The Vallarta Palace – Concluding our Vacation with a Bang!

Jennifer Stern November 8, 2010 No Comments


It had been a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable family reunion with my three boys and my parents at the Vallarta Palace in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After the dolphins and waterpark adventure of the previous day, we elected to lie relatively low for our last day of complete and total indulgence at this amazing resort. Believe me, I was all too well aware that a mere twenty-four hours from now, the land of getting whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted would be replaced by “Mom, when’s dinner? Mom, where are my jeans? Mom, did you wash my sweatshirt? Mom? Mom? Mom?…”

Puerto Vallarta Sky

Cloudy skies? Is there a storm brewing?

So, I intended to take my vegging out VERY seriously today. When I woke up and found all the boys still sound asleep (worn out, no doubt, by all that climbing up and sliding down waterslides and belting out karaoke tunes), I quietly donned one of the hotel’s plush white bathrobes and slippers, and let the kids sleep in while I slipped next door to my parents’ room for coffee.

When the boys finally woke up around 9:30, we all headed downstairs to the Mar Intimo restaurant for breakfast. By this time the drill had become very familiar, and we were on a first-name basis with our hostess, waiters and waitresses. Since I had been overdosing on a steady diet of eggs, bacon, refried beans and chorizo, today I decided that in preparation for the extreme diet I was planning to go on once we hit the States, I’d have something that felt slightly more virtuous–fruit, cereal and yogurt. The kids, however, felt no such compunction. Will ate his usual “truck driver’s” breakfast of hash browns, bacon, eggs and bagels, and Tris and Ben dove into the sugary cereals and sweet breakfast pastries, washed down with smoothies.

We decided to set up “camp” on the beach today rather than the pool; for some reason it was slightly cooler on the beach. (And a bit quieter as well, since we had grown a bit weary of the pool emcee’s relentless Spanish/English banter…) As usual, we chose the back row of chaise lounges, since if we sat in the front row we were essentially sitting ducks for harrassment by the endless stream of Mexican vendors who kept parading past us armed with trunks of cheap silver jewelry, beach cover-ups and other trinkets. We slathered on our sunblock, donned our sunglasses, gave the waitress our drink orders, and settled back to relax and read while the boys ran down to test out the waves.

Today, however, instead of ignoring the vendors hawking their wares, I found myself watching them from behind my enormous sunglasses. Maybe because I knew it would be my last day south of the border for perhaps some time, I suddenly felt an urgent need to at least LOOK at the merchandise they were offering. Who knows, maybe it was just the fact that I hadn’t spent any actual money in a week and the compulsion to shop was growing ever more intense. My pesos were burning a hole in my pocket!

Puerto Vallarta Palace Pool Cocktail

All this relaxation is making me hungry...

So it was that before too long I heaved myself up off of the lounge chair and ambled slowly down the beach to the vendors’ store–essentially just a very large canvas tent set up on the beach, crammed so full of clothing, jewelry and handpainted Mexican-made knickknacks you could barely maneuver around the store. I pushed my way in, smiled politely and said “Hola, Como estas?” to the proprietors, and proceeded to browse my way through rack after rack of colorful beach cover-ups that I had seen many women wearing all around the resort.

After several minutes, I pulled two strapless cover-ups off the rack; one black, the other a bright lime green, both embellished with multicolored sequins, each with a fringed bottom. Kind of gaudy, but also kind of cute, I decided. Each one was the equivalent of ten American dollars–quite inexpensive–but I decided, what the heck, haggling was part of the fun. So I negotiated with one of the proprietors (an extremely pregnant young woman) and was able to buy both the black and the green dress for the equivalent of twenty American dollars. Score!!

Satisfied with my purchase, I made my way back to where the family was lounging around under their palm-frond umbrellas and discussing lunch. Ah, my most favorite decision to have to make while on vacation!

We headed up to the pool area and found yet another lunch buffet awaiting us: sandwiches, chicken, tortillas, pizza, salad, chips, and the requisite salsa and guacamole. A little ice cream for dessert, and once again I came dangerously close to busting out of my bathing suit! Good thing I bought those dresses with a little extra room…

Puerto Vallarta Palace Beach

Life's a beach...

The balance of the afternoon was spent in a blissful semi-comatose state where I alternately read, dunked myself in the water (no actual swimming, mind you–that would have been too much activity), and napped. Like I said earlier, I was taking this relaxation thing SERIOUSLY…

Around 5 p.m. we noticed that some clouds had started to roll in. By 5:30 the waning sunshine had been blocked altogether by some fairly heavy gray cloud cover, so we took that as a sign to call it “a day at the beach” and began packing up our things. Clearly, we weren’t going to be catching any more rays today.

