Jamie’s Bleisure Moment at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

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The hot topic in travel these days is “Bleisure”…the desire of business travellers to add on some personal or leisure time to enhance a business trip. I was attending a conference at the Grand Velas Resort in Puerto Vallarta and when looking into flight times, it worked out that I would have several free hours before the start of the conference. I decided to have my own “Bleisure” moment and plan something fun. I have been to Puerto Vallarta a few times before and I gave some thought to going into Old Town, maybe doing some shopping or finding a great restaurant, but I decided to play it by ear and see what I felt like, once I arrived. I realized very quickly after my arrival, where I wanted to spend my free time.

When you first pull into the lobby of the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, you are asked to take a seat in a comfortable chair and you are given a refreshing, chilled pineapple drink. Then the concierge asks the magic question “Would you like a Spa Representative to give you a little head and shoulder massage while we check you in?”…….Ummm – YES, please!

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After a long day of airports and travelling, this lovely woman from the spa appears and over the next 10 minutes, she gave me the best shoulder massage I have ever had. These folks at the Grand Velas know how to sell a product! When she asked if I would like to make an appointment at the Spa, it was impossible to say no.

The following morning, I found myself arriving at the spa. There is nothing better than walking into a peaceful spa area, full of the scent of lemongrass and instantly relaxing. The very helpful and gracious spa concierge led me to the changing area, followed by the different water therapy areas, which are included with any spa service. It started with a dry sauna that is infused with cinnamon, followed by a stay in the Eucalyptus steam room. Then you get a cold ice rub, guaranteed to help with your metabolism and circulation, before popping into a sensory shower. Next up a jacuzzi, then hot and cold pools. Throughout the steps, they give you special drinks for energy and well being. All of this took place in a women’s only lounge area filled with natural light, plants, waterfalls and soft music.

The 80 minute therapeutic massage combined aromatherapy, reflexology, acupressure and traditional deep tissue massage. At the end of the massage experience, you can spend as long as you like in the water therapy area, or relax on a lounger with some warm spiced tea.

The spa is fully equipped with everything you may need, from full shower facilities, to toothpaste and mouthwash, brushes, combs and hair products. It was so easy and peaceful and they truly have thought of everything. Two and a half hours after I walked into the spa, I walked out feeling like an entirely new person. It was time well spent and I was now refreshed, relaxed and ready for a few days of meetings and networking. A perfect combination of business and leisure.

Are you ready to start planning your own bleisure getaway?  Our team of leisure and corporate agents are ready to help with whatever it is you’re dreaming of.

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Our Puerto Vallarta Recommendations

Recently we were asked “What are the best things to see and do in Puerto Vallarta?”.   Our team includes a LOT of PV fans so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to let you know what we think.   Here are some of our recommendations:

THINGS TO DO

A must is the Malecon (Puerto Vallarta’s downtown boardwalk area) you can shop, do some tequila tastings, check out the local art and eat some great food.
~Correna Tymchen

I 110% recommend the evening Pirate show – great experience and amazing food!
~ Casie Schmidt

 

Absolutely do Rhythms of the Night!
~Amanda Campbell

 

The daytime pirate ship adventure is a great family fun excursion.
~Karen Katelnikoff

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If your resort offers it part take in their turtle release program.  It’s a pretty neat experience.
~Amanda Campbell

The thrills of the Outdoor Adventure tour are totally worth checking out!  It includes a speed boat ride, zip lining, 4×4 off road adventure and more!
~Karen Katelnikoff

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PLACES / THINGS TO EAT

My favorite place to visit is Cheeky Monkey for $1.00 USD drinks! It’s a great place right on the Malecon for a quick beer or margarita after a day of shopping.
~Stephanie Afseth

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Completely off the beaten path, Taqueria Los Mapaches Taco & Grill. There are raccoons all around the restaurant and you can ask to feed them.  (they are free to come and go as they please) Be careful, they are not scared to steal your tacos off your plate! Amazing food and the price is right!
~Casie Schmidt

You will for sure want to eat out a few times while in Puerto Vallarta as they have great restaurant options.  One of our favorites is the Margarita Grill in old town.  They have the best Molcajetes and margaritas the size of your head, if you are a Guac lover they also make this table side along with roasted tomato pico.
~Correna Tymchen

OTHER

I also really love the architecture of Our Lady of Guadalupe church. It is such a stunning building.
~Stephanie Afseth

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I am an Old Town lover so when it comes to buying Mexican glassware, we always shop at Mundo de Cristal.  You will always find something to take home
~Correna Tymchen

A can’t miss Puerto Vallarta moment is watching the sunset.  Luckily there’s one every day and each one is more beautiful than the one before!
~Heather Peters

There’s plenty more where that came from so make sure to reach out to our team to plan your own trip to Puerto Vallarta and get all of their best tips.

