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Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit travel Archives - Air Canada Vacations

02 Apr


Top 10 Resorts to Check Out This Summer

April 2, 2015 | By |

Trying to find the newest, hottest resorts to stay at this summer? Search no more, as we have shortlisted the top 10 resorts to check out this summer in Mexico and the Caribbean. These include some brand new and recently renovated properties, as well as properties that have been newly added to the Air Canada Vacations lineup. From villa accommodations to boutique hotels, these are 10 resorts you definitely want to check out.  

1) Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria (Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba)

Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria

Snack La Caleta

The beach at Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria is an absolute pièce de résistance, with its pure white sand and turquoise water. If you want to maximize your intake of ocean views, make sure to dine at the Mediterranean Aire de Mar Restaurant, or stop by Snack La Caleta, a poolside snack bar that also overlooks the Caribbean Sea. A variety of activities are on offer at this resort, including non-motorized water sports, 2 tennis courts, a kids club and a yacht club.

2) Beach House Turks and Caicos (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

Beach House Turks and Caicos

The 21-suite Beach House Turks and Caicos is a boutique hotel with an intimate setting. As a guest, you are entitled to dedicated lounge spaces on stunning Grace Bay Beach. Ranging from 1,150 to 1,580 square feet, guest suites feature a kitchenette, as well as a balcony or terrace with a day bed. The on-site Beach House Restaurant is a popular dining spot in Providenciales and showcases a creative Caribbean and contemporary menu. For additional dining options, you can take a shuttle to the hotel’s 2 sister properties, Alexandra Resort and Blue Haven Resort.

3) Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Vallarta (Riviera Nayarit/Nuevo Vallarta)

Bel Air Collection Nuevo Vallarta

Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Vallarta has your wellbeing in mind. Its Asian-style spa is perfect for some R&R: in addition to various spa treatments, it offers daily yoga and meditation, as well as a special low-calorie diet program for the health-conscious. Its infinity pool overlooking the beach does nothing but inspire relaxation, and a variety of special services like tea time and a nightly turn-down service with petits fours adds to the serene experience offered by this resort.

4) ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas (Willemstad, Curaçao)

ACOYA Lakefront Villa

Lakefront villa

Lush lodging is the name of the game at ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas. Deluxe rooms feature a private patio surrounded by a tropical garden. Suites range from 2 to 4 bedrooms and are appointed with a large private balcony, fully equipped kitchen, living room and dining area. Featuring a garden, pool or lake view, villas come fully furnished and offer the ultimate private sanctuary. On-site amenities include a swimming pool, a spa and fine dining at Restaurant Seasons.

5) Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall Spa

The new, adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall is the epitome of luxury. Stylishly decorated, each guest room features handcrafted furniture, a furnished terrace, designer toiletries and plush bathrobes. Dining is a regal affair as well with access to 3 exclusive restaurants, as well as 6 restaurants that are shared with its sister property, Hyatt Ziva. When you want to go for a swim, you can choose from a total of 14 pools, including 9 swim-up pools and 5 whirlpools, and when you’re in the mood for relaxation, indulge in a service at the oceanfront spa.

6) Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta


It’s amazing that Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta can provide an oasis so close to bustling downtown Puerto Vallarta. The hotel lobby itself is like a mini sanctuary, housed in an enormous palapa and adorned with a calming, rushing waterfall. The resort is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and it offers a beautiful private beach on the Bahía de Banderas, the second largest bay in the Pacific Ocean.

7) Be Live Collection Canoa (La Romana, Dominican Republic)

Be Live Collection Canoa La Romana

Be Live Collection Canoa offers a convenient location in La Romana, right on Bayahibe Beach. It also facilitates day trips to neighbouring Del Este National Park, where you can explore over 400 caverns (some of which contain ancient pictographs), a variety of flora and fauna and Saona Island. The resort’s amenities cater to all ages: a lagoon-shaped pool, multiple dining options, a spa, fitness centre and kids club make it perfect for either a couple’s getaway or family vacation.

8) Point Grace (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

Point Grace Beach

Featuring a remote location on the point of 19-km Grace Bay Beach, the 28-suite Point Grace offers a quiet, peaceful setting. Appointed with British Colonial architecture, this boutique hotel offers guest suites that are over 1,000 square feet in size, and that include a kitchen, terrace and upscale bathroom. It is also home to 2 Caribbean restaurants, as well as the oceanfront Thalasso Spa which incorporates the properties of sea mud and sea water into its treatments.

