In Puerto Vallarta, it's 'All's bien that ends bien'

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PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- If you didn't know a hurricane hit Puerto Vallarta last fall, you wouldn't guess it today.

The damage from Hurricane Kenna has been cleaned up, and the city is forging ahead with plans to make itself even more attractive.

A replica has been constructed of Los Arcos, the historic arches on the waterfront and a symbol of the city, which was swept away by the hurricane's high waters.

The sculpture "In Search of Reason" was damaged but has been restored by artist Sergio Bustamente, and the cast-bronze sculpture "Rotunda del Mar," upturned by the hurricane, soon will be repaired.

Puerto Vallarta has recovered from last year's Hurricane Kenna. The city is forging ahead with plans to make itself even more attractive. Amazingly, not a single palm tree was lost in the town, according to tourism officials.

Among the hotels that needed sprucing up following the storm is the Premiere Hotel & Spa, a stylish property at the northern end of the town center.

The main floor's public areas had to be partially redecorated, according to Pilar Vazquez, general manager. The result is impressive, with fresh, contemporary Mexican artwork gracing the walls.

For Puerto Vallarta today, the focus is on new attractions, including an extension of the waterfront walkway, the Malecon.

A new pedestrian bridge across the Cuale River, part of the walkway extension, means clients can stroll from the town center to Los Muertos beach, another popular tourist area.

Also new is the downtown Cuale Cultural Center, which opened in March on an island in the middle of the river. The theater stages performances by drama and music groups, and the adjoining open-air plaza hosts dance performances. A flea market will be held each weekend during high season.

On the nightlife scene, clients now can enjoy Hilo, a nightclub that opened its doors early this year on the Malecon.

And clients interested in holistic treatments soon will be able to spend a night or two at Terra Noble, a Shanti healing center offering massage, facials and body treatments.

The facility plans to construct clay "huts" to be used for over-night stays; the first two are to be ready by year's end.

Puerto Vallarta also may add an event to its busy year-round schedule: the International Film Festival of Puerto Vallarta.

Plans are under way, and local officials have gotten Angelica Huston and Danny Huston involved in the discussions.

The Hustons are the actor/director offspring of the late filmmaker John Huston, who helped bring Puerto Vallarta to prominence in 1964 with the film "The Night of the Iguana." No date has been set for the event.

For more information about Puerto Vallarta, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at (888) 384-6822 or visit www.visitpuertovallarta.com.

Sales pitch

• Keep up with Puerto Vallarta. Before meetings with clients, check some local Web sites to find out the latest happenings.

• Know your clients. Hotels are in several distinct zones. Send clients interested in elegant, all-inclusive hotels or resorts to beachfront properties; send clients who like to be in the middle of it all to downtown hotels.

• Suggest tacking on Guadalajara, a short flight away but a very different experience.

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