Blue Bay Getaway
Location: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico All-inclusive Adults Only
Hotel Website: http://www.bluebayresorts.com/VallartaGetaway.htm
General Info: Located on the beach in the heart of "hotel zone" 15 Minutes from the airport 2 pools 3 restaurants (2 a la carte) Use of sister resort Blue Bay Club
We booked our trip through Sunquest who took care of all the details and provided us with airport/flight tickets and hotel vouchers. Airport transfers to and from our hotel were also included.
Flight and Airport We flew from Toronto to Puerto Vallarta on Air Transat. We had no problems leaving Toronto, customs was smooth. The meal was scrambled eggs and home fried potatoes, muffin, fruit cup. Movie was something about Gladiators…I didn’t watch it but my boyfriend did.
Bring your own headphones…you can use normal headphones on Air Transat. Otherwise they are $5 CDN to purchase on the plane (but you get to keep them). My old Canada 3000 headphones worked fine. The plane was very cold and there were not enough blankets and pillows for everyone. Ask for these right away or there will be none left. I wore pants and a cardigan, and put shorts in my carry-on which I changed into before we landed in PV.
On the plane you will need to fill out both a customs card and a tourist card. DON’T forget to bring a pen on the plane! We didn’t have one and had to borrow one from the people next to us (along with half the plane!). Read the tourist card carefully…it is really confusing about what to write in. The city doesn’t fit so you should put PTO.VALLARTA for that. The state is Jalisco.
When you get to the airport in Puerto Vallarta we walked right out of the plane down stairs to the tarmac and took a shuttle to the airport building. Then you wait in line for customs and collect your luggage. When you get your luggage you pull it over to a stoplight (it’s literally a traffic light). You have to press the button and if the light is green you can go through, if it’s red you have to stop and open up your bag (like I did!). Be sure to have your luggage keys handy! They really quickly just flip through your stuff and then you can go.
A Sunquest rep met us at the airport and directed us outside to a shuttle. We then took a shuttle minivan to our resort (not many people were staying at our resort from our flight…so there were just 4 people in the van).
Arrival and Check-In
We arrived and the Sunquest rep showed us where to check in. We gave in our hotel vouchers here. We were given 2 room keys, 2 towel cards (for the beach towel service), coupons to fill out for the a la carte restaurants, a hotel overview and schedule information sheet and our bracelets. ASK FOR: a safe lock/key (extra charge of $2/day) and the remote. They do not automatically give them to you!
A bellboy then took our bags and showed us to our room. (we were able to check in at noon, even though check in is normally at 3…this was great!). He showed us how to work the airconditionner and the lights and ceiling fan. Switches were all by one side of the bed. (We tipped him $2 US)
Our Sunquest rep was not stationed at our hotel, but was available by phone to book any trips or answer our questions. We had a intro meeting with him at noon on our arrival day (we arrived at 10:30 in the AM) and he met with other people that arrived the night before as well). This is only because there were few people at the resort that booked through the same package at the same time (as I mentionned…it is a slow travel time). Last year when we went to the DR our rep told us all about everything on the bus on the way to the hotel. Our rep was VERY helpful…he gave us a map of Puerto Vallarta and gave us tips of where to go for shopping, the boardwalk, etc. He told us about the water being fine to drink and described the various day and evening trips that you could choose to book (for an extra fee). More about those later…
Our room was was great! We chose to upgrade to the Superior room when we booked. Our travel agent requested Ocean View for us, which we got.
The hotel has 2 buildings, a 4-story building and an 11-story building. All the Superior rooms are in the small building, facing either the pool area/ocean or the city/garden/mountains. The Economy rooms are in the tall building facing the mountains, and the Deluxe rooms are in the tall building facing the ocean.
Our room had really high ceilings, king-sized bed, end tables, a dresser with three drawers and a seat in front of the mirror and a closet. Balcony had two chairs/table and looked out over the pool area with a view of the ocean in the background. The bathroom was great! All stone (granite?) and a realy roomy tub/shower with a place to sit to shave your legs 🙂 Came with two bath towels, 2 face cloths and a hand towel 2 which were replaced daily. The room didn’t have any extras: no fridge, coffee machine or anything like that, but that was okay. BEAUTIFUL and extremely roomy. The water pressure and temperature was fine.
