I recently visited the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for five wonderful days with my wife and 19-month-old daughter. For those of you who don’t know where Puerto Vallarta is, it’s located on the central western coast of Mexico (Pacific Ocean), about a 45-minute flight from Mexico City.
We traveled from Miami with American Airlines with a stopover in Dallas/Ft. Worth, but there are also direct flights from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Toronto, Mexico City and more.
Our time spent at this all-inclusive resort was unforgettable in so many ways – from the warm hospitality throughout our stay, to the child-friendly atmosphere, and the breathtaking scenery. Here are some of the things there are to do, see and eat if you choose to book at the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa.
With 300 meters of private beach, there are plenty of water activities at the resort. The Pacific Coast is known for its surf-worthy waves, which I took advantage of during my stay. After a quick lesson from the instructor, I tried paddle boarding for the first time ever, which I found to be a very relaxing and a great way to practice balancing my body.
A couple days later I also had another first – surfing! It’s something I always wanted to do but in my hometown of Miami it’s nearly impossible because we don’t have the large waves. After about an hour of surfing, I had worked up a major appetite (thankfully the resort has several restaurants to choose from).
In addition to paddle boarding and surfing, the resort offers catamarans and the ability to book other activities in the area such as horseback riding, whale watching tours, fishing expeditions and sailing.
Pools and Lagoon
Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa has three pools to choose from. All umbrellas, sunbeds, towels and shower are included in your room price. The kids’ pool was great, especially for our daughter who enjoyed the water features, waterfall and slides.
Near the kids’ pool is the main pool of the resort featuring a swim-up bar and over 2,400 square meters of crystal blue water to swim. We didn’t spend too much time there, but it was always popular among younger guests.
The infinity pool on the upper deck is meant for adults only. A thatched-roof bar, chill music and plenty of sunbeds make it the ideal place to kick back and enjoy a relaxing swim.
If you’d rather be in the ocean, the resort has a beautiful walled-off saltwater lagoon that provides a safe and serene swimming experience for both adults and kids. Since the ocean waves can be a little intense, the lagoon is a great alternative. We especially loved that our daughter could sit up in the shallow end and play safely in the water.
The resort’s Zentropia Spa offers the opportunity to unwind and relax with a variety of wellness treatment and services such as massages, clay treatments, facials, aromatherapy sessions, paraffin treatments, vapor baths and more.
My 80-minute full body massage was epic! I experienced several different massage techniques during the treatment and came out completely relaxed from head to toe.
Luckily for us, the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa has several restaurants on the property serving up both Mexican and international dishes. Since the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa is all-inclusive, all your food is included in your stay, which means you’ll get the chance to try all the restaurants on the property if you so wish.
El Bosque is the main buffet restaurant in the resort and the only one that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. We had breakfast here each morning and lunch on most days. We ate dinner at each of the other restaurants to try them out. What I loved here are the freshly squeezed juices and huge selection of breakfast items – from chilaquiles with roasted tomatillo salsa, to pancakes with syrup – they had it all.
Portofino is the Italian restaurant situated near the Main Pool, which serves up classic Italian favorites like beef Carpaccio and spaghetti Bolognese. I was recommended the osso buco, so I had to try it for myself. It was tender and full of flavor.
Bambu offers Asian-style dining. It is located one floor above El Bosque. Menu options include sushi, stir fry dishes, tempura and a cold buffet. We ordered spring rolls, tempura veggies and a variety of sushi rolls.
Viva Mexico has to be my favorite restaurant on the property, both for the festive vibe and the excellent Mexican specialties. It also boasts beautiful views over the infinity pool and the ocean. The guacamole is prepared at your table and made as spicy (or not spicy) as you want. Another standout was the shrimp aguachile (ceviche with chili) and the breaded fried cheese. My daughter especially loves the mariachi coming to our table and serenading us for my 32nd birthday.
Ribs & More is a carnivore’s dream come true – grilled steaks and hearty sides served under an enormous thatched roof. This open-air Tex-Mex restaurant has a wide range of beef cuts and ribs, all prepared to your liking. The rib eye was excellent and served with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes.
My day trip to the Islas Marietas started off early in the morning when a car from Vallarta Adventures picked us up from the hotel. We drove to Nuevo Vallarta where we boarded a boat with a few other passengers headed to the Islas Marietas, which is comprised of 3 main islands and 6 cenotes, forming a small archipelago that is home to 92 different bird species.
The 3 main islands are referred to as round, long and small due to their shape. After a 45-minute boat ride it was time for some snorkeling before going to the hidden beach. The islands comprise a national park and are painstakingly protected, which is why guests are not allowed to apply sun screen there.
After a half-hour of snorkeling, it was time to go to the hidden beach! They asked us to put on a helmet and life jacket before swimming through an underwater cave (only possible during low tide). Once on the other side, the view is spectacular. You’re only allowed to be there for 30 minutes, however it’s well worth the effort.
Another day trip we took was to Sayulita, a beach town just 25 minutes north of the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa. What was once a quiet fishing village has become a world-class surf destination, hosting annual surf competitions throughout the year. Even if you’re not coming to surf, it’s a great place to do some shopping and have lunch.
We started off by seeing all the street vendors and boutique surrounding the main plaza. I especially enjoyed all the vibrant street murals around the town. If you’re looking for a great lunch spot with beach views, I highly recommend Don Pedros. It’s just steps from the beach and the shrimp tacos were superb!
We unfortunately did not have time to visit Puerto Vallarta town while in the area, but it’s another great day trip you could easily do if staying in Punta de Mita. Some things to do there are stroll the Malecón oceanfront promenade that runs along Banderas Bay, check out the Our Lady of Guadelupe Church in downtown and do some shopping at one of Puerto Vallarta’s many artisanal markets.
My stay at the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa was a fantastic mix of relaxation and adventure, which is what makes Mexico such a great destination for families, couples or friends traveling together. Even solo travelers will find it hard to be bored. My wife and I were apprehensive of traveling with our one-year-old because we weren’t sure if she would have “kid stuff” to do, but the resort had us covered.
When she wasn’t in the kiddie pool, she was playing at the mini club designed for kids off all ages. They are fully equipped with toys, play mats, DVD’s, theatre stage, arts and crafts projects and tons of other things to keep the kids busy. Last but not least, she had a blast at the Raggs character breakfast with the other families staying at the resort.
I want to give a sincere thanks to Andros and Daniel and his team for making our stay comfortable and unforgettable – a Mexican family vacation for the books!