Emily Westaby, one of Skylark's lovely travel gurus, just got back from Puerto Vallarta, one of the finest stretches of beach on Mexico's Pacific coast. Here is her report.

By Jes Ware

PUERTO VALLARTA

First, a bit about Puerto Vallarta. The stretch of perfect beach on Mexico's west coast was once a sleepy fishing village--but when word of it's beauty got it, it became a favorite vacation spot. Wonderfully, it remains as laid back as it as in the old days and is still full of quirky shops and local flavor. And it's spectacularly pretty--nothing really beats a sunset o the west coast). Non-stop flights from NYC are just under 6 hours; it's about 3 hours from LAX. 


Fifteen minutes from the airport, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit commands a gorgeous stretch of beach on the north end of Bahía de Banderas. There’s little reason to leave the all-inclusive property, with a wonderful spa, activities galore and a staff that must have a magic ball predicting even your most trifling desires. But, championship golf courses are a 5- to-15-minute drive away and Puerto Vallarta's historic downtown—where brightly colored shops line the famous boardwalk and everyone tries to get a good shot of Los Arcos—is a half an hour away.

GRAND VELAS RIVIERA NAYARIT

Walking into Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, palapa roof soaring above, the sparkling Pacific peeking through the arched doorways, feels majestically impressive. Our personal butler gave us a tour around the beautiful grounds before bringing us to our suite. We settled in, tucked into the complimentary minibar and took a moment to savor the sound of the ocean—and explore the 24-hour, all-inclusive in-suite dining menu. (Portions are intentionally small, so try as many as you'd like!) 

WHAT TO EAT

All-inclusives get a bad rap when it comes to food, but here you’ll find excellent choices and actually healthy options: French, Italian, Mexican—vegan fare, too!

WHAT I LOVED

An on-site photographer offers free 30-minute shoots—you can buy the prints or digital files after. Remember to book early; morning and sunset slots fill up fast.