Each day, the room was decorated with fresh flowers or some cute towel arrangement (swans, shells, etc). We tipped $1 (US) a day or 10 pesos – leave the tip on the bed…we left it on the TV the first day and it was still there when we got back. There were no bugs that we saw other than a few VERY small ants around the bathroom sink that are common in hot resorts (we saw them in the DR as well). Our rep said it was okay to drink the water in the resort, but in our room we didn’t (just from the restaurants). We used tap water for brushing teeth though and we had no problems.
Our airconditionner didn’t work very well the first day. When we opened it up the next morning it was all ice! We filled out the comment card (where you can check off things that need to be fixed) and mentionned that the airconditionner wasn’t working. When we arrived back in our room 3 hours later the airconditionner had been replaced with a brand new one and it was super cold (which was great!).
The resort is very clean with lots of pathways to get where you’re going. We never saw any trash laying around as there were always staff members walking around to ensure that everything looks nice. Everything is within a 2-3 minute walk (it’s not a very large resort).
The beach was not that great. The water was very rough and cloudy (and was either red or yellow flagged each day – they put flags out to tell you how safe it is, Green is clear, Yellow is Caution, red is Warning. I am not a big fan of the ocean for swimming anyhow, so it didn’t matter to me. The swimming area is very small. There are a lot of beach vendors as well which can get a little annyoing, always trying to sell you silver or blankets or wooden figures. Don’t buy anything from them…you can get much cheaper stuff at the Flea Market (will talk about that later…). There were a few people bathing topless, so feel free if you are interested.
There are three bars, plus bar service in the restaurants. The best bar we liked was the one near the pool. It had a swim up area on one side and a walk up area on the other side. The swim up area wasn’t really in use (there was a sign that said "please ring bell for service" but there was no bell!). It’s only like 2 steps to the bar so it’s no big deal. There is another bar at the snack bar, closer to the beach, and a third bar in the lobby. Each had the same drink list. I really enjoyed the Daquiris. Don’t worry about ice in the drinks…their water and ice are purified. The beer is SOL, which apparently isn’t that exciting (my boyfriend had it…says it’s comparable to Molson Canadian…pretty watered down). The glasses that are used for drinks are really small, so always ask for everything in twos. They are reusable glasses, and I sort of noticed that they didn’t really wash them altogether that well….just really quickly in the sink at the bar with some soap….but I didn’t care too much.
There is one main buffet, a snack bar, and two a la carte restaurants (one is just the snack bar, but dressed up fancier and opened at night). There is also snacks available at the pool bar in the middle of the afternoon. The choices are pretty much the same each day for all of the restaurants. My boyfriend was disappointed that there wasn’t more spicy dishes and traditional Mexican fare, but I am a pretty picky eater and was happy to have some familiar dishes.
Breakfast: Held at the Main Buffet. There is a made-to-order grill until 11am that has omelets and fried eggs, waffles, pancakes and french toast. There is a bread section with rolls, muffins and pastries – excellent banana bread! There is a hot food section that has different types of eggs, hash browns, crepes, oatmeal. There is a cold section with yogurt, cottage cheese and all kinds of fruit. GREAT pineapple! There is also an area with different types of juices, milks and small boxes of cold cereals.
Lunch: Is available at the main buffet and at the snack bar. We usually ate lunch at the beach restaurant which had fewer choices but it was still very good. You can wear beach wear at the snack bar, but you need shoes and shirts to the main buffet. The snack bar has a grill area where they make hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken burgers. Then there is a buffet area that has burritos, rice, nachos and toppings, sandwiches, fries, salad, fresh fruit, and some other options. We never ate at the main buffet at lunch time.
Dinner: Every night at the main buffet restaurant they have "theme nights". Sometimes it is on the beach, or on the pool deck area. There is different types of meat dishes, pasta made to order, cheeses, veggies, salads, breads and a dessert buffet. The dessert wasn’t anything too special (I am a big fan of dessert).
In addition the buffet, there are two specialty restaurants that you need to make reservations for. YOu get the reservation cards when you check in. You make these reservations at the front desk and you have to take the card down before 11:30am the day you want to go. Keep in mind that these fill up quickly, so try to make your reservations as soon as possible if you want to ensure you get them.
