Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort & Spa
What We Love
- Enormous guestrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows framing ocean views and sprawling private terraces with hammocks
- Get pampered at Spa Imagine or book a treatment on your terrace; the Natura Bissé products from Spain have a cult following
- The two dramatic freeform infinity pools overlooking Banderas Bay
- Snacks (ceviche, guacamole, etc.) and cocktails are served beachside at Aquazul
What To Know
- The hotel is 10 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta
- Suites are great for families: They feature full kitchens
- If you’re looking to keep up your workout regimen, the fitness center has a live DJ from 6 to 8 p.m. three times a week
- Parking On Site
With a prime position on verdant Banderas Bay, Garza Blanca has a lobby that combines a cream and hazelnut color scheme with earthy materials such as exposed wood beams. But here it’s all about the views, and the open panoramas of sky and sea take center stage from nearly every angle.
Bed and Bath
All of the 164 spacious guestrooms and suites are richly detailed, with polished wood, travertine floors and granite surfaces. The furniture is brightened by fabrics in turquoise, lime-green and saffron, and accented with contemporary Mexican handicrafts. Flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations keep things feeling modern, while private balconies with hammocks and separate soaking tubs create opportunities for pampering.
Take things down a notch, and lounge on the shaded patio overlooking the two freeform infinity pools and the bay with a signature cocktail and ceviche from Aquazul Bar & Lounge, or carve out an afternoon with a chakra-balancing ritual at the state-of-the-art spa. Bocados STK is a classic steakhouse with a twist, dishing up raw foods, small bites and prime meats with a side of ocean views. The Blanca Blue restaurant serves such dishes as roast rack of lamb over polenta with lima bean, fennel and mint salad; it also has some 2,300 bottles of wine to choose from. Work it all off in the fitness center, which has a live DJ from 6 to 8 p.m. three times a week.
In the Area
Professional marine biologists at Wildlife Connection will guide you before you swim with deep water mammals, or you can spend an evening collecting and relocating the fragile eggs of sea turtles, which come ashore by moonlight. Humpback whales show up between November and March. On land you can wander the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, high in the glorious Sierra Madre mountains; they’re easily accessible, just 12 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Or you can get active with Vallarta Adventures, which offers dolphin swims, whale watching and other outdoor activities. Or get on the green at one of Puerto Vallarta’s golf courses; the Marina Vallarta Golf Club and Vista Vallarta Golf Club both offer award-winning play.
How to Get There
We travel frequently and have been to Puerto Vallarta 15 times in the last 12 years. This was our first stay at the Garza Blanca, however. We were there for a week in early December. I will start with the great things about this resort. Their setting has to be one of the very best in the area with gorgeous expansive views of both the ocean and the shoreline of the entire bay. The grounds and pools are extraordinary and perfectly maintained. It is an extremely peaceful and quiet setting with no loud music around the pools and no organized activities there either. Instead, there are several excellent young musicians who provide live music around the upper pool and in the restaurants. There are plenty of chairs and umbrellas around the pools and the lower pools even have chairs with facial sun shades! There are always enough towels and no towel cards are needed. The gym is located at the Mousai, a sister property on the hill. It has panoramic views, a very good variety of equipment, and is open 24 hours a day. The Garza also offers complimentary guided hikes, kayak trips to Los Arcos, and a bird-watching trip on the property.
Without exception every single employee we encountered was very friendly, helpful, and well trained. We truly appreciated the superior service of the staff at BocaDos restaurant, especially Martin and Fabian Lopez. We also had the pleasure of meeting the Room Service Manager, Kirsten, who was extremely personable and helpful and is an employee any business would love to have. She is a true ambassador for the Garza and its owner. We also got to talk with the young man at the Mousai desk outside their entrance, Alex, who was very friendly, professional and helpful.
Our ocean-VIEW room was beautiful, large, and comfortable with a huge bathroom (shower and tub) and a large balcony. We were in one of the two newer towers on the hill. (Book an ocean-FRONT room if you want ground level closer to the beach.) The 3 restaurants (Blanca Blue, BocaDos, and Hiroshi at the Mousai) are lovely, the food presentation is outstanding, and the food is generally good. When we were there, the Aquazul Beach Bar and Grill also served Italian food for dinner which we did not think was very good. But their lunch food was super delicious and could be ordered while at any of the pools. (Even with the AI plan, a ticket with all the food and beverages ordered must be signed after each meal and when leaving the pool area for anything consumed there.) Dinner reservations for our entire stay were easily made when we checked in.