9) Meliá Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco, Cuba)

Melia Jardines del Rey

Opened in January 2015, the Meliá Jardines del Rey is a beautifully styled hotel that blends contemporary décor with a design that emulates a sugar cane plantation. It is home to 9 restaurants, 6 bars and a sweet corner called Macao, which offers a variety of ice cream and snacks. There is a boulevard that extends from the lobby to the beach, and guest rooms are located in 3-storey bungalows.

10) Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort (Riviera Maya, Mexico)


Though Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort is now sporting a brand new look after a recent renovation, it has preserved what is at its core: a laidback, beachy vibe and unspoilt natural surroundings. Rooms are now ultra-sleek junior suites with outdoor hot tubs, but have retained their main focal point: an amazing view of Akumal Bay. The resort also offers pop-up beach bars and access to a world-class snorkelling site that is home to sea turtles and a beautiful coral reef.


Looking for more resorts like these? If you did not get a chance this past season, you may still wish to look at our Top 10 Resorts To Check Out: Winter Edition, or consult our full listing of properties in the Caribbean & Mexico.


13 Mar


All-Inclusive Luxury at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

March 13, 2015 | By |

It’s one of those places you read about.

An all-inclusive luxury resort perched on the edge of the Pacific Coast with its sandy beach – the kind you want to dig your toes into and linger on for hours until you finally blink your eyes and can’t believe what you just saw.

A massive geyser erupts from the sea as a black girth emerges from the shimmering blue waters at the forefront of the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Besides being a hub of elegance, the 267-room property becomes centre stage for frolicking humpback whales during whale watching season.

You never know what you’ll see when you stretch out your beach blanket here.

Here’s the 411 on Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit.

The vibe

Swanky, modern interiors with open spaces in the main public areas emit that breezy, relaxed atmosphere guests enjoy.  Find a quiet nook by the lotus pond and sit back in one of the lovely lounge areas with a coffee or visit the adults-only infinity pool and keep your eyes peeled for whale sightings.

The property

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Grounds

This recently renovated all-inclusive luxury resort is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, so expect only the finest in service and quality. Pretty bougainvilleas cascade off the balconies so a burst of colour beautifully offsets the honey yellow facade.

Families can enjoy time together by the pool or parents can enroll their children at the Kids Club (ages 4-12). The hours are 9 am – 11 pm daily.

The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit has 5 pools including a children and adults-only pool, but what makes them incredible is the design. At nearly every vantage point the pools cascade into each other and that’s thanks to the wonderful infinity, plunge pools.

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit pool

Did you forget your sunglasses? Maybe even the SPF? Ask the pool concierge for assistance. The attentive pool staff continually circulates to aid guests in libations, eats and yes, certain amenities.

Nightly entertainment is scheduled at the Lounge Bar or the magnificent Roman-inspired amphitheatre for movie nights.

The rooms


Parlor Suite

There are several room categories, but even the Standard Suites are spacious at 1,000 sq. ft. I stayed in a Parlor Suite overlooking the gardens facing the beach. These suites have 2 rooms, a main bedroom and a living room, as well as a large bathroom. There is 24-hour room service and free WiFi.

The food

Piaf Restaurant

Piaf Restaurant

One word: amazing. The selection in fine dining is huge. I had no idea you could dine in such elegant, stylish restaurants at an all-inclusive resort and be entertained by a distinguished crop of musicians. I dined at all 3 triple-A, four-diamond restaurants to musical accompaniments which were distinct at each location. (Fyi: Reservations are required).

Frida’s is akin to a Mexican hacienda with its Spanish colonial interior and splashes of Frida Kahlo touches. One of the biggest Frida ties is the hostess who is a dead ringer for the famous Mexican artist.

Lucca specializes in Italian fare. The Romanesque-styled decor with white columns has a grand piano as the focal point. My menu incorporated Mediterranean touches.

Piaf, the French restaurant, is a study in art and design. Whimsical blown glass art in shapes of butterflies greet guests as they enter this upscale restaurant. A smooth stone floor and muted tones elegantly showcase the extraordinary collection of huge modern wall art.

