My daughter and I recently stayed at the Barceló during her spring break (03/20 - 03/30). We have agreed this is the best vacation we have ever taken. I was a little worried about earlier reported sicknesses and some negative comments about the food, but I soon realized we didn't have to worry about it.
We contracted with PV Tours to pick us up at the airport - which was brilliant in my opinion - no hassles getting to the hotel. Although there were many negative comments about the ride to the hotel (the crooked, narrow road being the issue) we found the drive very pleasant. Where I come from this is NOT a 'narrow' road. The drive to the hotel gave us the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery and the coastline. When we went into town the fare was 130 pesos, much cheaper than any taxi in California (you can't get across town in San Francisco for that fare).
Upon check-in we were immediately taken to our room where a bottle of tequila and champagne awaited us. What a gorgeous room and view (Rm 1918). All the employees were friendly and professional. Our room was clean and housekeeping kept it spotless during our 10 day stay. The mini-fridge was nice - we requested more water, and since neither of us drink beer, we didn't care whether it was in there or not.
Food: We ate at all three specialty restuarants over a seven night period. Our favorite was the Spanish one. The steak house was our least favorite. The service at all three was impeccable. The food was good (again the steak house wasn't so great, maybe just average) and the serving sizes were perfect. The Spanish restaurant had a piano player and gorgeous view of the bay which really added to the atmosphere. We had breakfast in the buffet daily, they had a nice selection and everything was piping hot (or nicely chilled) and presented in a clean, appetizing manner. Again, the view from the floor was amazing. The only complaint I have about the buffet is what we call 'the buffet mentality' - it seems guests at buffets always fear the kitchen will run out of food and people who are normally civilized and polite turn into pirranhas, forgetting all manners and etiquette. This is certainly not the hotels fault! We ate lunch at the snack bar when we were on the property. Again, nice selection of food, good service, and very relaxiing.
Grounds: Beautiful, clean, small areas for privacy if you want it.
Drinks: Not bad, not great. We would drink whatever brand they served us during the day, but asked for 'top shelf' for evening cocktails and after dinner drinks.
Illness: I didn't see any illness. I was sick our second day, but I caused it. I became dehydrated from laying out in the sun and drinking alcohol all day. My daughter and I agreed I didn't take very good care of myself. I just took it easy the next day, ate lightly, and drank lots of water. After that we would drink one bottle of water for every two drinks during the day and I didn't have any problems after that.
Premium Upgrade: Do it!!!!!!!! It is well worth the money!!!! You get a higher level room (we were in a Junior Suite), access to the Premium Club Room (my daughter was able to get her morning cappuccino after her work out in the nicely appointment gym), access to the internet if you want it, and (the best part) you don't have to eat dinner at the buffet - you can eat in a nice restaurant with waiters.
Spa: This was a HUGE disappointment. We went for massages one day. I've had better back-rubs from unenthusiastic boyfriends who lost a bet and a backrub was the prize. My daughter got a pedicure after her massage. She was happy with both. We went for a manicure the last day there and I think I got a trainee. It's a shame. They need to hire a consultant and learn what a spa is supposed to be like. Don't waste your money.
If you go remember to get your picture at the kiosk in the lobby - we would take a picture each day and post it on facebook - our friends and family LOVED seeing us become more relaxed and tanned each day.
Nice surprise: Security was wonderful, check in and out at the gates gave us a sense of security.
Bottom line - the value of this vacation was incredible. We both felt it was worth twice what we paid. I'm recommending this hotel and trip to all my friends and family! Thanks Barceló!