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Westin Resort & Spa–Puerto Vallarta

Paseo de la Marina Sur 205 Marina Vallarta

With a meandering shady pool complex, a hopping beach bar, and well–equipped rooms, this is the best beach pick for full–service style and comfort in the heart of Puerto Vallarta proper.

Westin Resort & Spa

A distinctive architectural design and stunning pool complex set the Westin Resort & Spa apart from other offerings in Puerto Vallarta's Marina area. This massive hotel and timeshare compound along Banderas Bay is clearly your best large resort option near the Old Town area.

Vertical open beams and box–dotted curving walls of hot pink and bright yellow welcome you upon check–in. Beyond the airy lobby, the sprawling grounds and three towering pyramid buildings can feel overwhelming and challenging to navigate at first, but Westin's friendly staff will steer you in the right direction.

The unique minimalist style of renowned architect Javier Sordo Madaleno evokes an atmosphere of surprises that stretches from the fancy cabanas to the imposing hallways. The biggest draw is the magnificent series of pools, complete with excellent shade coverage (for health conscious bathers), remarkably comfortable (and plentiful!) wooden chaises, and several clever tile pool lounges built so you can catch rays while staying cool.

The striking beach cabanas make a noticeable fashion statement, but Westin's 300–yard stretch of coastline does not impress overall — except for its hip after–hours atmosphere. Come sunset, you'll find that the beach is where it's at, as guests chill out till dawn at the popular Nikki Beach Club. A fine–looking wait staff serves up grill food and specialty cocktails among a romantic sandscape of tiki torches, billowing fabric and beds piled high with plush pillows.

This Westin also works well for kid–friendly getaways. A well–developed children's program keeps little ones occupied with daytime activities and a spacious playground is conveniently located next to one of the pools. During hatch season, youngsters can participate in the hotel's turtle release program, and may be lucky enough to witness baby critters as they crawl out to sea.

Westin Resort & Spa

On–site dining options are limited to two good restaurants and three bars, most with outdoor dining and drinking space under the palms. The neighboring marina area offers up plenty additional options within short walking distance. The resort breakfast is either buffet or a la carte, and Mexican, international and theme dishes are served at both lunch and dinner.

Equipped with air–conditioning, dehumidifiers and all the usual amenities, guest rooms meet the Westin expectations. Tiled foyers give way to contemporary rooms furnished with plush Heavenly Beds, deluxe marble baths, and high–quality pine and rattan furniture. Accommodations are spacious and comfortable, softened in a warm array of Mexican colors and styles, and topped off with a single palette bold painted ceiling set against whitewashed walls. Generous, furnished oceanview balconies are a perfect finishing touch, especially those offering up views of the Pacific Ocean or Sierra Madre mountains. Rooms on the lower five floors have partial ocean views, while those higher up showcase grander scenes, and often boast dual vanities, larger balconies and hot tubs.

The resort's health club facilities are excellent, and include a Reebok branded gym, three lighted tennis courts and luxury spa on–site. The hotel can also furnish rooms for exercise or yoga. An 18–hole golf course is just a short walk away.

While not as large as some of its rivals in Puerto Vallarta and not as luxurious as the Velas properties or the Four Seasons, the Westin is a good solid bet for those who like predictability. The Nikki Beach Club and four interconnected pools, which seem to flow almost as one among the exquisite landscaping and towering palm inlets, give this one the edge over other chain rivals and routine all–inclusives. As long as you're okay with the expansive layout of this property and the extra charges for the gym, coffee maker, and Internet access, you'll find high–quality comfort and service with style at Westin's Marina Vallarta.

Web Address: Starwood Hotels: Westin
Total Number of Rooms: 279
Published rates: $169 to $1,650

Review and photos by Tim Leffel

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