We stayed in the Fiesta Americana for 6 nights in July, and if I'm to be perfectly honest, when we first arrived in Puerto Vallarta I was a little disappointed with what we saw. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but we had gone to Cancun a few years ago and I guess we thought it was going to be similar. I also read some fantastic reviews on this website and expected something else.
The short journey from the airport to the hotel did nothing to comfort us, there's construction everywhere and traffic was hectic. Once we arrived at the hotel we thought the hotel was nice but based on all the reviews, I expected a little more. For example, the room was very average, and a little on the small side (for two adults and two small children). The view, however, was excellent and compensated for the mediocre room. Beds and bathroom facilities were fine. Strangely enough over the duration of the vacation we grew to appreciate and like the hotel more and more.
The pool is terrific for kids and if you go with small children be sure to take advantage of the Kids Club (where they have free activities pool-side each day). Be sure to ask for the free lunch for the kids too (no-one told us about it and we only learned about it on our last day).
The hotel sits right on the beach and has a private area roped-off for guests. Although vendors were on the other side of the ropes they didn't hassle us at all, nor were we approached by any timeshare people in the hotel (I read that they would try to lure you to an orientation only to try to sell you a timeshare).
Unlike Cancun (and other resorts) there's not a lot of things to do immediately outside the hotel. There's a nice French restaurant (Le Petit) which was great for breakfast and dinner and a mall across the street. Other than that the bus to Downtown (El Centro) runs literally every 60 seconds and costs 4.5 pesos (42 cents). The exchange rate at the hotel was surprisingly the best we found anywhere.
Also surprising was that we were one of the only Americans at the resort. Most guests were Mexicans on vacation. Not everyone at the hotel speaks English (except the front desk). Some of the barstaff for example only know only one or two words. Also some of Concierge staff had difficulty giving me directions in English. My wife speaks fluent Spanish so when she was beside me then there was obviously no problems, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
The prices at the bar and pool are a little high but nothing outrageous ($4.25 for beer, yet only $1.25 for a bottle of Coke). Although we didn't try the cocktails they ran anything from $5.50 - $8.50.
As we ventured to different parts of Vallarta we realized that our hotel was probably one of the best ones in the city, and the kids kept asking to go back to the pool and to the beach. One tip I can give you is despite the hotel's claim of having plenty of shade at the pool, this isn't always the case. You do have to claim your spot early otherwise you'll be stuck in the melting sun.
We visited Marina Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta but were surprised at the lack of stuff to do there. Be careful when booking excursions at the hotel (or anywhere else for that matter). We were quoted $70 on Expedia for a pirate ship cruise and thought it might be cheaper in the hotel. The guy at the hotel wanted to charge us $82.50 and then argued with us when I told him it was cheaper elsewhere. Wherever we went the prices of things fluctuated daily, but we found very little in Vallarta to be cheap. An example is a bucket and pale for the kids to play with on the beach. In the U.S. you'd pay perhaps $2.00. The store in the mall wanted $9.00 and wouldn't budge on the price. We finally saw one in Wal-Mart (2 miles from the hotel) for around $4.50. Seafood is the exception, we had a lobster, shrimp and mahi-mahi dinner for $12.00 at Roberto's (highly recommended). Pipi's Restaurant was also a great place to go, if not as authentic.
The hotel gift shop is undoubtedly the most expensive that I have ever encountered in the world. A sherbert candy was $5.00! Fortunately there's a store called Gigante across the street for those snacks. We also bought a six-pack of beer for $4.00 and brought it back to the pool.
Al-in-all we had fun and and if we returned to Puerto Vallarta we would stay at the F.A. but would ask for the Fiesta Club rooms on the 9th floor.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- With the charm and warmth that have made this destination unique, Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta is, without a doubt, one of the most attractive hotels in Banderas Bay, the second largest bay in the Pacific. With contemporary Mexican architecture, this beautiful construction is perfectly harmonized with a landscape bordered by the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental and the most beautiful beach in Vallarta. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta Hotel Puerto Vallarta
- Puerto Vallarta Fiesta Americana