She would like your input and suggestions for additions to her list.
I wondered if we could get some input from people as to what they tell their guest before going down to Mexico. We have guests with us all the time and I now have an email that I send out a few weeks before hand which answers most questions and is a good reference guide for newbies, but I am sure some people have a little nugget of information that would be helpful.
Below is most of the email that I send to my guests.
You are in Mexico, the money is Pesos and the sign for pesos is the same a our $ sign. So remember when you are looking at prices if it is $240 it is really about $20 cdn because currently just over 12 pesos per cdn dollar. Make it easy on yourselves and just move the decimal over one place.
Mexico is a cash society. Because you are in a tourist zone you can use credit cards at most larger restaurants and of course at hotels, but don't expect to use cards at all establishments.
The easier way to go is to get some pesos out of the banking machines (they have them in town and also on the property at the hotel) and you can use your debit cards to do so.
Mexicans love to barter. The street vendors and beach vendors will start at a price and they do expect you to barter with them - but not rip them off. I have seen to many times where they start at $500 for something, the person comes back and says no way, how about $100 - well that is just wrong and an insult. You may end up coming back at $250 and then settling at $350. You get a deal, the vendor makes some money and everyone is happy. Just keep in mind that the vendors walking out on the beach are coming to you, in the hot sun, on the deep sand you are still sitting there with your cold beer in hand - there is something to be said for that!
One thing to keep in mind is that ripped money is not a good thing in Mexico. So check your bills and make sure not ripped or torn when you get your change back. If doesn't happen very often so this is not a big thing, but I wanted to mention it so you are aware. If you do happen to accept a ripped bill by mistake or rip one yourself then the concierge may be able to change it for you.
At the Airport
When you arrive at the airport you will need to have your custom papers filled out and in your hand before you get to customs. The Guard at the end of walkway will not let you into the customs area unless your documents have been filled out. Once you get your passport stamped and travel visa you will then walk down a walkway to the luggage area. There are washrooms in the luggage area. Once you collect your luggage you will have to have it scanned, including all your carry on and purse etc. but you don't have to take computers etc. out of your bag. Once scanned you will go up and hand in your long form and push a button. If the light is red, you will be subject to a secondary search, if green then you just turn left and go through the doors.
Keep your baggage claim ticket, if your luggage gets delayed or lost you will need that ticket, and even if you do get your luggage, sometimes there is someone checking to make sure that your luggage claim ticket is the same number as the number on your luggage. Doesn't happen all the time, but you don't want to be without it if they do have someone checking.
This is especially true if you have a connecting flight. If two of you are travelling together, lay all your clothes out that you are taking and split the piles in half, (ie. half swimwear, underwear, tops, bottoms, shoes etc.) then pack half your clothes in each other's bag. That way if one piece does get lost or delayed, when you arrive at your destination you will each have clothes to wear for a few days until the case catches up to you.
What ever you put out on the bed to take, take half of it and put it back in your closet. Here's the deal, most of the day you are in a swimsuit, in the evening some clothes that are only on for a few hours, so can be used at least twice. Mexico is very laid back. As long as you have nice casual clothes on, you can go anywhere. Don't worry about bringing 4 pairs of shoes, flip flops and a pair of sandles work just fine.
By the way, for those who want to know, you can take a razor and nail clippers in your hand luggage. Luckily there are corkscrews at the hotel, as you can't take those with you.
Vicks-Vapo Rub Trick
Have you ever sat beside some one with BO or stinky feet? I have been on planes/buses with both, also toilets backing up and bad cologne or purfume in the vacinity. The best travel tip I can give anyone is to take with you at all times a small container with some Vicks Vapo-Rub in it. If you come across a smell that doesn't agree with you and you are in a confinded area, just put a little bit under your nose. This will cancel out the other smell and you can travel with the smell of the vapo-rub instead of stinky feet!
Bug Spray and Sunscreen
Remember you are down south. You will need sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Also bring some bug spray. You will need some for the evenings.
Every employee on the property has a very good command of English, although it is always nice to at least say hello, goodbye, please and thank you in Spanish. I will send to you under seperate email a quick guide to Spanish that you may want to take a look at. The Mexicans really appreciate it if you try Spanish and are always very helpful if you don't have the right pronounciation.