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Mexican Christmas – The Need For Travel Insurance

I often get asked…”Do I really need Travel Insurance? Will anything really happen to me?” I always answer – Probably not…..BUT what if it does? Do you want to be the one worried about medical costs and getting good medical care because you DON’T have insurance? I also get asked if I always take the insurance myself. That answer is EVERY SINGLE TIME. I know and have seen first-hand the devastation that not having travel insurance can cause. The parents whose son breaks a leg and now they are out thousands of dollars, or the ear infection that keeps you from flying home and costs you even more. I have witnessed how fog and a cancelled flight result in a $1000 claim and a broken arm without a cast – basically an X-ray and a prescription can cost over $700 USD.

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Monster Waves in Puerto Vallarta

This trip – with 12 family members reminded me of how quickly the unexpected can happen. My sister’s mother in law, on her 68th birthday, was tossed around by a wave and presumably hit her head on a rock on the bottom of the ocean. She was taken off the beach by some medics in a wheelchair and assessed. In the end, they suspected a possible fractured cheekbone and a possible fractured neck as well as a concussion. The medics shuffled around, looking a bit nervous, suggesting she go to the hospital, possibly in a taxi or a van, but preferably an ambulance. Once they found out she had insurance, there was a palpable feeling of relief. They called the ambulance, arranged for her to go to a good hospital where the doctors speak English well and she could be looked after.

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Private hospital room

The ambulance driver was familiar right away with Manulife and said the front desk of the emergency room would be as well. There were a few glitches with calling the Manulife numbers, but we worked that out and they were able to call us on our cell phones to arrange for care and payment of care at the hospital. After 4 hours of emergency care, Xrays and a CT scan, it was determined she had a concussion and a severely sprained neck, but no fractures. They would keep her overnight for observation…….and a bill at that point, after four hours was over $5,000 USD.

A $200 CDN policy for her ensured that she had complete coverage and upfront payment for every penny. It would also cover things like taxi’s back to the hotel, extra meals and if needed extra hotel stays and changes to flights home. She nearly lost her prescription glasses. If she had, that also would have been covered.

So….next time you wonder if you can afford travel insurance, ask yourself if you can afford to NOT have it. If you have work or credit card insurance, ask who you call if there is an emergency and if they will pay up front or if you have to pay the bill and HOPE to be reimbursed. Do they cover only yourself, or your family as well? If changes to your trip need to be made, are those airline fees and extra costs of staying in destination covered? Are there pre-existing exclusions? Or does it cover anything unexpected?

I have to say that being the travel agent for this trip, as well as participating and knowing that the injured person had the Premium Protection Plan, meant that I never doubted for a single moment that she would have excellent coverage for all of her medical bills.

So, from sunny Puerto Vallarta, Merry Christmas and remember to make sure that travel insurance and peace of mind are part of the gift of travel this year.

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The Beautiful Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

 

Colleen’s Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Getaway – Part 3

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Poolside Snacks Delivered on a Tray!

Well as they say all good things must come to an end and we are sad to leave the Grand Velas resort. This is by far the best service we have ever had on a holiday.  From your personal concierge to the waiters by the pool, you won’t have to lift a finger. They make it their business to get to know their guests by name – right down to the poolside waiters.  Our waiter, Mario, knew us by name and was always there with our favourite drinks before we even asked.  They have a poolside concierge who has suntan lotion, sunglasses should you lose yours, magazines and books. As some of you may know I am a diehard Diet Coke fan and Pepsi just won’t do. So Mario went to housekeeping to get my diet coke and made sure to have it at the pool every day after that should I choose to have one.  Your every wish is taken care of.  When they say Welcome Home they mean it and you certainly feel that you are among friends.  Adios amigos we hope to return soon

Here’s my video with a quick resort tour.

 

If you would like a quote on the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit or more information please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

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Colleen’s Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Getaway – Part 2

 

Have you ever heard of a Wellness room?  No? Me neither – so I was eager to have a look.  I would say that this room is for those that are looking for something different than IMG_1803 (2)your traditional hotel room. The minute we walked in, the room smells like a spa and that is because the room has aromatherapy.  You are given the choice of what 4 oils you want in your room and you can rotate them as you wish. If you are looking for the welcome tequila bottle you won’t find it here, instead they have Gatorade, fresh fruit and vegetables. There is no alcohol in the mini bar or treats in your room but you will find coconut water, juices and almond milk in you minibar.  You will have an exercise bike next to your bed along with a yoga mat and rubber exercise bands so that you can do a workout in your room.  Then, open the door and take the stairs up to your terrace with your own massage table and Jacuzzi. The masseuse will come up to your room.  It’s like nothing I have seen before so if you don’t like to travel because you will get out of your healthy routine, consider a Wellness room for your next trip.

 

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Colleen’s Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Getaway – Part 1

Have you ever wanted to stay in a five star hotel?  Then the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is for you!

If you have an anniversary or birthday that you want to celebrate the extra investment IMG_1777is worth it.  From the easy check-in done while you relax on the couch getting your welcome neck and shoulder massage to the entry into your room, you will know you have arrived at a first class hotel.   You will have to wear a wrist band but it is a handmade bracelet that is beautiful to wear. No plastic bracelets here.

