As you become acquainted with undiscovered areas near Puerto Vallarta, either through word of mouth, or by reading publications such as Vallarta Lifestyles or it’s companion website, virtualvallarta.com, chances are you will want to expand your getaways beyond a day trip’s worth. To that effect, rest assured. There are all sorts of lodging options in most interesting nearby destinations, ranging from top-of-the-line boutique hotels to basic accommodations. If swanky is what you want, googling combinations such as “sayulita hotels” or “san pancho hotels,” for example, will most likely provide a few choices. Usually, the more sophisticated expensive the choice, the more likely it is to have its own website. But what if you are on a budget? Or what if you want to truly experience a small, simple, no-frills, Mexican hotel? Where do you find those undiscovered lodging choices? How do you go about booking them? What should you expect?
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
—Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz
1. Rely on word of mouth.
Ask for recommendations locally. Again, chances are that the best choices don’t advertise online. Puerto Vallarta has several bulletin boards where you might be able to tap into locals’ experiences. Also, check out Vallarta Lifestyles for articles that yours truly has written about such getaways.
2. ¿Habla español?
If you don’t habla español, folks at the other end of your telephone conversation will most likely not understand a clue of what you are saying when you call. Rely on a fluent Spanish speaker to make all arrangements for you, or ask your research questions.
3. Do not trust email.
While high-speed and wireless Internet access are commonplace in cities such as Puerto Vallarta, they are virtually non-existent in rural communities. So, even if you find a website with an email address, do not expect quick responses if you choose to communicate this way, in English or Spanish.
4. A bank deposit?
Most rural hotels will accept a reservation via telephone but, unless you are a repeat customer (and even if you are!) you will be expected to deposit either a percentage of your bill or its entirety to a Mexican bank account. This should not shock you, as it is a widespread practice. Once you’ve made the deposit on the appropriate bank account, you can either fax a copy of the deposit slip, or telephone back with its confirmation number. When you write down the provided bank account number, be sure to also request the name of the account holder! This way, you can be absolutely positive that you’ve made your deposit in the correct bank account. Also, bring along a copy of your deposit slip to show the hotel clerk upon arrival.
5. What if I am in the United States, Canada or elsewhere?
Rely on someone in Mexico to do a domestic deposit for you and pay them back later. Some rural hotels are so affordable you may end up paying more in bank fees associated with international fund transfers than on the hotel itself!
6. Can you trust the system?
Well, I’m sure there are horror stories anywhere in the world, but I can assure you that, from personal experience, I have never had any problem booking hotels this way.
7. Where can I find these hotels online?
Again, most rural hotels are most easily found either through word of mouth or by scheduling a day trip and exploring your options. That said, there is a website (in Spanish) called Zona Turística (www.zonaturistica.com) that has many listings for economy and rural hotels. It also features an English version.