We had a great vacation at Secrets from April 20-27.
A Preferred Club garden view room (2nd floor) gives you a view of the ocean through the palm trees. If you want an unobstructed ocean view, you will need to go to a higher floor (or look at the view from the back, hall side of the building). Definitely these rooms get some noise from the pool area, but it was primarily an issue on the weekends, when there seems to be a louder drinking oriented crowd (in their mid 20's to early 30's) at the resort. During the mid-week it was much quieter. We also found that the area to the front of the preferred club building was quieter than other lounge areas, especially those near the swim-up bar.
For us the advantages of the preferred club included the jacuzzi tub on the balcony, easy access to the concierges, the feel of having your own bartender from morning to night, desserts at the ready, and great housekeeping. We also didn't have to pay much of a premium for the Preferred Club (e.g. about $100 per person extra) so it was a good choice for us.
Secrets has great staff, especially Yohana (hostess at Market Cafe), Alejandro and Noe (Preferred Club bartenders), Gloria (housekeeper), Preferred Club concierges, and Market Cafe dinner staff.
Check-in was easy - we got off our bus and were given cold towels. Once we were quickly identified as being in the Preferred Club (we were upgraded from Now to Secrets - which ended up as a big plus), a staff member walked us over to our building for an early check-in. We chose not to visit the VIP desk after check-in, so didn't get "coupons" and didn't get any timeshare pitches. We weren't bothered about timeshares in any way. I wouldn't have known about them except for what I have read on Tripadvisor!
Each day you will get a newsletter with the day's activities, weather forecast and information on special events/shows, and which restaurants are open and their hours.
If you are vegetarian or have food allergies, check in with the concierge when you arrive and get little cards you can show to the wait staff at the restaurants for menu guidance. Overall, the food is of the quality you would expect at a good hotel. It is hotel food - it won't knock your socks off, but is well prepared and presented.
We enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Market Cafe (preferred to the Now side's buffet) as additional foods such as yogurt and smoked salmon were available (the layout of the buffet is smaller) and the cheerful greeting by Yohana really gets your morning off to the right start. Note: If you like real hash brown potatoes for breakfast, you will be disappointed as all they serve are premade triangle patties!
The lunch buffet at the Market Cafe is also the way to go - a good variety of hot foods, salads and desserts. We had a forgettable "al a carte" lunch at Oceana, with poor service, and never went back for lunch again (their dinner was MUCH better). The Grill by the pool is good for a burger meal or late day snack (if a late dinner is in your plans). However, vegetarians should plan to eat at the Market Cafe for the best lunch options.
For dinners, the menu are designed so that you order an appy, soup and entree. Our favourite dinners were the Market Cafe (for Mediterranean or Seafood buffet), Bordeaux (French) and Oceana (Seafood). If you want to eat at Bordeaux - go early. On our last day there, we tried to go back but were faced with a 35 minute wait so opted for another good Mediterranean meal. We had an adequate meal at Capers (Italian), but the service wasn't as good. Himitsu (Asian) was really disappointing as the service was VERY slow, even though the tables were not full. The restaurant needs more cutlery - the waiter kept telling us to keep our forks (no chopsticks were available) between courses. My husband's soup was inedible and the meal was the only one at the resort that caused digestive distress. Instead enjoy the good and tasty sushi at the lunch buffet.
Room Service needs improvement. I arranged for a special evening order through the concierge and it only showed up on 4 of 7 nights. One night I called to inquire when the delivery would be made, was told it was on its way but it never showed up! Another time we ordered breakfast and it came promptly but my husband didn't get any cutlery but a knife to eat his eggs with!
We had a couple of problems with our room that required visits from maintenance staff, including to fix a slow shower drain and a problem with the air conditioning. I have to congratulate Secrets for having such pleasant maintenance staff! One night we had a problem with our A/C when we returned to our room. We called the front desk after midnight and after confirming that we had a 'closed' system (all doors must be closed for the A/C to work) a maintenance man was sent to our room promptly (he arrived in about 10 minutes) and determined that the system needed to be reset (which is done via their computer system). The fellow initially seemed worried that he did not have sufficient english to communicate with us about the problem but he was very good.
The lobby is fantastic, often with live evening entertainment (e.g., Mariachi Band). During the day I was thrilled to watch humpback whales from the lobby.
We saw one dance show in the theatre. It was well executed but this type of show isn't very memorable. The show wasn't very well attended.
Although smoking is allowed throughout the resort, it mostly wasn't an issue for us non-smokers who are used to public spaces and restaurants being smoke free. It only ever bothered me in the main lobby and I was able to move to another location.
We were called at 8:30am one morning and told that there is a rule against having clothing/swimsuits drying on the balcony/balcony chairs and asked to remove our swimwear immediately. First I had ever heard of such a rule. Later from pool area I looked up and saw lots of drying taking place.
Good massages and reflexology are available just outside the resort gates at Healing Hands ($25 US for 1 hour).
I visted the spa for a pedicure. It was well done but not particularly special and was priced about the same as a pedicure at a hotel spa at home ($75 US). I was disappointed that the spa's pools were not working, as I had hoped to try them as part of my treatment.
Note: we did tip in pesos (but not consistently) after a short walk to use the ATM at the HSBC outside the resort. The concierge can make change. A taxi to the Flea Market for some souvenir shopping was 60 pesos and to the airport it was 100 pesos. Secrets has its own taxi fleet - new cars, A/C, and english speaking drivers. You will have more fun with the local taxis.
- 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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