Puerto Vallarta Beach Club: A Private Gem In Bustling Vallarta
Journey Mexico writer Sam Murray heads to Puerto Vallarta Beach Club in Puerto Vallarta for a weekend break with some Hollywood razzle-dazzle…
The beachside city of Puerto Vallarta shot to fame (internationally, at least) as the romantic hideaway of Hollywood lovers Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Their affair was juicy fodder for gossip columnists and paparazzi, but in Puerto Vallarta they found a chance to escape the click-clack of camera lenses.
Almost six decades later, however, and Vallarta is no longer the sleepy fishing village that once hid the world’s most famous couple. It is now one of Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations and the capital of Mexico’s LGBTQ+ scene. Its cobbled streets are lined with buzzing bars and gourmet restaurants, while boutique shops and stands offer tourists the chance to pick-up a handmade trinket or two.
Thankfully, the peace that Burton and Taylor once enjoyed has not yet disappeared, as I found to my delight standing on the lower-floor patio of The Beach House, a luxury one-bedroom villa in the Puerto Vallarta Beach Club resort. Despite sitting at the very end of Playa Los Muertos (Puerto Vallarta’s busiest beach), I could hear very little apart from the rustle of the trees and the gentle jet pushing clean water into our plunge pool.
Based within the Conchas Chinas neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta Beach Club is nestled within one of the city’s most exclusive areas. As we were given an introductory tour of the property by Pancho, our kindly houseman, we learned that it boasts four elite villas nestled within jungle foliage on the southern tip of Puerto Vallarta’s beach strip. The largest is Villa Vista, an expansive four-bed property with 3,600 square feet of space and a large dining area which can host up to 36 people. There are two three-bedroom villas, Villa Romantica and Villa Alegre, plus The Beach House, our home for the weekend. Additionally, the nearby 22-suite Villa Verano — a former residence of the Macy family — is available to hire for corporate events and large parties.
Each of Puerto Vallarta Beach Club’s four villas has been designed with a playful take on the Mexican beach look. Rowing boat oars and surfboards adorn the wall. Locally-sourced paintings capture similarly beach-related themes; towering palms trees and the thatched roofs of palapas. Each also comes with a fully equipped kitchen, A/C (much needed in June), an entertainment system with a large flat-screen TV, and Bose speakers that play across the whole villa.
As beautiful as the insides are, it’s outside where the villas excel. Each comes with a private heated infinity pool which overlooks the stretching golden sands of Puerto Vallarta and the glittering Bahia de Banderas. I think you would struggle to find a better view of the whole city. On top of that, the resort also boasts Puerto Vallarta’s only in-town private beach — a delightful addition which will save you jostling among the crowds on the public playas.
After finishing our initial tour of the property — which included a look around the gym and private beach club — Pancho took us to The Beach House, our casa. The villa is divided into two levels, three if you count an upstairs office. The second floor boasts a modern kitchen, a comfy living area, and a breakfast bar. There’s also access through folding ceiling-to-floor doors to an outside patio with two sun loungers and an al-fresco dining area.
Downstairs there is an expansive bedroom with ensuite bathroom and laundry room. The lower level also connects to an outside area with the previously mentioned infinity pool and a glorious outdoor shower.
Our afternoon began, as so many do in this part of the world, with an ice-cold margarita, bowl of guacamole, salsa, and tortilla chips. The patio area is a truly beautiful spot to enjoy some Mexican classics. The view takes in the majority of Puerto Vallarta and continues to Punta Mita, another celebrity favorite getaway.
In the middle, the sail-like structure of Los Muertos pier juts out of the water while the local water taxis, known as pangas, bob on the water as pre-historic pelicans circle above. Our evening played out with cold drinks in hand, watching the tourists as they enjoyed their own holidays at the various beach clubs.
The next morning, we ventured down to the resort’s eponymous beach club for breakfast. We were treated to a very fine rendition of chilaquiles, a Mexican breakfast of tortilla chips, salsa, and beans which, it would be fair to say, has a hit-and-miss reputation with an international audience. Thankfully, the beach club’s version was very much a hit, as was the wake-me-up cappuccino and fresh fruit. Not quite ready to make a move, my partner and I sat down for a game of chess. I know a game of hard-thinking strategy might not be the first thing you might do at a beach club, but it felt like a good way to engage our brains and hopefully get some neurons firing (if you care, I lost miserably).
With a desire to explore the surrounding area, we then left The Beach House and explored the secluded Conchas Chinas. Perched on the foot of the Vallarta hills, Conchas Chinas offers winding roads hidden by high walls with ivy-like plants waterfalling over their sides. Here is where the elite reside. Luxury villas are hidden from the rest of Puerto Vallarta, even from each other. You would imagine Burton and Taylor would have felt very comfortable here. On a side note, the pair did have their own place in Puerto Vallarta but in the Gringo Gulch neighborhood towards the bustling Romantic Zone. Now, their old residence boasts an excellent restaurant which has been named among the very best in the world.
Our next adventure (after a refreshing shower and a change of clothes) was in the opposite direction, to explore the delights of central Puerto Vallarta. Getting to the center of town from Puerto Vallarta Beach Club took us along the previously mentioned Los Muertos Beach, past the local fishermen who were having varying levels of success, and alongside the many beach-side restaurants. There was plenty of places to stop. La Palapa is a local favorite offering fresh seafood right on the beach. Café Des Artistes offers excellent gourmet meals while Barcelona Tapas, which sits on the hill, offers incredible vistas over the bay.
Our stop, however, was at Pancho’s Takos, a wonderfully authentic taco restaurant with some of the best tacos in Puerto Vallarta and barely any room to move. Our night ended at the recently opened El Colibri, a hidden speakeasy serving local and international cocktails to the soundtrack of a DJ.
The following morning, our last in the villa, we took advantage of Puerto Vallarta Beach Club’s exceptional service by enjoying breakfast on our upstairs patio. The Sunday brought a continental breakfast of pancakes (created from bananas, not eggs), fresh fruit, fresh orange juice, and coffee. It’s difficult to imagine a better way to start the day or end a wonderful vacation.
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