Puerto Vallarta Business Owners Are Hoping To Receive More Tourists

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As Vallarta’s economy continues to recover from an exceptionally slow low season and a devastating hurricane, locals hope that it gets busier soon.

“This low season was very slow, a huge difference in comparison to last low season. It really felt empty,” said Shantal Melo, the owner of Te Quiero Verde, a vegan restaurant in Zona Romantica, during our conversation in late October. Many locals have been telling me that this was the slowest low season they have experienced since the first year of the pandemic. Other local business owners have also expressed similar experiences and observations about the recent low season. Hurricane Lidia dealt another major blow to local businesses, with no power or water, some establishments were forced to close completely, like Mestizo Espresso & Bar, while others, like Te Quiero Verde, operated with minimal offerings.

"I'm two months behind on rent," a local artist shared with me in November. "I'm working every day and really hoping that things pick up soon." Now, everyone in Vallarta anxiously awaits the arrival of the promised abundance of the high season after a period that felt like a famine for many.

Israel Monterrubio, a longtime local business owner originally from Guadalajara, expressed concern about how slow business has been. His last business, AM Bar, was located where Mestizo Espresso & Bar is now, right next door to his newer venture, Doberman Bar. He mentioned that usually, once Día de los Muertos arrives, business starts to pick up. However, this year, even popular establishments like La Bodeguita del Medio and Doberman Bar have seen unpredictable crowd sizes. Both Doberman Bar (known for its awesome DJs and electronic music) and La Bodeguita usually experience lines and packed nights, especially on Wednesdays as Doberman hosts their popular jam night featuring a bunch of the best musicians in the bay, and La Bodeguita has their popular salsa night with a dance class led by Israel Andalon.

Abdallahy Antonio Velázquez is an accomplished artist and one of the owners of Mestizo Espresso & Bar (Mestizo). His previous project, Museo 4D, in Zona Romantica, was a successful immersive art experience, and some of the pieces from the museum can now be found in Mestizo. Mestizo just changed their hours so they are now open 9pm-5am, hoping to provide a space for people who want to keep the party going late. They offer different themes every night, ensuring something for everyone throughout the week, including the popular Thursday night JamMestizo (another not-to-miss jam night with master musicians from around the bay) and their cherished Latin Night every Friday. He recounted the rough low season they faced, and that Hurricane Lidia impacted them financially as they had to close for 3 days. When asked how people can help locals, he said “by visiting Puerto Vallarta, you are already contributing to the recovery of our beautiful port. I encourage more people to come to Puerto Vallarta, we will always receive them with open arms.”

In the aftermath of the hurricane in October, Mestizo held a fundraiser event for La Gata Foro Bar, an independent cultural space dedicated to supporting artists in the area. Abdallahy Antonio highlighted the importance of supporting each other as there is no government support. La Gata Foro Bar, which lost its roof during the hurricane, has received an outpouring of love and assistance from the community since then, demonstrating Vallarta’s appreciation for all of their support of artists over the years.

Shantal shared some of the challenges faced as her delicious vegan restaurant, Te Quiero Verde, survived its second low season. She also mentioned that she had been experiencing power and water issues at her house above El Centro for about a month before the hurricane hit, and those problems were exacerbated after the natural disaster. In Mexico City, where Shantal is originally from, there is a more advanced water crisis than in Puerto Vallarta. She shared that in her neighborhood in Mexico City they would have water for 1-2 hours per day, and people are accustomed to it, keeping containers of water on hand to use outside of that time. She expressed frustration with the prioritization of new buildings and condos over providing water to the local population. Many tourists are unaware of the ongoing water crisis in Vallarta. “Why hasn’t the government started a system to collect the water during the rainy season? My best friend lives in Sweden, and they are so careful with water…They can not use soaps that are not vegan (so that the water supply isn’t impacted by toxins).” Shantal and others expressed their hope that the experience of shortages caused by the hurricane will raise awareness about the importance of water and other resources.

Shantal stated compassionately, “We have been experiencing tough times, not only in Mexico or PV, but worldwide. The economy is changing…everything is changing. The only thing we can keep is hope and (remember) to always help others. I mean if it is within your possibilities, why not help others to thrive again, to trust again…I’m a dreamer. I dream about creating a better community, a better society…We need to take care of them (the blue seas, the blue skies, the green forest) and learn to co-exist with them. So that’s the reason this place (Te Quiero Verde) is here…to keep saving the planet, to keep raising awareness, to keep feeling the connection with the Mother Earth.”

Overall, local businesses in Puerto Vallarta are recovering from a particularly challenging low season exacerbated by the effects of Hurricane Lidia. Their resilience and hope for a brighter future are evident, and they look to the support of visitors and the community to help them thrive once again. Antonio Castillón of Vallarta Vamonos, a popular family-run company that provides private rides and tours, shared that the airport has been very busy the last few days, so hopefully this new influx of tourists brings more traffic to local businesses.

Follow Te Quiero Verde here: https://www.instagram.com/tequieroverdemexico/
Follow Mestizo Espresso & Bar here: https://www.instagram.com/mestizo_en_el_puerto/
Follow Doberman Bar here: https://www.instagram.com/doberman_bar_pv/
Follow La Bodeguita del Medio here: https://www.instagram.com/bodeguitadelmedio/
Follow La Gata Foro Bar here: https://www.facebook.com/lagataforobar
Follow Vallarta Vamonos here: https://www.facebook.com/vallartavamonos

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