Well HELLO and welcome back (to me!). I’m so glad I took a little time to reset and just rest after the new year, but taking a break just made me SO much more excited to come back to you with new recipes, roundups, and travel guides! I’m making it a goal this year to incorporate more travel posts into my schedule. I would love to share the places I’ve been with you, just in case you happen to be traveling to them too!

Casa Velas kindly provided our lodging and meals for our stay, but my opinions and thoughts are my own.

Ok, on to our trip to Mexico! My friend Erin from Well Plated floated the idea of a work-cation to me several months ago, when we were lamenting for the umpteenth time that OMG why do we spend all winter here and where can we go to get away from it for a bit?! We both work remote full-time and wanted to take full advantage of being able to work from just about anywhere. Plus, that weird in-between time right after the holidays is kind of depressing/sad/really makes me want to move anywhere warm. So, to Puerto Vallarta we went!

Accommodations

To be honest, I got SO LUCKY. Casa Velas reached out to Erin with the offer to come to visit their beautiful resort for a few days, with a guest (aka me)! We really had no idea what to expect when we arrived, but walking into Casa Velas felt like visiting a private, gorgeous spa-like resort that is just quiet enough and has top-notch service. Talk about DREAMY! They greeted us with a frosty cold glass of what only can be described as the best refreshing green drink I’ve ever had. I think it was a combo of mint and cucumber, but whatever it was, I would like it all day every day, please and thank you.

After we got checked in and had a rundown of the resort, we went to our room and did a bit of exploring! One of the best things about Casa Velas is just how beautiful the grounds are. The resort is set on a golf course, with a large pool being the centerpiece of the resort and a chill vibe that we just couldn’t get enough of. The on-site gym and spa are spacious, never too busy, and provide just about anything you could want on vacation. The staff was beyond helpful and amazing, which really made Casa Velas stand out from any other resort I’ve visited. One of the coolest things about the resort is that they grow a lot of their own food and herbs right on site, so the food and garnishes are fresh and super local to the area.

Our room was pretty much perfect! With enough space to spread out (hello, think about how many pairs of shoes two girls had on a trip) and a bathroom that can only be described as a total DREAMBOAT. I mean really, in my next house I would really like this shower and I wouldn’t care about anything else. We, of course, dug into the amazing energy ball snacks that they left us and then hopped to it to get to the pool STAT. Also, did I mention that they had a service where you could rent handbags?! Jackpot!

Now, let’s move on to the most important thing…the FOOD!

Food and Restaurants

Emiliano– One of the coolest things about Casa Velas is that you get access to their resort, which has an on-site restaurant and bar plus their sister resort, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Our first night, we ate dinner at the on-site Casa Velas restaurant, Emiliano. The restaurant is small enough to feel intimate, but big enough to have options for just about anyone. To be totally honest, we ordered a little bit of everything and I can’t fully recall everything we had (there was a lot!), but I know Erin and I both ordered fish for our main meal and it was DELICIOUS! Both of our main dishes were cooked to perfection and were truly the best part of the meal. The staff was so kind and friendly, the food came out really quickly, and it was so nice to get to try a variety of appetizers, main courses, and of course, two desserts. This dinner felt like the perfect first-night dinner since we were still on-site and only had to walk a few steps to our room after stuffing ourselves to the max.

We also ate breakfast at Emiliano each day, starting off with fresh fruit juices, lots of coffee, and the most amazing huevos rancheros that I maybe (most definitely) ordered every morning. Also, the basket of pastries is AMAZING and not to be missed. We favored a corn muffin that was savory, sweet, and just all around perfection.

Sen Lin– On our second night, we were treated to reservations at Sen Lin, the Asian Fusion restaurant located at Casa Velas‘ sister resort, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. Grand Velas is a much larger property than Casa Velas, with something like 300 rooms vs. our smaller 80 room property. Sen Lin is one of the newer restaurants on the property and has a perfect casual/cool vibe that feels fancy enough, without being overly stuffy or fussy. I loved that it kind of felt like a favorite sushi restaurant, but offered up a little bit of everything on the menu.

First of all, when we arrived at Sen Lin and sat down, our very kind waiter offered us wraps, since the restaurant was just a bit chilly (I am LOLing right now, thinking about those -30 degrees temps we had this week and this place being ‘chilly’). The cocktail of the night was a sake baked cocktail, with cucumber and a few other refreshing components that was out of the world AMAZING. We also started off the meal with the spicy papaya salad (could have eaten that salad FOREVER) and Vietnamese rolls. For dinner, I had the soft shell crab and it was SO good! I do still eat seafood on occasion, so this was the perfect place to try out a dish that I normally don’t get to eat in the Midwest very often. For dessert, we tried the banana tempura (brb going to figure out a recipe for this ASAP) and creme brulee (classic, can never go wrong with it). Everything was pretty much perfection, it felt like we kept looking at each other and saying ‘oh my gosh, now THAT is good!’ and then diving back in for more bites of whatever came to the table. Between the perfectly orchestrated food and the amazing service, this meal was the one that really stood out to both of us on the trip.

Ocean Club– The Ocean Club was one of my favorite parts of the resort! While Casa Velas isn’t right on the beach (it actually backs up to a beautiful golf course), they do have a property that is right on the beach that is a quick five-minute shuttle ride away. We spent most of a couple days at the ocean club, taking our computers down to the beach chairs and hoping the wi-fi worked (it did!) so we could sit near the ocean and be productive all at once, win-win! The vibe of the Ocean Club is very casual, lunch is a mixture of salads, burgers, seafood, and of course, chips and salsa/guac. We ate lunch here a couple days in a row and loved it both times! We tried a dish that was a cross between curry/fried rice and it was the standout favorite. It was a little spicy, somehow a little sweet, and loaded with veggies, so we could balance out all the other indulgent treats from the week.

We also had dinner at the Ocean Club on our last night, which ended up exceeding all our expectations! We arrived just about as the sun was setting and sat near the pool to eat dinner. It was a gorgeous setting for our last night at the resort! We ordered a mix of what was on the menu for the night and ended up being the most impressed by…the Irish coffee! Erin suggested Irish coffees to cap off our night and while we expected a cup of coffee with a little booze mixed in, what we got was next LEVEL. They rolled out a cart with everything on it and did this amazing show of heating up the glasses, mixing in ice cream, and basically making the fanciest Irish coffee I’ve ever had in my life. Afterward, we stopped at the resort bar for a nightcap and our waiter ended up being so kind and convincing the kitchen to make us one last batch of chips and salsa for the night. Like I said, the service was AMAZING!

Room Service– I should also mention…the room service! At Casa Velas, room service is totally included in the whole package, so why not order a bottle of champagne and a few appetizers while we get ready for dinner? BEST idea ever. Being able to order a snack at any time was pretty much the best ever and I’m 100% on board with this idea forever and always.

Spa

One last part about the resort, the spa! The spa is on-site at Casa Velas and feels basically like a private oasis that you just never want to leave. We were booked in for massage appointments after we were done working one day and had the best experience. I figured we would just walk in and have our massages, like a usual spa experience. We ended up being treated to an amazing experience of a sauna, steam room, and then very relaxing massage that ended with tea and cookies. YES please! This was one of the best massages I’ve ever received, with the staff taking into account any special areas of focus and making the whole experience extremely relaxing. 10/10 would absolutely do this again.

Needless to say, Puerto Vallarta was the PERFECT place for a quick after-holiday getaway and I can totally see myself going back. Casa Velas was a great mix of quiet, relaxed, and all around luxurious. Between the delicious food, amazing staff, and gorgeous weather, I am so ready to schedule in my next vacation!