We have returned after a great trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was a trip for both rest/relaxation as well as research. It was also truly eye-opening in that it showed us how possible it is to retire out of Canada and the United States for a fraction of the cost of what it would be to retire in Canada. But more on that later. We will be doing a series of posts in relation to our time in Puerto Vallarta – on everything that someone considering retiring there would like to know.
For now, this post will focus on reviewing the Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas, where we stayed for the entirety of our ten days in Puerto Vallarta. Here is our first attempt at video on the new Marco Polo Money Youtube site:
Per their website ( http://www.hotelconchaschinas.com/ ), ” Preserving the essence of the Colonial Mexican style, Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas is unique in its type, with incredible ocean view from all of our accommodations and stunning sunsets over the most beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta. This charming and small hotel is located just 5 minutes away from downtown Puerto Vallarta.”
Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas is considered a 3-star hotel, so if you are looking for a 5-star luxury resort, look elsewhere. It is well reviewed on Trip Advisor (.ca) with 168 reviews and an average rating of 4 out of 5. It is definitely recommended to read through the reviews on Trip Advisor to get an idea of the hotel. However, it is also important to remember that people who have had problems at a hotel generally are more motivated (aka want to complain) in writing a review than people who enjoyed themselves.
Onto our review.
For each section our review process is as follows: Poor (1), ok (2), good (3), Very good (4), outstanding (5); five points is the maximum score. The categories are as follows: 1) location, 2) service, 3) rooms, 4) overall cleanliness, and 5) value. The five categories are put at an equal value with the entire hotel being rated out of 25 points.
First of all, it is important to note that this hotel is NOT in Puerto Vallarta proper. The hotel is in Conchas Chinas, which is an area to the south of town, which spans about 5 kms or so. It is also not the Hotel Lindomar. For some reason there is confusion between these two hotels in that they share the beach.
Conchas Chinas is a beautiful rocky area, that is a bit more rugged than the straight almost southern California style beaches (Venice Beach comes to mind) of downtown and the Romantic Zone. It is very hilly as well, so walking into town can be done (the walk back is MUCH harder), but it is a 20-30 minute walk along a busy road, or a bit more of a hike along a rocky filled and craggy beach. The walks are fun for sure, but not great everyday, unless hiking is your thing. Regardless, there is a local bus that comes very frequently on the road, and the ride is 8 Pesos (50 cents CAN) and takes 5-10 minutes. The other option is a cab, which is 70 Pesos each way.
Also, the beach in front of the hotel is not big. It is shared with Hotel Lindomar, and they have half of the palapas on the beach (with yellow on them). Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas has about 4 palapas, and they will bring down loungers if you ask (4 were available when we were there), but they will also bring chairs. There is also a much nicer beach about 5 minute walk on a cobblestone road, where we spent most of our time. The location we greatly enjoyed, and we knew what we were getting, but it might not be great for some people, especially those with mobility issues. For the location category it scores a Very Good (4 points). If we had booked it and we were not aware of its location, it would have been lower for sure.
The beautiful, but rock filled beaches of Conchas Chinas (this is the beach 5 minutes down the road from the hotel):
Prior to arrival, we used Expedia.ca to book our flight (through Air Transat), which was direct, and our lodging at Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas. The flights were for 3 direct return tickets ($706.37 each) and the hotel was for 10 nights at $1397. The other family member that was travelling with us put $350 towards the hotel as well. Overall, our cost for 2 adults and 1 child was $3165 before food. Now, one of the reasons we liked Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas was that it has a kitchenette – we had considered Air BnB, but for our first time we thought it would be nice to go with a hotel that is on the water AND has a kitchenette.
I had read on Trip Advisor that if you contacted the people who run the hotel, they can arrange a pick up at the airport in a private car for a very reasonable price. So I went to the Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas website, and contacted them via email at: email@example.com . I was responded to within a day or two, and we set up a ride for pickup at the airport for $20 US or $370 Pesos. There was also an extra charge if the driver had to wait at all (which he did). All things said and done, we paid $430 Pesos for our ride.
