The Cathedral spire towers over Puerto Vallarta’s old town.
My heart jumps at an opportunity to stay in a unique place on vacation. The little hotels, BnB’s and Villas that have grown out of circumstance and the passion of owners instead of reliance on corporate business plans, inspire me. A big resort is perfect for certain kinds of trips but on a recent visit to Mexico, I found that the boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta are swoon worthy.
Location. Location. Location.
Banderas Bay is post card gorgeous. The Spanish colonial old town district skirts the water and slopes up towards lush green mountains. Tide pools and gentle waves kiss the Malecon boardwalk, with its treasure of fantastical sculptures. Over sixty years the area has been a magnet for expats, artists and film makers.
Old and new mingle in Puerto Vallarta.
In the 1950’s director John Huston was mesmerized by the natural beauty – even though originally there was no electricity or running water in the area where he filmed ‘The Night of the Iguana.’ In the film actor Richard Burton´s character declares, “This is Mismaloya, garden spot of the west coast. You will be grateful to me until your dying days for bringing you here. In all of Mexico, there is nothing equal to this.” Burton proved it as the world witnessed his love affair with co-star, Elizabeth Taylor. They married and returned many times to Puerto Vallarta.
Site of the ‘Night of the Iguanas,’ the John Huston film.
One of hotels where the Burtons and friends would dine is still open. The Rosita Hotel is across the street from the Malecon. Originally it was built with only 8 rooms but as it’s grown has retained the original Mexican architecture with tiled floors, archways and fountains. With 114 rooms looking out across the sea, and just steps from the heart of the city, the Rosita Hotel remains a favorite vacation place for visitors.
A room with a view – the Velas Vallarta resort.
While staying in Puerto Vallarta for a writers conference, I had a suite at the Velas Vallarta Resort in the Marina District where a row of towering hotels offer deluxe accommodations and all the amenities you’d desire. The beachfront breakfast buffet was full of temptations, peacocks strolled the grounds and huge iguanas lounged in the sun by the pool. It was a slice of paradise but what lured me to the colonial part of town was an invitation to visit the glamorously eclectic Rio de Rivera Villa Bed and Breakfast.
Rio de Rivera BnB rooms in Puerto Vallarta
The building rises three floors above the street and is directly across from the shallow waters of Rio Cuale about four small blocks from downtown. The original owner, ‘Silver’ Maria Cortez, hailed as one of the world’s top architectural lady designers, spun her magic through a series of suites, each with their own kitchen, sumptuously painted and furnished.
‘Silver’ Maria Cortez, Founder of the Rio de Rivera Bed and Breakfast
N.Y Interior designer Billy Baldwin called her eclectic abode “the house of dreams” and since the 1960’s many famous visitors have dreamed there. Others, like the actor Kevin Costner, have relaxed between takes in the suites. Several movies have used the textured walls and antiqued furniture for scenes.
Rooftop pool at the Rio de Rivera.
Today the romantic rooms are lovingly managed by Silver’s grandson, Alejandro. The building with it’s luxuriously painted surfaces takes constant maintenance. Hungarian artist, Christina Molnar, is on-site weekly to update the gold leaf, the textured walls, resurfacing furniture and touching up murals.
Nemi Eco Villa pool.
Of all the luxury villas tucked into the hillside around Puerto Vallarta none is quite like the Nemi Eco Villa
. The luxurious property has 6 individual bedroom pods in four tiers that hug the hillside in Amapas. Each room has their own expansive ocean and mountain views. They are completely constructed from re-purposed, sustainable or locally sourced materials.
View from the Nemi Eco Villas.
The architects are dedicated to providing an ecologically responsible experience without sacrificing luxury. The 40 foot pool is filled with chemical and salt free water, filtered water is provided for drinking, solar panels keep the lights, as well as the ice-based air conditioners, on. Locally sourced foods fill the tables. Staying at the Nemi (along with a dozen friends!) is high on my bucket list.
Adult only Luxury
Steps from the downtown district the Villa Premiere Hotel and Spa rises above the beach
. Over nine years it’s won the Four Diamond Award and in the top ten of the Conde Nast Travel Readers’ Choice Awards. I saw why as soon as I entered. The staff is kindly welcoming, the lobby is filled with art. The meal I had in La Corona was one of the most creative and delicious I’ve ever enjoyed.
Lunch at La Corona inside Villa Premiere
The pool lies sparkling near a tall Palapa and suspended beds are shaded by palm fronds. I could spend a day there! The suites face the ocean with the afternoon heat tempered by sea breezes. The Master suites are stunning with large patios featuring a private hot tub, lounging area and full kitchen.