We repaired back to our rooms to relax some more and take showers, and then–surprise, surprise!!–it was time to decide where to EAT again. Because we had not yet done so, we thought we’d go to the Asian restaurant, MoMoNoHana, tonight. Since I had only one child that I knew for sure would eat Asian food, I wasn’t extremely hopeful that the night would be a pleasant experience. But with the help of some sake (Japanese rice wine), who knew?

The overcast skies had grown progressively darker and a gusty wind had picked up while we were getting ready for dinner. On the way down to the restaurant it began to rain–a drizzle at first, then more steadily until sheets of rain were pelting us as we ran for cover between the buildings. Fortunately we made it inside the restaurant just as a huge bolt of lightning illuminated the dark sky and a clap of thunder sounded just a little too close for comfort.

Damp but relieved, we allowed the hostess to lead us to our table–a Japanese hibachi table where the chef would both entertain and feed us simultaneously. As we walked in, who should we meet but the Kim family, already in the process of eating their dinner. We greeted each other and sat down, chatting about the abrupt change in the weather while the wind howled around the building, blowing the torrential rains sideways into the glass windows.

MoMoNoHana Restaurant Puerto Vallarta Palace

We ran into the Kim family at MoMoNoHana for dinner

Our attentive waiters, clad in quilted red jackets with Mandarin collars, served us with menus and wine. They hovered at our elbows, anticipating our every need. Maybe because of the storm, it was a very slow night. They took our orders after a few minutes and disappeared into the kitchen.

Suddenly there was an enormous BANG of thunder so loud that our dishes and glassware rattled on the table–and the already-dim restaurant went completely dark. A gasp of surprise went up from the handful of diners–including the Kims and us. In a few minutes the dining room went from pitch-black to dimly-lit again thanks to generator power–but the air-conditioning had gone out, and stayed out. As well as the ventilation system. So, due to the suffocating levels of humidity (which the squall was doing nothing to relieve), we were growing more uncomfortably warm by the minute–and within about ten minutes, smoke from the kitchen began seeping into the dining room.

Since we had already placed our orders and were hungry, there wasn’t much we could do but wait, and joke about our less-than-ideal situation. The hovering waiters lit candles, poured more wine, and at long last, brought our meals. I was pleasantly surprised–nay, shocked is more like it–to see that all three of my boys ate their dinners with gusto, and didn’t complain about a single thing. Maybe because they couldn’t quite see what they were eating? Whatever. I didn’t want to know. Sometimes motherhood does have its small victories…

Just as the dinner dishes were being cleared and the sweat was beginning to trickle down my neck, everything suddenly blazed with light and the hum of the restored air-conditioning kicked back in. We had power again! All the diners cheered and broke out in spontaneous applause, and we celebrated with dessert and coffee.

Puerto Vallarta Palace Dinner

Chinese noodles!! Yummy!!

The Kims, who were saddened to hear that we were leaving for home the next day, exchanged e-mails addresses with us and promised they would keep in touch–and they have. We took some photos with them (little Samantha had suddenly grown shy), and took our leave. At long last, the storm had abated, so we made it back to our rooms relatively dry.

The part of vacation no one likes had arrived–time to pack up and head for home. The boys and I had had a memorable time, and it was great to see Mom and Dad, who we see so infrequently these days. But we missed our own “Dad,” who was working hard for us at home in Southern California. And that is the silver lining to every vacation, I think. As nice as it is to travel, it’s even nicer to come home.

Vallarta Palace Series:

Part 1: Getting the Royal Treatment at the Vallarta Palace
Part 2: Puerto Vallarta Palace – Living Like Kings and Queens
Part 3: Activities and Pampering at the Vallarta Palace
Part 4: Vallarta Palace–Dolphins and Karaoke!
Part 5: The Vallarta Palace – Concluding our Vacation with a Bang!

avatarAbout the Author:

Jennifer Stern is a mom of three teen boys, who provide her with constant inspiration to write. She is also a fitness professional/junkie who teaches everything from Spinning to Zumba. A New Jersey native, this is her second time living in Southern California. She loves the L.A. lifestyle, but does miss eating decent pizza and bagels--so she consoles herself with excellent Mexican food. She and her family live in Burbank.

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