After traversing immigration, customs, and the infamous “shark-pit” of the airport, we found our driver patiently waiting with a sign for us. We quickly made our way to the parking lot, and he had a very nice, large/luxury SUV there to pick us up (I am pretty sure it was his personal vehicle).
Check in was quick and easy, with only one form for us to fill in on arrival. The view was the first thing that grabbed all of our attention – the Bay of Banderas was gorgeous as the sun was setting in pinks and golds. The view from pretty much any point of the hotel is absolutely gorgeous.
We checked into our room, which was exactly as we had hoped. It was not big, with 2 double beds, but it had a killer balcony, with 4 chairs and a table and most importantly, a great view. The rooms are not exactly fancy in any way, and has a quaint mexican design with gorgeous colorful tiles (that we loved!). Also, they had two beds with absolutely phenomenal mattresses – we all slept great, and had no complaints at all with the rooms. The kitchenette came with a coffee maker, one pot, and one pan, as well as some plates and utensils. The t.v. even had a decent amount of channels with English news, movie channels, and cartoons! Overall, the room was a bit better than good (3.5 points). However, if you are expecting something fancy, it would not be that high.
There is an Oxxo convenience store about a 5 minute walk away that had most of the small groceries that you might need (beer, milk, coffee, bread, bananas, etc.). We had every breakfast eating on our balcony, having a chilled out relaxing morning before exploring and enjoying ourselves at the beach. It saved us a bit of money, and allowed us to spend a bit more on dinners out(there are soooo many good restaurants in Puerto Vallarta …. but a post on that is coming soon).
This is the view from our balcony:
We noticed right away that the light on our balcony wasn’t working. It was pretty late already, and they said they would have someone fix it the next day. They gave us a nice candle holder and some candles for the night. The light was fixed for the next day, as promised. Funny enough, we preferred the candles and used them the whole time we were there!
In general, the service was prompt, and our requests were dealt with quickly. The management even arranged to get us ride back to the airport for just a bit more than we paid for our initial ride because their vehicle was not available that day (it was 500 pesos). If you want to include wi-fi service in the service category, it is important to note that wi-fi is generally only available in the hotel lobby (we did manage to get it a few times in our room). We did know about the wi-fi situation before going however, and it is something to be aware of in considering this hotel.
The final issue in the “service” category is the stairs. There is no elevator to speak of, and there are a lot of stairs to traverse. If you or anyone travelling with you has mobility issues, then this hotel is not for you. We were aware of many of these issues before booking, if you were not it would definitely change your perception of the service in this hotel: our score, Very Good+ (4.5 points).
It is interesting that even from our photos and videos, every family member we have show these to have commented on how clean this hotel looks. And it is. The cleaning staff are to be commended for this absolutely spotless hotel. I don’t know if it is the tile or what exactly, but there is no dust, and even though this hotel is not the newest for sure, it is top to bottom clean. For overall cleanliness, outstanding (5 points).
As for the final category, value, it largely depends on your tastes and needs. We needed a room with a kitchen and wanted a room with a kick-ass view and balcony for a 10 night stay. For these points, Hotel Playa Chonchas Chinas knocked it out of the park. Looking at Air Bnb, and thinking ahead to the future, now that we know how Puerto Vallarta is set up, and the areas we like, we could likely find something in an area that checks most of our boxes for cheaper. However, that is only most of our boxes. The one thing that was truly great for us was the view, and it was worth every penny (not that it was all that expensive mind you). For the value category, it is very good (4 points).
Overall, the final score tally is as follows: 1) Location: Very Good (4 points), 2) Service: Very Good+ (4.5 points), 3) Rooms: good+ (3.5 points), 4) Overall Cleanliness: Outstanding (5 points), 5) Value: Very Good (4 points). The grand total is: 21 points out of 25, for a “Very Good” or 4 out of 5 star rating.
Would we go back – in a heartbeat, and especially if it was for holiday purposes only. However, we have more research to do and more places to explore in the future. We will see what comes.
And if you thought we forgot “La Playita” the restaurant at the front of the hotel (on the beach), stay tuned for the first of our restaurant reviews.
Do you have any favorite places to stay in Puerto Vallarta? Let us know in the comments section.
Marco Polo Money – Be safe and travel far!