Nuevo Vallarta is a recent tourism development that is 10 miles to the northwest of the main city in the region, Puerto Vallarta. (Note that Nuevo Vallarta is in Nayarit province, while Puerto Vallarta is in Jalisco.) The destination is neatly dissected from the rest of Mexico and the world by having the Pacific Ocean to one side, the huge El Tigre Golf Course to another, with the Sierra de Vallejo Mountains just behind and the area's main airport to a third. As a planned residential development, things are nice and neat– the villas and resorts are luxurious and Nueva Vallarta MICE venues well maintained. The security forces are also ever-watchful, the yachts well-swabbed, the planned development is laced with pretty canals and tropical gardens and the U.S. dollar is widely accepted.
The international airport, Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), essentially is the eastern border of Nuevo Vallarta and constitutes the main entry to the entire Riviera Nayarit area. There are flights to many American and Canadian cities, and the service increases for snowbirds during the northern winter. Almost three million passengers use it annually.
There are no MICE convention venues in Nuevo Vallarta, but Puerto Vallarta has the impressive El Centro Internacional de Convenciones de Puerto Vallarta, which is also right by the airport but on the other side from Nuevo Vallarta. It has more than 160,000 square feet of space for up to 5,000 persons.
MICE hotels venues in Nuevo Vallarta, and in neighboring tourism destinations, have plenty of space for meetings, although most facilities are better set up for grand outdoor events accompanied by smaller indoor meetings. In Nuevo Vallarta try the 789-room Grand Mayan Resort Nuevo Vallarta, which has among its event space a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course with club house; the 348-room Hard Rock Nuevo Vallarta, which has 6,317 square feet of meeting space; the 229-room Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta, which has 6,600 square feet of meeting space, including a large functions terrace and a ballroom for 260 persons; the 215-room Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Vallarta, which has space for up to 250 persons; and, a little farther northeast along the oceanfront, the 173-room Four Seasons Punta Mita, which has 9,492 square feet of meeting space, including a 4,310-square-foot ballroom that can cater to banquet of up to 300 persons.
Special MICE venues in Nuevo Vallarta include the hugely popular swimming-with-dolphins and zipline group adventures, as well as volunteer activities, with tour operators such as Vallarta Adventures; Charley's Sailing & Sportfishing for boat charters, and Vallarta Under Sea for scuba-diving and other fun in the water. Non-sporting destinations include the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, which is a conservation endeavor with numerous rare plants and birds and a 12,900-square-foot hacienda that includes the Hall of Flowers for events overlooking the Rio Horcones, and, on the other side of the Sierra de Vallejo Mountains, but with easy driving access, Tailwind Jungle Lodge, which is an eco-lodge with all manner of cool corners, as well as six types of lodging, including one that pretty much is just a deck hoisted up into the trees with a canvas roof.
Good restaurants in Nuevo Vallarta are mostly inside the resorts. Non-hotel selections run to Nopalito's and Eddie's Place Nopal Beach, both specializing in Mexican cuisine and a laid-back attitude, and, another restaurant from ex-pat Eddie Mansour, Por Que No? ("Why Not?"), which is more in the line of fine dining. The clubhouse restaurant at El Tigre Golf Course is salubrious, while north up the coast a mile is Italian restaurant Mezzogiorno with wonderful seaside views and ambiance.