Forty-two rooms and 12 suites make up Abbey Hotel Vallarta (Púlpito 138, Zona Romántica, tel. 322/222-4488, www.abbeyhotelvallarta.com, $150–190 d high), a modern tower-style hotel right on the gay beach in the Zona Romántica. All rooms are invitingly furnished, with immaculate tile floors, modern hardwood furniture, and private town- or oceanview balconies. Amenities include an in-room safety deposit box, air-conditioning, telephone, cable TV, and high-speed Internet access. Suites include kitchenettes and a large living room with dining area. Other on-site offerings include a reserved beach area, swimming pool, and Jacuzzi as well as restaurant and bar. For an additional charge, VIP airport pickup, in-room massage, and your choice of local tours and outings are also available.
When you need to feel the comfort and services of the international gay community, head to the Blue Chairs Beach Resort, perched on the south side of breezy Playa los Muertos (Malecón 4, tel. 322/222-5040, U.S./Can. tel. 866/514-7969, www.hotelbluechairs.com). Gay-owned for six years, the hotel, which advertises itself as the world’s largest gay-and-lesbian beachfront resort, is a six-story stack of about forty comfortably furnished rooms and suites, many with private sea-view balconies. During the busy winter season, you can join the hotel’s buzz of activity, starting with a friendly crowd that congregates in the hotel’s famous beachfront blue chairs, and continuing with anything from bingo and karaoke to laughing with the crowd at drag shows and theme parties. Lodging prices vary, from the most economical room (with partial ocean view) for about $60 s or d low season, $100 s or d high, to a kitchenette junior suite with ocean view ($110 s or d low season and $150 s or d high), and at the top of the scale one-bedroom oceanview villa ($119 s or d low, $230 s or d high); add $20 per additional person. All lodgings come with private baths, fans, air-conditioning, and cable TV, as well as use of the rooftop restaurant and pool.
The constantly improving Casa Cúpula (129 Callejon de la Igualdad, Zona Romántica, tel. 322/223-2484, www.casacupula.com, $160–279 d regular, $195–310 d high, suites $275–375) has added a gymnasium to its services. The gay-owned and managed bed-and-breakfast promises you personal service, and you will not only feel cared for but pampered while staying in one of the 10 rooms. Located above the highway in a quiet area surrounded by the peaceful jungle, it’s the sort of place where you’ll see hummingbirds flitting around the relaxing lounge area and pool. Chef Jim Jardine comes from San Francisco and serves up relaxed home-style gourmet cuisine.
Casa de Los Arcos (Hortensias 168, Alta Vista, tel. 322/222-5990, www.casadelosarcos.com, $100–200 d low, $150–275 d high, weekly rates), a four-casita hillside villa, allows the option of renting the entire place for groups of family or friends, or, when available, renting a separate casita. Each casita features its own living room, dining area, kitchen and private terrace with air-conditioning in the closed areas. The house is fully staffed Monday through Saturday; the cook is available Sunday for an extra charge. What’s great about this residence is that you and a group of friends can all stay in one place, but you’ll have your privacy when you need it, as well as large common living areas. The atmosphere has a very Mexican flavor, and the open-air palapa roof and private terraces will help you relax.
A boutique condo-hotel located right in the Zona Romántica, the San Franciscan (Pilitas 213, Zona Romántica, tel. 322/222-6473, www.san-franciscan.com, $66–100 d low, $130–189 d high, 4 bdrms $179 d low, $360 d high) offers a protected haven with 20 rooms and easy access to any of the services outside the gates. The five floors host a variety of room types, including large suites that can accommodate groups of up to six or eight. Amenities and services include free long-distance calls to the United States and Canada, free Internet access, no rate increase for regular registered customers for ten years, air-conditioning, kitchens with microwaves, cookware, silverware, and china—and just about anything else to make your stay comfortable. Adults only, no pets.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition