We travel to Mexico at least twice a year with two young children (currently ages 5 & 4). We typically always stay at a 5 star resort, but after hearing about the different Barcelo resorts from a lot of different people, we decided on the Barcelo Puerto Vallarta. I read all the reviews before coming, and was terrified and just kept my fingers crossed that everything would work out. When we arrived at the airport, since I hadn't booked through a travel agent (and saved $2000 booking though the Mi Barcelo site, with separate flights!!), we had to take a taxi to the hotel. Buy your taxi ticket at the airport in advance, and it will cost you $310 pesos for a car. Much cheaper than if you have to pay per person for hotel transfer. (Coming back only cost us $250 pesos). After a long and treacherous ride to the hotel in the taxi (my husband had to tell the driver to slow down, we thought we were going to die!), we finally arrived at the Barcelo, and at first glance, I thought that the hotel looked nice. Check in went great. The guy who checked us in was friendly, we received internet access codes since we booked on Barcelo.com, and we proceeded to our room. This is sort of where things started to go downhill. Our family suite room on the 6th floor of Tower Two was a great size (#2612). There was a main bedroom with a king size bed, and another bedroom with two twin beds, and 2 bathrooms. However the black mold all around the shower/bathroom of bathroom 1 was disgusting. It was a nice tiled shower with a rainshower head, but the entire bathroom looked like it hadn't even been cleaned. I was afraid to touch anything. The second bathroom wasn't a shower, it was a white bathtub with a regular handheld showerhead, and it had hair in the bathtub, and also looked like it hadn't been cleaned. I was completely grossed out, however since it was late, I decided to just deal with it for a night, and not unpack, knowing that we would have to move. In addition, my husband had become ill on the plane with the stomach flu, so there was no way that we could be comfortable in that room. In comparison to a five star resort, the Barcelo is very unclean/unsanitary - from the restaurants to the bathrooms, to the elevator. Anyways, our first night, even with the patio door closed, there was music all night that kept us awake. The next morning, I went to the front desk and told them I needed to move to a higher floor to avoid the noise at night since hubby was sick. I upgraded for $30 USD per adult (so $60 USD) a night to a Club Premium room on the 9th floor. It was the best move, since the room was much much cleaner, nicer, and much more liveable for the remainder of the week. Things started looking up. The next day, I ran into a lot of people that were sick with stomach issues. From knowing that there is was on outbreak of stomach flu from back home in Vancouver, I don't believe that people are getting sick from the food/drinks at the hotel. I think they are all coming with the stomach flu virus, and that is what is going around. That being said, I wouldn't drink anything from the swim-up bar, since I watched them just rinse out glasses and re-serve drinks to other people.
The two girls in the Kids Club, Lucy and Marisol are AMAZING! They are just young girls, but were wonderful with my kids who loved to go there everyday to play. Lucy and Marisol are so much fun, and both my girls had a fantastic time thanks to them, and all the different crafts/activities, and pool games. They gave me Spanish lessons, and I helped them with their English. The only thing is on the website, and in the Barcelo guides in the hotel they say the kids club is for ages 4-12. It is actually only for ages 5-12. Thank you Lucy and Marisol!
The pool areas are nice, and the grounds are beautiful. The pools are quite deep though (over 5') , and I couldn't let our kids go in the pool without floaties, etc. The service around the pool/beach areas is good if you are tipping. From my observations, they need more staff for such a large area to keep everyone happy. So unless you're tipping, you are not going to get any good service. Any cocktails that you order (mojitos/margaritas etc.) all come from a slushie machine and are very sweet. They don't mix any cocktails properly and you have to leave the resort to get a good drink. I drank mimosas the whole time, which were fine. The food is edible, however the buffet lacks variety and quality (compared to other resorts). The restaurants (you get unlimited reservations with barcelo.com booking or club premium), were completely dead the whole time we were there. I think most people ate off the resort for dinners. We ate at the Spanish restaurant, the Steak/Seafood house and the Italian. I thought they were better than the buffet food, but nothing spectacular to rave about. Our experience with Mexico, we knew to come prepared with bug spray, so we didn't get eaten alive. Bring insect repellant!!!! We tipped the maids well, and our room was kept immaculate the entire time we were there. The nightly shows were weak in comparison to other resorts, though they were still entertaining. Also, the daytime entertainment is lacking. The Club Premium lounge was a nice peaceful escape, complete with premium liquor/wine and a self-serve bar. It was disappointing that they had a big flat screen tv with DVD player and a ton of kids movies, however they could not get the system to work, so no movies. The spa was another area that needs improvement. My husband and I both received massages/facials. The massage was okay, however the facial was no where near the quality of facials that I have received at other resorts. Both for under $200 USD for all 4 treatments I can't complain. Take a 20 min ride to Los Animas on a boat, and enjoy some good Mexican food, good drinks, and nice beaches. That trip will cost you about $90 USD, because the driver essentially waits there with you the entire time you are there. Also, definitely pop the $40 USD and take a boat ride to go snorkeling/feed the fish. It is crazy how big the fish are, and you throw bread in and they all come up the surface. Kids loved it!!
Overall, I think that if you are looking for a budget 3 star resort, then this is your place (I'm not sure what star this resort actually is, but that is what it was for me.) You get what you pay for, so I can't complain too much and we still had a good time despite the "icky" feeling and having to be on-guard as to what we were consuming. However for us, this isn't a hotel that we would return to.
Upgrade to Club Premium for cleaner rooms and to escape the nightly noise a bit. If you are travelli...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.