Casa Velas Hotel Puerto Vallarta Review - Epicurean Exploits Abound

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Nestled within an upscale residential neighborhood just a 5-minute drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport sits Casa Velas, a serene adults-only luxury boutique resort that's helping set new and noteworthy standards in the all-inclusive realm.



As one of the many properties in the Velas Resorts portfolio, which have earned no less than 43 diamonds by AAA, I had high expectations for my own stay at the location—especially given it has garnered 8 of those diamonds in its own right.

What I had not anticipated, however, was how "at home" I would feel while on site, which felt as much like a private estate home with an ever-attentive staff rather than a slick hotel operation with pre-programmed employees. Indeed, the layout of the grounds and the casually elegant and intimate atmosphere evokes the sense of being in a private hacienda.

Furthering this sensibility is a staff that all regard guests by name, who welcome you "home" upon arrival (with each outing) and generally do their utmost to ensure each guest's needs and wants are being duly catered to.

All 80 traditional Mexican-styled suites at Casa Velas are top notch, with each boasting a private terrace with plunge pool or in suite Jacuzzi, goose-down comforters, free WiFi, L'Occitane bath products and a fully stocked mini bar.

For even more privacy and space, the exquisite 3,000-square foot, four-bedroom Presidential Suite, which sleeps 8, is replete with original artwork by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante and also features a large dining room, living room, master suite with a spacious marble-laden bathroom, and an expansive terrace with an oversize plunge pool and Jacuzzi.

While the Spanish style architecture and interior design captivates, the setting in which it all resides is truly breathtaking.  Lush tropical landscaping abounds with abundant flora and fauna at every turn that, of course, attracts wildlife. In fact, a bevy of wild peacocks have taken up residence at the property and can be seen meandering about throughout the day and night. A pack of "pet" snapping turtles live in a pond-like water feature at the hotel's front entrance for which the valet staff will eagerly provide you with food to feed them.

Adding to the serene green vistas is the fact that the resort overlooks the lovely Marina Vallarta Golf Course where Casa Velas guests enjoy special privileges like free greens fees. Other on-site amenities include a full fitness center with Life Fitness cardio and Nautilus equipment, a full service spa and salon, and a pool area with plush lounge chairs, shady cabanas and a swim up palapa bar.

If surf and sand are high on your vacation agenda, have no fear as the hotel will provide you with complimentary, on-demand shuttle service to and from its private and exclusive Casa Velas Ocean Club where guests enjoy cushioned loungers and cabanas on the beach itself, along with food and beverage service, as well as access to a pristine pool area and al fresco eatery all overlooking Mexico's Pacific Riviera beyond.

Even amid all of this haute hospitality, what is incredibly impressive about Casa Velas is its elevated gourmet food and beverage program that has significantly raised the bar for all-inclusive hotels worldwide.

With its on-site gourmet restaurant, Emiliano, one of only two restaurants in all of Puerto Vallarta that have earned the AAA Four Diamond award, guests are treated to unlimited access to high caliber cuisine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24/7 in-suite service.  Beverages at Casa Velas are equally progressive, particularly for an all-inclusive, with guests enjoying premium wines and liquor without restriction and can partake in fun nightly events like wine pairings; tequila, mescal and martini tastings; and other events that also allow guests to get acquainted and socialize.

If you're a foodie seeking a culinary-oriented resort retreat, Casa Velas is for you. I particularly love the concerted and continual effort the property makes to keep its culinary options interesting and innovative, ensuring guests can have a unique atypical all-inclusive experience time and time again.  

Gourmet Tasting Menus

In addition to its regular menu, Emiliano also extends six different five-course meals (a new one each evening) that are masterminded by head chefs from Casa Velas' sister property, the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Menus draw from all three of their AAA Four Diamond restaurants: Frida, Piaf and Lucca.

These dynamic menus rotate each evening and run for a week, starting with a French tasting menu and martini tasting hour on Sundays led by Piaf's head chef. On Monday, Lucca's Italian-Mediterranean sampling and wine pairing takes center stage. Tuesdays and Thursdays are an extra special treat as 20 guests are invited to a private "dinner with the chef."

