puerto vallarta resort

Retrospects : May 2017

In Retrospects, Mexico, Blog, Sweet Stays, North America, Interests, Food & Drink, Series, Destinations by ajauntwithjoy@gmail.com0 Comments

May 2017 was mainly spent at home in Sacramento and the surrounding towns. But I also went on my first FAM trip as a travel agent at the beginning of the month! I stayed in two different resorts in the Puerto Vallarta area of Mexico, and toured a ton of others. It was a business trip, but when you’re touring 4 and 5 star resorts — who all serve you “welcome cocktails” — business turns to pleasure real quick! (Haa, I kid, I kid. Kind of.)

This month also had disappointing job-related news, a super scary hospital visit, and just a helluva lot of drama. See the details below!

Destinations Visited

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — 3 nights
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico — 2 nights
Sacramento, California Area — 26 days

may 2017

The Highs

My FAM Trip to Mexico was obviously the biggest high this month! At first, I was worried that being the youngest travel agent of the group (by like 2 or 3 decades), that I would feel kind of out of place. And being an independently contracted agent for this company means that, though we all work for the same place, we’re working from home or wherever we have wifi. So many of the agents I only knew through attending some meetings together. But as soon as I met them all, I could tell it was gonna be a fun week! They had me cracking up the whole time! And I learned so much from them! It was also amazing to get to stay in two boojie resorts, and pay only the taxes and tips. Something this budget backpacker is so not used to. #travelagentperks

group trip

business trip

fish foot spa

My boyfriend came home from his temporary Palm Springs job early! So instead of only getting to see him for one day before he left for his Maryland park ranger job, I got to see him for longer! We’ll be doing almost 5 months long distance, so this was such a relief to get to spend more time with him.

The Lows

Well that was disappointing. I had been waiting almost eight months for a wildlife job position in Antarctica to be announced on their website. Once it was finally open, I applied and made a positive-sounding contact with someone there. The problem was, the hiring process changed over to a new person and I didn’t get the job. It sounded like they wound up hiring re-hires. I guess there’s always next year.

My roommate and I had her car packed full of our gear and food rations to last the next month or so. We were headed to a temporary job in the desert. Ten minutes into our 7 hour drive, we got a phone call saying not to come that day. Long story short, the job was waiting on certain permits and things to go through. In the end, we wound up not being able to wait to go down there, but it would’ve been so cool to survey for desert creatures!

My boyfriend may have come home early from one job, but he left again for his next one. This time for a 5 month park ranger job to Maryland, on the opposite side of the country. I’m so stoked that he gets to go back to his home state and visit his friends and family while working there. And that he landed another park season. But this will be one of the longest times we’ve spent apart and I am so not looking forward to more long distance relationship woes. The worst part is, he doesn’t have an official end date (and he actually got extended an extra month so it’ll now be 6 months away).


My roommate is a volunteer blacksmith (I know. SO cool, right?!) and I often go with her so that I can hike while she works. I was on my way back to the blacksmith shop after my hike and she wasn’t there. The old guys that teach her told me she was just sent to the hospital by ambulance for passing out and hitting her head on a rock and seizuring. All I could think to say was “Don’t you play me like that.” I didn’t want to believe them. When I got to the hospital, she was in a room with a neck and head contraption and all kinds of tubes in her. She was fine though, and she had me cracking up by trying to Snapchat herself. The face filters wouldn’t work at first because they couldn’t recognize that she had one! BAHA!

hospital scare

Memorable Food

Spending 5 days in fancy Mexico resorts for my FAM trip obviously meant a lot of incredible food this month! The most memorable was our dinner at the Insu Sky Lounge at the Marival Residences. The food and drinks were phenomenal, and the atmosphere was a mix of romantic and energetic. We were served four series of tapas from around the world, and they surprised us at the end with a tower of desserts on sticks! I also had a tamarind margarita and a red beer with hibiscus in it. Oh, and the restaurant was on the rooftop overlooking the ocean, with sunset views. So yeh. This one’s a clear winner.

insu sky lounge
marival residences

Another dinner was spent at the La Pergola restaurant at the Marival Resort & Suites, the sister property of the one above. The food was great, but the most memorable item was the flaming coffee. Yes – coffee on FIRE! Plus, the servers hosting us were hilarious and so much fun!

