4 days in Puerto Vallarta
This trip is probably my favorite one to write about. Mainly because the entire process was a complete surprise for Brad’s birthday! From the beginning, I’ve always told Brad that I’d much rather have experiences as gifts, versus tangible objects. I’m also not the type to get super excited over holidays, so I like to really celebrate my loved one’s birthdays. With that being said, this is how I pulled off his international surprise:
I decided on Mexico because it’s such a short flight from Southern California, but still has the spiciness of being an international adventure. I specifically chose Puerto Vallarta because from what I had read, it was the least touristy out of the big 3 options (Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cabo).
I planted the surprise seed with Brad’s family a few months before the trip, to both recruit help and also invite them on the trip. While doing some initial searching, it became clear that the best travel site for this specific trip was Costco Travel. They had affordable all inclusive packages that were available exclusively to Costco members. When I say all inclusive, I mean EVERYTHING is taken care of. The flights each way, a shuttle ride to/from the airport, and the room/food/drinks/taxes/etc. at the resort. They usually throw in an extra Costco cash card as well, depending on the option you book. I usually like to customize my trips, but for this type of travel, it was perfect.
Now that the package had been booked, and his family was in on the secret, I just had to figure out logistics for making it to the airport. We stayed in LA with my brother the night before our flight, I had been convincing Brad that we were up there to just explore some new restaurants. I asked his family to pack a suitcase for him, and to bring it to the airport with them.
I ordered an Uber to the airport, and asked the driver to not say our destination out loud. While we were finishing getting ready, my brother snuck outside and threw our suitcases in the trunk. As we started nearing LAX, Brad kept asking a million questions. I tried to keep a sober face as long as I could!
We walked into the terminal, where the rest of his family was already waiting. So now he knew we were going somewhere, with them, but still didn’t know where. It was great watching him guess a thousand destinations. Finally, when we got to the gate, he saw the sign and realized we were going to Mexico! Now it was time to party.
We landed in PV, hopped on the Costco shuttle, then checked into the Grand Fiesta Americana Resort (all-inclusive/adults only). I highly recommend this place, we’ve gone 3 times since then. Great food, entertainment, and an awesome pool/beach set up.
The next three days were full of all inclusive fun! My favorite restaurant on the property is called The Cevicheria, where they serve more than a dozen types of ceviche. Super fresh, and each dish is packed with flavor, I could literally sit there all day. There was a Bob Marley cover band playing the first night, which we all really enjoyed with margaritas in hand. There was also a foam party in the pool at some point, with a d.j., and some sort of competition that I don’t clearly remember :)
We did spend one afternoon in the downtown area of PV. This was about a 20 minute cab drive down from Grand Fiesta. There’s a few quaint little markets in that area, and some really cool art sculptures that are sprinkled around the city.
This is where Brad and I started the tradition of collecting a rock from each trip. We found one on the beach, marked it with the date/location, and started packing up to head back home. Checking out and getting back to the airport was a breeze (thanks Costco Travel). I can’t say enough good things about how seamless and easy this trip was! Little did I know, the next time we would be staying at Grand Fiesta, Brad was going to propose!