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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card
Taking the family to Puerto Vallarta is a little bit like taking a litter of puppies to the dog park — everyone’s running, playing and having the time of their lives. But it’s not necessarily a relaxed experience for those in charge. The secret to avoiding this pitfall: Choosing the perfect hotel, with all the features, services and amenities necessary to make sure every family member enjoys some serious R&R. (Here are some of our favorite Puerto Vallarta family-friendly activities, too.)
With a little help from Southwest’s Companion Pass, the timing couldn’t be better for putting Puerto Vallarta on your family’s travel map. The Companion Pass allows you to bring a family member or friend along on any Southwest flight you book. You pay cash or Rapids Rewards points for your ticket and your companion’s ticket is just the cost of fees and taxes. In the case of traveling to Puerto Vallarta (PVR), the fees are less than $60 one-way.
If you want to know more, here’s how to use the Southwest Companion Pass. Once you’ve got your Companion Pass ready for Puerto Vallarta, it’s time to pick a hotel. Here are eight Puerto Vallarta hotels that families can book on points.
The first thing you’ll notice upon arriving at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort is its sophisticated open-air lobby, furnished in ultramodern style in cool teal and cream. Just try to resist curling up in one of the hanging basket chairs with their perfect ocean views — it’s not possible! In other words, this resort doesn’t have the immediate appearance of a family resort, allowing parents to feel they remain in the adult world. (Try the hotel’s signature tequila tasting for a fun couples’ bonding experience.) Yet once you step out to the enclosed family-only pool, with its comfy poolside loungers and dedicated service, it’s clear that families are treated as first-class citizens here.
And what child can resist a play structure in the middle of a pool, with a slide that dunks them directly into the water? Another plus: The hotel holds spectacular fireworks shows on the beach on weekends. If you’re planning to travel in the late spring or summer, turtle nesting season begins in June, and the Marriott’s sea turtle rescue program is considered one of the best in Mexico, with a turtle nursery on-site where kids can watch a trained wildlife biologist and staff monitoring nests.
The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort, a Category 5, can be booked for 35,000 points per night. Or, you can use a Category 5 free night certificate that you can earn with the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card.
This luxuriously appointed all-inclusive resort may have you at the beach — it’s got its own, private and protected by cliffs. But then there are the pools — seven of them– including one with loungers knee-deep in the water. The Hyatt Ziva also boasts an ideal location in Conchas Chinas, closer than most resorts to Puerto Vallarta’s picturesque Old Town with its festive Malécon boardwalk and fun activities. (Think: food tours, craft shopping and popular palapa-dotted Los Muertos beach.)
The quality of the included Hyatt’s KidZ Club (for ages 4 – 12) alone makes this resort a good choice, with three well-trained staff members on hand who seem genuinely to care whether kids are having a good time, and take steps to encourage shy or reluctant children to engage and make friends.
Start saving your World of Hyatt points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card. Book a room from 20,000 Hyatt points per night or a suite for 32,000 points. It costs 10,000 points per each additional person in the room beyond two (maximum of four) for those ages 3 and older. Remember that Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
The Westin makes many family “best” lists for its kids-under-12-eat-free policy, baby-sitting services and extensive programming. Parents rave about the large, shallow pool where even smaller ones can play safely. And the Westin Resort & Spa prides itself on friendliness toward LGBTQ families as well.
A big sunny space dotted with bean bag chairs, play tables and featuring its own outdoor play area, the Westin Kids Club is available for kids 4–12 and features older kid activities like sand castle building and traditional Mexican crafts. A half-day visit costs $40 plus $10 per additional hour. One money-saving perk: If you’ve got Gold Elite or higher status, the Kids Club is free for two children up to three hours per day.
This is currently a Category 4 Marriott property, bookable from 25,000 points per night (depending on the season). However, book quickly as this resort is increasing to a Category 5 Marriott effective on March 5.
