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“Potentially fabulous resort lacking expedient service” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Secrets Vallarta Bay

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Secrets Vallarta Bay
4.5 of 5 Hotel   |   David Alfaro Siquerios No. 164, Col Zona Hotelera Las Glorias, Puerto Vallarta 48333, Mexico   |  
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Ranked #7 of 119 hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Potentially fabulous resort lacking expedient service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

The Secrets Vallarta Bay is a beautiful new resort which shares amenities with the neighboring sister hotel Now Amber.

The Secrets side is designed to be an adults only hotel and is very much geared towards couples which is great if you are like me and not wanting to deal with kids on your vacation.

This is all inclusive resort does not require wristbands. Hooray for one less tan line.

There are 3 pools and 2 hot tubs. All extremely clean and at a great temperature.

Beach towels do not require a towel card and are readily abundant at the pool area. Getting a lounger was never an issue. All huge pluses.

For those who enjoy silence you may be annoyed by the rather loud ambient music that plays all day.

The rooms are immaculate and fully stocked with toiletries (including a lovely sunscreen), and drinks.

I stayed in the preferred tower which came with a soaker tub in the bathroom and another one on the balcony. Staying in this section I was also privy to a separate snack bar and bar in the separate lobby and our own concierge.

My only complaint with the rooms was that the resort did not provide 2 beds as requested, the air conditioner and fans controls were difficult to find (they are next to the bed behind a decorative curtain) AND there is a rooster in the empty lot next door. Cockadoodledoo anyone? Seriously - you'll hear it on a lower floor.

The food so far has been excellent. With 8 restaurants you will always find something you like. No reservations required except for the tempanyaki.

NOT excellent is the speed of service. While all very friendly it is obvious that the wait staff is either inexperienced, disorganized or both. This also applies the the staff serving in the pool area. I don't know about everyone else but I certainly do not come to a "fancy" resort to wait 20 minutes for every drink that I order (and that includes water)

Beyond that you will find an abundance of activities to partake in during the day. Inclusive but not pushy activities staff. The beach is awesome and non motorized water craft are available for free. If you need anything the staff will go out of their way to find it for you.

Overall a great place to stay. Just come armed with patience and attempt dinner early to avoid waits. This service staff REALLY needs to get up to speed.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (400)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Surrey, Canada
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

Room ambience, resort layout, pools, beach,hot tub, amazing or as they say on their guest survey "over the top". However, they are understaffed in all the restaurants. The no reservation policy leads to large loud groups being seated, long waits for meals,no refills of water or wine. It appears that they are catering to large corperate groups also, 150 to 350, with little regard for the regular vacationing group of say four to six.

The first day we arrived, Nov.8th a large obnoxious group over ran the front lobby, and lobby bar.fortunately they left the next day. Nov.13th staff started removing the beach huts, and started an extensive exercise of leveling sand,very dusty,noisy,and annoying!!!!!!! This disrupted 3/4 of the beach frontage. Nov.14th and 15th staff started erecting a large structure ...hammering on
steel beams and using loud impact drills to fasten bolts. They also installed scaffloding in the main pool,Yes, scaffolding,taking up 1/2 of it. Lounge chairs were removed and replaced with tables, light and sound towers,cords, piles of extra chairs etc. for an upcoming function. I work construction, I don't go on vacation to see this.

Understandably this is a newly opened hotel, but still, for the huge price they are charging (we stayed one week only but our friends stayed for the same time frame but for 2 weeks at $5800.00 for 2 weeks), they should be far more mindful of some common sense considerations that we have enjoyed at far less expensive resorts. Again, while staff were friendly & well dressed, they were highly understaffed and seemingly unprepraed to provide the level service expected and commanded by a 4+ star resort. Biggest disappointment was the service. Even when tipping generously you were hard pressed to see a server on the beach or poolside return to offer a second beverage. Never had this experience in Mexico before! Clearly this is a management issue, rather then unwilling servers, as they were simply too busy and understaffed to be attentive.

