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CasaMagna makes a great base for exploring all the action in Puerto Vallarta. The Pros: A luxurious pool, beachfront location and lots of dining options. The Cons: No executive lounge, not enough poolside cabanas and limited hours at its Japanese restaurant.
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Marriott is known for its extensive variety of hotels, ranging from lower-end to mid-tier and luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, W and the Autograph Collection. One brand you rarely hear about is CasaMagna, likely because there are only two of them — one in Cancun, the other in Puerto Vallarta. I recently visited the latter, and found a relaxing oceanfront resort in a truly great Mexican destination. Here’s what it was like to stay there.
I booked my four-night stay with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card for a total of $1,020. The CSR was a great option, since I earned 3x points — or in this case, 3,060 Ultimate Rewards points — for the travel purchase. Alternatively, I could have booked with another travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, to earn 2x points or taken advantage of the Citi Prestige Card’s nifty 4th Night Free perk (if only I had that card). With my $255 nightly rate, I also earned 10,200 Marriott points — 10 Marriott points per dollar, plus my 25% bonus from being a Marriott Gold member — netting me a total of 12,750 Marriott Rewards points for this stay.
This is a Category 7 Marriott property so I would’ve needed 35,000 Marriott Rewards points to redeem for a free night, or in my case, 140,000 to redeem for my four-night stay. With TPG’s latest points-and-miles valuation in mind, it wouldn’t have made sense to book this way since we value each Marriott point at 0.09 cpm.
You could also book with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, which gives you 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Additionally, you can earn five points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels. Although you technically can’t use the complimentary one-night anniversary stay you get from the card at this hotel — it’s only for Category 1 to 5 hotels — it’s still a great card to sign up for, especially if you frequently stay at Marriott properties.
Check-In and Lobby
CasaMagna was situated in the middle of all the action in Puerto Vallarta near the Shangri-La Marina Vallarta condos, Melia Vacation Club All-Inclusive and Westin Resort & Spa. It’s just a five-minute taxi ride from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) and the entrance is right along the main road. We did have to pass through the gate, where security staff confirmed that I was authorized to enter the grounds.
The bell staff had a stand at the front entrance and always opened the car door to welcome us when we entered the property, even past midnight. You could also ask the bellman to hail a taxi for you — there always seemed to be a few nearby.
The layout of the hotel atrium was cross-shaped. You could walk straight toward the ocean and pool, to the left for the reception area or to the right to get to the guest rooms.
When I checked in around 4:00pm, the reception area was busy but extra staff members were ready to check guests in. After waiting about 10 minutes, I was all set. As a Marriott Gold Elite member, I’m usually entitled to a complimentary upgrade so I was offered one for an oceanfront room, though it wouldn’t be available until the next afternoon. Still, I took it. I was also offered a suite upgrade, but those rooms only had one queen bed and I needed two doubles this time around.
At the end of the counter was a display of the hotel’s mobile app check-in, which I didn’t find out about until the end of my stay. It would have been nice to try this feature out. Next time.
There was no executive club at this hotel, and I thought it would have been great if the hotel offered complimentary breakfast to make up for it — it was not to be. Adjacent to the check-in area was the concierge, who pleasantly gave recommendations for restaurants and activities outside the property.
I initially had a Garden View room, which overlooked Los Caracoles, a condominium complex, and on night two, we moved to the Oceanfront room I’d been upgraded to. The only real difference between the two was the view. While the Oceanfront view is extremely nice — and those rooms usually cost double — the Garden View room is still very nice and mine even had a partial view of the ocean.
The rooms each had a medium-size balcony with two comfortable chairs and a small table.
My favorite part of the Oceanfront room was the balcony, which directly faced the ocean. Day or night, this is where I spent most of my time while I was in the room.
In this 338-square-foot room, the bathroom was on the side, with a wall divider between the toilet, sink area and the tub. Even though the bathroom was spacious, it would’ve been better if it were more modern and came with a double vanity.
Amenities consisted of Marriott THANN products, including moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.
There was a narrow bathtub with a shower head — and subpar water pressure. It was still good for a quick shower after a long day at the beach though.
On the opposite side of the bathroom was the walk-in closet, with a safe and bathrobe.
The two double beds’ sheets felt oddly rocky, like something was under them, though the beds were comfortable and housekeeping did an excellent job keeping the room spotless.
Adjacent to the beds was a small sitting area. There was no footrest or side table, which would’ve made the room feel a little more inviting.
Oddly enough, there was a large empty space near the sliding-glass door that led out to the balcony. A small table might have fit nicely there.
The desk area (with two chairs) was perfect for checking emails. While there wasn’t a lot of room to spread out papers, it was a fine spot for sitting down with a laptop or small tablet. Something that could have used improvement was the TV, which was quite small and difficult to watch from bed.
