For longer stays, many Puerto Vallarta visitors prefer the convenience and economy of an apartment or condominium or the luxurious comfort of a villa vacation rental. Choices vary, from spartan studios to deluxe beachfront suites and rambling homes big enough for entire extended families. Prices depend strongly upon season and amenities, ranging from about $500 per month for the cheapest to at least 10 times that for the most luxurious.
At the low end, you can expect a clean, furnished apartment within a block or two of the beach, with kitchen and regular maid service. More luxurious condos, which rent for about $500 per week, are typically high-rise oceanview suites with hotel-style desk services and resort amenities such as pool, hot tub, sundeck, and beach-level restaurant. Villas vary from moderately upscale homes to sky’s-the-limit beach-view mansions blooming with built-in designer luxuries, private pools and beaches, tennis courts, gardeners, cooks, and maids.
In contrast to Puerto Vallarta, owners in country beach resorts such as Bucerías, Rincón de Guayabitos, and Barra de Navidad call their apartment-style accommodations bungalows. This generally implies a motel-type kitchenette-suite with less service, though more spacious and more suitable for families than a hotel room. For long stays by the beach, when you want to save money by cooking your own meals, such an accommodation might be ideal.
Back in town, many of Puerto Vallarta’s best-buy apartmentos (ah-part-MAYN-tohs) and condominios (cohn-doh-MEE-nee-ohs) are in the colorful Olas Altas old-town district. They are often rented on the spot or reserved by writing or phoning the individual owners or local managers. Nevertheless, a number of agents in Puerto Vallarta manage and rent vacation lodgings.
Even more vacation rental homes and condos, many of them moderately priced, in the Jalisco and Nayarit small coastal towns of Barra de Navidad, Melaque, and La Manzanilla, south of Puerto Vallarta; and Bucerías, Punta Mita, Sayulita, San Francisco, and Rincón de Guayabitos, north of Puerto Vallarta, are accessible both through websites or by local rental agents. As for websites, one of the best is the big (but easily useable) worldwide site Vacation Rentals By Owner, www.vrbo.com, that lists many Puerto Vallarta Region vacation rentals, from budget to upscale. Other good rental websites are www.choice1.com and www.mexconnect.com.
More expensive Puerto Vallarta condo and villa rentals are quite easy to locate. They’re sprinkled everywhere, from the marina on the north side to the Conchas Chinas oceanview hillside on the southern edge of town. All the local Puerto Vallarta agents rent them. A number of U.S.-based agencies do the same through toll-free information and reservations numbers: for example, try Villas de Oro Vacation Rentals (638 Scotland Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95409, tel. 800/638-4552 or 800/898-4552, www.villasdeoro.com), Villas of Mexico (P.O. Box 3730, Chico, CA 95927, tel. 800/456-3133, www.villasofmexico.com), and Condo and Villa World (4230 Orchard Lake Rd., Suite 3, Orchard Lake, MI 48323, U.S. tel. 800/521-2980 or Can. tel. 800/453-8719, www.villaworld.com).
Another good vacation rental source is the Sunday travel section of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, such as the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, which routinely list Puerto Vallarta vacation rentals. National real estate networks, such as Century 21, also rent Puerto Vallarta properties (or can recommend someone who does).
You may also want to consider using the services of a home-exchange agency, such as www.homeexchange.com, whereby you swap homes with someone in Puerto Vallarta for a contracted time period.
Closing the Deal
Prudence should guide your vacation rental decision-making. Before paying a deposit on a sight-unseen rental, ask for satisfied customer testimonials and photographs of the property you are considering. As with all rentals, don’t pay anything until you have approved a written contract describing the rental and what’s included (such as inclusive dates, linens, towels, dishes and utensils, maid service, view, pool, taxes, and transportation from airport) for the specified sum. Put down as little advance payment as possible, preferably with a credit card, to secure your reservation.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition