NAYARIT, Mexico -- First-time guests tend to feel overwhelmed during their stay at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, a megaresort located 20 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta Airport.
It's easy to get lost trying to navigate the resort's 2,500 acres nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains. Nine miles of wooden plank walkways lead to one mile of beaches, 38 bars and restaurants, 27 pools and 2,200-plus rooms spread across five tower hotels, including luxurious brands such as the Grand Luxxe and Grand Mayan. All of this is connected by an elaborate system of golf-cart shuttles that whisk guests from one place to another.
The property continues to expand at an amazing rate. It just opened the new Greg Norman Signature Course to complement its existing Jack Nicklaus Design Course. A walking, 10-hole, par-3 course will likely open in 2017, as could a larger teaching facility for the Vidanta Golf Academy. The Norman course, which will debut five new holes next year as well, is an interesting, playable track with wall-to-wall paspalum grass for firm, fast conditions.
A partnership with Cirque du Soleil will bring the high-energy, acrobatic shows that are all the rage in Las Vegas to a new "immersion" theme park currently under construction at the resort. This unique theme park -- think Disney meets Cirque -- could open as soon as 2018. It will operate separately from the resort with its own lodging options and entrance for the general public. Performers will interact with guests by day and then perform a large-scale show for several thousand spectators at night.
If the concept of interactive "Cirque du Soleil" takes off at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, Disneyland might have some competition as the "Happiest Place on Earth."