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You only turn 50 years old once. To celebrate this milestone, I knew I didn’t want to be home sitting on a couch or simply hanging in a restaurant blowing out an inferno of candles. So, we reached out to The Corley Group Travel and looked for a great package to a Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – a place I’ve always wanted to visit, but never made time to do. So, we found a great deal with Apple Vacation which took care of flight, the resort stay for five days, four nights, and transportation from the airport.

Off We Went!

The birthday celebration began after securing the vacation – which cost roughly $2100 for two adults and one child. This may have been more exciting for Drea and myself than for our son since we knew he would get his passport stamped for the first time. Leaving from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico planned for a quick two and a half hour trip unlike Europe which takes nearly 12 hours. The flight was smooth and quick and before we knew it, we were landing in a nice tropical-type of mountainous land covered in beautiful green forestry on one side and the Pacific ocean on the other.

Welcome to Puerto Vallarta sign downtown
At a lunch in the mountains with the City Tour

Airport Fiasco!

Note that after you leave, the plane, it will take you close to an hour before you exit the airport so prepare accordingly. Having an antsy 3 year old with you warrants lots of snacks and distractions. First you have to fill out a form of declaration when you enter Mexico. Make sure you don’t have over $10,000 in items/cash, fruits, animals, or anything which could mess up their ecosystem. The hardest part of that was finding a working pen. Nobody had one and the ones at the stations were broken. So, bring a pen! We used our son’s marker.

Next, you have to get your passport stamped and they take a photo of each of you. Lorenzo’s cuteness didn’t let him slide. I had to pick him up for his photo. The process was fast but if you’re late getting to that section, you’re in the back of the line. Just when you think it’s over because the next stop is the baggage carrier, you have a huge zig-zag line to get to security. The wait for us was probably 15-20 minutes. Once there, you can toss your outlawed items. They then scan your bags which you just picked up and carried.

After that, you exit through the airport and have to fight your way through extremely friendly people offering you rides and freely pointing you into directions. If you’re not aware that these aren’t the rides to your shuttles, you’ll be caught into a marketing scheme for timeshares. We’ll get to that in another post. Once you bypass them, you’re outside and have to look for your ride or catch a taxi. Our ride was covered in our package fee but bring cash (pesos) with you if you get a taxi. No cash app here! If you did, our cost to our hotel was about 100 pesos (close to $6.00)

Atrium of Villa del Palmar - Puerto Vallarta
Bedroom at Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta

Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta

Our resort was Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta – about a 10 minute drive from the airport. It’s protected by a gate and hotel security and upon entering on the cobblestone drive way, you’re greeted by a hotel greeter, and a slew of employees asking about timeshares and extended hotel stays. We weren’t asked because we slid right to the reservation desk and bypassed them all. It took a while to get our keys as the receptionist was a bit slow. But from the door, everybody was extremely welcoming and friendly.

We entered the atrium and through there was a lead into the pool and beyond that, the entrance to the beach. The location between the hotel grounds and the beach were mere steps so you were in the ocean only a few steps beyond the property. The pool water was extremely comfortable and warm as well as the Pacific ocean. No preparation to experience the water. You could jump right in and be fine. Considering the weather was a bit humid but teetering in the high 90’s, it was perfect.

Our room was on the 4th floor and overlooked the pool. It had two queen sized beds, a kitchen area, and a nice-sized bathroom. The floors were tiled and it was equipped with a flat screen tv and a nice balcony with a table for 4 outside. A really beautiful resort. In the mornings, you’re awaken by the sounds of very loud macaw and at night, you could experience one of a few restaurants on the property as well as a second pool in the other area of the resort, a bar, and on-site market.

Two shot glasses clink cheers in puerto vallarta


The five days in Puerto Vallarta were the perfect way to spend my 50th birthday! Swimming in the ocean and the pool with a clean environment surrounded by a tropical feel and zero workload was a great getaway. The tour downtown was an experience on its own where I wound up taking my first shot(s). Yes, first (yeah, I know). But I’ll post more on that later. It’s highly recommended to make your own celebrations your own and to spend it in Mexico with my family will be a lasting memory.

If you have any questions, let us know!

Zod and Drea Photo in London

We're Zod & Drea

Hello! We’re a married couple who have this podcast and travel blog together. Join us in our travels and listen to what we speak about as we center Black and Brown experiences as parents, travelers, and a couple.

– Zod & Drea