Right now, many deals to Mexican destinations are focused on either short, last-minute deals designed to get you out the door cheaply and quickly, or packages for fall travel. Suffice to say, if you're suddenly possessed with the urge to travel to Puerto Vallarta, a city on the Pacific Coast that was not initially designed for tourism, there are some 11th-hour offers up for grabs. Despite its surge in popularity as a destination, the former fishing village still manages to retain its charm, with cobblestone streets (not a place for stilettos), old Mexican architecture and cafes, galleries, and restaurants along the Viejo Vallarta.
Go-Today (tel. 800/277-3235; www.go-today.com) is running two cheap deals to the Mexican Pacific; one for three nights and one for five nights. The "Puerto Vallarta Getaway," priced from $389, is based on travel between August 16 and December 8; the purchase deadline is August 26. The rates are based on airfare from Los Angles, but as usual, additional departure cities area available. Other flights from California, Utah, Colorado and Nevada are possible, if you add on $140; flights from Texas, Oklahoma, and oddly, Philadelphia, are charging $160; and New York is an additional $220, which seems like an awful lot. The "Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive Special" is a five-night special, available from $559, for travel between August 16 and December 8. Again, the rates are based on Los Angeles departure, with the same scale for add-on fares as the 3-night special.
Pleasant Holidays (tel. 800/742-9244; www.pleasantholidays.com) lets you search by departure and arrival city and plug in a range of dates to find trips, or you can simply click on their changing, half dozen specials, on the right-hand side of the home page. Currently, they're running a special for "Five days at a Fine Puerto Vallarta Property" from $435 for departures from Los Angeles via Alaska Airlines on a Sunday or Monday. The special is valid on travel until December 18 and does not include taxes and fees. Accommodations are for four nights at the Hacienda Hotel and Spa, an economy class spot near the beach and town that also has a freshwater swimming pool. Frequent readers of this column may remember this company also ran a special two months ago on this very same property. It's easy to determine how much the trip would cost from where you live: there's a toggle that you can click on and scroll down to choose your city. Departures from New York jack up the price to $664; Chicago fetches $586. They're also running a "5 Days at the Melia Puerto Vallarta" is a little more expensive, from $599 from Los Angeles. This special is only good for travel through August 15, but it includes just about everything: meals, drinks, activities, transfers to and from hotel, and kids six and under stay, play and eat for free. The Melia is an oceanfront resort on the Bay of Banderas, with a superior rating with plenty of activities for kids, located five minutes from downtown. This deal in particular is really only a good deal for those flying from Los Angeles, or Las Vegas (from $687): New York departures are priced from $827, and flights from Washington Dulles and Regan National airport cost $929.
Eleisurelink (tel. 800/801-8808; www.eleisurelink.com), in addition to their weekly specials, lets you customize your trip as much as humanly possible, providing you with a long list of departure dates, the rates, and return dates. This is great for the traveler who has an open-ended agenda and can afford to do futz around with the dates, but it takes patience and can be frustrating for those who want to simply go to a site and find a deal really easily. However, even if they aren't advertising a special to Puerto Vallarta (in this case), it doesn't mean there is not some sort of special. Right now, there are two offers running from New York to Puerto Vallarta, and they favor the last-minute traveler. "Masterpieces by the Sea" starts at $555 per person, if you depart July 15 or July 16 for a three-day trip-talk about last minute! A range of dates is presented to you, so if you wanted to leave next week, departures on Thursday July 21 returning on Monday July 25 start at $647 per person, which is a more economical deal. You can choose from a dozen or so hotels, but the cheapest rate you're quoted is generally for a two-star economy hotel; in this case, it's El Pescador, located near the beach and boardwalk.
For a longer, all-inclusive stay in fall, check out the offerings of Liberty Travel (tel. 888/271-1584; www.libertytravel.com). Travelers looking to head to Puerto Vallarta between September 1 and October 31 may be interested in the seven-night, airfare-inclusive trip to La Jolla de Mismaloya, a four-star resort about ten minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta. The resort's name means hidden jewel, and it's located in a secluded location surrounded by mountains. Every room is a suite; some have full kitchens. This particular trip starts from $739 for flights to and from Los Angeles, and includes 7 nights stay, all taxes and booking fees, and hotel transfers. Booking deadline is October 9. Even for the priciest departures (Hartford and Charlotte both cost $1,025, Baltimore/Washington $1,099), your average price per day is still about $150. For a completely all-inclusive vacation here, the price goes up a couple hundred dollars per person, but you get all meals and vouchers for things like room service and use of non-motorized sports and surf equipment, such as snorkeling gear.
Orbitz (tel. 877/672-4893; www.orbitz.com) is a good place to compare deals and specials, too. For early September departures from Los Angeles, there are a spate of hotels to choose from, including the three-star Puerto de Luna Suites Resort and Spa, from $442 per person for four nights. Upgrades are possible, but the standard room includes one king bed and the hotel is located in the heart of the hotel district, close to shopping; the beach is just minutes away. The gay-friendly Hotel Mercurio, a smaller, two-star accommodation, is just $407 per person for a flight with only one stop. The hotel is located in the "zona romantica" fishing village area of Puerto Vallarta, with cafes, shopping, clubs, bars, minutes from the beach.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers about Puerto Vallarta on our Mexico Message Boards today.