Gourmet Festival Livens Up Puerto Vallarta This Fall


Puerto Vallarta’s appeal as a foodie haven comes into focus again this fall when the 21st annual Festival Gourmet International takes place November 16-21. The combination of high-profile guest chefs, exotic local flavors and the unique Banderas Bay setting is a recipe for success.

It is Mexico’s pre-eminent food and wine fest, after all.

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Attendees can expect cooking demos; wine, tequila and mescal pairings, along with mariachis and fireworks to liven things up further.

Hotels such as CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta are welcoming guests with special promotions during the festival. The property’s “Table for Two” package includes a Festival Gourmet dinner at Mikado Restaurant.

Like the town of Tequila, Puerto Vallarta is located in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

CasaMagna pays tribute to Mexico’s spirit with its own proprietary brand of tequila. It produces five different tequila varieties from blue agave grown on site. The resort’s tequila sommelier, Audrey Formisano, hosts weekly tastings in the La Cava wine cellar. The tastings are complimentary for Marriott Rewards members, and $15 for all others.

“As one of only a few resorts in the world to produce a propriety brand of tequila and grow our own agave azul, we feel it’s important to share this unique aspect with our guests,” David Gauna, the property’s general manager tells Travel Agent.

“Through our Secretos de la Familia (Family Secrets) program, we offer educational opportunities with our tequila sommelier who leads regular tasting classes. And for the more seasoned tequila fan, we also offer 114 different tequilas by the glass," said Gauna.

CasaMagna’s beachfront location near Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport makes it popular with families, groups and destination weddings. For those interested in a boutique experience in the Old Town, Rocio Martinez Quintal has some suggestions. Quintal owns the Puerto Vallarta-based Concierge Online.

“There are some very special boutique properties and B&Bs for those looking for a quieter experience. Hacienda San Angel, located a couple blocks behind the Cathedral, is a sought-after dining location. It’s has a beautiful rooftop restaurant. It’s a lovely, romantic place. Another hotel that we recommend is Rivera del Rio. It’s downtown, five minutes from Hacienda San Angel. The rooms are unique, luxurious and colorful,” said Quintal.

A ten-minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta, the adults-only Hotel Mousai on the Garza Blanca Preserve opened in January 2015. It didn’t take long to earn top accolades. It’s the first hotel in the state of Jalisco to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award (for 2016). The whirlwind-fast accreditation is a point of pride for the Tafer Hotels & Resorts property.

“It is owned by the same company as Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa (and the Villa del Palmar Cancun), but it is a separate hotel. The great thing is that guests at Hotel Mousai have access to all facilities, such as restaurants, pools and beach of Garza Blanca, but the reverse is not true. Hotel Mousai is adults only, so there are no kids from Garza Blanca are running around,” says Liane Augustine, product manager, Mexico and Latin America for American Airlines Vacations.  

Augustine tells Travel Agent that she hopes to incorporate Hotel Mousai into the American Airlines Vacations portfolio by year’s end.

Guests visiting the property this fall will find the “Made in Mexico” celebration taking place from September 11-16. The promotion will showcase dining with featured chefs, tequila and mescal tastings. Fashion shows and live entertainment are also in the lineup.

“The west coast of Mexico is the traditional part of the country. In order to experience Puerto Vallarta, you have to wander around the Malecon, go into the galleries and of course the restaurants. It’s become quite known for its culinary scene,” says Augustine.

“We have so many more hotel options for the visitor than people realize. We have more activities and events, cultural celebrations and music, movie festivals and culinary activities. If people haven’t been here for a while, they don’t know Puerto Vallarta. People still think of it as the little town that became famous when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton filmed ‘Night of the Iguana’ here. But it has changed,” said Quintal.

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