By: Carlos Dragonné @sabormexico
To reignite the importance of a tourist destination is not an easy task for anyone. It has to be an effort between service providers, the government, private initiatives and, of course, the tourists who commit their days of rest to a place that may surprise them or, in the worst case, disappoint. However, there are places that strongly support the restoration of a destination by what they offer. It requires the effort of many people to create not only a restaurant or a hotel, but to promote a culture of service that honors the most basic sense of hospitality. That’s what happened to us on our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta. The creators of this experience: Garza Blanca Resort & Spa, a paradise on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta that surprised us day after day.
The reason for the trip: the Tianguis Turístico (“Tourist Market”) that took place for the first time in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. We will talk about what this event represented in terms of profits and business for the tourism industry when we can see the palpable results beyond the first official numbers. As we were deciding where to stay during this event, we received the invitation from Garza Blanca to get to know their place and enjoy everything that they offer to countless national and international tourists. And, of course, we gladly accepted the invitation with the recommendation of Norma Rocío Martínez, the promoter of boutique hotels and lodging experiences in Puerto Vallarta.
Just 30 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta, as soon as one enters the gates of Garza Blanca they know that their perception of recreational activities and absolute rest is about to change. The first thing one sees is a landscape framed by design and architecture– a great view of the bay and the open sea. It should be noted that, upon our arrival, a wedding was arranged right there and that, just by looking at the image, we understood why this luxury hotel is a favorite for couples looking for a place for their “most important day” that they plan for.
After having enjoyed the view of the entrance for a few minutes, we began to understand why Garza Blanca is a place worth getting to know: the employees are always ready to make you feel at home, with a smile and an attitude of service that has been sadly diluted in luxury hotels. We so often notice that the service industry in many places has gone from friendly and attentive to cold and distant. Here it happens in another way. All the employees that you get to have contact with from your arrival to your departure always seek the way not only to solve your needs, but to make you feel attended and important. It is an almost individualized and personalized service. While waiting for our room to check in, we decided to relax and enjoy a good tequila and a beer at one of the tables that they have on the beach. The tables are exclusive to the hotel and avoid the saturation of people and street vendors that many beach destinations in Mexico have suffered in the last years. Here that does not exist. There is a tranquility that makes one forget everything they carry from work, the stress of big cities, and the fatigue that forced the vacation itself. Beyond the multiple activities it offers, what you can enjoy is a total peace at a hotel designed for the tourist’s needs.
After enjoying the spectacular view, we went to the room that was assigned to us. Unlike many of the hotels that we have visited, Garza Blanca is a great hotel development. At the moment they are in the construction of stages 4 and 5 of 8, which include rooms and apartments that can be rented or bought, to secure a spot in such an exquisite place. There are 6 categories of rooms and each category is more than worth its price. Contrary to hotel developments that seem focused on deceiving customers with categories that look like a mockery, Garza Blanca is perfectly clear that each of their clients deserves the very best in each category. From rooms, let’s call, normal, to the so-called penthouse, the care in detail and in the luxury around the room is shocking. To give you an idea, the penthouse is a room with three rooms inside it, each with its own private jacuzzi; a living room, dining room, kitchen; a TV room and a balcony that, regardless of the size, the outdoor jacuzzis or the hammocks installed, offer something that almost nobody can offer: a view that seems as if it was created by an artist or a photographer. It is important to mention that, despite the luxury surrounding the hotel, the amenities have room for improvement. In our opinion, they seem insufficient or even scarce, according to the quality of the place in which they are offered. However, it is without a doubt peccata minuta in the great context of the hotel.
The spa offers massages, hydrotherapy, facial therapies, aromatherapy and other needs. And, without a doubt, they are not missing anything. The spa price table has a very positive cost-benefit relationship. The gym is on the same floor as the spa and has what every sports traveler looks for. The gym satisfies exercise needs and, when complemented by a sauna session, and ended with a massage, one can only be thankful for having made the decision to book a few days in this establishment.
Garza Blanca also has two restaurants with very different identities but, undoubtedly, places worth visiting not only if you are a guest, but if for some reason you are passing by. The restaurants are run by two chefs with very different origins who each know how to put their spirit into the dishes and menus they offer. Regardless of the articles on the blog about these places, it is essential to put them on the list of places to visit and, without exaggerating, among the 5 best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Blanca Blue, the flagship restaurant of the hotel, under the command of Executive Chef Leopoldo Cortés, offers international cuisine that allows the traveler to enjoy an important variety of dishes, prepared with ingredients from the region and, above all, fresh and of an impressive quality. Boca-Dos is the new investment of the creators of this hotel and, in fact, just 30 days after opening, it can already boast constant success and a flow of diners that many other places would want at any time. This is because Chef Kory Sutton has created cuisine based on his origins, ideas and aspirations. Boca-Dos has more personal kitchen influenced by Mexican cuisine and conveys the inspiration and freedom of Kory and his entire team. We will talk to you, also, about this place.
Chatting with Miguel Andres Hernández opened our eyes to why this Garza Blanca is what it is. Colombian by birth and Mexican by adoption more than 20 years ago, he takes us by the hand through stories of his life and his career until the moment that he came to Garza Blanca. He is on a mission to achieve hospitality with each of his guests, through the culture of service. He making good living and rest the ambassadors of Garza Blanca, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico. And this is where you find the maximum value of Garza Blanca and the people who live in the hotel. The priority of those who are part of the hotel is not the promotion of the hotel itself, but the understanding that they can boost the tourist industry and the good name of Puerto Vallarta and the country through the hotel and the services they offer every day. And it is this conviction that he transmits through all of his work and allows him to do things that many others have stopped doing. Their service routine has become precisely that: a routine. That’s where Garza Blanca’s primary difference lies in understanding the service culture. Miguel summarizes with what, perhaps, is the most ambitious and aspirational goal I’ve heard in many years: that everyone, absolutely everyone, understand the culture of service and we are able to carry it out in our daily life. In his own words: “If only we devoted 25 minutes a day to live that culture of service in all our activities and in our lives, I assure you that Mexico would be an incomparable paradise.” And, you know what? He’s right.
After 6 days here, packing suitcases feels heavy. And yes, it weighs on us because we know that our rest is over and that it is impossible to prolong the end further. But now, when packing, we not only pack our clothes and our personal belongings. On this occasion, we will take a load of responsibility with us that we carry with pleasure and with all the seriousness that it entails. Miguel, Leopoldo, Kory and the entire team of Garza Blanca have achieved their primary goal: we have become ambassadors of this place, this destination and, of course, of this country. But, more importantly, we return to Mexico knowing that we are carriers of that culture of service that we must spread, share and replicate. Because this trip has not only confirmed our deep love for Mexico and our mission to share and show off every corner that this country has to offer in small paradises; it has taught us that we are all travelers and service providers. We are those responsible for creating paradises and promoting the romanticism of each one of those corners we all seek to discover.
We invite you to get to know Riviera Nayarit, a paradise in the Mexican Pacific.
This post is also available in: Español