My visit to Puerto Vallarta, MX

Although Puerto Vallarta wasn’t high on our list, when you can get $86 flights and a nearly free place to stay, why not?

We’re glad we went. Collectively, we’ve been to Mexico 12 to 15 times, and Puerto Vallarta is officially each our favorite Mexico destination so far. (Videos of our cooking class, tequila tours, pictures and more later.)

One of our favorite activities was when we rented a car for the day and went to San Francisco (Nayarit), and Sayulita. Both are REALLY cute surf towns about an hour North of Puerto Vallarta (only 20 minutes North of Nuevo Vallarta) and are well worth the visit.

On our way back, we dropped in at Mayan Palace by Vidanta resorts because I occasionally have the opportunity to get vouchers for 5 or 6 complimentary nights. If I’m going to give them away to my subscribers, I may as well know the resort. (I have a voucher myself and definitely intend on redeeming on our next Mexico visit, but we had already booked our flight and room by the time I learned about free stays at the Vidanta.)

I must admit, home-made video testimonials from other recipients of these vouchers don’t do the resort justice so I wasn’t expecting much. And my wife (who goes on an annual trip with girlfriends where they stay at pretty posh places) was expecting even less.



Upon visiting, we were both pleasantly surprised. It’s the nicest place I’ve been to (as far as big resorts go – which we prefer when traveling with the kids. Since it was just us on this trip, we liked the intimacy of the smaller boutique resort we were staying at.) Michelle said of all the places she and her friends had been on girls’ trips – this was tied for 2nd with only the Grand Hyatt in Cancun being #1. The place it tied with was another Mayan Palace in Riviera Maya.

Observations about the Mayan Palace in Puerto Nuevo:

  • Plenty of restaurant options without leaving the resort (Which is good, because it’s massive (think Disneyland), and it’s at least a 10 minute cab ride just to get off the resort grounds, and another 20 minutes from town.
  • Never a problem at all finding a chair at the pool or the beach (at least not when we were there.)
  • Very well maintained grounds
  • And unlike almost every resort I’ve been to in Mexico – the majority of employees spoke excellent English. (Although it’s nice to practice our high-school Spanish, it’s better to know that when you don’t know how to order fresh towels, that they’ll know what you’re talking about and you’ll actually get fresh towels without having to call 3 times. Mexico travelers – can I get an “Amen?”)

I interviewed several people in management about why they give away such valuable rooms, and there were two main reasons.

  1. They have employees and other fixed costs to pay, so any time they are not completely sold out, they’ll gladly let visitors stay for free knowing they’ll eat & drink [their expensive resort priced food/drink], buy their souvenirs, pay for additional activities, visit their spa, and give tips their staff wouldn’t otherwise be getting.  It’s a win-win for everyone.
  2. Although no timeshare presentations are required at all, they know that some people will be interested in coming back. (I don’t endorse timeshare ownership in any way shape or form, but I certainly plan on checking availability of Vidanta properties any time I travel in Mexico, so their free lodging vouchers paid off on me.)

*Please note that I am not a travel agent, I have not been compensated in any way for this post, nor am I compensated if you ever stay at a Vidanta resort.


BOOKVIP Vacation Vouchers

If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re concerned about the validity of the Book VIP vouchers you received as a bonus for giving our premium trip-alert service a try.

Image courtesy of

Book VIP has two aspects to their business:

  1. Bargain all-inclusive vacations that require a timeshare presentation. (A lot of people are concerned about their 130 complaints on BBB, but that’s out of tens of thousands of transactions. Despite over 130 registered complaints over the course of 5 years, they still have an A+ rating with the BBB. Here is my personal opinion on why.)
  2. “Empty Allotment” vouchers that do not require a timeshare presentation. (These are the vouchers I’ve given you, and they’ve already made money by selling the voucher to me, so unlike all destinations on, timeshare presentations are NOT required.

I am not affiliated with BookVIP, but my wife, friends, and I have been to several resorts available through their empty allotment voucher program. Here are a few more notes that might help with your decision.

  • NO timeshare presentations are required to redeem any of those vouchers.
  • You have to pre-pay taxes of about $19 per day, and it can be used for 18 months after that (subject to availability).
  • The value of the various resorts they give away vary in actual value depending on season, but they’re certainly a lot more valuable than the taxes you pay to activate them.
  • The most important thing to remember with these vouchers is that they are “subject to availability”. The more flexibility you have on dates you can go, the more likely you’ll find available dates you can redeem these vouchers. (If they don’t have availability on the dates you wish to travel – you can also ask to exchange your destination for any other destinations they serve.)
  • Here’s the rub: Although they will offer incentives like free meals, or free excursions to attend a timeshare presentation, know that it is NOT required for the lodging voucher. If you agree to attend one, make sure you get a big incentive for it!

Just as with any hotel you book – I always recommend reviewing the resort offered on TripAdvisor.  (Especially in this case. That way, you can avoid the painful discussion with the barely-english-speaking call center by just activating online. Their reservations department is far more educated and helpful, and they’re the ones who can actually answer questions about dates/destinations. The activation department’s job is solely to painfully fumble through their script designed to collect your pre-paid taxes.)

Happy travels!


PS – Please don’t forget that this voucher is a bonus for trying our trip-alert service, but has nothing to do with The JGOOT Way of travel. If you decide you don’t like their terms of service – don’t worry. Once you learn the 3 simple rules of “The JGOOT Way” of travel, there will be PLENTY of ways to get even better travel deals.

If you give “The JGOOT Way” of travel a fair chance for a couple weeks and decide you won’t be able to give a testimonial like those I’ve included below, simply email us at “” within the first 30 days, and ask for your money back. We’ll issue a refund, AND give a parting gift just for giving us a try.