As many of us know, getting the chance to truly unwind while on vacation can sometimes prove more difficult than expected. Just because you’ve arrived in a beautiful area with sun and sand doesn’t mean your brain suddenly turns off the constant hum of everyday life. However, I just completely unplugged for the first time in a long time after spending a few days at the most relaxing resort in Puerto Vallarta, The Westin, which is only a quick five-minute drive from the airport.
Trying To Unwind Can Actually Be Stressful
Have you ever tried to relax? The statement itself is a bit of an oxymoron. Try to relax? Attempting to relax and being unsuccessful can be its own source of stress. Relaxing should be effortless, and at The Westin, it was.
To really understand how rare this experience was for me, I’ve got to let you in on a secret…
I love my job.
No, seriously. I have never been as passionate about anything else in my entire life, and I am so grateful to be able to say that! However, it can be hard to unwind or unplug when you are so invested and interested in something. I don’t really see this as a downside because it’s what I am most passionate about.
Still, regardless of how I feel about it, it’s wise to unplug every now and then for mental health and relaxation. Lucky for me, The Westin didn’t give me a choice! Even if I tried to work (which I did), I was able to relax more than I had in months.
Worry-Free From The Start
I was lucky enough to have the row to myself on the flight in, and things only got easier from there. Getting through customs in Puerto Vallarta is a breeze, and transport from the airport was arranged through The Westin.
When I walked outside, my driver was already waiting for me with a sign that had my name on it. A quick 5-minute drive later, and I was greeted by The Westin’s beautiful lobby and signature White Tea scent. My senses were pleasantly overwhelmed, and I felt like I’d entered another world.
**Author’s Airport Tip**
One quick tip for navigating Puerto Vallarta’s airport — make sure you don’t fall for any of the timeshare people’s tactics in the “shark tank.” People inside the airport will try to convince you that they are your transport, don’t fall for it. Walk all the way outside of the airport, where the actual transport operators will be waiting.
The scale of the building, the perfect weather, and the wonderful immediate service made everything feel surreal. My bags were quickly whisked away to be taken to my room, check-in took all of two minutes, and I was in my room shortly after. I’d only landed just over thirty minutes prior and was already enjoying a cup of afternoon tea while taking in the incredible view from my balcony.
A Dinner That Will Ground You, Literally
As a solo traveler and borderline introvert, getting to know new people can sometimes be challenging. After a long day of flying, my energy levels can make it difficult to put the effort forth to get to know people I’ve never met or even catch up with those that I already know. That all changed during the first evening’s dinner at The Westin.
Our group (who had only met virtually up to this point) met in the lobby before walking through the gorgeous property to our dinner location. The Westin sits on what used to be a palm tree farm, and great effort was taken to preserve the trees. Even the pools were built around existing trees. The whole resort feels cozy — as if you’re closed off from the entire world, so the walk already made the evening feel special.
When we reached our dinner spot, the ambiance really kicked in. We had booked a ‘sunset picnic’ right on the lawn overlooking the beach, and I instantly knew it was going to be a great night. Getting down closer to the ground gave the entire experience a much more intimate feel.
Smiles were plenty, and conversation was easy. This was definitely the best way to get to know people, and would be perfect for families and friends to enjoy together and catch up. The string lights over the table lit up as the sun went down, and fireworks started a short way down the beach, adding a whole other element to the evening as we enjoyed our desserts. As the night came to a close, I knew I’d made some good friends that I would keep beyond the trip.
After wrapping up dinner, I went back to my room to end the night in the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever been in. (I later found out that The Westin has their own signature Heavenly® Beds, no wonder I slept so well!) When I go back to The Westin (and I will be going back), I will absolutely be booking a sunset picnic again.
Sometimes The Best Way To Relax Is With Intentional Stress
I am the kind of person who finds it challenging to sit still. Lounging on a beach all day is hard for me, and I find it much more enjoyable to go hiking, snorkeling, or, in this trip’s case, ziplining. As a person with a healthy fear of heights, I can confidently say that my stress levels were raised!
After about a 20-minute scenic ride, we arrived at Canopy River, where we ziplined across the mountains 11 times before taking a donkey ride back to the top. If you find yourself here, make sure to check out Jorullo Bridge after your ziplining tour. It’s the longest suspension bridge in the world, and offers some great views!
The tallest zipline was 500ft in the air and 1500ft long! Certainly enough to kick up my cortisol levels, but it was a blast! After the initial fear wore off, the views offered while suspended between two mountains were almost therapeutic. The rest of my day felt so calm after starting it off with such a rush. In fact, I spent several hours lounging next to the pool, reading a book. Something I usually wouldn’t be able to do for very long.
The Most Relaxing Day Of 2022
It’s been a busy year for me, and life has changed drastically since the start of 2022. I set many goals for myself, and I’ve basically worked nonstop to meet them. In the midst of that, it’s been difficult to allow myself to relax. However, during my third day at The Westin, I reached a level of tranquility I hadn’t achieved in ages.
This will likely come as a surprise to no one, but my most relaxing day of 2022 began with a trip to The Westin Spa. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say it was the best massage of my life. Before beginning, I was asked if I had any areas that needed special attention, and I definitely did. My neck has been stiff for months, and I’ve been too busy with life to really do anything about it. My therapist nodded and said they would take care of it, and they did! For the first time in months, I could bend my neck completely without any pain.
After the massage, I spent another hour taking advantage of the steam room, sauna, and sleep room, where I was able to fall asleep for about 30 minutes. When I finally decided to leave (and it took some convincing!), I felt like I was floating. Not many things can get me to completely unwind, but The Westin Spa (thankfully) gave me no choice.
Tips For A Relaxing Time In Downtown Puerto Vallarta
While I can’t recommend The Westin enough, it’s worth getting off the property to explore some of the surrounding areas. Staying at The Westin makes this very easy. To check out the immediate area, I’d recommend renting a Move Well bike from the front desk. The roads and sidewalks around the resort are all very bike friendly, and it’s the perfect way to wake yourself back up after a life-changing massage.
For a more unique experience, I highly recommend checking out downtown Puerto Vallarta, particularly the Malecón, a 12-block boardwalk along the ocean. One of the coolest parts about downtown is that every street is historic, as they have all retained their original cobblestone structure.
After the sun goes down, I suggest taking an after-dark taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours. My new favorite way to take in a new place is via food tours, and this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Just like the food tour I recently took in Old San Juan, it was a history lesson in disguise, and I felt like I knew the city on a much deeper level afterward. Plus, as a solo traveler, food tours are a fantastic way to see more of the city with a group to meet new people and make friends!
@tyleroffpath A few highlights from the most relaxing trip I’ve ever take at The Westin in Puerto Vallarta . #relax #puertovallarta #mexico #Marriott #travel #travelwriter #traveloffpath ♬ How Wonderful – Muspace
Going with a group, and especially with a guide, is one of the most relaxing ways to take in a new place. You are with someone who knows the area really well, and you don’t have to worry about checking your phone every few seconds to make sure you are going in the right direction. Plus, walking around at night alone can be uncomfortable. Taking a food tour with a group is a great way to see the city at night when it is most alive without going it alone.
@tyleroffpath After-dark taco tour in Puerto Vallarta, one of the best ways to see downtown! . #taco #puertovallarta #travel #travelwriter #mexico #traveloffpath ♬ Latin America ♪ Mexico ♪ Fashionable guitar(1184628) – Chiemikan
I’ll Be Back
This was one of the best trips — and certainly the most relaxing — that I have ever taken. Since the airport was only 5 minutes away and the hotel could arrange transport, I had zero worry about making it to the airport on time. I still feel refreshed, and I’ve been home for a week! I went to Puerto Vallarta not knowing what to expect, and, as usual, life surprised me. I left with a refreshed mind and body, wonderful new friends, and an appreciation for fully unplugging every once in a while.
One thing is certain. I can’t wait to go back.
**Travel Off Path was a guest of The Westin who helped with the creation of this itinerary by hosting some of our accommodations and attractions. Our opinions, recommendations, and suggestions remain our own.**
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com