Last week key players in Puerto Vallarta’s tourism industry convened in the city to host the 26th annual Gala Vallarta. In attendance were the tourist boards and CVBs from Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit  along with hotel owners, desination management companies, meetings planners and tour operators, all there to discuss the growing future of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, a future that is brimming with new developments.

Next year Riviera Nayarit is expecting two new luxury hotels: the W Punta de Mita and the One&Only Mandarina, according to Marc Murphy, the managing director of the Riviera Nayarit CVB. The W Punta de Mita is set to open in 2016 in the Los Veneros development of Punta de Mita. The oceanfront property will have 120 guest villas as well as a 4,000-square-foot spa, gym, bar lounge, a W Living Room and swimming pool and will have a contemporary design. One&Only will make its debut in Riviera Nayarit with the One&Only Mandarina in 2017. The property will have 145 villas as well as separate private residential estates. A beach club and pool will have private cabanas and a poolside cafe and lounge. There will also be a family pool, a One&Only Spa and fitness center.

In 2018 Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta will partner to construct and operate a 300-acre, immersive theme park experience in Nuevo Vallarta. The experience will include a waterpark, a nature park and an outdoor evening show for as many as 5,000 spectators. Each experience within the entertainment park will be designed and performed by Cirque du Soleil artists.  

The bohemian beachside retreat Sayulita, in the Nayarit, was named a Magic Town of Mexico. The cultural and historical designation has been given to 111 towns that exhibit authentic charm. The Magical Villages Program is an initiative launched in 2001 by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism (Sectur) in conjunction with other federal and state agencies to promote a series of towns chosen for their natural beauty, cultural riches and historical relevance. Towns chosen for the program are entitled to a share of $23 million in federal funding in 2016 that they can use to upgrade their tourism infrastructures.

Puerto Vallarta Airport, which services both Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, saw huge growth in 2015. An additional 276,000 seats served Puerto Vallarta last year, as Southwest began flying from Denver, Houston and California’s Orange County. As for 2016, there is also talk of JetBlue operating a direct New York-P.V. flight, though details of that are not confirmed.

On the P.V. hotel front, the city is busy trying to make a name for itself in the luxury hotel world, a category that the Riviera Nayarit has been better known for. This started with the opening of Hotel Mousai and the relaunch of Casa Kimberly in 2015, but looking ahead there are more luxury projects in the works.

“We are investing in new hotels, renovations and infrastructure, much of which will cater to a high-level of customer,” says Alvaro Graciarce, president of the Puerto Vallarta Hotels Association. Three more hotels are expected to open in Puerto Vallarta in 2016 int he luxury segment. One, Graciarce confirmed, is going to be AMResort’s luxury brand, Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts. The other two brands have not been confirmed, but will be in the five-star range.

Puerto Vallarta also expects to see growth in the boutique hotel market. Agustin Alvarez Valdivia, director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, said there was a lack of space for developing sprawling resorts in the destination. “We want to have a luxury leisure market, and we think boutique hotels are going to do that,” he said.

“3.6 million tourists visited Puerto Vallarta in 2015, with 136 cruise ships,” says Valdivia. “In 2016 there is an estimated arrival of 149 cruise ships.”

To handle the growth in cruise passengers, Puerto Vallarta has planned a renovation of its port. This will include an investment of more than $20 million and will open in three phases over five years. The new port will include a new welcome center, an aquarium, a tequila center and shopping.

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