My husband I stayed at Secrets Vallarta Bay at the beginning of November. We had actually booked a two week stay at the preferred club Now Amber, but when we arrived we were "upgraded" to Secrets. I am still not sure what the upgrade is as we ended up spending most of our time on the Now side as that is where our friends were staying.
Our room was very nice and the reason I booked the Preferred Club was because you get a jacuzzi tub on your balcony - well it turned out that we never used it. The only other thing you get with preferred club is your own lounge with your own bartender with some breakfast items and snacks put out through out the day. Oh and you get upgraded amenities and airplane size bottles of vodka, Jack Daniels and rum...not worth the upgrade. Our friends who didn't upgrade actually had a way nicer view. The one thing I did like however was the pillow menu. We phoned down on our first night and asked for feather pillows. When we returned after dinner, they had finished the turn down service and we had our feather pillows. The beds were also much more comfortable than other resorts we have stayed at in Mexico.
The resort is beautiful. And I can't say enough about the staff - especially Migual our beach waiter (we actually moved over to the Secrets side of the beach when he did; he was that good). There were a couple of drawbacks however.
The lobby lounge is gorgeous - but very stuffy - waiters in black suits, jazz music playing - all very nice, but if you want to have drinks with some friends and play some pool or just hang out, its not conducive to that at all. We missed having some place a little less formal to just have a drink. You could get a drink and go down to the pool deck area, but it was dark and a long way back to get another drink.
The other drawback was that while we were there a major company had an event there. A BIG event. The hotel staff took over 3/4 of the beach on the Secrets side, filled sand bags and leveled this huge area of beach so that they could put up a giant white tent-like structure so this group could have lunch...now granted lunch was 3 hours long with three different live bands - but still, it really ate into our beach area. They also took over the entire pool deck and one of the pools for an extremely elaborate dinner. My husband and I watched with awe as they set up a stage over the one pool for the band. There were a hundred or so tables with white linen and huge center pieces with white lilies and roses. They also had klieg lights which they used to project the company name against the hotel side - the side of the preferred club where we were staying - even with the black out curtains the light came through, and of course the band played until very late. I get it that big companies spend money and can get what they want, but some effort by the hotel to at least warn the guests or compensate us for the time that we could not use the pools and the beach would have been nice - or even if someone, other than our waiter, had apologized.
Some others have written complaining about the ugly unfinished hotel next door with the vagrants and the rooster - didn't bother me as you would only see if for a few minutes as you walked from your room to the elevator and really - its not their fault that whoever started building that hotel ran out of money,.
The free wifi was nice, but pretty hit and miss for getting a signal. But our friend who had a Blackberry playbook had no issues, so maybe it just didn't like IPad.
The buffets were pretty good - standard fair, omelet station, fresh fruit, but they didn't seem to have as much variety as other resorts we have stayed at. And we all found the food to be very salty. The food at the Italian restaurant was so salty I couldn't eat it. We really enjoyed the show and the food at the Japanese restaurant, but by far the best food we had was at the French restaurant. We also took advantage of their program where you can go look around and eat at their other resorts in the area.
We went to Dreams Vallarta, which is unbelievably gorgeous. If is wasn't so isolated, I would stay there in a heartbeat. We ate at Oceana and it was incredible. The resort has a couple of beach front bars that you can hang out at and a bar with a pool table for evenings.
The other night we went to Dreams Villamagna - we ate at Portofino and again the food was fabulous. The beach was amazing, but I don't think I would stay there as the resort is just a little too big. After dinner we had a tour which included the roof top bar, which looked like a great place to hang out.
So, would I stay at Secrets Vallarta again? I am still not sure. It is a beautiful resort in a great location. We could walk to the Malecon and to the Marina Flea Market and other shopping. The staff were great and our room was very nice. But I missed sitting, having a drink in the evening, talking with friends and listening to the ocean waves. I have stayed at many 5 star hotels and resorts, but this one tries just a little too hard.
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