The room is beautiful with all of the extras.  From the welcome tequila and fruit tray to the fully stocked mini bar with all the snacks.  Each room has a Nespresso coffee maker and a wicker basket to take your things to the pool – it’s the little touches that make this place so special.

We were in our room for about 10 minutes when our personal concierge arrived to see what he can do for us.  Whether we want to talk about the dining options or tours; nothing is too small for him.  He leaves us with his card and tells us to call him if we need anything.  I guess we didn’t call the first day so he found us down by the pool to see if we needed anything and that everything is going well.  We told him that we forgot our sunscreen in the room.  No worries, as the pool concierge has sunscreen, sunglasses and magazines or books to read.  The waiters at the pool call you by your first name and are always there to serve you.

If you think it can’t get any better it just does. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

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Jamie’s Vallarta Group Adventure – Final Blog

Wow!  Once again, we managed to pack an awful lot of fun into our last few days in Puerto Vallarta.  Our entire 7 days were sunny, 27 Degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  You really can’t beat the weather here!  The highlight of our last couple of days was getting to release baby turtles into the sea.  This normally takes place earlier in the fall, but this year there were still baby turtles hatching in early January, so we were lucky to be able to participate in this event.  The Concierge at the Marival let us know that they would be releasing the turtles at the Luna condominium complex, about a 20 minute walk down the beach at sunset.  We took a bunch of the kids down and for 32 pesos per adult (government fee) and a donation, we got to listen to a biologist and some volunteers tell us all about the endangered species of sea turtle that lives in this bay and how they are helping to repopulate them.  They hold the newly hatched turtles in a safe area until sunset as their chance of survival is best at this time of day – with less threat of being eaten by birds or fish on their way into the sea.  It was truly an amazing experience and my 8 year old has been talking about it for days.  If you are interested in this type of activity, just inquire with the concierge at the Grand Marival and they will let you know when/if it is taking place.

We also had the chance to try two other a la carte restaurants, the Amalfi Italian Restaurant and Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant.  For the Amalfi, we had a group reservation that the hotel was kind enough to reserve in advance for us.  It is a very good, but very long dining experience.  It would be fantastic as a romantic date for a couple and they have tables overlooking the sea and sunset.  It took about 2 ½ hours for our 5 course dinner, which was just a little long for the kids – we had everyone from our group, all 35 at this restaurant so there were lots of kids.  The service was also outstanding and they were very accommodating of the kids.  The Las Palomas, we enjoyed just the two of us, with no kids.  It was a very nice dining experience.  The restaurant is very Mexican in feel and they start you off with an assortment of appetizers to share as well as fresh guacamole made tableside.  After that you pick your soup and salad and main course and then there is desert samples for sharing.  They change the menu here several times a week – we had the Baked red snapper and a soup that had chicken and rice and avocado – the food was very good and it was probably my favorite meal of the week.

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Table-side Guacamole (we were too excited and ate most of it before taking a picture)

We considered using the services of the doctor at the hotel as one of our twins had a fever and bad cough for a few days and we wanted to get her checked out before our flight home.  When we went to the doctors office on site, the doctor wasn’t in yet.  By the time we could have gone back, she was starting to feel better, so we decided against going.  The doctor is on site from 11am-6pm most days and the cost to visit the doctor is $50 USD, plus additional if medical or additional services, etc are needed.  It was very convenient having the option to see a doctor right on site.

A few other observations and tips about the Grand Marival – there is a kids playground at the kids club that you can use anytime and it’s right beside the Mini golf.  The Mini golf is shaded most of the day, so a good activity for kids to get out of the sun for a bit.  There is also an Arcade/teen area with pool tables that lots of our kids enjoyed, even if they weren’t quite teens.  They allowed kids of all ages in this area, but younger kids needed to be supervised.  They have an area by the quiet pool set up every day where kids can paint a piece of pottery for $10 USD and they will finish it and glaze it and you can pick it up the next day.  The kids liked this and it was a nice keepsake.  Last but not least, the pool bar at the quiet pool had bartenders who make the classic Caesar drink and they made them very well.  This was a nice surprise for us Canadians who enjoy our Caesars!

Our return trip home was pretty smooth.  The shuttle was right on time and it was only 15 minutes to the airport.  The check in and security lines moved pretty quickly.  Once through security, there were lots of dining options and duty free, but it was BUSY!  There were a lot of flights leaving late afternoon on the weekends and there were a lot of long lineups to get food and it was hard to find a place to sit.  Otherwise, the flights were pretty close to being on time and the biggest hiccup was a long wait for luggage at the Saskatoon airport – again with no strollers as they didn’t bring them to the gate.  That was probably the biggest annoyance of the whole trip was having to do the Customs and baggage waits with no strollers both ways.  All in all, it was a fantastic trip – as my 8 year old said “best trip ever!”.  We loved experiencing this destination as a group and getting to spend lots of time together and the kids had a blast.  Looking forward to the next one already!

If you enjoyed hearing all about my vacation feel free to check out Uniglobe Carefree Travel’s Instagram page where our whole team shares photos of their best vacation moments.  You can find us at @UniglobeCarefreeTravel.