I would be reluctant to book here again until they have been open and running a lot longer, in order for them to iron out several bothersome & disruptive issues that impacted our overall enjoyment.

Room Tip: Rooms were excellent, one of the only things I can find no complaint with. Very luxurious. We were i...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2012 via mobile

Greeting on arrival....amazing. Service good but don't forget to take a collared shirt....to eat in the nicer in-resort restaurants there is a dress code that we didn't appreciate until we got there. The buffet food is good, but get in first thing for any of the settings as it really isn't kept very warm so you want to have it fresh!

And don't forget to tip the waiter/barman at the poolside bar....tip them a dollar US per drink for your free drinks (so not much really) and the drink will be twice as strong and you'll never have to wait for a drink again!!

Location itself was fantastic....right balance of being away from downtown but close enough to get there in ten minutes in a cab! It also looks huge and over bearing in som pe of the website photos, but it really isn't....you feel nicely intimate but not overcrowded?

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2012

We spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the Trip Advisor postings for hotels in Puerta Vallarta. . We chose Secrets and were blown away with the hotel, the food, and especially the service. We went to Secrets in the first week of November 2012. The hotel is new and everything was in pristine condition. We chose the least expensive roon type and were located on the 8 th floor with a stunning view of the ocean. (all rooms have a view of the ocean). The room was small but adequate with a shower, bathtub safe and mini bar. As an example of the service, the safe had been locked by the previous guest and we could not open the safe. I asked the management for assistance and within 15 minutes, a member of the staff with a person from the [rovate security company were in our room and had the safe open. You wouldn't get that good service at home.
The food was outstanding. The Secrets side, as opposed to the Now side, does not have a buffet. All meals were served in the restaurants.We could choose from a French and Seafood restaurant on the Secrets side, or the Italian, Japaneese or Mexican restaurant on the Now side. Our favourites were the Oceana restaurant right on the beach and the Japaneese restaurant. Make sure you reserve the special room in the Japaneese restaurant. Eight guests are seeted around the cooking table. the chef puts on quite a show dicing vegetables, frying the rice and cooking the chicken, prawns or beef as you choose. Knives are thrown in the air, Onions are shaped into a volcano and set on fire. Quite a show.
By far the best feature of the hotel was the staff. They were most attentive and went out of their way to make our holiday enjojable. We expecially appreciated Lyn the consierge who was most helpful and Hugo who organized the recreational activities.
The resort has a pro to organize the tennis, archery lessong, a Hobby cat for sailing and guided kayak adventures. Lots to do.

We have stayed many times in Mexico and this hotel was by far the best yet. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: All rooms are very good. No need to pay additional for the Preferred club rooms
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
new york
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012 via mobile

We were a group of 8 and we had amazing time. Are rooms were swimout rooms. They were great. The room was clean and spacious are fridge was filled every day. The food in the Asian restaurant was good and the oceana restaurant was really good too. It was great that they served food around the pool. Juan was our favorite pool bartender . He made domino shots and anything else you may like. This was our first stay in a secrets and we will return. PV is our favorite Mexico vacation location. We loved being so close to town . Remember too tip they work very hard here too make you happy.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Western Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

THE GOOD

We have traveled to numerous resorts now (all adults only in Mexico and other Caribbean countries) and I have to say that this resort has some of the best food we have had to date. I also travel often for business and the food here lives up to anywhere else I normally eat. I will only mention below what stood out as the best, but it is all really good.
The Japanese restaurant had a special seating event (not sure the name), but it is mentioned in other reviews....It was awesome. Our chef was Israel, he was great and we loved him, I would recommend you ask for him.
The rack of lamb at the French restaurant (Bordeaux) was to die for, soooo good. Keep in mind; they WILL NOT let guys in with open toe shoes. Not even fancy sandals, so make sure you men come prepared.
The Mexican restaurant was also awesome, I had the snapper and it was great.
For lunch we loved the shrimp tacos and the shrimp cocktail at the Oceana restaurant.
For room service, we seemed to keep ordering the beef nachos and the chicken fingers, both were awesome.

The people at this resort are super friendly, speak very good English, and the service is great. We especially liked Gilberto in the main bar area and Juan at the swim up bar, they were awesome.

We stayed in the preferred club; the food was also really good there too. They have great snacks all day long. We had a hot tub on our balcony; we liked it and thought the upgrade was worth it. The pools at the resort were nice too; my wife said they were the "infinity" type. We talked to some friends who upgraded to the swim up suite and they said they could not swim after 10:00pm and the water was not heated and was really cold.

The beach was pretty decent at the resort, not as nice as the ones in the Mayan side of Mexico, but we enjoyed it. The ocean was really warm and the weather was amazing while we were at the resort; no rain and at least 30 oC every day. The beach vendors are a little annoying, but after the first day or so we got used to them. Some people really hated this, but we adjusted and did not let it ruin our trip (Not bad enough to make the bad category below).

I cannot comment on the spa because we did not use it, it is VERY EXPENSIVE. The spas in Calgary are cheaper so that goes to show how expensive it is. Like mentioned in other reviews, there is a massage parlor just outside the gate and it is apparently a lot less expensive.

We did not order a bottle of wine for our room but did check out the menu and it was also very expensive. So a piece of advice would be to grab a bottle in the airport on the way down if you want a bottle of wine for the hot tub on your balcony.

I would also like to mention that this resort has free long distance to Canada and the USA, which to me is a huge bonus for me.


THE BAD

No one greeted us at check-in with a hot towel and champagne. This comment may seem snobby to some, but we have stayed at numerous resorts and this is the first time it has happened. This is one of our favorite little parts of the trip after a long day of traveling (kind of kicks off the vacation). We had also upgraded to the preferred club (as mentioned above) and no one explained where the preferred check-in was until approx. 20 minutes after our arrival and waiting in a line up to check in; It was like they were not expecting us.

Another annoyance was food being left in the room service box for long periods of time; the longest was 48 hours. That’s right........ 2 full days of smelly, half eaten room service food sitting in the box inside my room. I asked 5 times for it to be removed until I finally seen someone outside my room and asked them to take it away.

The omelet lady on the Secrets side of the resort was a little scary. She was not there every day, it seemed to be every second day or so. I will not go into too much detail about this but she barely spoke any English so it was difficult to place your egg order with her especially if you wanted something specific such as egg whites.

And here is the hum dinger of them all............During our stay, Secrets decided to host a Construction workers conference. I cannot tell you how mad this made me. Secrets is not advertised as a resort, spa, and conference center; it is a resort and spa. The resort went from approx 25-35% capacity to 100% capacity within 24 hours. Most of these workers seemed to be single guys there for a party. They stared at my wife every time she got out of the pool or walked across the beach, screamed at the resort workers for drinks, treated the resort workers VERY poorly, the bars in the nighttime were extremely crowded and very loud because of the conference, etc., etc. I am sure they are all nice people, but I went to Mexico at an adult’s only resort to relax and have fun; not get ripped roaring drunk and party with a bunch of my buddies; there are other resorts in this area for these types of trips. I can safely say that 2.5 days of my vacation were uncomfortable and not very enjoyable because of this conference. We spoke to numerous guests about this and they felt the same way we did; none of them thought it was very fair of Secrets. This is the reason I am giving the resort 4 stars and not 5; if it wasn't for my wife I might have given this "5 star resort" an even lower rating. So check with your travel agent before you book your vacation so there are no surprises, I am still kind of shocked.