flaming coffee

On our second to last day of the trip, we had breakfast at Rancho Banderas. This secluded romantic property is in the Riviera Nayarit area of Puerto Vallarta. Its thatch-roofed restaurant overlooks the ocean and a beautiful beach. We were served halved coconuts with fruits in the shell, with yogurt and granola on the sides. I also tried chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican dish, for the first time!

breakfast goals

beach restaurant

One afternoon off in Puerto Vallarta, the other travel agents and I shuttled into town. Most of us wandered the markets and I helped everyone barter for souvenirs. We were all getting hungry so I asked the shopkeepers where to get street tacos. Up until this point, we had only eaten in the resort restaurants, and we hadn’t really been able to get authentic Mexican food. I led the other agents to the taqueria and helped them order. It was such a fun experience for me because many of these agents were used to nice hotels, guided tours, resort living, and cruises. This was my way of sharing a bit of my own travel style with them — diving into the culture more and eating among the locals. Plus, I introduced them to horchata and they LOVED the food too!


While back home in Sacramento, my roommate and I drove to Davis to cheer on our friend who was graduating with a Doctorate in Vet Medicine. His parents were in town and took us to a super fancy Italian restaurant called Osteria Fasulo. We sat outside by the garden under the string lights and ordered off the Graduation Menu. My almond crusted trout with butter, white wine, and sage was so good!

Memorable Lodging

Guys. Oh. My. GAWD. Lookit her butt. The W Punta De Mita is THE hippest resort I’ve ever laid eyes on. I’m partial to cabins, yurts, and unique airbnbs, but this resort changed the game for me! We toured a lot of properties while in Mexico, and after a while, many started to all blend together. But the W was totally different and it stood out in the best way. It started with a fun ride on a tuk tuk to the quirky decor of the lobby, where we went on to the colorful rooms and trendy spa. Don’t even get me started on the penthouse!

W Punta De Mita

resort lobby

resort suite

resort spa

design goals

My second favorite lodging of the month was our 3 night stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. This all-inclusive resort took such great care of us (and ALL their guests) and they truly paid attention to the little things. They surprised us one night with spa vouchers and another night with chocolate covered strawberries. The service was fantastic and you could tell it was genuine. This property had SO much to offer too, with all of its yummy restaurant options, stunning beachside location, and endless entertainment available.

resort lobby

resort suite

bedroom balcony views

The Marival Resort & Suites and the Marival Residences also stood out, along with the quiet romantic Rancho Banderas.

To see more of my Puerto Vallarta resort photos from all 17 properties, check out the Ships And Trips Travel Facebook album links below :
Puerto Vallarta Resorts
More Puerto Vallarta Resorts
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Best Wildlife Shot

While in Mexico, I saw a few dolphins surfacing in the distance and we saw some rays right by our oceanside dinner table one night! We also saw a huge iguana by the market. But of course I didn’t have my Nikon for any of these sightings. So this photo of a mural at my favorite property will have to do.
(What, it counts, right? RIGHT?!)

w punta de mita

Most Popular Instagram Shot

Out of all my colorful and beachy Mexico shots, this random one I posted of my boyfriend and I kayaking in Tahoe got the most likes! Maybe because of the caption though. He was leaving the night I posted this, for a 5 month (now 6 month) job across the country. I was trying to be positive about the long distance by highlighting some of the pro’s to it. Such as starfishing all over the bed and only having to get dressed from the waist up for Skype dates. ;)

kayaking lake tahoe

Posts Written

Travel Alaska From Fairbanks To Anchorage — All the best lodging, food, and activities on a road trip from Fairbanks to Anchorage, with stops in Denali and Talkeetna!

Retrospects : January 2017 — Read on for an overview of my January 2017 destinations and adventures. Also included are my highs, lows, most memorable food, and more!

Featured Travel & Outdoor Product

Right before my FAM trip, I got a Sand Cloud Towel in the mail. Can we talk about the pattern and colors?! I am obsessed. I’ve brought it on nearly all of my trips now and I love how versatile it is! It’s not only a soft cute towel, but it can also be used as a scarf, a blanket, or as something to whip in the air at french-fry-snatching seagulls.
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sand cloud towel

Coming Up…

Most of June is spent on two different ships doing cruise contracts to Alaska! This will be my 5th summer working in Alaska – 4 on ships and 1 with marine mammals in the arctic. I just can’t stay away from the Final Frontier!

cruise alaska

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