Villa Premiere Master Suite patio
With Mexico being so affordable, returning to spend several days in one of these boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta is high on my bucket list. Where will you be staying ?
Fooling around on the Malecon. Sculpture by the artist, Bustamante.
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Ohhh so many wonderful choices… which one to chosse?
Thanks, SJ. It’s a hard decision!
Looks like you had the opportunity to visit some wonderful boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta that have been sprinkled with stardust! What fun!
Stardust! Yes. It was a delight.
I’ll be staying at the Rio de Rivera Villa Bed and Breakfast. LOVE it. Your images convince me it is the one.
Wonderful to hear. I hope you enjoy every moment.
I love PV and you found some wonderful smaller hotels!
Nice to hear you’re a fellow PV fan. There’s so much more there to explore too.
All these places look wonderful. I love the view and serene feeling of the Nemi Eco Villas. The eclectic nature of the Rio de Rivera Villa Bed and Breakfast would be fun.
I was so happy to see the eco-resort built in Puerto Vallarta and would love to spend some time there too. The Rio de Rivera is in a great walking neighborhood, so depending on who I was traveling with and how much time we had, I just might choose that, in a perfect world of course!
The Rio de Riviera looks like it has that special quality that departs from the usual and can make a trip far more memorable. That or the Nemo Eco would be my picks. PV was a destination I used to travel to a lot but in the last few years I have stayed away…not for any bad reason; just because the world is a big place with so much to explore.
The world is indeed full of amazing destinations. I’d like to think I’ll return to PV but Mexico is also rich with options ripe for discovery. Thanks for writing.
Talk about luxe stays and that suite, oh la la, I can hang out there for a week please? .Please do share this on my link up for Travel Photo Mondays, love to have you join us today!
Thanks, Noel, I’m honored and will do. The suites! I know, it would be lovely to hang out there for a week.
Love all of them!!! I have always heard great thing about Puerto Vallarta, and have great friends in Mexico. I really hope to finally visit it sometime soon 😀
Thanks for the tips, I am certainly saving them!!
There’s renaissance going on across Mexico and Puerto Vallarta is full of treasures. I hope more visitors make it there soon.
If we lived in Calfornia, I’m sure Puerta Vallata would be the prefect weekend getaway! I’d be saying at the Rio de Rivera Villa too… I love small hotels and this one sounds very special!
Thanks, Jenny. Puerto Vallarta is a lovely alternative to some of the more crowded resort towns around the Mexican coastline and the colonial history makes it very special. Glad we’re partners in loving small hotels.
Of all the boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta you mention here, I’d have to choose the Rio de Rivera. If Billy Baldwin dubs something the “House of Dreams” you can bet you’d better head there. It looks amazing.
Thanks, Betsy. It is truly an impressive and charming place run by a family and staff that feels like family.
Wow, they all look so great, I’d love to stay there 🙂
Thanks, Vlad. So much to explore in the region. I hope you get a chance to soon.
Tempted as I am by the idea of iguanas lounging around, I think I’d most like to stay in the Rio de Rivera BnB. I love the fact that they have someone to touch up the gold leaf weekly.
I know! The artist and owner have a special connection and dedication to keeping the Rivera del Rio in perfect condition. I’m glad you were intrigued.
What lovely hotel options! We have been meaning to head to PV for a quick weekend getaway (from LA)…these give me more reason to go!
Hi Karilyn, I just couldn’t wait to share my discoveries in PV hotels. There are many, many more that will take a longer sojourn to investigate. Can’t wait to return.
Lovely post, Elaine! I shared many of those wonderful moments in Puerto Vallarta with you, and must say, it was one of the best trips I’ve had in quite awhile. It had been many years since my last visit to Mexico. You can bet my return trip will be soon!
We had a blast didn’t we? Glad to hear you look forward to returning. Planning a Tequilla and Chocolate reunion?!
Ah, this looks like Heaven, Elaine! I was in Puerto Vallarta before but wasn’t spoiled like this. In fact, I have pretty bad memories about this place: it was unbearably hot, no breeze, and the water was like boiling soup. Yucky!
Sorry to hear of your experience! It must make a world of difference depending on what time of year you’re there. My trip was in early May.
Hmmmm, it is hard to decide in which of these hotel I would like to stay. I think I feel more attracted to the the Rio de Rivera Villa. I am passing this post to a friend who is visiting Puerto Vallarta soon.
Lovely to hear. Alejandro at the Rivera is wonderful. He mixes a lovely Margarita when you arrive too!