They do have wifi at the hotel, so easy to stay in touch with those people who you need to stay in touch with. Also if you don't want to bring a computer they have computers at the hotel that they charge for, but if you are only checking things briefly then easier then carting your own around, and it is not expensive.
Lots to Do in Nuevo Vallarta
The hotels are amazing, lots to do and lots not to do! Pools, gardens to wander around, lazy river to laze in, wave pool, waterslide, beach to wander along, easy walking to see some seals and dolphins. Lots of restaurants on the property and off the property within walking distance. Bus stop into town within walking distance from front gate and of course you can always take the water taxi into town in the morning or a regular taxi. There is also a great tour company - Vallarta Adventures, here is the website to check out. We get a deal on the trips so if you want to book something, wait until you see us at the hotel if you want to save some money.
There is a small grocery store on the property where you can purchase beer, wine, liquor, milk, bread, veggies, eggs, cereal etc. then you can charge to your room or pay cash. The store is good, but keep in mind there is a Walmart near by and typically we go there once to pick up the first shopping and then use the on site store for fresh bread etc.
In each room you will have a housecoat to borrow for the week, hair dryer, shampoo, body cream, soaps, towels, beach towels, coffee makers, fridge, full kitchen with stove top, dishes, cutlery, wine glasses, etc. Each room has TV in living area and bedroom and small plunge pool on the balcony. You can ask the concierge for a blueray/dvd player, they will take a deposit but of course refundable upon return.
There is a laundry area on the 2nd floor of the hotel - all you have to do is ask the concierge for a laundry card. Cost is $150 peso deposit and $65 pesos for wash and dry. The soap powder and fabric softener is included. When you return the laundry card you get your deposit back on your account.
Cash Free Area
The hotel is a cash free area. You charge everything to your room. When you check in you will need a credit card for your room so all charges can be applied. Each person in the room needs to sign in and you will be asked to sign on an electronic signature pad so your signature can be checked when you sign all your bills.
Daily housekeeping and if you need extra towels etc., then all you have to do is ask. Please tip the housekeepers daily as they do have days off and sometimes in the middle of your week they may be moved to a different floor, so then they would miss out on their daily tip. Also on the last day we typically tip 2x amount as they housekeepers actually move ALL the furniture and clean under and behind everything so it is in good shape for when the next person gets there.
Often there is turn down service, where your room is set up for the evening, fresh towels if required are left and garbages etc. emptied. We also leave tips for the turn down service, but not as much as the day housekeeping.
Leave tips on the bed.
Just as a note, if there is something wrong in your room then just call maintenance and they will be up to replace or repair. We actually had a new air conditioner unit put in a suite once.
You will not receive a bill at any restaurant until you ask for the bill. Mexicans are very hospitable and they think it is rude to bring a bill before it is asked for. So remember you need to ask for it.
Things have changed in 30 or 40 years....it is safe to have ice in your drinks, drink the hotel water, eat the salads, fruits etc at the hotel. Off the premises, it basically holds true unless you are at a roadside stand...then drink the beer or canned pop. Other than that if you buy veggies and fruit at a store then you need to steralize it. Easy to do. We have some drops, you put it in a sink of cold water, add the drops and let it sit for 10 minutes. That's it. So don't worry, bring some imodium and pepto because your systems can go a little off the rails where ever you go, not because you are specifically in Mexico.
In Room Safe
In each bedroom closet there is a small safe where you can store your wallets, passports etc.
Mexico uses the same plugs as Canada and US, so anything you take down will work.
At each pool area there is an Activity Centre which has books that people have left for others to read. There is actually quite a good selection, so if you are planning on just relaxing with a good book or two, then don't feel like you have to pack a ton of them as there is plenty to read. Of course if you are bringing down a couple to read then try and bring some down that you don't mind leaving behind. There are also a number of magazines, so if you purchase some magazines to read on the plane then bring to the resort and give them to the girls at the Grand Luxxe Activity Centre, they really appreciate anything new.
Remember to make sure that you have out of the country health insurance - don't leave the country without it!
Also just so you know there is a Doctor on the hotel property at all times, so if something does happen or if you do get sick it just takes a quick phone call.
