Surprise!!!! We have a new little traveler joining the family in a few months! I can’t wait to see and hear about all the countries and continents Traveler #3 is going to walk on some day.
If she loves traveling as much as her mommy does, the world better watch out! 🙂 In the meantime, in the midst of getting her nursery together and prepping for her arrival, I hope I’ll be able to find time to apply for her passport so that we can take lots of family vacations in the future.
But, I am getting ahead of myself.
It’s actually been a crazy ride for us so far and the sad reality is…I’m already feeling the sleep deprivation and she’s not even here yet!
Luckily, we booked our babymoon a few months back (or maybe it’s more like we ignorantly booked it without realizing how expensive it would be to buy everything we need for Traveler #3) so we recently jetted off to Punta Mita for some rest, relaxation, and quality beach/pool time.
I picked Punta Mita because it is a short three hour flight from Southern California, there’s not a whole lot to do there so I won’t feel like I’m missing out by just laying poolside, and it has one of my favorite Starwood hotel brands there, The St. Regis. In short, it sounded like the perfect getaway for catching up on sleep and enjoying one last vacation with Mr. T before
all hell lets loose Traveler #3 debuts.
If you’re unfamiliar with Punta Mita, the town is an hour north from Puerto Vallarta by car. It’s located along the Riviera Nayarit and is actually a gated area next to Punta de Mita town. While there are vacation rentals in Punta Mita, there are only two resorts there: The Four Seasons and The St. Regis. Being big fans of Starwood, we chose The St. Regis. As a side note, we actually visited The Four Seasons on one of the days we were there and after touring that resort, we were very happy we picked The St. Regis instead (for specifics, check out the end of the post).
Upon arrival at the resort, we were greeted with welcome drinks of iced tea or margaritas while we looked out onto this beautiful open view of the resort while they checked us in.
We were upgraded to a deluxe suite with our own patio, living room, a separate bedroom (with a TV that rises up from the cabinet at the foot of the bed), and a bathroom that has both indoor and outdoor showers.
Since there’s actually not a whole lot do to in the area and the resort is tucked away in the gated community, the resort has different activities for its guests.
During our time, we went to the special “traditional” Mexican food 3-course dinner on the beach (usually held on Sundays), cerviche making class, margarita making class, mojito making class, and their tea ritual.
Can you tell we love, love, love to eat? I wish we could have gone to the champagne ritual (held on Fridays) but we actually opted to go into Puerto Vallarta for the weekend instead of sticking around the resort so we missed out. Otherwise, I heard it’s free flowing Veuve Clicquot!
Besides the resort activities, the other activities are to hang out at one of the three pools at the resort (there’s one “family” one and two adult ones), lounge on the beach, rent kayaks/paddleboards, hang at the spa, or take a tour to the nearby Marieta Islands or go whale watching. I really wanted to check out the islands but since I am more than four months pregnant, the tour director said I couldn’t go – apparently the waters can get choppy on the speedboat ride over. Bummer! 🙁
I wish I could report that the first week at the hotel was all butterflies and rainbows, but it was a pretty disappointing experience and Mr. T and I had multiple conversations where we considered switching resorts! The dining staff was not only incredibly slow but got most of our orders wrong (they even delivered our food to the wrong table twice!), our “butler” (every room gets one) was no where to be found, and generally, we did not think that the staff overall was as friendly as at other St. Regis properties – this was a shocker considering the accolades this property has won and its glowing TripAdvisor reviews.
Instead of switching hotels, we thought it’d be fair to let the hotel know where they fell short of our expectations so I contacted them to air our disappointments while we were in Puerto Vallarta for the weekend. We were planning to check back into The St. Regis in a couple of days so I wanted to see if they’d take our grievances seriously or if they’d brush it off. If they brushed it off, we were going to switch hotels. They did not brush it off. Instead, they promised that they’d show us the renown service they were known for when we came back for our second stay… and boy, did they ever.
