Besides the airport, a hotel or resort often is the welcome to a destination for a traveler. If the hotel makes a great first impression then the trip is sure to be off to a great start. When I stayed at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa earlier this summer, it would be the lodging for my first-ever trip to Mexico. So, yeah, there was some pressure on this trip-opening experience when I stepped foot on the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta property.
I’ve become a fan of Marriott properties, having stayed at a few in recent months. So I was confident the room would be nice. My visit to Puerto Vallarta was packed full of adventures, so I wasn’t going to be spending as much time at the resort this trip. But I’d be there enough that I was excited about the beach, the pool and the property restaurants.
It’s hot. Yes, that was my first impression of Puerto Vallarta and Mexico. I’m from the American South where heat and humidity are big parts of everyday life in the summer. But there was just something about the heat as it hit me walking out from the airport. Knowing I had an afternoon with no plans, checking out the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta pool was first priority.
But really, what were my first impressions of the resort? Tropical-sounding birds singing welcomed me as I stepped out of the van from the airport, so that was pretty cool. Something I quickly learned during my stay in Puerto Vallarta is how friendly everyone is. I made half-hearted attempts to speak Spanish but was always welcomed with a smile and English. Everyone I encountered at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta was very kind.
The van drove through the entrance to the property and down a short drive to the drop off located adjacent to the entrance. As I walked up the stairs the pool and ocean were in the distance in front of me. To the left, I was surprised to discover the lobby, welcome desk and lobby bar all open to the outdoors. Yes, I thought seeing that the desk was out in the heat and humidity, I really have arrived in a tropical world, a couple of levels up on the relaxation scale.
Check in was efficient and easy. I quickly received my key and instructions and headed the opposite direction to the bank of elevators to go up to my room.
When I keyed into the room, I was welcomed by a blast of cold conditioned air. For me, that’s a wonderful thing. I love cold rooms, and have stayed in my share of hotel rooms that just don’t get cold enough for me. So I was confident that despite the outside heat, I’d sleep comfortable at night.
The room has a short but wide entry hall, with a closet, bathroom and wet bar off to the side before entering the room itself. My room was large, with a large bed dominating the space with a TV and desk to the left and a couch and table to the right at the foot of the bed.
Beyond the bed and living room space is a nice size balcony that looks down to the pool and beach beyond.
Yes, every morning I enjoyed seeing the sunrise to the east and the large bay that opens to the Pacific Ocean to my right.
I’m not one to sleep with a door or window open; see the above mention of need for cold air at night. But later in my trip it rained at night and I happily slept with the door to the balcony open so I could hear the rain and, after it ended later in the night, the gently sound of the Pacific lapping onto the shore.
If you’re traveling to a tropical destination, whether it’s the Caribbean, the Greek isles, the American Gulf Coast or Mexico, a pool and beach tend to play a role in the trip. The CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort has a massive pool.
There is plenty going on in this pool for the whole family: a volleyball net, basketball goal, swim-up bar and infinity pool to just relax and enjoy looking out to the ocean and sunset.
If you’re so inclined, set up all day at one of the chairs next to the pool where you can order drinks or food from the servers who are always making the rounds.
The beach itself is fine if you care to take a dip in the ocean. I found both the pool and ocean water to be on the warm side, but still very comfortable.
The CasaMagna has a full-service spa and children’s program, which includes a smaller pool and clubhouse-type building. I didn’t use either service.
There are four restaurants on property, all serving excellent food. Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful foodie destination — check out my review of a taco tour here — so I would recommend leaving property at least once to sample some of the great food the city has to offer. But you’ll find some great dining choices at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta.
My first meal was delicious fish tacos and a cerveza at Las Casitas, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for its alfresco dining. I sat next to the beach for a nice “welcome to Mexico” meal.
La Estancia is a nicer restaurant serving Mexican cuisine and a fabulous breakfast buffet in the mornings.
Mikado is a Japanese and Thai restaurant. I did dine there one evening with the thought that being beachfront the sushi surely would be great. And it didn’t disappoint. We even had a nice Mexican chardonnay to go with the meal.
Champions Sports Bar was a good option and a place I visited often for a couple of reasons: there were TVs, meaning I could watch some of the World Cup warm-up games that were taking place at the time. And it was also the place to get a decent late-night bite.
Deli Los Mangos is a coffee shop with small bites, and the lobby bar is a great place for a drink any time of the day.
Room for Improvement:
This was such a fun resort with great food and hospitality. My room was very comfortable and clean, and I thought that if I would have visited Puerto Vallarta with my family, my wife and son would have never wanted to leave the property.
My only real complaint, other than not being within walking distance of downtown Puerto Vallarta (it’s close enough for an easy cab ride) I thing would be the hours of the swimming pool. It closed at 8 p.m., and there was one night about 10 when it would’ve been nice to go for a quick dip.
I’m actually torn on this one, though. The pool is below many of the property’s rooms so if people are getting rowdy in the pool at 9:30 p.m. when someone on the fourth floor is trying to get a cranky toddler to sleep, well, watch out for an angry momma. But maybe if there is a way to keep the pool open a bit later while enforcing some sort of quiet policy?
I don’t know, just a thought.
I was on a press trip, so I didn’t choose this hotel. But after staying there I decided to look at Marriott properties before all others when booking a recent visit to Puerto Rico. That’s how much I enjoyed my four nights at this property. This property made me realize it’s possible to stay in a major name brand resort while getting a local experience, all while at an affordable price. Rooms are listed for as little as $140 a night. I wouldn’t think twice about paying twice that amount for a future visit. In fact, I’m certain I’ll return to this property, especially if visiting on a family vacation.
I was a guest of the Puerto Vallarta tourism board. As an unbiased journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in the industry, all opinions here are my own.