Puerto Vallarta

Out and About in Puerto Vallarta
by Lisa Coleman When we describe a city as having “style,” we are usually thinking in terms of its unique characteristics, the subtle specialties that set it apart and a particular charm that shines amongst the others. For some reason this definition is commonly reserved for the likes of Paris, London or New York… hardly beach cities in Mexico. Well, I think it’s time to broaden the scope because Puerto Vallarta definitely has style, and lots of it.

The basic facts are undeniable. This is Mexico’s most popular Pacific Coast destination complete with crystal blue water, picture perfect sunsets, twenty six miles of great beaches, stunning world-class resorts and some of country’s best golf courses. Sometimes referred to as the “San Francisco of Mexico,” Puerto Vallarta is the ultimate blend of colonial charm, seaside beauty, and imaginative sophistication. Framed by the lush foothills of the Sierra Madre, Vallarta has built a reputation as one of Mexico’s cultural centers. The town itself is a visual feast with cobblestone streets and stucco homes with red tile roofs as the essential elements of architecture. The artistry of the city comes to life in the prestigious galleries, colorful local craft shops and the culinary wizardry in the outstanding restaurants.

Throughout the month of November, Vallarta becomes a Mecca for cultural tourism and can truly stake its claim as the place “where Mexico comes to life.” From November 6-14, 2004, the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas (www.puertovallartafilm.com) will bring plenty of gala events and excitement to town. Organized with the support of Anjelica Huston (daughter of the famous director John Huston who gained notoriety for films made in Vallarta), the festival will showcase contemporary full-length films and documentaries from North and South America. The breadth of programming allows for a wide range of productions. During the festival days, participating hotels will sponsor Talking Pictures, interactive groups that bring together film students, makers and buffs to discuss all aspects of the filmmaking process. The goal is to establish Vallarta as an important festival location and to bring together local, national and international talent to celebrate the art of cinema.

Mexico’s premiere culinary event will go hand in hand with the film experience. Usually attracting more than 20,000 attendees each year, the tenth annual Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival will be celebrated from November 11-21, 2004. This ten day epicurean f te showcases a spicy blend of talented chefs from acclaimed restaurants in Mexico and throughout the world. Participants will have the opportunity to attend any number of “Chefs and Winemakers Dinners,” cooking classes, cheese seminars, Tequila Madness Night, sunset wine tastings, and an exceptional Gourmet Brunch at the famous Café des Artistes restaurant. There will also be a “Gourmet Expo” introducing the latest creative items available for the kitchen.

To round out the cultural side things, the Puerto Vallarta Art Festival (Festival de las Artes) will be taking place on November 6-21, 2004. An impressive series of art gallery shows and open-air beachside performances highlight the happening. All the events are free to the public and feature an array of artwork displayed from artists throughout Mexico.

If you prefer the great outdoors to art and culture, November in Vallarta is still the place to be. At home on the largest natural bay in Mexico, Vallarta is an ecological wonder. Botanical horseback safaris, mountain biking, and sea kayaking bring nature to your fingertips, but it’s fishing and golf that take center stage in the fall. The International Sailfish Tournament (www.pvfishingtournament.com) runs from November 19-21, 2004. The renowned Torneo Internacional Jalisco Pez Vela (as it is called in Spanish) has been taking place for 49 years and is considered one of the most prestigious international tournaments on Mexico’s west coast. The exciting program includes a welcome dinner, Inauguration Ceremony, a nightly “Reception of the Day’s Catch” dinner, and the Grand Award Dinner.

Golf Magazine says Mexico has become second only to Hawaii for U.S. golfers, and with six championship courses in the area, Vallarta is quickly jumping to the top of the list. In 2002, Puerto Vallarta proudly hosted the EMC World Golf Cup. Since then, Vallarta’s golf courses and events have been in the spotlight. With big name course designers like Nicklaus, Weiskopf, Finger and Von Hagge, Vallarta is developing the best of the best.

Getting out and about in Puerto Vallarta is always memorable. Stepping into the cultural arena, Vallarta has transformed itself into something more than just a beach destination. The special combination of pure relaxation tempered with the perfect touch of elegant refinement make it a rare find south of the border. Vallarta has never been specifically crafted to fit the tourism industry, but instead has been a city that has evolved over decades into its own unique destination. With plenty of events and activities, there is no question that Puerto Vallarta comes very close to being all things to all visitors.