One is the Steak House, which is just the snack bar all dressed up. It has great food though. You have a choice of red/white wine (my boyfriend said the white wine was pretty awful) or any drinks from the bar, and there is a menu where you make your selections. You get a soup starter (I had potato and leek which was great). Then you have a salad bar. You get warm rolls at your table as well. Then you have your main dish. I chose the steak, which was very tasty (a little overdone). My boyfriend had the ribs, which he said were EXCELLENT. Then you have the dessert buffet, which is the same that they have every night. You get coffee as well…including specialty coffee. The Mexican coffee was delicious (served with whip cream, yum!). You need to wear pants at this restaurant, but it is outside under a covering, so it isn’t too fancy.
The other restaurant is VERY fancy. It is called La Caverna, and it looks like the inside of a cave. It is AIR CONDITIONNED, so be sure to bring something to cover up with (most girls wore dresses with straps and all looked very cold….I brought a cardigan). Men need to wear pants (I suggest Khakis) and a shirt and shoes. My boyfriend didn’t bring shoes, but wore sandals and no one said anything. At this restaurant you get 2 of either soup, salad or appetizer. I had French Onion soup which was very good. I also ordered the Avacado Shrimp appetizer….it has a seafood salad in a creamy sauce and is served in half an avacado. It was okay…I found some of the seafood to be a bit chewy. For my main course I ordered Roast Beef and it was VERY tasty (and a good portion). The desert is the SAME as the buffet. After dinner, definitely order a Mexican Coffee here! They made it at your table and it was flaming and everything…quite a show. We left a $2 US tip at each restaurant…you don’t have to, we noticed some people didn’t…but we thought they did an excellent job at serving.
For the so-called "rainy season", we had excellent weather! It only rained once, and just in the evening. It was really sunny and HOT HOT HOT for the first part of the week, and the last two days were mostly sunny and a bit overcast in the late afternoon. The temperature was nearly 40degrees (celsius) each day. It wasn’t too bad when we were just lying around near the pool, but when we went into town it was very hot and muggy…I love hot weather, but I would even say it was TOO hot. Apply your sunscreen WELL and before you leave your room. Reapply often! We wore 30 SPF and still got sunburns a bit on our shoulders. BRING SUNSCREEN FROM HOME! The stuff they sell in the hotel store is AWFUL (and contributed to us getting burns for SURE). Bring lots! I got a bit of a rash from the sun as well. Also, if you do decide to get your hair braided, remember to put sunscreen on the parts of your head. I didn’t get braids, but others did and they had bad burns.
Clientele, Travel Reps, Staff
The time we went (first week of June) was NOT AT ALL busy! There was never any crowds or line ups and we never had to fight for space in the lounge chairs by the pool. Most of the people were American, but a number of British arrived half way through our stay. Most of the people were couples, although there were some groups of friends/sisters, etc. Most people were older than us (we’re 25)…a number were celebrating their 20th/19th/25th wedding anniversaries!
Most of the staff speak English. At the front desk there is usually always someone who speaks excellent English.
We didn’t use any of the water sports or activites. We were really more into just relaxing and napping in the sun, and going on a couple of excursions. There is an activities board near the towel booth, and it says what is going on. Normally during the day they have water aerobics, beach volleyball, stuff like that. For your beach towels: you have to bring your small towel cards down with you to get towels. At the end of the day, just turn in your towels and you’ll get your cards back. You can also get fresh towels anytime during the day. They don’t hand out towels in the evening (pool is open until 8pm)…we tried to go for a swim one evening after a trip but there were no towels, so we just dripped back to our room 🙂
They play mostly popular American music near the pool during the day. It can be kind of loud, especially the announcing of activities. If you prefer a quieter nap, hang out by the small pool…it’s still loud, but not as busy with people playing games.
There are a number of tours you can take. We chose 2.