Here, Chef Eliseo Ibarra Ramos prepares a special menu while television cooking personality, Yolanda Yanar, gives step by step explanations on the menu's preparation. Wednesdays, Frida's head chef hosts a Mexican tasting menu and tequila tasting hour. Fridays offer a truly elegant experience as Chef Ramos prepares a gourmet French menu while a renowned pianist provides accompaniment and live entertainment. Saturday rounds out the week with cuisine and seafood specialties from Veracruz, Mexico.

Authentic Street Food

While Emiliano's gourmet tasting menus have proven enormously popular, the revered restaurant also features dishes that bring to mind the temping aromas and "tantalizing visions" of the street foods found in Mexico's colorful markets. Guests can sample entrees, appetizers and desserts from six different regions including Veracruz, Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Jalisco, and the Yucatan.

Each day a different region is featured alongside Emiliano's larger menu of additional Mexican and international selections. What's more, servers are dressed in corresponding regional costume and are happy to answer questions about ingredients and preparation to any foodie's satisfaction.

Where the Gastro Garden Grows

During my stay I strolled down to Casa Velas' impressive on-site organic botanical garden where the resort grows its own herbs, flowers and vegetables. These uber-fresh ingredients find their way into fresh cocktails and culinary creations as ingredients and garnish. For example, home‐grown albacar, thyme, mint, lemon and cactus are used in the kitchen, while home‐grown mint is used for mojitos, cilantro for margaritas and hibiscus flowers in martinis. Want to bring the taste of a Casa Velas specialty cocktail home with you? The chefs will gladly send guests home with their favorite recipe. Guests will also spot, or better yet smell, clove, mint, aloe vera, spearmint, and basil leaves in the resort's spa treatments.

A Mighty Mini Bar

Casa Velas' commitment to luxury, well-being and elevated eats extends beyond the bounds of the resort's restaurants and bars—extending right into the guest rooms. Instead of the usual boring, calorie-laden mini bar fare, Casa Velas provides freshly "made on demand" crudités. Guests can choose from the "Mexican turnip," a combination of carrots, cucumber, jicama, or an alternative selection featuring celery, beetroot and pineapple. Guests can also choose from three different light and healthy dressings including mango, chipotle or albahaca (basil). Crudités are available upon request from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and, of course, are included in the all‐inclusive daily rate.

Service Standouts

I had the pleasure of dining with Luis Angarita, Casa Velas' General Manager, who spoke about what sets the resort apart from others in the region. He underscored that, more than anything else, Casa Velas prides itself on providing top-notch service at every level of the operation.

He also reiterated the resort's focus on food as part of an all-inclusive, noting it's a major draw. "Food, creativity and presentation comparable to top restaurants in world capitals," Angarita gushed. "Name your favorite specialty cuisine–Mexican, French and Italian, it's exquisitely prepared by award winning chefs…everything, from unlimited food and wines to premium beverages, in suite service, and even gratuities and tax are part of the all-inclusive daily rate."

With its efforts to continually innovate coupled with the quiet, private and secluded nature of this Puerto Vallarta oasis, it's no surprise U.S. dignitaries the likes of Condoleezza Rice, and two Mexican presidents have been hosted at Casa Velas. But, one need not be a dignitary to be treated like royalty here, as the staff goes over and above to ensure each guest is having a personalized and pampered experience.