What to do


I went for a “serenity now” experience so I indulged in several activities.

I visited the spa, which incorporates traditional Mexican, pre-Hispanic remedies in its signature treatments. I tried the 50-minute Serenity Massage. The ambiance was ideal. Between the dim lighting and oceanic soundtrack, my massage therapist greeted me with a fabulous spa welcome infused with the four elements (fire, earth, water and air). Go early and get pampered by the spa butler and after your treatment, relax for hours at the private hydrotherapy pool.

One late afternoon I participated in a yoga class at the fitness centre. We did meditative breathing, the downward dog, and other moves that were totally new to me. I appreciated the instructor’s patient approach and totally recommend taking a yoga class there.

For the gourmet lover that I am, I heard about a cooking class and decided to experience a French cooking lesson. Executive Chef Claudio Hotter who oversees the resort’s 3 triple A, four-diamond restaurants helms this class. My class size was small so we each took turns creating our 3-course lunch. I picked up handy tips that day on mushroom cleaning and now can proudly say I know how to make an endive salad with a creamy Roquefort dressing.

Guests can also play tennis, golf at their choice of 2 golf courses in the area or head out on off-site excursions to explore the area. Daily resort activities are scheduled too.

Do you think the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is the resort for you? Find out more about it here.

Award-winning travel writer Ilona Kauremszky is a co-producer of mycompasstv and and works with leading publications across North America. She’s been a nationally syndicated travel columnist and has appeared as a travel expert on CBC, NPR, Yahoo Finance and other national broadcasters. Follow her travel pursuits on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.  

22 Dec


Top 15 Destinations to Visit in 2015

December 22, 2014 | By |

Wondering what the world has in store for you in 2015? With a new year, comes new resolutions. And with new resolutions, comes the need for new experiences. This upcoming year, make your new experiences about seeing new places, eating new food, meeting new people. Not sure where to start? From luxury destinations to foodie favourites, these top 15 destinations should give you a very good glimpse at what 2015 holds for you.

1) Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas

The hustle and bustle of Nassau never gets old. As both a popular cruise ship port and the commercial hub of the Bahamas, this city has an undeniable pulse. Bay Street is particularly bustling, with its myriad duty-free shops, restaurants and the famous Nassau Straw Market. In 2015, the buzz will be around the opening of Baha Mar, the biggest project to be undertaken in the Bahamas since Atlantis. In addition to 2,200 luxury rooms, this new mega resort will house a Vegas-style casino and approximately 40 restaurants.

2) Saint Lucia

Who knew there was such a thing as a drive-in volcanic crater? Whether you knew of its existence or not, you should know that Saint Lucia has one. It’s called La Soufrière Volanco (or Sulfur Springs) and you can drive up to its crater to witness it emit steam and sulphur. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, you can even have a warm sulphuric mud bath (though you should be warned that as much as it softens the skin, its rotten egg smell may not be well received by your nose). If first-time experiences are what you’re after in 2015, then this may be something to add to your wish list.

3) Osaka, Japan

In 2015, you may want to familiarize yourself with the expression kuidore (Japanese for “to eat yourself bankrupt”). Osaka’s food scene is booming and if you have appetite to spare, then you may want to sample Osakan fare. Takoyaki (octopus balls), Kushikatsu (a deep-fried meat or vegetable skewer) and Okonomiyaki (pork- or seafood-filled pancakes) are among street food favourites. And don’t forget to check out the multiple Michelin-star restaurants scattered around the city.

4) Turks & Caicos

Marina at Blue Haven Turks and Caicos

Marina at Blue Haven Turks and Caicos

Turks & Caicos is all about luxury – world-class hotels, spas, golf courses. In the last couple of years, it has undergone even more development in the luxury department. In 2015, make sure to check out some of Providenciales’ newest boutique hotels, including the all-suite Beach House Turks & Caicos and the Blue Haven Turks & Caicos, which has its very own marina!

5) Panama

Panama City Skyline

Panama is a country of stark contrasts: it is highly industrialized on the one hand, yet an eco-friendly haven on the other. If you’re looking for a city pulse similar to Miami, Panama City has got it: its abundant high-rises, dining and nightlife are why it has been dubbed the “Miami of the South.” If nature is more your thing, you can hike through the national parks of Coiba and Darien, awe at the cloud forests of Chiriqui or check out the Panama Canal.

6) Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Pura Vida (literally translated as “Pure Life” in English) is probably the most commonly used expression in Costa Rica. While its uses are varied, the meaning is universal: life is beautiful and you should know it. And if there is any place in the world where you can see Mother Nature’s beauty on full display, it has got to be Costa Rica. This is a country with some of the richest flora and fauna in the world, impeccably fresh produce and amazing vistas. If you have not yet had the chance to visit this mecca of natural beauty, make sure to add it to your 2015 bucket list.

7) Hawaii

Kauai Hawaii

If island hopping is on your travel wish list for the new year, then Hawaii should definitely be on your radar. The Hawaiian Islands have got it all: Visit Kaui for some history, Oahu for action-packed Honolulu, Maui for its culinary delights or the Big Island for its volcanic sights. See more Hawaii Highlights.

8) Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy

Milan is currently in full swing, preparing to host one of the world’s main events of the new year: Expo 2015. The theme of the exposition is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and will take place from May 1 to October 31, 2015. It will feature more than 60 custom-built pavilions and the city is currently planning special exhibitions and the opening of new museums for the event.

9) Curaçao

Curacao diving

In 2015, Curaçao will celebrate 5 years of its semi-independence as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Its Dutch influences are nevertheless visible on the island – in the colonial architecture of Willemstad, the local specialties at MarsheBieuw (also called Old Market) and in the local patois called Papiamento. Besides it cultural diversity, Curaçao has over 40 world-class dive spots – see our top 5 here!

10) Grenada

Spice Mas Festival Grenada

Also known as “Spice Island,” Grenada is one of the world’s largest producers of nutmeg and mace. Spice is not Grenada’s only gem though; this island is abundant in other natural riches like its beaches, the Annandale Falls, the beaches at Morne Rouge Bay and Grand Anse, and the flora and fauna of Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve. In 2015, get a taste of the island by attending the Spice Mas Festival, Grenada’s colourful carnival that features music, parading and masquerading.

11) Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Move over Riviera Maya, it’s time for Riviera Nayarit to shine. This 320-kilometre stretch of Pacific coastline is definitely a quieter alternative to its Caribbean-sided counterpart. You can golf in one of two Jack Nicklaus golf courses in Punta Mita, surf in Sayulita or relax in the peaceful town of San Blas. Riviera Nayarit will be seeing a significant amount of touristic development in the coming years, so go visit before the crowds swarm in!

12) St. Kitts

St Kitts Sea Turtle

St. Kitts may be small, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked when planning your 2015 travels. This little island has plenty of history, which is visible in the capital city of Basseterre. It also has plenty of natural habitat to explore, from its rainforests to its coral reef systems like Sandy Point and Turtle Bar. See our Top 5 Things to See in St. Kitts for more ideas.

13) Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs has had a mini tourism boom in the last few years and its number of lodgings is estimated to be in the triple digits by mid-2015. In addition to its desert scenery, 10,000-foot mountains and evening spas, the city is now also home to the Architecture and Design Center, launched in late 2014 to preserve the city’s desert modernism movement.

14) Barbados

Foodies, there is one thing you should know for 2015: The food scene is absolutely blossoming in Barbados. Having just celebrated its 5th edition this past November, the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival has become a culinary success. In addition to wine and rum tastings, it features cooking demonstrations by international celebrity chefs such as Mark McEwan, Marcus Samuelsson and Anne Burrell. Stay tuned for the 2015 program.

15) Chile

Patagonia, Chile

It’s never too late to visit the end of the earth. After making a stop in the capital city of Santiago (which, by the way, has opened a number of new museums and art galleries in the last few years), most travellers will either head to the Atacama Desert or to trek through the bare, rigged landscapes of Patagonia (a.k.a “the end of the earth”). Another must for a 2015 trip to Chile is its brand new wine and food festival, which will take place in late September.

23 Jul


Where to stay in Mexico

July 23, 2014 | By |


Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Gracing the shores of Riviera Nayarit, the all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Playa Mita is an unforgettable resort in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Enjoy spacious accommodations, the finest amenities, four specialty restaurants and recreation options that include live entertainment, onsite golf, a world-class spa and a signature Kids’ Club.


