04/02/2015 09:51 GMT | Updated 29/03/2015 06:59 BST

Planet Appetite: Velas Luxury Hotels in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Mexico represents remarkably good value for money and specialises in all-inclusive resorts. Cancun and the Riviera Maya have been favourite destinations for some time, but now Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are taking their place on the map.

Tourism on the Pacific coast of Mexico is concentrated around Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit with 3 luxury hotels catering for every taste.


Mexico represents remarkably good value for money and specialises in all-inclusive resorts. Cancun and the Riviera Maya have been favourite destinations for some time, but now Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit are taking their place on the map. There are no Mayan ruins here, but instead the Sierra Madre Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the beautiful coast. There's something here for everyone and these 3 hotels make an ideal base to explore the region. Even better, they're all not far from the airport so transfer times are minimal.


Velas Vallarta Resort & Spa

Just north of the main town, in Marina Vallarta, Velas Vallarta has a 10 acre beachfront location. Located in the Marina Vallarta, one of the most exclusive areas of Vallarta-Nayarit, the 345 hotel suites are built round a lush tropical garden containing 3 swimming pools, a cascading waterfall, swim-up bar and even a few peacocks. There's casual beachfront dining as well as gourmet Italian and Mexican cuisine in the hotel's other restaurants.


Room options range from budget friendly studios to spacious 3 bedroom suites, all with kitchenettes or kitchens, fully stocked mini bars, "Suite Dreams" beds and goose down duvets and pillows. Activities include water sports, tennis,spa treatments, fitness centre, yoga and a Kids Club. There's evening entertainment with a Veracruz dance night, Mexican Fiesta, or live music in the lounge. It's easy to get into town, as buses stop right outside the door and the journey is around 20 minutes.


Casa Velas

Also in the Marina Vallarta area is Casa Velas, an adults-only resort with the same high standards. It's not on the sea but set in lush tropical gardens, with Koi fish ponds, right next to its own 18 hole golf course. An organic garden supplies the freshest herbs for the restaurant, bar and spa and the hotel's resident peacocks prowl the lawns. There's a decent sized palm fringed swimming pool with cabanas where you can relax with a cocktail of your choice. If you crave the sea, a complimentary bus will transfer you to the private Ocean Club right on the beach.


Accommodation is limited to just 80 plush suites, each furnished and decorated with textures and colours inspired by traditional Mexican design, many of them with pieces by acclaimed Mexican sculptor Sergio Bustamante. Some of them have their own plunge pools but all have goose down duvets, L'Occitane toiletries and a well-stocked mini bar. Food is good here in the Emiliano Restaurant and, if you fancy a change of scene, you can always visit the 3 restaurants of the sister hotel, Velas Vallarta, a few minutes away. There's a state-of-the-art fitness centre, yoga and exercise classes and hydrotherapy in the spa. I like the cosy boutique feeling of the place and it's nice to be in a hotel where you can walk to every floor without taking the lift.


Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

If you want more luxury and don't mind staying slightly out of town, then Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is for you. It's situated in Nuevo Vallarta, an exclusive gated development on the blue waters of Banderas Bay in Riviera Nayarit, just 15 minutes from the airport and 25 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta. The long pristine beach is perfect for swimming or try the 3 tiered infinity pool if the sea is not to your liking. They call this a "Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare" vacation experience with exceptional gourmet dining, world class hospitality, and they're not far wrong.


The 267 luxurious 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites all feature private terraces and balconies with stunning ocean and pool views and beautiful teak wood furniture imported from Bali. They're artfully decorated in a contemporary style with light neutral tones and accented by tropical colours. All 4 restaurants offer gourmet á la carte dining with Mexican, Mediterranean, French and International cuisine and they're all part of the all-inclusive package.


As you'd expect, the spa is world class and consists of 20 elegant treatment rooms which offer over 30 treatments, including massages, exfoliations, body wraps, facials, hand and foot care and day spa rituals. Natural products, aromas and ingredients are specially selected to relax body and spirit. There's even a special kids spa where they can enjoy relaxing and hydrating massages and beauty salon services.


Visit Puerto Vallarta has information about the town.

Riviera Nayarit has information about the area.

Visit Mexico has information about the country.


All pictures copyright Rupert Parker.