My wife and I celebrated our fifth anniversary at Secrets Vallarta Bay between October 20 and 29. First off, this hotel should be much higher rated on tripadvisor. I can only assume it will move up with more reviews since it's only been open since March 2012.
It is centrally located just north of town and close to everything. It took us less than ten minutes from the airport. Our feet hadn't hit the curb before we were handed a champagne and cool towel. Check-in was quick and friendly with the hotel amenities well explained. While our bags were forwarded to our room, we were chatted up by Alejandra, who wanted us to join the vacation ownership/time share presentation the next morning. She wasn't pushy, just super friendly. We ended up chatting about town and what to do and see more than the time-share presentation. At no time did we feel like we were talking to a sales person. We didn't end up going to the presentation but would have been happy to simply because Alejandra was so friendly.
We had a swim out room for our stay. it was exceptionally furnished, very spacious, and very clean. We ended up switching to a different swim-out the next day just for a better view of the pool area, but there was nothing wrong with the first room other than a slight air-conditioning smell (common for places with nearly 100% humidity), but that is not why we switched. Just the better view. Our request was quickly accommodated.
The bed was super comfy, bathroom was gorgeous (although could have been better lit - a design choice I guess), mini bar was well stocked (other reviewers have complained that the coronas in the mini bar were the small size. Seriously? There was a ton of them and they're unlimited. How hard it is crack open another bottle?).
The grounds were well-manicured, and completely free of maintenance issues. The pictures on tripadvisor speak for themselves. The place is gorgeous. We especially enjoyed the open lobby overlooking the pools and beach. It was a favorite place to watch the sunset and return to after dinner for a nightcap.
We took advantage of the spa during our stay as well. Beautiful facility with several rooms tucked away from view, sauna, steam, and hydrotherapy. As nice as we have been to anywhere. Perhaps the best, in fact.
The most pleasant surprise of the entire experience was the food. We have done several vacations in Mexico (Cancun, Playa, Cabo), and have never had food that came anywhere close to the quality and creativity we enjoyed at Secrets Vallarta Bay. The variety, freshness, and presentation rivaled anything we have seen elsewhere in the world. Every meal was delicious. My favorite menu item was the Tuna Steak on Wasabi Mash at Oceana. We also enjoyed the Teppanyaki at Himitsu. Not every restaurant is open every evening, but this isn't a problem as you could hit your favorite restaurant two or three times over the course of a week. I would suggest hitting them all so you don't miss out.
The bars were all great as well. If you want top shelf booze, you won't find it pool-side (nor should you in my mind). Pool-side drinks aren't too sweet like most all-inclusives and there was a good selection of beers both Mexican and foreign. The lobby bar had some better liquor selections and from what I understand, the preferred club has even better.
As for service, it was excellent. The resort wasn't completely full, so we were more than well attended to. We were never without a drink pool side, service was prompt at all of the restaurants except for perhaps one night at Oceana when it seemed the whole resort showed up for dinner at the same time even though there were other options open. All of the staff, from housekeeping to the manager, were incredibly attentive and friendly. We have not experienced better service anywhere.
Other nice surprises were the giant poolside screen to watch the world-series under the stars complete with burgers, beer, and popcorn as well as the baby turtle release on the beach in front of the resort.
Like many all-inclusives, we received $400 in resort credits through US Airways Vacations. These are not useful as you can only apply them as discounts to certain items you may not want anyway. This is not a complaint, just a heads up that this shouldn't sway your decision on where you stay when planning your vacation, no matter how many resort credits are included in your stay.
As for complaints, there are very, very few. There was no conditioner in the room, just shampoo. A couple of days, housekeeping missed replacing our facecloths. I could have done without the hardcore porn channel and the fitness facility could have had a few more machines/free weights as there was plenty of room for them. The beach isn't great but if you are looking for white sand and blue water, you shouldn't be coming to Puerto Vallarta in the first place.
All in all, our expectations were hugely exceeded. We thought of Puerto Vallarta as kind of party place from the 90s (which it still is), but it still has so much to offer. Vallarta Adventures has many eco-adventure tours and you should take full advantage if you go to Puerto Vallarta, especially the Extreme Zipline. Far and away though, the best part of the vacation was Secrets Vallarta Bay; exceptional resort I cannot recommend highly enough
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Romantic. Refined. Remarkable. Located on the golden sand beaches of the Pacific coast within walking distance of the famous El Malecon boardwalk, this vibrant oceanfront resort provides adults 24/7 access to amazing nightlife, non-stop entertainment and Unlimited-Luxury(R). ... more less
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