Cancun, Mexico

At IBEROSTAR Cancun you’ll luxuriate alongside crystal-clear waters, fine sandy beaches and lush vegetation. Enjoy Cancun’s vibrant nightlife in an all-inclusive resort, featuring an onsite, 18-hole, championship golf course, a stunning spa, seven pools, including an infinity pool, and a supervised Kids’ Club with splash park.

Paraíso Lindo

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Along the Caribbean’s sparkling blue waters you’ll find IBEROSTAR Paraíso Lindo, where interconnected pools, a lazy river, a splash park and Riviera Maya’s only wave pool wind their way among thatched roof umbrellas and garden courtyards. Enjoy all-inclusive dining, a world-class spa and an onsite 18-hole, championship golf course.

Experience these IBEROSTAR resorts in other fantastic destinations

IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Beach

Montego Bay, Jamaica

In a beautiful colonial-style setting directly on the beach, experience an infinity pool, with swim-up bar and whirlpool, water sports and daily entertainment. Enjoy all-inclusive dining at three specialty restaurants, international buffets, bars and more.

IBEROSTAR Costa Dorada

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

This all-inclusive paradise, tucked between majestic mountains and the shimmering ocean is a haven for water lovers, divers, snorkellers, and windsurfers. Stroll an endless shoreline and enjoy superb restaurants, lively bars and nightly shows.

IBEROSTAR Ensenachos

Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

Bathed by the best beaches in Cuba, Ensenachos and 
El Mégano, this resort is ideal for relaxing in a hammock, a long walk on the sand or lots of fun watersports. Enjoy delicious dining, entertainment, dream villas, and truly wonderful excursions.

23 Jul


What to do at IBEROSTAR in Mexico

July 23, 2014 | By |

Whale watching in Riviera Nayarit

A humpback whale breaching is one of life’s special experiences. Even better viewed oceanfront from IBEROSTAR Playa Mita’s rooftop Chill-Out Bar.

A day at the spa 
in Cancun

If pampering is part of your perfect trip, the spa at IBEROSTAR Cancun is for you. Indulge in delicious, soothing and rejuvenating treatments inspired by Mexico and beyond.

Hang ten in Sayulita

Surfers of every level can catch great waves all year round and then let loose at IBEROSTAR Playa Mita’s surf-themed disco. The resort is conveniently located ten minutes away from Sayulita.

A challenging 
round of golf in Riviera Maya

Play the IBEROSTAR Playa Paraíso Golf Club, site of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico. Then, dine and relax the night away at IBEROSTAR Paraíso Lindo.

23 Jul


Deudero designs

July 23, 2014 | By |

Famed Majorcan designer José Deudero has created 32 spectacular resorts for over the last 25 years with IBEROSTAR. His latest creation in Riviera Nayarit is another success.

What inspired the design of the new 

When I arrived on the west coast, I hiked high into the hills. I found an authentic Huichol community, and they were my inspiration. The whole resort 
is in harmony with the environment and filled 
with local, traditional artwork and creations.

Did you source locally?

Of course. A lot of furniture, artwork and materials were sourced locally. All the wooden centre tables, bars and stools were made from fallen trees. 
We also used Mexican marble and local Devil 
Ear’s wood.

The jaguar head in the lobby is very impressive.

It’s six and a half feet wide, the largest ever created. We commissioned Huichol artists to create it for us. It took six artists two and a half months. The jaguar is a powerful animal and each part of the beaded decoration represents part of their cosmology.

The Pacific Express Restaurant is surprising.

I was born and raised near a train station. Trains come and go, carrying thousands of people and stories. When I was young, I also travelled by train throughout India, from New Delhi to the holy city 
of Benares, a trip that had a great impact on me. 
I wanted to recapture the golden age of train travel so I designed this gourmet à la carte to feel like a dining car on a luxury railroad.

Not all the design is Mexican?

No, we drew international inspiration from South East Asia and had furniture for the guest rooms, a stone sculpture for the spa, and the pagoda near the pool created in Java that represents an old type of building, known as jogloo. It is typical of Java.

How would you describe this resort in one word?

Unique. It’s modern and has the best facilities and service but it also has a strong identity that I hope all our guests will enjoy. We wanted to create an unforgettable space, and I think we have succeeded.