Meal Plan at the Hotel Nuevo Vallarta
They do have a meal plan at the hotel. Basically you receive at least 30% the cost of a meal which includes an appetizer, entree and dessert. It is a great deal if you want to purchase a book of tickets and share between a couple of people, as you typically won't eat at the hotel every night, and not all of us can eat a 3 course meal every day. We will get information on costs from the concierge for when you arrive.
They have a terrific brunch served every day. If you get there between 7am - 8am (early for some, but not for others) or 11am - noon you receive 30% off the cost. So two of you can eat at the buffet brunch for about $420 pesos including tip - about $17 cdn each. If you have a yoghurt and toast early in the morning, you can eat a large lunch at the buffet and you are good for dinner - again for those of you who have large appetites.
Yes you can wear your jewellery, no problem - but be aware that we have witnessed many people who have lost their rings etc. because they put on sunblock or suntan lotion, go in the water, their hands are slippery because of the lotion and then the water cools the skin and next thing you know their rings are off their fingers, never to be seen again. Have seen ladies in tears because of their loss.
Ok, here is the scoop for those of you who want to go out and party - and you know who you are. You need to be aware that there are issues about this. First of all you are giringos and you are an easy mark. Am I saying that it is dangerous in Mexico - no more dangerous than Toronto or any other big city, but, you don't know the language and people do and say stupid things when they've had a few cocktails. So if you guys are planning on going off property at night then you need to be very careful and mindful of being in another country. Also if you are going off property at night, my suggestion would be to take your hotel bracelet off. The colour of your bracelet indicates where you are staying. You are staying at one of the top hotels in the area, which to others mean money.
Each bedroom has an alaram clock. My suggestion would be that when you get in to ensure that the alarm is not on. Sometimes it is left on and it isn't so much fun when the first morning you are there the alarm goes off at 3am!
There is cell phone service in Mexico, but unless you have an international plan, it is very expensive for roaming and usage fees. Better just not to take any cell phones with you so they don't accidently get turned on when in US or Mexico, which can cost you a fortune.
Allergies to Food/Medications/Health issues
If you have any allergies to foods or medications or health issues that may need to be conveyed, you can go on either of these sites and get cards which explain your allergies in any language that you require for any trip. Really great sites. Of course you can also do your own cards by doing google translation and adding pictures etc then printing yourself, but then you run the risk of not having the correct wording and conveying the wrong message.
For those of you who have not had a nice professional photo taken of yourself or as a couple - then consider doing this when you are there. They have a great company that takes your photos in a natural surrounding, i.e. beach, pool area, gardens etc. You do not get charged for the sitting fee and then you pick your photos and you are given a disc with them on. The cost varies on how many photos you choose from the ones taken, but it is well worth it.
If you want to check out the company here is their website:
Spa & Gym
There is an amazing spa located in the Grand Mayan Hotel on the property. Well worth the $.
They also have a hot tub area, sauna and steam room that you can use free of charge, with showers, towels, lockers etc.
There is a gym at the Grand Mayan Hotel as well that you can use free of charge. They have all the machines, weights etc. if you want to work off some of the margaritas.
Yes all good things need to come to an end. When you return do yourself a favour and get to the airport about 3 hours before your flight. EVERYONE'S luggage is hand searched. This takes a while. So get there early, get through security then sit and enjoy something to eat and read a book.
My suggestion would be NOT to purchase alcohol before you leave Puerto Vallarta (you can do it in Cancun, because they screen the luggage), but in PVR you can't take bottles on the plane unless they are from Duty Free. If you do purchase bottles at Duty Free remember if you are travelling through the States then you have to collect your luggage after clearing customs in US, then the Duty Free that you purchased needs to be put in your luggage (as everyone has to collect their luggage) then it needs to be rechecked to your final destination.
Also please note that you can purchase drinks and food at the airport before boarding, BUT if you are travelling through the US you CAN NOT take any liquids on the plane even AFTER you have gone through security. All hand luggage is searched and coffees, drinks etc. will be thrown in the garbage. I am not sure about direct flights to Canada it may be the same as hand luggage was being searched.
Note that you don't have to take your computers out of cases or take off your shoes when you go through security in Mexico to your outbound flight.
Ok so that's it for now. If you think of anything else, then send me a note and I'll try and answer you or get the answer if I don't know.
Adios Amigos y Amigas