With its heightened level of hospitality, Casa Velas is playing an integral role in re-defining the all-inclusive category at large, and is a decidedly fine choice for the standards-driven jet setter.

~~~

"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions can be seen at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Republished by permission of and provided to Haute-Lifestyle.com by author.

Images, owned and under copyright of Casa Velas resort properties and used by permission.

 

Haute Tease

  • Central Italy Hit By 6.2 Earthquake; Kills 39; At least 10 Children Among the Dead

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A powerful 6.2 earthquake struck the central Italian town of Amatrice, Wednesday, killing at least 39, and leaving thousands buried under the debris of collapsed buildings and rubble as first responders race against the clock to save residents.

     
  • Beltway Insider, the Washington Round-Up from Haute-Lifestyle.com, Tops 300K Weekly Views

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Los Angeles, CA, May 27 -  The Beltway Insider, the weekly review of the nation's top stories from the Washington beat, from Haute-Lifestyle.com, has hit a milestone in readership topping more than 301K weekly reads, an all-time high as the Political News Beat continues solid growth.

     
  • Money News: DOW Jones Closes Sharply Down; World Markets Down

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial, unable to stabilize, suffered through a tumultuous week with strong reaction to world markets, the DOW pitched violently throughout the week and closed the trading week historically low with a devastating triple digit loss.

     
  • The Hungry Heart - Lessons from a Life Lived

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Hungry Heart, a weight modification program, developed to help individuals shackled to eating patterns that bind them to emotional overeating and yo-yo dieting, offers a caring approach to conquering binge and emotional eating habits.

     
  • Film Independent Announces 2015 Documentary Lab Fellows and Year-Round Partnership with Netflix

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, announced the names of the 10 filmmakers and six projects selected for the 2015 Documentary Lab.

Crime

  • Justice Watch: Cold Case Murder of San Diego Family Solved

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Charles McStay, his wife and two small children disappeared four years ago, vanished is the better word, snatched from their suburban home. Today authorities arrested Charles Merritt, a business colleague, for the four murders.

     
  • UPDATED:Three Dead, Nine Injured in Louisiana Theater Shooting

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Three are dead and at least nine injured, including the shooter, as a lone white man opened fire in a crowded Lafayette, Louisiana, Theater about twenty minutes into the screening of the Amy Schumer comedy TrainWreck.

     
  • Four Day Old Baby, Two Toddlers Found Alive Among Ohio Execution Slaughter

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Eight members of a rural Ohio family were found dead, early Friday morning, shot execution style as they lie sleeping, in multiple locations across a small area of Pike County. None of the victims appear to be the shooter.

     
  • Oregon School Shooting Brings Total to 74 Since Sandy Hook Massacre

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Freshman Emilio Hoffman was shot and killed when a lone gunman entered Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, yesterday, and opened fire killing the 14 year old before turning the gun on himself.

     
  • Man Throws Child Off Manhattan Skyscraper; Commits Suicide

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A Brooklyn man, who was allegedly in a custody dispute, committed suicide after throwing his three year old son off the roof of a luxury high rise located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Theatre, Music, Books

  • A California Closing Review – The Perfect Set of Characters for A Summertime Read

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ready for a digital detox? Looking for the perfect summer read, a purely fun, page turner, turned down corners, smudged pages, a no app necessary, trashy, romance novel or high brow biography; soft or hard a genuine book?

     
  • Celebrities Pay Tribute to Jerry and Elaine Orbach During Launch of Remember How I Love You

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Celebrities, family and friends of the late Jerry and Elaine Orbach gathered recently, at The Snapple Theater Center in Manhattan’s Theater District, to honor them with readings from their newly released book, “Remember How I Love You - Love Letters From An Extraordinary Marriage.”

     
  • HL A&E Presents The Best Summer 2016 Music Festivals, by the Numbers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Every year, thousands of people flock to church. The devotees pray in flower crowns and straw hats, fringe-laden vests and neon body paint. They are the congregation of music lovers, gathering from many different corners of the world to worship at the summer’s many music festivals.  

  • Blondie and Garbage To Co-Headline Rage And Rapture Summer 2017 Tour (Music/Tix Links)

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Blondie & Garbage announced their North American tour will kick off on July 5th in Saratoga, CA and wrap on August 12th in Dallas, TX. John Doe & Exene Cervenka will provide support on the first leg of the tour and Deap Vally for the second.

     
  • The Fifth Letter Review - Page Turning Legal Thriller

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Fifth Letter, a novel by research scholar Dr. Vivian Carpenter, introduces Katherine Helena Ross, the first black female Supreme Court justice caught between her conscience and political expedience when forced to consider the most important question facing the U.S. Supreme Court today: Who is a person with inalienable rights?