The Hilton sets itself apart from other family-friendly Puerto Vallarta resorts with cultural programming such as free Spanish lessons and six on-site restaurants to choose from — along with two snack bars and four bars. One of these, FOGO, is a Brazilian-themed restaurant that grills beachside when weather permits, while parents eager for a date night can choose from the elegantly French Le Delice and Catrina, with its airy terrace.
Adventure Friends, the resort’s kids club, is complimentary, making it easier for parents to sneak away for an adults-only experiences, such as a couples’ massage at the resort’s Ki Spa. The spa is, in fact, another of the Hilton’s key attractions, with a steam room, sauna and extra-large soaking pool facility. Kids are allowed in the spa when accompanied by a parent, a perfect opportunity for some mother-daughter time.
A night at the Hilton in a standard room costs between 53k and 70k Hilton Honors points, depending on the season. Here’s how to rack up Hilton Honors points via a variety of Hilton credit cards.
Named for the flaming orange, pink and fuchsia flowers that bedeck Puerto Vallarta’s characteristic terra cotta walls and tiled roofs, the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort (Marriott Rewards Category 4, 25k points per night) lives up to that name, with lush gardens surrounding its very large beach-side pool complex. A second pool located in the Vacation Club area has an island and waterfall that the kids particularly like.
The kids club wins raves, both for its staff and the variety of activities. Another plus is the location at the end of the hotel zone closer to town, making it only a 20-minute walk to enjoy the Malécon and Old Town’s cobblestone streets.
Holiday Inn Express Puerto Vallarta — from 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night for a room with two queen beds — wins huge with budget-minded parents. There’s even an extensive breakfast spread included.
While not located on the ocean, the hotel is only 3 miles from the city center, convenient to the airport and Marina de Vallarta golf course, and just a short drive away from all the activities of the Marina Vallarta area. A relatively new hotel, it’s clean, bright, and modern, with a sunny though simple pool and lounge area.
Just down the road from the Holiday Inn Express Puerto Vallarta and right next to the Marina de Vallarta golf course, the Comfort Inn offers similar convenience and cost savings. Kids 12 and under stay free in the same room, many of which have a view of the lush golf green. The large, palm-shaded pool with its splashing fountain is well designed for both swimming and lounging.
Parents prize the resort’s proximity to a supermarket. the Plaza Neptuno shopping mall, and a cluster of popular local restaurants that includes an excellent fish taco stand. And the Marina is a 12-minute walk down the road. (From 8,000 Choice Privileges points per night.)
For those interested in staying outside of Puerto Vallarta in the increasingly popular area known as the Riviera Nayarit, the Four Seasons Punta Mita has much to recommend it, including a truly outstanding lazy river and the Nuna infinity pool with an extended shallow area.
Parents of kids 5–12 will want to take advantage of the Four Seasons’ signature (and complimentary) family program, Kids for All Seasons; also complimentary is the use of kayaks, snorkels and fins, and other water sports gear, even extending to fishing equipment. The resort maintains a well-stocked library of videos and DVDs, PlayStation games, books and board games while the extensive activities programming includes tie-dye and T-shirt painting, salsa dancing, ceramics, beading and other crafts.
And if your child is 13 or older (and there are at least four other kids under 18 on property), the resort rolls out the red carpet with bonfires, movie nights, hiking outings, beach volleyball and a host of other activities older kids will love.
You can book a night at the Four Seasons via Chase’s travel portal. We checked a night in April 2019 and it rang in starting at 45,666 points with the Sapphire Reserve. Or, pay cash and earn 3 points per dollar on travel with your Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Also in that same area, we are also big fans of the nearby St. Regis Punta Mita (about 45 minutes from Punta Mita), currently bookable for 60,000 Marriott points per night, but increasing to 85k points effective March 5.
Puerto Vallarta is the kind of place your family will probably want to return to over and over again. There’s so much to do at the beach, pool, in town and within the kids club. What’s your favorite property in the area? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image by Westend61 / Getty Images
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