We did an evening trip called "Rhythms of the Night". It is described to be a romantic tour, which it pretty much was. There was a couple of groups of girlfriends that went as well, which sort of took away some of the romance as they were joking around with the boat stuff and stuff, but it was still good. You meet at the Marina Vallarta (pay $3 for a cab) and board a party boat type thing. You then cruise over to a remote beach area. OUR RIDE WAS AWFUL! The water was SOOO rough and choppy and our boat was rocking all over the place. I love boats, but even I felt a bit sick! They were handing out Gravol to people before we got on. Once we got there it was REALLY nice. There was another boat as well. The beach had a path that was lined with torches and there are little seating areas all along through the woods and on the rocky shores. We had a table for two on the beach and it was VERY romantic. Dinner is buffet-style with great choices, chicken, beef, rice, potatoes….YUM! Dessert was nothing special, just fruit and rice pudding. There is a little shop too (of course) where you can buy stuff….DON’T! It’s totally overpriced. After dinner we watched an interpretational dance type of show …it was kind of cheesy, but if you’re into that kind of thing it’s fine. No flash pictures allowed….but people took them anyways and it got really annoying. We then took the boat back. After the trip they come around with a bottle for you to "donate" tips for the crew…but you pretty much are expected to! We gave them a $5 Cdn bill.
The second trip we went on was called "Tequila Six Pack". We were picked up at our hotel at 7:15am The day is a LONG bus ride on an airconditionned tour bus. You get a "continental breakfast" on the bus, consisting of a danish, granola bar and apple. We drove all over the place and stopped to see an inactive volcano and lava field, and an excavation site with some ruins. The focus of the trip (hence the name) is visiting the various contributing parts of making tequila. We went to a farm where tequila plants are grown, saw them being harvested (by hand!), and then to the Sauza distillery where we saw the process of them being fermented, bottled and shipped. We had lunch there (LATE – 3pm). The lunch was great! Some kind of cream soup, cucumbers for snack, and a choice of chicken or beef dish that was delicious, followed by a creme caramel type dessert. You get drinks too…sort of limonade with tequila, and a small tequila shot in a clay cup (which you get to keep). We bought stuff at the gift shop too….NICE tequila and some Sauza glasses. The glasses were only 6 pesos – 60 cents! We didn’t realize this until afterwards and wished that we had bought more than 2. I don’t think I would do the trip again though. The ride was very long (and boring at times) and I don’t really much care for tequila so it wasn’t that interesting. We tipped the driver and guide when we got off the bus back at our resort.
Shopping is totally fun! Vendors come to the resort for Mexican Fiesta nights….don’t bother buying from them, they are overpriced. We went to the Flea Market which has LOTS of vendors. It’s indoors, at the end of downtown. Hop on the bus (right outside to the right) and take the bus that says EL CENTRO. It goes all through downtown. Get off at Rodrigues. Cross the street and and walk (towards the mountain) up Rodrigues for about 2 minutes. It’s just on your right hand side. It’s a two story building with TONNES of shops inside and on the second floor. They will tell you a price that is WAY too much. Offer half of what they say, and then you can barter up to what you are willing to pay. Good technique….barter for a few minutes, and then when they won’t budge go "oh….okay, well thanks anyways…and walk away". They’ll start calling after you and offer a new LOWEST price. We got great results this way.
A few things that you should definitely bring with you:
-A Spanish-English Dictionary. I actually have a Coles Notes book called "Getting ALong in Spanish" that has stuff that you would need on vacation like foods, stuff around the hotel, shopping, etc. It was handy when trying to write on the card about our air conditionner being broken. While most people did speak English, it is always helpful (and fun!) to try to speak their native language when possible.
-a couple of 2L bottled water. We used them on the plane, on our tours, in the room,…just to be on the safe side.
If you want to bring money from home, bring some American money (it is widely accepted), and pesos. You can also use your bank card at the machine across the street (at the Bancomer). You can also exchange American and Canadian money here. We didn’t think to bring our bank cards and only brought VISA. Not to worry. You can use your VISA card to withdraw cash at the teller in the BancoMex DOWNTOWN. That is the ONLY bank that lets you do that. All other ones you have to use the machine. You need small amounts in pesos as well for tipping and the taxi/bus. We tipped the maid daily, at the specialty restaurant, and our tour guide for the trips. The bus is 4 pesos (40cents!) everywhere. Taxi is about 30 pesos for pretty much everywhere ($3).
Please feel free to email me with any questions abiyt this resort or anything else about Puerto Vallarta!