We just got back from 2 weeks at the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta that started October 15, 2011. This was our 3rd trip there in the last 3 years, so you can tell we do like it enough to go back. When we got within a couple weeks of arriving we got a welcome letter from the Concierge at the Marriott and had several communications prior to arrival. We piad for the shuttle from the airport, which is higher than just taking a taxi, but it's nice not having to worry about negotiations for fare and just getting right through the hassle of getting through the lines on time-share sales people. If you take the taxi you can just ignore all the high pressure people and push on out of the airport and they have a sign with your name on it. As a return customer and also for their platinum customers, we didn't even have to check in to the front desk. We just pulled up in the Marriott-arranged taxi, the bellmen greeted us and gave us a packet with our room keys in it, and we headed right up to our room. The bags were up there in a few minutes.
While the hotel is a little aged, it is still very nice. They have marble floors throughout the rooms and bathrooms, with nice artwork on the walls. The artwork in the bathroom could definitely be replaced, since that picture looked like something from a cheap hotel. The beds are great, and the view from the rooms is beautiful. Platinum should get upgraded to on ocean view, which looks over the pool and out to the ocean. I wouldn't go with the optional upgrade to the junior suite ($70 more per day), unless you need the room for more people. The ocean view room we were in was on the 4th floor. The Junior Suites are on the 1st floor with a less impressive view because of the height.
The maid service was excellent, along with all the staff. Every time we made a request, it was handled very promptly and courteously. I did feel that we got even better service than in previous years, due to our Platinum level and being repeat customers. Some of the Platinum level perks are free internet access (coverage is still poor in many places in the hotel, but work fairly well in the room and by the pool), free coffee packets (yes other people usually have to pay for the coffee packets here), and free wine for the 2 of us for dinner (free to all elite levels, and the cost would have been about $20 US). Everything is charged in Pesos at the hotel, so be aware of that if you haven't traveled here before. You do a lot better to just go to the ATM about a block away, and get money (distributed in pesos) right from your bank which usually got about a 1.32 peso to dollar rate. At the hotel we got about a 1.28 to dollar exchange if you want to change dollars to pesos. There is an ATM in the hotel, but that only dispenses dollars, so then you need to exchange it at the lower hotel rate, or shop around.
We got the Sand Dollar package which included breakfast, and it is a very nice breakfast with a lot of Mexican and American type of food choices. Many fresh fruits and about a dozen different fresh squeezed juices every day. A couple of the Mexican breakfasts that were my favorites were Chicken Chiliquiles with the Roja (red) sauce, and then the squash-blossom and mushroom quesadillas with the white cheese that they use. There is so much to choose from that it is a difficult choice for the first few days.
One of the things that could use a little work around the facility are they could do a little more work on replacing a few of the little tiny pool tiles that seem to come loose. There aren't enough to bother you, but it would just improve the looks. I noticed over time some of the marble slabs have gotten little cracks in the room and some look like they have been replaced with a batch of stone that was just a shade different color. This didn't really bother us that much, but I wanted to point that out. The other thing that could be done, would be to re-paint the outside of the side wing. It just has some staining from rain, and it just looks a little worse because the other wing looks like it was recently painted, so I'm guessing the other wing is next.
Taxis cost you from 60 to 100 pesos (about 4.75 to 8.00 dollars) to go to the different sections downtown. When the bellmen call the taxis for you, they have a chart right there that tells you how much you should be paying so you don't get taken advantage of you. The prices from those same areas should be the same cost to return. If you want to adventure onto the bus, there is a bus stop just a little bit past the ATM on the street and around the corner at the arches at the entrance to the Marina that is close to the Marriott (about 2-3 blocks). All the buses that go past this stop will be blue and white and take you downtown. Sometimes they loop through the area where you get on, a couple of times because of the pattern of pickup but they will eventually get out of the area and head downtown. They will eventually go past the Big Marina where the cruise ships park, past the big mall, past the Sheraton, and when they pass the Sheraton, you are about 6 to 10 blocks from the Malecon where much of the commercial shopping is. If you stay on the bus, about 15 to 20 blocks more, you will go into a section called the Centro, which has lots of touristy places and you can also go just a few blocks and find all sorts of street taco stands that are great. The cost to go anywhere downtown, on the bus, is 6.5 pesos (about 50 cents).
If you have still stayed here at this point, you are probably really interested in checking out Puerto Vallarta, so here are a few pictures of the CasaMagna Marriott in Puerto Vallarta.
View from our balcony on the 4th floor.
View from the pool at evening.
Finally, I know I'm pushing over the couple picture limit but I had to show you the babe, my understanding wife let me bring home: