Sorry folks, this is going to be a long one.
We were not actually even supposed to stay at Dreams, but Signature Vacations decided to relocate us due to the huge outbreak of food poisoning at the Barcelo. More likely the Barcelo was overbooked, but we will not go into that. We were really ticked to arrive in Mexico and find out, with absolutely no warning, that we were being moved. Then we arrived at Dreams and had the grouchy valet tell us to leave our bags so he could take care of them. Next we checked in with a glass of champagne to welcome us. Starting to look better until the front desk staff sent us off with some doofus (who we thought was showing us to our room) trying to get us to come to a meeting for time shares the next morning. We arrived at our room and found that the balcony was all of six inches wide and the tower we were in was very very old compared to what we were expecting at the Barcelo. At this point we were feeling thoroughly scammed!
Thank goodness it got better. We went to the buffet for dinner, not even realizing that the ala cartes would still be open. We have been to all inclusives before, and we were expecting food that ranged from poor to good. I have to say, there is very little being served at the buffet that was not edible. The food was a pleasant surprise.
The staff at Dreams is AMAZING! Bartenders, cleaning staff, waiters, hostesses, even the guy pushing us out to sea on our kayaks... all amazing. If you like being looked after Dreams is the place.
A note on the beach. The beaches in Puerto Vallarta are not private. The result is that you are under a constant barrage by vendors, and the beaches in town are extremely crowded. Dreams is nestled between two mountains, meaning the beach is less accessable. There are still vendors harrassing you as they are not allowed to deny them acces, but the beach is very relaxing in comparison to Los Muertos Beach. This is a HUGE plus for Dreams.
The booze. I will put this in perspective. My wife is very much a lightweight when it comes to drinking. She guzzled drinks all week at Dreams and never felt a buzz. We stopped at Senor Frogs one afternoon and after a yard sized marguerita she said she felt bombed. Is there any alcohol in the drinks at Dreams??? I don't know. The bartenders are very skilled (even made me a half ways decent caesar), but there just doesn't seem to be any punch in their punch.
The Ala Cartes. We had dinner once at the seafood restaurant. I had escargot to start, which was very good, clam chowder (also very good), some sort of beef medallion with shrimp (the beef was disappointing, but the shrimp was fantastic), and cheesecake for dessert (so terrible!). The presentation of our meals was very nice, and you could tell the chef is very talented. We had dinner at the Seaside Restaurant twice. The first time I had crab cakes (just ok), french onion soup (fantastic!), Mexican flank steak (this is a piece of meat that looks like it should have been thrown in the grinder to make more hamburger. Except they marinade it and it cooks to a flavorful tender bit of perfection!), and home made ice cream for dessert (nothing special). The second time I have the calamari (very good), the french onion soup again, the sirloin steam (This was so bad I only ate six bites. It was a huge cut of meat but was only about a 1/4" thick. It was not marbled and did not taste good as it is nearly impossible to cook such a thin steak to medium rare). We skipped desert that night. We also had one meal at the Mexican restaurant. This was a fun night. We asked the waiter what his favorite dish was and he recomended the chicken mole (molay), then looked kind of worried and recommended two other dishes as well. We both ordered the mole. While it was not terrible, it is essensially chicken cooked in a chocolate sauce. Not very pleasing to our Canadian taste buds. I don't remember what our starters where there, but the desert was Creme Brule and it was so good we went back another night just to have dessert.
Taxis. Nobody ever seems to include this in their reviews. If you go to the Malecon from Dreams it will cost you 50 pesos one way. If you take an excusion from Vallarta Adventures you will have to get to the harbor and that will cost you 120 pesos each way. Not a huge expense, but it is nice to know going in.
Wifi. The hotel wanted to charge us $7 for 15 minutes of wifi. Seriously! Once we had stopped laughing and realized they were serious we hopped in a taxi to Starbucks and had a nice Caramel Flan Cappucino while we Facetimed our kids for free. There is also free wifi on the board walk. Please don't pay Dreams for wifi. They need to know that they cannot get away with this robbery.
The pools. There are three pools. There is a smaller pool by the old tower that has some nice shade. The two times we swam were both in this pool. We also spent parts of two days sunning and reading here. It was nice, but there was no bar service close by, and nobody was clearing empty glasses and plates. The main pool was ridiculously crowded. We avoided that area most of the time. The lounge chairs were 3-4 layers deep and most of them had towels staking out the territory, but nobody ocupying them. The adults only pool area was very small, and always crowded. This pool would be nice, but it is elevated, not very well sheltered for those that don't want to fry like bacon. There is a bar dedicated to this area.
Odds and ends. The front desk staff was always great about giving us change for taxis and tipping as the bank machine only spits out 200 pesos bills. Beware the bank machine. It will charge you an extra $9 per transaction. We were dumb and thought we were withdrawing US$ (what country did we think we were in???) and ended up with all of about $40 on our first transaction. The fridge in the room is stocked every day. They give you these 200 ml Coronas which I refered to as two sip beers. They also give you coke, diet coke, water, orange pop, soda water, and sprite.
That's about all I can think of for now. If I were to go back to Vallarta, I would probably go back to Dreams. The food is outstanding, the service is fantastic, the beach is quiet and secluded. We could see baby humpback whales splashing in the bay, and at one point a manta ray jumped out of the water near the swimming area. The room was a little bit disappointing, but we did not spend a great deal of time in it.
I would suggest that you find a room in the newer tower which was built about 30 years after the old...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.