There were a few things that could be a problem for some guests, however. (1) There is a lot of walking on uneven surfaces and you take a trolley to get to the rooms, gym, pool and restaurants on the hill. We watched people with canes and wheelchairs struggle to get on and off the trolleys and navigate the slanted walkways. Trolleys come by the designated stops about every 10-15 minutes. (2) If you are a beach lover, this is not the resort for you. It is very small and rocky and we only saw a handful of people in the ocean. Even though it was never windy, the ocean was never calm enough to snorkel while we were there. (3) The wonderful quiet atmosphere could also make this a poor choice for most preteens or teenagers. There is no entertainment staff or available games like at most Mexican resorts. (4) Many people complain about checking in and immediately being escorted to a "Welcome"person who is there to book tours and encourage you to attend a timeshare presentation. We simply told them we were not interested in tours of any kind and avoided it. (5) Our biggest surprise and disappointment, however, was when we checked in and were told we had not booked or paid for the All-inclusive package which was our understanding. I have booked 2-3 all-inclusive vacations a year for the last 12 years and have never had this happen. I knew the Garza offered both the AI and European Plan and still thought I had done it correctly. Needless to say, adding another $1200 to our vacation was not a good start. We met a couple who had the exact same thing happen to them and they had also used Expedia. I don't honestly know if this is an issue with the Garza or the Expedia website. I booked an AI vacation a year ago at this Garza for a family member, using Cheap Caribbean, and had no problems. Perhaps you either have to talk to an Expedia representative when booking with them or buy the plan when you check in for about $100 per person per day. I would also warn those who are interested in buying a membership there (timeshare) to find out what you will be charged for food. One couple said they were shocked to have to pay $150 per person per day for each one in their family of 5!!
Suggestions: Private transportation is either the same price or cheaper than getting a cab at the airport and is much easier. We used Puerto Vallarta Tours, paid $30, and were very pleased with the driver and clean, air-conditioned car. At the end of our vacation the Garza called a taxi for us and it was $20 back to the airport. (It always costs more when leaving the airport than going back...some city tax issue.)
Downtown PV is safe and clean and should not be missed with its beautiful Malecon and sculptures and sand art. There are great restaurants--we love PiPi's--, lovely art galleries, and lots of beautiful jewelry. By far our favorite place for jewelry is Seven Silver right on the main street (#538) facing the ocean; they have a turquoise awning. The owner always has good quality items, unique things you don't see everywhere else, and extremely reasonable prices. I have bought many things from him over the past years and all have worn well, even the least expensive items. (Many shops close for a siesta time from about 2-4; he is one that does.) It was a $10 cab fare to downtown and is about 15 minutes from the Garza. I think you can also take an orange bus right outside the resort to downtown for about 50 cents.
We have been to 10 different locations in Mexico, and Puerto Vallarta is still our favorite!
I booked a last minute weekend trip to Garza Blanca for a beach getaway. I booked the all-inclusive option and was upgraded to an ocean-front suite at my arrival. The room was huge! I loved it had a washer and dryer(came in handy for wet shoes after the waterfall hike). The view from my room was also amazing whether inside laying in bed or hanging in hammock on the patio. I spent most my time at the beach, tons of beautiful rocks along the beach. The water could be rough at times so I would take caution if you aren’t a strong swimmer. There was a water rescue while I was there. The food at both Blanca Blue and Bocados STK was wonderful. The food is artfully presented. The drinks were also of high quality and every bartender ensured you received a perfect drink. The resort offers wonderful activities. I was able to hike to the waterfall. Wish I was there longer to do the kayak tour! You truly cannot go wrong here. Everyone is friendly and seem genuinely happy to serve you.
Multiple pools, snorkeling, kayaking, medium and harder hiking with security.
Excellent service with all inclusive, shuttle up to towers runs constantly . Less than 10 minute walk to tower 4 and 5. Multiple very nice restaurants. 45 minute shuttle from airport. Roving wireless musicians. Nice beach with breakwater rocks with sea urchin crabs and other tropical fish.
Pretty, clean, safe with nice and awesome ambience. The size is right, not too big and crowded but not too small. Enjoy our stay over there, was treated nice by the hotel staff. The hostess in the restaurant remember your name after one trip there and will try to make you feel welcome.
We got a room in tower three, love the location. It is not too far from the main pool and lobby. At night, can hear the wave crashing the beach. You can occasionally hear some street noise with some crazy drivers speeding on the road at night but it was not too bothersome.
Love the washer and driver in the room, it was really convenient for a family as you can wash your swimsuits and other and able to pack light.
Room is nicely decorated and clean. Bed is not very comfy but ok. Don’t expect a lot of amenities, no shower cap, shaving kit, dental kit, not even cotton swab and others. It is very basic, bar soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion, that’s all they provided. I think they can improve on this area for a five star resort.
Food and restaurant - I think this is an area where they can improve on. First of all, they only have three restaurants in the main resort and an adult only restaurant Hiroshi in Mousai. If you are traveling with kids like us, you cannot have dinner at Hiroshi unless you leave your kid at the room. This is quite disappointing for us. Also, at peak time like thanksgiving week, you can easily run out of option for dinner if you didn’t make reservations in advance. We ate dinner three times at Blanca Blue and one time
at Bocados. The foods at pool area is average, not so much to shout about. Don’t really like Bocados, just not our preferred choice. We preferred the food and service at Blanca Blue. We just felt bored at the option and wish that we have one more choice that we can have dinner. If they open Hitoshi for us with kid, I think this may solve the variety problem. Otherwise, I just wish they have one more dinner option at the main hotel area.
We enjoyed our stay there!
Wonderful resort - small but lovely and accessable beach. Two infinity pools - the upper one particularly quiet. Service was fantastic and all of the staff very friendly and accomodating. Easy and quick access to Puerto Vallarta either by bus, taxi or Uber.