Last Thursday, I went to meet owner/developer Dean Regehr and his PR Director, Gael Bucquer, at the site of Puerto Magico, the new cruise ship terminal. Parts of the building are open and thriving with the completion of the project due in three or four months. But, passengers off the cruise ships will be coming through the new (gigantic) complex starting December 1st. Lots of retail space, for now, is covered by drywall, so nobody strays into a construction zone.
Honestly, the place already exudes Vallartense warmth. The attention to architectural detail is everywhere. I felt the same on my tour as I do when wandering around Centro Historico in Guadalajara. It would have been far less expensive to make square windows and doors, but Jalisco was built on archways of Cantera stone.
Puerto Magico is going to be a welcoming place for families in Vallarta to pack up the kids and head there for the day. There will be spaces for children to play completely secure and supervised while mom and dad have dinner. The ‘play area’ for the kids sounded like nothing I have ever even seen. Maybe they’ll put aside some hours each day for adults to try out the 3-D stuff!
Parks will be made and a new five or six-meter-wide Malecon to meander and stop for ice cream and look at the ships. Over 130 retail stores will surely capture attention, and it sounds like they will run the gamut from souvenir shops to storefronts that exist nowhere else in Jalisco.
Tour companies like Vallarta Adventures have their offices in the new building. People will gather there, get their tickets, and jump on the next boat to Yelapa. One stat that astounded me: last year, 800,000 people used the facility just to go on tours!
I have heard some rumblings (from downtown business people) that the folks on the cruise ships were going to be enticed to NOT leave the port and head into Vallarta. Quite the opposite is true. The new Puerto Magico will have new places for busses to park and easier access to pick up passengers to take them to town.
The project has built the Port Captain a modern new office. The old one will eventually be torn down, and something fabulous will go up in its place.
What this gorgeous property will do is put the most beautiful face forward, reflecting the City of Puerto Vallarta. Passengers leaving their ships will be impressed by welcoming hacienda-style buildings filled with fun places to shop.
Dean Regehr has a chocolate store operated by a chef who gives classes in the art of chocolate-making that only takes an hour or so to finish. Homework will be divine. We sampled some caramel-filled chocolates with sea salt. Go and get some!
This is the first port of its kind in Latin America in that it is built on a theme. The theme is Jalisco; the focus is Vallarta.
My thanks to Dean and Gael for taking the time to show me this new ‘icon’ of the city. It is breathtaking so far; I am looking forward to having dinner while overlooking the most unique view, attending the planned music festivals, and artisan gatherings.