Marriott CasaManga Resort and Spa
By Kim Padgett
Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and Bandaras Bay on Mexico’s western coast in the state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is a quick two hour flight from most of Texas. It has become one of Mexico’s top destinations for weddings and tourists. And, minutes from the airport is one of the World’s 100 Best Hotels, according to Conde Nast Traveler. The four diamond luxury property, Marriott CasaManga Resort and Spa, offers a little something for everyone. This property boasts more than 400 guest rooms, including 29 suites, where guests might spot a humpback whale from their balcony, one of the largest beachside pools in Puerto Vallarta, multiple scenic locations on property for the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony and reception as well as a kids club, six restaurants, and more.
Couples planning to tie the knot will want to indulge by staying in the Imperial, Ambassador or Junior suites, all include private balconies and some have a whirlpool. Wedding guests won’t want to leave this oasis in the middle of the city, when you fill the agenda with custom mixology cocktail classes, guacamole cooking classes, a private tequila tasting. CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta grows its own blue agave on property in the cactus garden, and is one of only a few resorts in the world with a proprietary brand of tequila, Its five varieties include: blanco, joven, reposado, añejo and extra añejo.
With 5 guests or 1,000, this property can accommodate any size wedding. The most popular location for the nuptials is on the Jetty overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset accommodating up to 80 guests. The main beach area comes in a close second, accommodating up to 550 guests; the main garden can host 1,600 guests; and the Vallarta Ballroom seats up to 500 guests.
Many couples choose to host a private brunch or wedding party meal in the Herb Garden. Guests can take a seat under twinkling string lights at the handcrafted wooden table, seating a maximum of 10 guests, and enjoy the scents of the surrounding herbs including sage, rosemary, spearmint, peppermint, thyme, basil and a variety of chili plants. The hotel offers garden tours guided by chefs who explain the way the spices are used in local cuisine, followed by a cooking demonstration and a four-course dinner.
While the property offers several wedding packages, the menu for any of the events can be custom crafted from the on-site restaurants or by working directly with the chefs. The new “Dine Around Mexico” six-course tasting menu offers guests the chance to sample dishes from different states of Mexico. Restaurant Mikado offers fresh seafood and sushi, Champions Sports Bar is known for its pub fare, and Mexican dining at La Estancia offers traditional Mexican cuisine. La Casitas located near the pool area is an al fresco seafood restaurant. The resort recently renovated an indoor ceviche and tequila bar located off of the main lobby overlooking the ocean and pool. Deli Los Mangos is a fast casual grab and go shop for homemade pastries, refreshing salads or satisfying sandwiches – as well as fresh coffee and Blue Bell ice cream.
Two full-time certified wedding planners assist with every detail for the activities and ceremony. They work to source local florals for the arrangements and events. All desserts and wedding cakes are made in house by the resort’s pastry chef. Couples can choose entertainment from local Mariachis, a musical trio, fireworks, a bonfire, and a traditional Mayan ceremony. From place cards to valet to specialty linens, guest favors and illuminated spaces with colored lighting are also offered by the resort.
Before or after the festivities, guests can take advantage of unique spa rituals unlike any in the resort town on the Puerto Vallarta. The resort’s spa, Ohtli, with more than 20,000 square feet, is the largest spa in town. It integrates the healing traditions of the ancestral Huichol culture in the treatments. Guests can purify in the dry sauna and eucalyptus steam room, whirlpools, hot and cold plunge pools, as they sip on “Love Water”, a chlorophyll water detoxifying beverage. While the spa offers traditional services for the bride and wedding party for hair and makeup alongside manicures, pedicures, scrubs, facials and massages, guests should try the Fire Opal Balancing Stone Massage for stress relief and relaxation or the Thai Massage, which is performed on a mat with pillows to work pressure points, energy lines and stretching. For adventurous guests wanting to try something new, the spa offers the Jantzu Rebirth Therapy, a treatment in a small pool of warm water with a therapist that guides the meditation, and rhythmic choreographed movements for a rebirthing experience.
In addition to 12 treatment rooms, the Iyari Grand Luxury Suite is a 280 square foot private room designed for those who want a piece of the Ohtli spa to themselves. Couples or bridal parties seeking a little more privacy will love this space. Be sure to dip in the Roman tub, cold plunge pool and foot bath, and take full advantage of the sauna and steam rooms.
Next door to the spa, the CasaManga fitness and exercise area offers cardiovascular equipment, free weights, high tech cardio and weight training equipment, and fitness classes to work off the wedding cake and margaritas.
Step outside and surrounded by the two towers for guest rooms, visitors can enjoy on-site entertainment and amenities such as the complimentary use of kayaking, sauna, table tennis, tennis courts, volleyball, a full size basketball court, life-sized chess, giant jenga, and a kid’s only water park area and pool.
For the big kids, poolside service includes an adult snow cone stand (with or without alcohol), coconut flavored waters served up fresh in the coconut shell and garnished with fruit to complete the facial features of this fun coconut drink.
The property is conveniently located close to downtown Puerto Vallarta, where guests can stroll the Malecon (boardwalk), a pedestrian only area along the beach, lined by sculptures, night clubs, shops, and restaurants. Or venture to the Zona Romantica and shop at the art galleries and wine shops.
Puerto Vallarta offers activities in the area for everyone including jungle canopy zip-line tours, ATV jungle treks, hiking, biking and horseback riding. Guests, who make a vacation of it, can also experience deep-sea fishing, the mystical Huichol Indian Village, seasonal food tours and night gallery walks.
Couples often like to treat their guests to a day trip. Vallarta Adventures offers a getaway to Las Caletas Beach Hideaway, accessible only by sea via catamaran. Day packages include full lunch and open bar locally known as Mexico’s “Garden of Eden”, with activities including kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, zip lining, Paella cooking classes, nature trail, kids adventure park, teens adventure cove, monkey and parrot encounters, or just relaxing on one of the many hammocks that line the beaches. Guests can splurge on extras like the sea lion or sting ray encounters, scuba diving, power snorkel, or fly boarding.
Animal lovers beware. The staff and management at CasaManga are known for rescuing area strays. Even bringing on a local “mascot”, a cat named Mitzy, who wondered onto the property one day and now calls it home. She even has her own Instagram hashtag: #hellomitzy. But cats aren’t the only benefactors at the resort. Since 2002, the resort has provided a haven for the Olive Ridley sea turtle. The nursery on property is managed by marine biologists and trained volunteers to gather thousands of eggs each season, between June and December, to place them in the nursery and protect them from predators. In 2016, more than 800 nests were discovered, close to 80,000 eggs were gathered and subsequent baby turtles were released back into the ocean. Guests can participate in releasing the turtles after 45 days in incubation. The resort hosts a sunset release ceremony and celebration, which can be incorporated into the wedding ceremony.