Lap of Luxury


A few months ago I booked a flight on Frontier Airlines to Vegas. They are very much like Spirit in that they are less expensive, but nickel and dime you to death on...well pretty much everything. The only thing that comes free on Frontier is what they call a personal item. So, basically your purse or a backpack small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you. This was a basic Friday to Monday trip to my parents house, and I did not want to pay any extra money so I convinced myself that for the first time ever I would travel with only a backpack. My little sister can do it. I won't need much. I'll make it work.


No hair products, no workout wear, no dressy clothes, no extra shoes. limited toiletries. No extras. Just your standard undergarments and a different shirt for every day. It was warm in Vegas so I only wanted to bring one pair of jeans and the rest would be shorts and tanks but it absolutely would not fit. After that, I realized right then and there for sure that I would never be the kind of person who could travel with a backpack no matter how lightly I thought I was packing. I accepted that, but I still wanted to be better about over packing so I was determined not to do it when packing for our trip to Mexico.

I was a little bit worried about the weather before we left. June to mid October is rainy season in Nuevo Vallarta, and the weather app was showing thunder showers every single day. It was raining when we left the Puerto Vallarta airport, but by the time we arrived at the resort it was gone. The first thing I noticed was the humidity. So, hot and so humid. My skin felt damp and moist anytime I was outside.

We waited for one of the shuttles to take us to our hotel in this beautiful outdoor area. The second thing I noticed is that the name fit. This place is quite Grand and luxurious. The lobby of Grand Luxxe not only looked fancy and elegant, but smelled amazing. We were greeted with polished floors, tasteful decor, and friendly staff. I was already impressed, but then we saw our room. We had one bedroom and 1.5 baths, with a full kitchen. The bedroom and bathroom were huge. The living area was huge. Large floor to ceiling sliders opened out to a very large and private balcony that could be accessed from the bedroom and the living area. As if that weren't fabulous enough the balcony had a beautiful dipping pool with a gorgeous view of dense foliage.

Watch here or on YouTube

We downloaded the Vidanta app after drinking our welcome margarita to get a lay of the land. Grand Luxxe alone has nine pools. Nine! And we had access to pools at the other hotels too. Some of the pool are right next to each other but they are so large, they definitely count as separate pools. All of them had ample seating and shade. Another cool thing about Vidanta is that you get to wear your room key on your wrist. You don't even realize how handy it is not to have to worry about keeping up with a room key until you don't have to. We came and went without thought and just swiped our arm across the keypad to get in. It is not removable.You can see it on our wrists in most of these pics. 

Vidanta truly is a paradise of luxury. Grand Luxxe Residence is one of four resort hotels that make up Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. They rank #2, 3, 5, and 11 out of 29 hotels in Nuevo Vallarta on Trip Advisor. Right now, Grand Luxxe Residence is the best, but they are working on a fifth one called The Estates which will top it, and a Cirque Du Soleil theme park. Not even kidding about the theme park. We've stayed at some pretty great hotels over the years. Posh, fancy, lavish. Call it whatever you want, but I think I can honestly say, it is the nicest, most luxurious, most amazing place I've ever had the good fortune of staying. We had house keeping service three times per day. They do dishes, turn down the bed, and leave you a little piece of chocolate at night. The property is not only beautiful, but it's huge. They carved a space right of the jungle for all of these buildings then connected them all by wooden walkways so, even as you walk from place to place, there are wetlands beneath your feet and green dense foliage on either side of the path. No matter where we went it always felt like we were in the middle of a jungle. Everything is in walking distance of each other, but they do offer golf cart type shuttles between hotels. We took the shuttle a few times to avoid sweating and mosquitoes, but we mostly walked. I preferred it mosquito bites and all, because we got to experience a beautiful walk through nature every time. I had two mosquito bites after the first night, and ended up with about 15 by the time we left. I also managed to get bit in the butt by a wasp. I think I sat on it in the pool.

This section had rows and rows of empty daybeds
In my quest not to over pack want to guess what I didn't bring? Off or the tube of Benadryl cream sitting in our bathroom at home. I was itching so bad! I think they like me a lot for some reason, but by the end of the trip MJ was almost as bad off as me.

The third thing I noticed after the heat and the luxury is that the place seemed empty. We did not have to wake up early to stake our claim at the pool. We did not have to make dinner reservations at every restaurant we wanted to try. There were no lines for the shuttles or anywhere else. We barely even encountered other guests on our nature walks along the paths. The Sanctuario at night was the gathering place to watch the nightly performances, but even that was sparse most nights. Basically, it felt like we owned the joint and I loved it. So that's the upside of low season. The downside is that all nine pools at Grand Luxxe were not open for business. We had to make do.

Our vacation in a nutshell
We spent our first day at the Grand Mayan Adults only pool. This pool area has a lazy river, a wave pool, and a water slide. We spent day two lying in a beach bed at Grand Luxxe Punta Pool West. Day three took us to Grand Luxxe Punta Pool East. We enjoyed day drinking at Grande Luxxe Tower 1 Circular pool on day four. Once we were finished there were headed over to our little dipping pool on the  balcony. The pool water was fairly warm (and shallow). A little too warm for MJ, but I liked it. The water in the dipping pool was not warm. Chillin' in crisp, cool, water was the perfect way to end a hot day in the sun. We got thunder and lighting two nights in a row. After the first storm, we still woke up to sunshine, but on day five of our trip we woke up to rain. We took our time getting out that day. We hung out at one of the many bars, and stopped for lunch. The sun was shining full blast again by 3pm, but we kept our clothes on. It was the only day we did not spend at the pool. We went to the rooftop restaurant that night and ate dinner, while we watched the sun set.