To conclude, this is a great resort, very clean, well maintained, and I like the layout; it does however seem to be going though some growing pains as other reviews mention. It is a small resort (even when considering the Now Amber side) but in my mind is perfect for a 1 week vacation. If you were considering a 2 week vacation you may want a larger resort (just my opinion). I am undecided if I would go back due to the conference (maybe for the right price I could be convinced after confirming with my travel agent that no conferences were scheduled). I would recommend it to a friend as we had a great time overall. Cheers.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alberta
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 12, 2012

This was my 6th trip to PV and by far the best hotel I've stayed at. Of course I have to mention that this was my first time at a 5*, so I cannot compare others but I know standards and quality! We booked with Westjet which was awesome and upon arrival in PV our transportation was a new van which was quiet and nice after a long flight and layover. The hotel was gorgeous!!! The check-in was swift and pleasant!

OMG, our room was beyond expectations. So gorgeous and clean. We were in awe and so excited which has never happened before and was a nice experience. We stayed in the tower (not preferred club) and all I have to say is if you like sitting on your balcony for the view, get a room ABOVE floor 5. Floor 5 has a cement wall if you're sitting. We changed rooms the next morning with little issues. They said our room was done at 11am to transfer but it ended up being 4pm; no big deal.

The pools were clean and awesome! The service at the pool was great the first three days but then when the hotel got a little fuller, the service slowed down. Again, no big deal! There were always ample towels and chairs at anytime for any need; shade or all day sun!

The grounds were always clean and beautiful.

The food was great except that after 7 days it did get a little boring but you were always able to find something to eat. The Japanese restaurant...OMG...YUM! The Italian was great as well. As per other reviews, the portions are small so order whatever you want. Even with the small portions...you left feeling satisfied and full. The waiters in every restaurant were awesome!

**This is the part I hate to report but it has to be done...there were several people who got sick including my friend. Most of us feel it was due to the meat (chicken and beef). It wasn't full out food poisoning (which I have experienced in PV) but it was definitely Immodium time! I too felt the effects of it and we're both not fully recouped - digestive speaking! However, it was never enough to ruin the trip...you can expect a reaction to your digestive system if it's sensitive.

I would also like to mention that the room service there was awesome! I ordered it three times and it was hot and fast. Ask them to put it in the secret box and you never have to see anyone. Make sure to leave a little tip in the box as well. The club sandwich and the caesar salad were my favorite!

I have to say the there was ample options for drinks! However, my first day there I was super impressed at the quality of the drinks...the Pina Coladas tasted fresh but then day two and on, they all tasted like any other PV all inclusive; it was still all good! Oh, and if you're a smoker....the whole resort caters to non-smokers. The pool areas were limited on offering adequate ashtrays...so be prepared to be creative but respectful!

I heard the spa was AMAZING but after looking at the prices...don't bother if your budget is limited. You can find anything you want within steps from the hotel. Also, there is a Coppel across the street if you need anything (It's like a mini-Walmart) and there is a Mega just down the road (which is like a Super-Walmart)...anything you need from a pharmacy to underwear or cheap booze....it's there!

The gift shop is way over priced. If you need any silver, trinkets, souvenirs....etc...get a cab for $40 pesos (out on the main street which you can access walking through Coppel) and go to the flea market. You'll find anything they sell on the beaches or in the gift shop for a fraction of the price.

All service staff was awesome and seriously people...tip the waiters, bell boy, and chamber maid! Two bucks a day for the maid, two bucks for dinner, and a dollar for buffets. We tipped $5 as soon as we sat down by the pool and it proved sufficient for great service all day long! They all work really hard and long days...show some appreciation for these people who treat you like royalty....even though some guests do not deserve it!

We had no issues with kids at all! The last two days we could hear them screaming and having fun on their side but we had NO concerns with them overtaking the place:-)

Anyway, check-out was awesome and quick, Westjest provided a private cab for us and we had no issues. We would definitely stay again and recommend the hotel.

Room Tip: All rooms have an ocean view. Stay higher than the 5th flower in the tower. The preferred club had i...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Secrets Vallarta Bay

Address: David Alfaro Siquerios No. 164, Col Zona Hotelera Las Glorias, Puerto Vallarta 48333, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Jalisco > Puerto Vallarta
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 119 hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Secrets Vallarta Bay 4.5*
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