetime experience.
Overall, I enjoyed the spectacular scenery, posh lodging and epicurean delights that the CasaMagna had to offer and hope to return one day soon.