My husband and I recently returned from an October 27-30th stay at the One and Only Palmilla. The airport pickup went smoothly, as did the check in process. The property is very beautiful during the day, and breathtaking at night due to the unique and romantic lighting all around the resort. I have a dietary restriction due to an allergy and prior to our arrival I contacted the resort to give them plenty of advanced notice and make sure it would not be a problem for it to be accomodated. It is a stressful thing for me to have to worry about while traveling, plus I think it is only fair not to surprise a resort with a request of that sort. They assured me it wouldn't be a problem and even put me in touch with one of the chefs who again reiterated everything would be taken care of, everyone would be notified, and not to worry. Upon arrival however both our butler and the first restaurant we went to had no idea what I was talking about (had not been informed and had no idea exactly what the restriction was when it was described to them). I spoke to the concierge and to their credit, within 20 minutes one of their chefs and a restaurant manager came and cleared things up. After that, things went much more smoothly. I can definitely see why so many people love this resort. That being said, I didn't really see anything that made it far and away better than any other luxury resort we have been to (and in fact, some of the others did things a lot better).
Some of the negatives: The food amenities in our room which were supposed to be replenished daily were not and dirty dishes were not taken away (which attracted bugs). The pool staff were hit or miss. I am pretty self sufficient and have no problem going to the restaurant myself to get what I want, but if you are the kind of person who wants to be paid attention to after you get your initial ice bucket, this may annoy you. We returned to our room one night to find a package from the boutique on the foyer table (with a paid receipt with our name and room number on it). The problem? We did not order anything. Then that same night the airconditioner in our room was very noisy, which was no big deal, but on that night the noise got so bad I opened the door to see what was going on. I was greeted with a unit the was covered in unraveling duct tape that dropped a large chunk of ice on the ground into an already formed puddle. We called for maintanance and they sent someone quickly, which was good. However, it was late and I was exhausted and the maintanace guys were in our room for over an hour and a half. As the guys were working there was a knock on the door and the butler was there to deliver yet another boutique item I did not request (with again, my name and room number). The only other thing I would have liked to have seen would be the option for more active water pursuits at the hotel itself (stand up paddlboarding, kayaking, etc). As it stands now, these things are available, but only off property through other companies.
Now for the good: the chefs and restaurant staffs (after the initial mix up) were phenomenal. Chef Alex at Market and Suviche was very nice and helpful (as was the pastry chef). Chef Alexis at Agua went WAY above and beyond what I would have ever expected. He not only made up separate menus, but offered additional off the menu suggestions as well. For our anniversary he made a special five course menu incorporating my restrictions (which is not an easy feat). It was creative, delicious and very much appreciated. The workout room was nice and well staffed, and the spa was relaxing and lovely. The room was very nice, the grounds are beautiful, the food was delicious, and the pool was very clean and scenic. Additionally, as part of the airport transportation back to the airport it was nice having a resort employee come in to help expedite the check in process.
All in all it was a very nice trip. Will we be back? Perhaps. Our experience could very well have been a fluke, and so many people rave about it that I would be willing to give it another try. That being said, I didn't see anything to struck me as something that could not easily be found at any other high end luxury resort.