Our last day was Saturday. I wasn't expecting much, because the Pacific Ocean isn't exactly known for it's turquoise waters and white sand beaches, but we decided to check out the beach anyway. It was not great, so we spent the day at Grand Luxxe Tower 1 Infinity pool. This particular pool, did not have an swim up bar, but waiters were more than happy to come around and take our order. They even had people coming round with freezer carts on wheels offering popsicles. Happy Hour was always from 11-3 at all the bars so we were able to take advantage of 2 for 1 prices. After the pool we enjoyed a last dip in our balcony pool. Then, we took advantage of that beautiful deep soaking tub with jets. There were so many bubbles!!! We ordered pizza in and spent our last night playing Yahtzee and drinking our last bottle of wine.

MJ originally wanted to do an adventure day of zip lining and ATV riding. We got a brochure from the lobby, but in the end he said, "Eh. It's too hot." I agreed. It was high eighties, low nineties the whole time we were there with humidity around 60 something percent. We spent our second night getting couples massages at Grand Mayan Brio Spa, which is one of the most beautiful spas I've ever seen. I hate to say it, but I do regret not taking a pic! We did a wine tasting another night in the wine cellar, which was pretty fun. We attended the 7:00pm entertainment in Sanctuario two nights. It was fun to sit outside enjoying the warm night, drinks in hand watching whatever singing, band, or acrobat they had going. They had a sand artist, which was pretty cool. I'd never seen anything like that before. It was really nice to have no itinerary and no plans. It gave us time to relax and just BE. Our vacation was truly a vacation. I loved all the time we got to spend together without distractions.

This tub! So beautiful (and no I did not touch that scale sitting under the sinks) 
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta is not an all inclusive required resort, and that is one of the reasons we chose it. All-inclusive fees at most resorts are usually anywhere from $75-$200+ per person and we just didn't want to spend the extra money. They do offer a meal plan of six breakfasts, and six lunches OR dinners that works on a coupon system, for $335 USD per person, but we are not that hungry. My appetite was pretty non existent for most of the trip. I felt fine, but I think it was just the heat blocking my appetite. We thought about splitting a meal plan, but still didn't think it would be worth it. We like to drink, and drinks were not included. We picked up bread and peanut butter from the grocery store for breakfast, and coffee is free every morning in the Grand Luxxe lobby. We went out to breakfast twice, split lunch at the pool once, but other than that most of our money was spent on dinners and drinks. Who needs lunch when you can spend the day eating twizzler bites (we went through two bags on this trip) and drinking daiquiris? We ate Chinese food, Italian food, Mexican food, Burgers and fries, and steak over the course of the week. The prices ranged from reasonable to high, but I suppose it's subjective. I will say, seeing everything in pesos was alarming at first. We spent "thousands" at almost every meal and our small tub of peanut butter was 75. We checked out with a $700 tab, which included our wine tasting. We got tired of whipping out our credit card and "charged it to the room" on the second day. All the food was so good. Every restaurant was gorgeous. Dining outside in those warm nights after such relaxing days with my love was good for my soul.

The only thing I did not like about this resort is the Iguanas, but I guess that's all part of being in a Mexican jungle. We encountered them on our last trip to Mexico too. I had a major freak out in the Lazy river on our second day there. It was so bad! I was hanging onto MJ's foot. I had to jump out of my inner tube because there were iguanas on either side of the river and I could not handle the current floating me towards them. I didn't even want to walk past them. Some of them are pretty big, and they just kind of wander into the pool areas. We saw them more, in the Grand Mayan pool area, but on our last day there were a few over at Grand Luxxe. They don't approach you, or even move very fast, but I can't help being afraid. The lazy river was so traumatic I didn't even want to do it again. Of course, MJ saw none when he did it again without me.

So, did I over pack? Of course I did! I brought three sets of workout wear plus sneakers, that didn't get touched. I thought I might want to use the gym, but nope. Didn't happen. And we didn't do our adventure day. I knew most of our days would be spent at the pool so I only brought three pairs of denim shorts and two dresses, plus tops. I wore the dresses, but ended up wearing my favorite pair of shorts every day. It was only a few hours in the evening so I didn't see the point of switching it up. I packed an extra sweater that didn't get worn. I found the perfect thin black windbreaker before we left, but something told me I needed a white option too. I didn't. I brought cotton lounge shorts, for no reason and I had extra tops, socks and underwear I didn't wear either. I don't even know why I bothered bringing an extra pair of sandals. I only wore my Eva Birkenstocks and pool flip flops. It's a tough balance for me because I hate the idea of wanting or needing something and not having it. I over agonize which leads to over packing. It's a vicious cycle. but think I did better than I have in the past.

This trip was very much like our trip to Playa Del Carmen in 2014. No plans. No itinerary. I love our city vacations, but after a bunch of those with lots of running around this is the type of relaxing vacation I crave. I actually came home feeling fully rested. Of course I didn't want to get back to reality, but I didn't feel like I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. Believe me when I say, Vidanta is just as amazing as it looks on their website. We had a wonderful seven nights. I would most definitely love to be able to go back there some day or even try one of the other Vidanta resorts.


Toni :0) said...

Looks like a stunning trip. I love following along on IG. You guys take my kind of vacation. Chillax and rest because I just go go go all the time. Thanks for sharing.

Faith said...

Ahhh, I feel relaxed reading this! Such a gorgeous property! I was in awe watching your stories while you were there. Glad you both had an amazing time. I love not feeling like you need a vacation after a vacation or that you are well rested and able to get back into a routine without feeling like life sucks, haha.