December 15-29, 2010

Traveling: Glenn, Barbara, Mark and Karen

Sunset on the Bay of Banderas, Puerto Vallarta



In early 2010 we realized that a rather important milestone in our marriage would occur this year—on December 22, 2010 we would have been married for sixty years! Wow! This would call for a celebration, or a trip—but what? and where?

After considering and throwing out several possible cruises, we zeroed in on a stay in an all-inclusive hotel in Puerto Vallarta. (After successfully retiring from cooking, Barbara had no interest in a condo, and hunting up restaurants for all our meals didn't appeal.)

When we shared our idea with Mark and Karen, Mark offered the use of his Starwood hotel “points” for a week's stay at the Westin Marina Hotel and Spa in Puerto Vallarta. To his surprise, he learned that he could even use his points during Christmas week! The deal got better: for additional points per night, we could stay in the hotel's premium rooms—the “Royal Beach Club” section located on the top two floors. Royal Beach Club guests had access to their own lounge for breakfast, “happy hour” drinks and a light dinner. This was very close to what an all-inclusive hotel would provide. Both Karen and Mark had the period of Dec. 20-29 available AND we could celebrate our anniversary on the actual date. Let's do it!

Guadalajara Cathedral and Christmas Decor


Mark ended up flying in to Guadalajara earlier and spent four nights in Mexico's second-largest city. He took guided bus tours around the city, out to Lake Chapala and to “Tequila,” namesake town of Mexico's best-known product.  On December 20 he took the deluxe “Vallarta Plus” bus down to Puerto Vallarta and checked in at our family's destination: the Westin Marina Hotel and Spa.

Lake Chapala--home to many US expatriates
This is NOT your ordinary Tequila!

Knowing how “iffy” the weather can be in December, Glenn, Barbara and Karen had cautiously reserved a room at the Shilo Inn near the Portland airport for the night before our early flight on December 21. Our stopover in Salt Lake City in the middle of a snowstorm made us anxious to reach balmy Puerto Vallarta.

Salt Lake City-Dec. 21Pinatas at the Puerto Vallarta Airport-Dec. 21

It was a quick ride from the airport to the hotel, and we passed sights that were familiar from our various cruise excursions in Puerto Vallarta. The Westin Marina is located in a very nice section of town, adjacent to the Marina of course, and also close to a handsome golf course, which is surrounded by expensive homes and condos.

Lobby of Westin Marina
Gallery near hotel lobby


Our rooms more than lived up to the description--on the 12th floor, with balconies overlooking the pools, Bay of Banderas and Old Town Puerto Vallarta.  And we found that the Royal Beach club amenities were all that we could hope for.  Barbara never had to worry about cooking on this trip!

Our room No. 1211, Balcony overlooking hotel grounds and Bay of Banderas


Photo Albums of what we managed to do in one week:

-- Mark added the Guadalajara area to his "life list" of places visited throughout the world. Photos here.

-- We all celebrated Glenn and Barbara's 60th anniversary day at the Westin and with a Catamaran cruise to remote "Las Caletas" in the jungle south of Puerto Vallarta for dinner and a fabulous show.  Photos here.

--  Shared Karen's day of birding and saw the last undeveloped area of Puerto Vallarta--complete with crocodiles!  
 Photos here.

--Enjoyed celebrating the Christmas season together.
Photos here.

-- Strolled along the "Malecon" in Old Puerto Vallarta, admiring the beautiful sculptures and local color. Photos here.

--Enjoyed the pools and beach at the Westin Marina.  Photos here.

-- Took advantage of the amenities provided by the Westin--good dining, great service, comfortable rooms. Photos here.

We all agreed this was the perfect place to celebrate Glenn and Barbara's sixty years together.

For the masochists among you, a way too-lengthy daily log of the trip is also posted here.

                  Our last Puerto Vallarta Sunset over the Bay of Banderas

Barbara Halliday,
March 3, 2012

Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn, Barbara, Mark and Karen Halliday, 2012