When we checked back in again, they rolled out the red carpet. We were offered multiple welcome drinks, golf cart rides to our room (which was now a one bedroom suite on the beach with living room, kitchen, bedroom, pool, jacuzzi, and bathroom bigger than most hotel rooms), complimentary lunch, and personal greetings from the General Manager, Director, Food & Beverage Manager, and the head butler. One could say they take their complaints seriously there. Below are some photos from our new room:
This time around, they got almost all of our food orders correct (I guess no one is perfect) and they made sure to have my favorite drinks ready whenever I sat down for breakfast – if that’s not personalized service, I don’t know what is! All the staff were really friendly, too, although a lot of them were different from the staff we saw the first week so we either had a crummy week that first week or they did some serious staff reshuffling.
The final week at the resort was awesome – more sleeping in, late breakfasts, pool time, and beach time – but this time, all without having conversations about whether or not we should switch hotels! 🙂 In fact, when it was time to go, we weren’t ready to leave!
The big lesson learned: If you’re unhappy with the service you’re getting, it doesn’t hurt to let the hotel know so you give them a chance to make it right. I’d be surprised if a high-end hotel didn’t try to go above and beyond for their guests since high-end hotels compete on service. The only difference between a four star and a five star hotel is the service (ok, five star may also have incrementally nicer properties but still… the “niceness” of the property fades fast without the service that should go with it)!
Here are some more photos of the resort:
If you’re planning to go:
- The hotel has 4 dining options: Mita Mary Boat (a ship turned restaurant on the beach for grilled seafood), Sea Breeze Bar and Restaurant (for casual dinner), Las Marietas (for breakfast and lunch), and Carolinas (for award winning cuisine). Mita Mary was our fave for lunch, Sea Breeze was good for dinner, and Carolinas was on another level.
- Any excursion stemming from the hotel is going to cost a lot and is run by an outside tour company. The Marietas Island 3 hour excursion, for instance, was $125pp. These prices aren’t typical of Mexico tour prices and surely aren’t consistent with the tour prices you’d find in Puerto Vallarta, but the tour company does promise a better “experience” for the guests since a lot of their guests are ones from the St. Regis or Four Seasons.
- The hotel offers generous quantities of free bottled water in your room and poolside, free wifi (reception was OK although spotty in some areas especially if connecting from your cell phone), and free parking – unexpected for a five star resort, but welcomed amenities! If you hang out by the pool long enough, you’ll also get snacks like popsicles and sweet potato chips – all complimentary.
- The butler service delivers coffee/tea on demand 24 hours a day. When they deliver it, it comes with biscuits or little cakes – perfect for fulfilling a sweet tooth after dinner!
- Don’t ask the hotel to book a taxi to/from the airport which costs $100USD+. Our cab from the airport was 800 pesos (~$60USD). To get back to the airport, we rented a car from National for $80/day and used the car for half the first day to venture outside of the resort and then used the car the next day to drive back to the airport.
- Speaking of taxis, all taxi rides to/from the hotel are grossly overpriced especially for Mexico! Be prepared to pay twice as much as you really need to for any taxi ride.
- The hotel will tell you that you can walk to Punta de Mita town in about 20-30 minutes. It took us almost an HOUR to walk into town. Don’t do it – get a cab instead (100 pesos each way). But honestly, the town was unremarkable save for moderately less expensive restaurants when compared to the dining options at the hotel so… I think you could skip the town without missing much.
- There isn’t a lot to do in Punta Mita unless you plan to hang at the resort but here are the other activities you can do outside of the hotel: golf, tennis, see Punta de Mita town, whale watching, fishing, and snorkeling tours/excursions, and a daytrip to Sayulita.
- Lastly, if you’re deciding between the Four Seasons or the St. Regis, go with the St. Regis. The property is nicer, there are less rooms so it’s less crowded overall, the rates are cheaper, and the grounds are more beautiful (Four Seasons feels like you’re at an Intercontinental Hotel in a “jungle” whereas the St. Regis feels like a pretty manicured tropical oasis). The only thing the Four Seasons has that the St. Regis doesn’t is a lazy river (which is a pretty cool amenity), but the St. Regis has more beach front and bigger pools.