Visiting the hotel gift shop is something we all do on vacation--especially when we need touristy trinkets or overpriced snacks. Puerto Vallarta offers many opportunities for visitors to buy souvenirs, from flea markets to beach vendors. But if you live here, sometimes you need to go to a real store to buy homeware items or clothes to add to your wardrobe.
As with many cities, there is a lot of competition in the retail market here. A few years ago, Grupo GICSA opened up an outdoor mall in the Hotel Zone as part of their La Isla Shopping Village brand. They have coined the term “Malltertainment” to describe the experience that has given them much success at similar destinations like Cancun, Merida and Acapulco.
Their “malltertainment” concept offers an all-round experience to the consumer, including entertainment options and places to eat, but going a step further by offering attractions not typical in their surroundings. At one location, that means an ice rink. At another, a ferris wheel. The company first announced their “entertainment mall” category in 2016, explaining that they would integrate entertainment venues, a range of shops and department stores, co-working spaces and public areas in shopping centers with an average size of 185,000 square meters.
With so much to offer, shopping is just part of the experience at La Isla. The mall was designed in the spirit of a city square, with a river, tropical gardens and fountains among its unique architecture. Instagrammable moments are at every turn. There is even an outdoor stage that is used to host free events and concerts throughout the year.
There are more than 80 stores to purchase souvenirs, toys, accessories, swimsuits, shoes, casual wear, jewelry and more. Check out homeware and lifestyle stores like Japan’s Mini So and Log-On Mexico, a company that imports items from Asia. Pop into stalwarts like Starbucks, Subway, H&M, The Mac Store (An Apple affiliate) Benetton, Sunglass Hut, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Bath & Body Works, Tommy Hilfiger, Forever 21 and Hugo Boss. There is even a turtle pond, a kids play area, and several bars and restaurants to discover. And if that’s not enough, take a gondola ride in the Venice-like atmosphere from the canals that wander through and around the many shops.
For the frugal consumer, Haagen Dazs has specials for extra scoops on Wednesdays and Nutrisa has 2-for-1 Thursdays. Tuesdays, wear your gym clothes for 10% off at Flavor Cup for salads, shakes, juices and more. Indulge yourself at Cinepolis VIP cinema where for about 150 pesos, you can catch the latest Hollywood movies in comfortable reclining chairs with blankets and waiter service for both food and alcohol available to purchase, seatside.
For many of us expats from the northern climes, an outdoor mall is a relatively unique shopping experience. Seasons of sleet, snow and rain make such a venture an economic risk for developers and retailers, alike. My first time at The Grove in Los Angeles was incredible--though I was hypersensitive to star sightings and didn’t fully digest the moment. A few years later, at an outlet mall in Las Vegas, I marvelled at the ability to walk among the palms and fountains with the warm sun beaming down between the boutiques.
I am equally amazed every time I get to walk around our own outdoor mall in the hotel zone. La Isla Shopping Village Puerto Vallarta (often simply called La Isla) offers the incredible opportunity to wander and shop, while taking in the vitamin D of the Mexican sunshine. Retail therapy extends into mental and physical therapy as a result.
Stop by La Isla Shopping Village for everything you need for a day of entertainment and dining. It is easily accessible from its convenient location in the heart of the Hotel Zone where Avenida Fluvial Vallarta crosses Blvd. Francisco Medina Ascencio, by the banks of the Pitillal River. It is definitely worth a visit for tourists and residents looking for something different or a taste of home. And don’t forget your sunscreen!