Though elite members received “premium” Wi-Fi, it didn’t seem fast. Still, when I browsed the internet on my iPad or MacBook, speed was never a problem.
The mini-bar was initially locked, even though I’d put down the full deposit for the room. After making a quick call to the operator, someone arrived and unlocked it. After all that, I was surprised to find it was barely stocked with beverages — just a few beers and sodas and two bottles of water.
The layout of the hotel was tropical and luxurious. There was a beautiful atrium with resort-view rooms on the right and left. I would suggest requesting a room on the left, since those featured a direct view of the pool and ocean rather than the condominium complex.
The atrium even had a cascading mini-waterfall.
Most people make the trip to Puerto Vallarta for leisure and to enjoy the beautiful pools, golf resorts and waves of the Pacific. CasaMagna didn’t disappoint, as the views truly put you in a vacation mood.
There were a handful of cabanas, which were difficult to obtain. As with most resorts, I wish there were more available so I wouldn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to snag one.
The beach lounge chairs provided by the hotel were different and less comfortable than the ones provided poolside. While the beach area certainly got busy at times, there were always enough chairs around.
My favorite part was the massive pool, which had a waterfall and a swim-up bar.
The swim-up pool bar was great, too. Even though you could order a drink from a deck chair, it was nice to be able to jump in the pool and walk out with a drink, especially when it was more than 90 degrees outside.
In the afternoon, the pool staff organized activities like volleyball tournaments and water aerobics.
Here’s a look at the main guest room building, where I was staying.
The business center was located next to the reception area — inside was a conference room as well as some computers and printers for guests to use.
Next to the business center were two ATMs, where you could withdraw cash in either US dollars or Mexican pesos.
Throughout the resort, there were multiple public bathrooms, which were kept nice and clean.
For guest privacy reasons, I was asked to not take pictures in the gym area, but found it was very suitable for a vacation workout. There were a number of machines and plenty of weights. The spa included a full menu of massages, but once again, I was politely asked not to take photographs because of the other guests’ privacy. I didn’t utilize the spa services, but thought it looked luxurious and relaxing.
Food and Beverage
As with many resorts, food and beverage options seemed to pop up every time you round a corner. In the main lobby was a bakery, where you could pick up pastries and ice cream.
Directly outside the bakery was a patio with tables, couches and perfect views of the pool and the Pacific.
Since there was no executive lounge or complimentary breakfast offered at this hotel, I had headed down to the restaurant, where the buffet was open until 11:30am and cost about $27 per person.
You could order omelets at the made-to-order egg station.
A variety of pastries, donuts, muffins and croissants were available. Staff kept the buffet tidy and well-stocked at all times.
There was also a station with Mexican breakfast items including quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches and taquitos.
Toast and bagels were on hand as well.
The gift shop in the lobby had souvenirs, alcoholic beverages and sunscreen for sale.
Also on the property were the Champions Sports Bar and Mikado Japanese restaurant. Champions’ happy hour was from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on weeknights, while the lobby bar also had its own daily specials.
The Lobby Bar, located across from the check-in area, was large and a nice, relaxing spot to grab a late-night drink.
The Lobby Bar featured a large variety of alcoholic beverages.
During the early evening hours, you could sit, drink and enjoy live music while looking out over ocean and pool area.
The two restaurants, Champions and Mikado, could be accessed from outside the hotel.
The atmosphere at Mikado was tropical and peaceful, in part because of the indoor fish pond.
For dinner, you could find reasonably priced — and excellent-tasting — teppanyaki and sushi. One major drawback was that the restaurant didn’t open until 6:00pm. I really wish the sushi bar had at least been open for lunch, but still, it was nice to have some appetizers there before leaving the property for a night out on the town.
Champions was a fun venue right next door to Mikado. While I was surprised to see the tables and bar area were so quiet, it was still a nice place to sit down, have a drink and watch some sports on one of the dozens of huge TVs.
Also located in the back of the restaurant were three pool tables, which got busier as the night went on.
Menu items included fish tacos and grilled chicken sandwiches, among other traditional American bar items, with a few Mexican options thrown into the mix.
During the day, the pool area had its own dining area for lunch — the chicken quesadillas were great — but the service was really slow since there were hundreds of other poolside guests. At one point, I ended up just walking into the actual restaurant to get my drink since it was taking the waiter so long to get back to me.
At night, the poolside restaurant transformed into an upscale, sit-down restaurant. Bread and pesto were served as complimentary starters.
I had the calamari, which was delicious.
During the day, there was a snow-cone cart with non-alcoholic and alcoholic concoctions.
From the incredible views to a great food and pool scene, this hotel really delivered. The staff were friendly, attentive and always offered to assist. I would certainly look into staying at this property again the next time I’m in Puerto Vallarta.
Have you stayed at CasaMagna? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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