Angela and her mother, Theresa, recently returned from a five-night stay in Punta Mita, Mexico. This was primarily a traditional sun-and-surf vacation, but they decided to partake of an off-road excursion to spice things up.
This trip was specifically planned around the hotel they’d be staying at, the Conrad Punta de Mita. We needed to find some way to use our accumulated Hilton Free Night Certificates, many of which were expiring at the end of 2022 given they were earned over the course of the pandemic and extended by Hilton multiple times. This property felt like the perfect place to use them.
While Angela was impressed by the hotel’s hard product and the wonderful view from their balcony, she was left frustrated by the level of service on offer by a five-star resort. There were several bewildering experiences when interacting with staff including an inability to get water delivered to the room alongside the customary Conrad stuffed animal. In addition, the prices for food and services were both high compared to similar properties we’ve stayed at around the world.
As mentioned previously, this trip was built around a stay at a specific hotel which several friends of mine had visited and enjoyed. To make the booking, I called the Hilton Honors department and requested help using Angela’s certificates.
After verifying her account information, I relayed the property name and booking dates and the agent got to work. Interestingly, the Hilton Honors system would not allow a single five-night booking using certificates and the agent had to break it into separate four-night and one-night bookings. I asked her to make a note to link them so there wouldn’t be any need to check-out and check-in on the fourth day.
- One room for five nights at the Conrad Punta de Mita for one Hilton Free Night Certificate per night
These flights were all paid for with lingering United TravelBank credit banked with annual credit card benefits. Due to schedule changes, I was able to massage the itineraries such that Theresa flew non-stop to and from Puerto Vallarta even though her itinerary initially included a stop in Houston in both directions.
Angela’s flights were a little harder to manage as there were timing requirements we had to abide by. As such, she ended up leaving very early from Las Vegas and arriving fairly late in the day on her return after a short connection in Los Angeles. I was pretty surprised to find there weren’t any direct flights from LAS to PVR on the dates we were looking at.
- 1,218.94USD per person
- LAS-DEN on UA J
- DEN-PVR on UA J
- PVR-LAX on UA J
- LAX-LAS on UA J
- 1,218.94USD per person
- 1,276.44USD per person
- ORD-PVR on UA J
- PVR-ORD on UA J
- 1,276.44USD per person
- Rental of one UTV, seating four people, during a guided off-road driving experience for 327.18USD
November 25, 2022
We woke up around 0400 and I drove Angela to the airport after making both of us a much-needed cup of coffee. With her flight departing at 0600, there was no time to do much other than get in line to board the plane. The short flight to Denver was pleasant and, after negotiating the labyrinth that is Denver’s airport, she was on her way to Puerto Vallarta.
Angela pre-selected her meal for the DEN to PVR flight and enjoyed her steel-cut oats, calling them the best meal she’s ever had on a United Airlines flight.
Angela and Theresa arrived around the same time and, after clearing immigration together, set off in search of the ride-share pickup location. It wasn’t trivial to find and some competing drivers tried to throw Angela off the scent, but she used her superior intellect to get the pair to the right place.
Check-in was quick and efficient when Angela arrived at the hotel, and they were upgraded from a Partial Ocean View Room King Bed with Sofa Bed to a Beachfront Room One King Bed with Sofa Bed.
The first night on property, they ate at Arbol. With a limited menu, this was the only time they ate here.
November 26, 2022
After breakfast, Angela and Theresa asked the hotel to call them a taxi to take them to the pickup spot for the day’s adventure. Unfortunately, Uber drivers would not accept a pickup request from the hotel and, while Angela specifically asked for a taxi, the property would only offer the expensive house car (20.00USD for a five-minute ride).
They eventually made their way to the day’s launching point, located directly off the highway. Because they were the first to arrive, they were given a de facto photo shoot while they waited for everyone else.
Before long, Deloreen, a delightful woman we met on a food tour in Singapore and have kept in touch with over the years, arrived to join the tour. Everyone was given instructions on what to do and they set off shortly thereafter. The first part of the tour took the group along a paved road before turning onto a marked trail through substantial greenery before stopping to take some photos.
After the photo stop, they drove to Sayulita where they stopped for a ninety minute break. During the break, Angela and Deloreen had a shot of mezcal, ate some tacos, and the trio wandered along the beach. Angela and I visited Sayulita over ten years ago and it has changed a lot since then, becoming just another tourist town.
When their time in Sayulita was up, they returned to their starting point.
After dropping off the UTV, Angela ordered an Uber and were dropped off at the resort about five minutes later. This time, the ride only cost 5.00USD. The rest of the day was spent at the beach, enjoying the sand between their toes and the sound of the surf.
After returning to the room, Angela attempted to make reservations for dinner at Mezquite and was told none were available until 2030. While discussing whether to have room service or not, Theresa discovered there were tables bookable at the restaurant on OpenTable for 1830 and made a booking. When the two arrived at the restaurant, it was approximately one-third full and never got much busier. This was one of the stranger service interactions that the pair had in Mexico.
After an early breakfast, Angela and Theresa took a walk along the beautiful beach, one of the highlights of the resort. During their time there, the beach was clean and well-maintained.
Angela headed to the gym while Theresa secured spots at the pool where they would spend most of the rest of the day.
For dinner, they dined at the upscale restaurant Codex and enjoyed an exceptional meal including escamoles, something Angela had been looking forward to trying for quite some time.
After breakfast, an early morning walk, and some lizard spotting, it was off to the pool for another day of relaxation.
They took dinner at Mezquite again, trying a few different dishes.
On the last full day in Mexico, the pair decided to take advantage of the guided bicycle tour that the property offers. An easy four-mile bike ride after breakfast was followed by some more lizard spotting and another stretch of relaxation by the pool.
The last dinner along the beach was tasty, with churros for dessert.
Then, it was off to bed to dream sweet dreams of a return to paradise in the future.
For convenience’s sake, Angela worked with the hotel to book their return to the airport. After breakfast and a final couple of pictures, they were on their way.
Once at the airport, it was smooth sailing on the way home with nary a delay in sight. Theresa returned to Chicago and Angela made her way back home. Thus ended a brief, but beautiful stay in paradise.